Being a self-published writer is challenging because it comes with the added difficulty of marketing yourself and your publications online. Unlike mainstream publication houses who have a plethora of resources at hand such as TV interviews, advertisements, radio, newspapers and more to market an upcoming book, self-published authors have very limited resources to work with. However, there is no need to lose sleep over it. Luckily, social media can help. Social media is an easy and excellent way to promote yourself online. Not only is it free to use, but it has an expansive reach which is always helpful when you are trying to market yourself.
Navigating social media and using it to your advantage, however, is an art that you must learn to master. Being active on social networking websites means posting content regularly and engaging with existing and potential readers. You can share some interesting information about your book, or short anecdotes when you were in the process of writing your book. Social media can be used as a platform to show your audience that you are accessible, open to their positive and well constructive feedback and other suggestions. If you have started looking to social media as a marketing platform, don’t expect to see drastic results overnight. It can be a fun, learning experience, but you will have to give it adequate time.
Here are a few simple yet effective social media tips to get you started on the road to literary success.
- Identify and get to know your audience
Your audience will not be able to predict the next time you launch a novel or any genre of book. Instead, you will have to seek out your target audience and engage them in a conversation to effectively promote yourself and your book. You will need to identify your audience (people you are writing the book for) and then look for online communities where people of that audience group might be logging on to. The best way reach your audience is by keeping an eye out for your competitors and looking at the websites, communities or pages they have joined, and are now actively utilizing.
For authors, the best marketing platform might just be Goodreads, an online community for people who love books and are passionate about exchanging thoughts and opinions on books they have read. Create a Goodreads account and join the online discussion forums. It is also a great way to start networking with people who share the same interests or even the same profession as you.
Once you have joined a page, community or a forum, the key is to become part of the online crowd. You can post updates about your book, talk about upcoming projects or even start a Q&A round post with the community members. You can even create your own profile on top social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest if you are unable to find something that is completely relevant to your book. If you are interested in marketing your book using audio clips or visuals, you can always consider platforms like Yappie or Vine (for short looping videos).
- Create profiles on social networking websites
Using social networking websites for marketing can work like magic. If you haven’t already, create profiles on Facebook and Twitter. According to a survey by Shareaholic, Facebook drives as much as 22.36% of traffic to websites. You can have your own page, where you can talk about your publications, and keep readers up-to-date on any upcoming publications that they might want to watch out for. However, make sure you keep your personal profile and promotion page separate from each other.
You can also post content related to writing which your readers might find interesting. Always alternate between text, pictures and videos. Images and video clips attract a lot of attention and can make your social media pages look more engaging. Be sure to use short captions with keywords for any images or videos you upload.
- Curate content and manage posting schedules
If searching for content is not exactly your cup of tea, or if you find it extremely time consuming, there are various content discovery tools that are available online which can simplify the process. Just keep the content updates to a maximum of 2-3 per day to avoid being seen as a spam account. Here are a few content discovery and scheduling tools that can help you curate and schedule great content.
A nifty tool, DrumUp can search for relevant content and schedule it for posting on Facebook as well as Twitter pages. It also allows users to review and modify the content before it is posted, along with the option to schedule custom written posts. The tool is currently being offered free of charge.
Buffer is a great tool that allows you to post content on various social media accounts. You can schedule your posts to go out at a pre-determined time, or if you have too much on your hands already, you can go with their suggested schedules.
HootSuite is a multi-featured tool which can schedule your posts for posting on several social media accounts. Also an added bonus of this tool is being able to manage several social media accounts from a single platform. The registration process is simple and HootSuite can be used free of charge if you have less than 3 profiles.
- Start a blog
Blogging is probably one of the most effective social media tips you can follow. It is a more personal way of interacting with your audience, and it also lets you do what you do best – write! There are many blogging platforms available where you can easily set up a blog or buy a domain. Before starting a blog, you will need to decide the purpose of your blog. You could start a blog to get more involved with your readers, or as a way of letting your readers know who you are, and the kind of books you like to write.
Once you start a blog, it is important to stay consistent with the content you post. Make sure you are posting something at least twice a week, if not more. You are likely to lose readers if your blog is not well-maintained and doesn’t have fresh content coming in on a weekly basis. Encourage readers to visit your blog regularly by giving them an incentive, like a free eBook, a signed copy of your publication or other giveaways.
- #Hashtags for more exposure
Use hashtags to increase your online presence on social media communities (Twitter, Facebook and Google + — hashtags explained). Look for the perfect keyword that relates to your publication and use it as a hashtag when you send out tweets and posts about your book. Remember that the best time to send out tweets is in the late evening hours, especially on Sundays when there is a drastic increase in tweets being shared. When using hashtags, ensure that they are not a long string of words because you want your followers to actually understand your hashtags. Also, you should use a maximum of 1-2 hashtags in your tweets so they don’t look spammy. Similar to blogging, and posting updates on Facebook, tweets need to be consistent and well thought out. The most important thing to remember is to respond to tweets. Don’t ignore tweets or mentions from your followers. Instead, jump into the conversation, and see where it takes you.
With social media becoming an integral part of marketing efforts on all fronts, it has become that much more important for authors to become more social media savvy. It might look like an uphill climb when you are just starting out, but spending some time on networking sites and blogging platforms will help you feel more comfortable about using social media as a marketing tool. The social media sphere changes on a day-to-day basis, and your key to success is persistence. Keep trying out new things until you figure out a marketing strategy that works for you.