You might be ready for more advanced social media strategies.
When you first dipped your toe into Twitter or gathered friends on Facebook, it was enough to just have a social media presence. Now that you’ve gotten a little savvier, maybe refresh yourself on social media best practices and etiquette — and then take it to the next level by beginning to think strategically.
Have a clear goal for your social media efforts
Most people want more followers – and large numbers can be a powerful attraction to entice prospective agents and editors.
But if you’re not yet an author and want to be, chances are you’re not going to get a hundred thousand—or even ten thousand—followers overnight. So, in the short term, your goal might be to connect with a hundred fellow nonfiction writers or readers, or to get noticed and make a connection with a literary agent or an editor – many have a presence on social media platforms.
Focus on a few social media platforms
Sure, there are at least a dozen social media platforms that you’ve flirted with — you have accounts, a bit of a presence.
But be honest — you truly gravitate to just a couple.
Whether you’re an author with a Pinterest book addiction or find yourself carefully cropping photos for your visually arresting Instagram feed, you should choose the platforms that speak to you, that are where your potential readers are, and concentrate on growing your audience on those.
Tag and hashtag to gain followers, engage more deeply
Sure, you know what hashtags for authors are – and right now you’re #amwriting #mystery. But can you go further? Give it some strategic thought and you might “up-level” your tag and hashtag usage.
Find relevant “influencers” whose work you admire, and whose audiences might respond to your work as well. If their content speaks to you enough to write about it and tag it, you might give them reason to connect with you.
Do research to find niche hashtags that more specifically speak to the audience you want to capture.
Use a content calendar to remind you of what to post, when
Content calendars are content marketing tools that keep your available “assets” and topic ideas top-of-mind. Your calendar doesn’t have to be complicated – but a little strategic thinking ahead of time means that when you’re too busy to really focus or when you’re sitting down with limited time to schedule a week of social media posts (see below). The calendar keeps the “what to post” information at the ready and eases your task.
· Use a social media scheduler…
Some social media can be automated with tools like Hootsuite or Socialflow or Buffer or Tweetdeck. These allow you to schedule your “planned” social media content at various times to help consolidate your marketing time but allow you to post at optimum hours (when your readers are most likely to see them).
· … but “show up” in real time
Keep your most used social media feeds current with breaking news, and timely retweets, and comments on new posts. Once you’re all set up on a social media platform and a scheduler, a quick daily check-in can keep your feed fresh.
· Spread the word automatically…
In some instances, you’ll want to share the same piece of content over a number of your social media platforms. Some of them (not all) make it easy to communicate with other ones – so you can feed your Pin to Twitter or your Tweet to your Facebook author page, or make your Instagram photos show up on Tumblr.
The tactic I take is to feed to the social media I “touch” less frequently — I visit my Tumblr about twice a week so in between, I post my Instagram photos there, to keep it fresh.
· … but regularly “touch” each social media platform
Whether it’s once a day or once a week, it’s advisable to at least touch upon your social media where it originates. Each social media site has a different personality and each has its own gems. Give even your “lightest” platform a little authentic author love from time to time.
Content Marketing for Authors
Whether entertaining (like romance novels) or useful (like cookbooks or finance books), authors spend their lives producing… content. The idea of content marketing is to share some content free of charge on author platforms that you “own” in order to build an audience and give prospective readers an idea of what / who they’re getting when they buy your book/s.
What do you mean by “own”?
Owned media platforms are those over which authors have complete control. Content marketing is best done on these platforms because you can then “own” your subscribers and followers for communications.
“Owned” media includes:
- author website
- social media
- online courses
I do lots of that anyway – does that mean I’m a content marketing author?
Yes, sort of. But to be an efficiently effective content marketing author, you really need to have at least some strategy and tactics in place, so that your efforts all serve your audience building goals.
What are some examples of successful author content marketing?
An example of a content marketing star is John Green, who built an audience of readers for his young adult books (like The Fault in Our Stars) with a video blog done with his brother, Hank Green. Using online video, the Vlog Brothers very intelligently, very thoughtfully discuss subjects of interest to young adults and new adults as well as jokes, etc. John also—periodically—talks about the books he is working on. Green didn’t necessarily set out to be a “content marketer,” but in 2007 the vlog gave rise to their Nerdfighter subculture and numerous bestsellers and movie deals.
Another example is the 2015 book marketing campaign for Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, a book about advice for creative people. Though a bestselling author (Eat, Pray, Love) there was no guarantee that the memoirist / novelist would make the transition to self-help writer. But her publishing team launched a series of pre-publication podcasts—which included well-known special guests—and a robust social media campaign to build Gilbert’s followers. The content strategy dovetailed with “earned” media platforms – content-heavy guest spots on other popular self-help gurus’ online “shows” to make their audiences aware of her content and of Gilbert’s new book.
What else do I need to know about before I dive into content marketing?
The best content marketing stays true to you as an author. For content marketing to be effective, it should grow naturally out of your book, and your philosophies and your message. Whether the content you share is a natural outgrowth of your personality, or crafted strategically for effect —you want to stay true to yourself and authentic.
Content marketing is not about the hard sell. Content marketing is about enticing audiences (including prospective buyers) with a bit of your content, a bit of yourself. It is not about bombardment with sales messages, which only serve to turn off audiences.
Sure, you can let the audience know you have books available at the bottom of your newsletter—and certainly give them the “insider” first look at new books and book jackets, as members of your loyal audience—but promoting your own work should only be a small portion of your content output, reserved for special announcements, book launches, public appearances, etc.
Content marketing is not a quick fix. Content marketers are rewarded over time as their audiences build.
As your readers / viewers become engaged and loyal over time, a portion of them will decide to plunk down money when they determine the content is likely to appeal to them.
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