13 July 2015

Author Tips: Social Media Ideas and Tools

Socail Media Tips
Even though social media platforms, like Facebook, have done their darnest to limit post views for both fan pages and personal pages to stimulate “boost post” pay services, social media is still a powerful tool for any author. There are a couple of issues that our authors come to us when dealing with their own social media marketing efforts. The first and foremost is, “I just don’t have time to get on Facebook or Twitter” or “I never think about posting anything.” The sad truth is that if you’re using these excuses to duck social media, there’s probably some other reason you’re shying away from social media. Either you aren’t getting enough follows, your posts aren’t being seen by enough people, or you simply don’t feel like you know enough about social media to properly utilize it. If you fall into that category, here are a few tools and tips that are sure to help any author that is struggling with the social media monster.

1. If time or forgetfulness is truly an issue for you, try using a third party client to manage your social media. There are a number of wonderfully useful social media tools out there that allow you to manage all of your social media accounts from one platform. Hootsuite and Social Sprout are two clients that give you the ability to view and post from several different social media platforms all in one place. There are scads of third-party social media clients out there with different functionality and rates (from free to a monthly fee). Do some searching for the functions that will best fit your needs and take one out for a trial.

Many of these platforms also give you the ability to schedule posts. This is probably one of the most powerful tools that any third party client can offer the busy author. (Note, some social media platforms give you the ability to schedule posts. But if you’re looking for an all your social media in one place solution, third party clients are worth utilizing.) The best practice when utilizing scheduled posts is to set aside time each week to load up your social media accounts with posts or tweets. By doing this, you have a week’s worth of basic social media content knocked out at one time, and you don’t have to take time off during your work week scrambling for content. Also, if you have a scheduled interview on a radio show, podcast, or anywhere else you can go ahead and schedule posts / tweets when you confirm the interview. Holidays, birthdays, and anything else that’s set in stone in your world can be scheduled so you can have social media content without remembering to post something on a given day. Don’t make the mistake of thinking scheduled posts are a “fire and forget” option. Interacting with your followers is important as we’ll see in another tip down the line.

2. Unless you’re a sports, religious, or political author—lay off those topics on your author fan pages or Twitter accounts. There’s nothing that starts barroom or dinner table trouble faster than discussing these “big three” topics. Social media is no different in that respect. If you think you’re fostering a following by appealing to a segment of one of the “big three,” you’re turning off twice as many potential followers. Those potential readers or followers who don’t agree with your views on the “big three” probably don’t want to see your rants in their news feeds. They will likely drop you from their social media mix and not buy your book because of your views. If you’re unconvinced about this point, check out the social media feeds of successful companies and you'll find a lack of "big three" topics in their posts.

3. Followers are built with interactions. It’s not enough just to throw tweets or posts out into the electronic universe. You actually have to interact with the people in your social media circles. This means replying to comments, thanking people when they repost or retweet your material, commenting on other people’s posts, reposting follower's content, and generally doing everything you would do at a real life social gathering in the digital world. Keep the conversation going and others will want to take part in it.

4. Yes, you’re an author, but not every social media post as to be about your book(s). Your goal as authors is to promote your book, but no one is interested in following someone who only posts about one topic. If you’re not sure what to post since your writing life takes up a majority of your own thoughts, consider the following: pet pictures, posts about articles you found interesting, a restaurant you’ve visited and really enjoyed, comments on a book you’re currently reading, and pithy posts on trending topics. If you need some help in this area, look at some successful authors’ social media accounts and see what they’re posting about.

5. Have you ever been at a party and seen someone hugging the wall hoping someone would come talk to him/her? Having a social media account and not actively finding other people to follow is like that poor soul at the party. Freely follow other people that you think are interesting or might be interested in what you have to offer. If they don’t follow you back, the world isn’t going to end, and it’s no reflection on you. But most people are kind enough to follow you back after you’ve followed them if they like the content you’re producing.

Part of social media is a straight up numbers game. Most social media posts reach and are read 1-2% of your followers at best. So don’t get discouraged if your posts aren’t getting the likes, retweets, or shares you were hoping for. As you build your social media audience, those things will come. The key here is you have to build an audience. There will be a point if you’re producing content that resonates with your audience, where you will start attracting followers. This won’t happen overnight, and there is always work to be done. So stay positive, intelligent, and witty with your posts... and the world will catch up with you.

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