If there’s one thing indie authors should understand about using social media to market their work, it’s this: social media marketing is not about immediate book sales. Imagine an author who posts constantly on Facebook about where you can purchase her book or who assaults followers with a steady stream of Tweets telling them to BUY NOW. No one wants to follow that author. No one will follow that author for long. That’s just not a sustainable marketing strategy.
Don’t be that author.
The key to social media marketing is building long-term relationships with people who will not only buy one book, but who will stick around to learn about (and buy) future projects. To succeed in social media marketing, your followers must find such fulfillment in the content you share — both online and in your books — that they come back for more, recommend you to their friends, and spark priceless word-of-mouth marketing in their own circles of influence.
The trick to doing that is to provide unique, meaningful content that is relevant to your writing and what you stand for as an author. By proving yourself as an expert source of information or entertainment to followers who share your interests, you can build an engaged and loyal audience who will help you spread your messages.
Understand your brand. Understand your audience.
Before you can create a solid strategy regarding what type of social media experience you’ll create for you audience, you must have a good understanding of two things:
- What do you, as an author, have to offer?
- Who is your target audience?
Let’s say you’ve written a book of gluten-free bread recipes. We can assume that you have a solid grasp on bread baking and health issues related to gluten. You’re also probably a good source of information and intelligent commentary on larger health-food issues, cooking and baking in general, and maybe even restaurants and bakeries that offer gluten-free options.
Now, who would purchase and read this book of gluten-free bread recipes? Surely people who struggle with gluten allergies. Perhaps parents of children with gluten allergies. Bakers. Bread eaters. Health nuts. You get the idea. Now, create social media content with these people and these topics in mind, and you should be golden.
Knowing who you are and who you’re addressing will shape the type of content you share through your social media outlets.
Mix the professional with the personal.
It’s pretty much a given that you should use social media as a way to announce your professional, writerly news: the publication of your latest book, your participation at an upcoming speaking event, your latest media success, a new blog post, etc.
But it can’t be all business all the time. Don’t forget to show your personality and offer a good mix of content. Be funny; be poetic; be informative; be witty; whatever jives with your author persona, the type of books you write, and the kind of audience you want to attract.
As a good example, let’s turn to everyone’s favorite children’s horror author: RL Stine. His Twitter feed offers a constant supply of creepy stories, spooky videos, charming interactions with fans, and good, old-fashioned self promotion.
A little bit of spooky:
A little bit of self promotion:
It’s clear that Stine understands what it is that draws people to his books; and he’s using that understanding to create a social media marketing experience that’s unique to his brand and his audience. If you have a good understanding of what you bring to the table as an author, you should be able to do the same for your audience.
Still feeling unsure? Talk it out with a pro: Social Media Consultation.
Need a jumpstart? Work with your own personal publicist to build your online presence during a six-week campaign: Social Media Publicist.