Once upon a time – not so long ago – social media was a new and interesting alternative for progressive marketing plans. Oh how times have changed! Today, establishing a social media presence is no longer an option for any business intent on building an online presence, and that includes authors seeking to build a fan base. But, just like every other component of your author business plan, to make the most of your efforts and prevent it from needlessly sucking all of your time and energy, you need to develop your social media strategies – and stick to them.
Begin with Your Objectives
Your ultimate objective may be to grow your author platform – which includes your brand identity and fan base, but by breaking this down a little further you can better see what this will actually look like.
- Build your business profile and visibility
- Network with peers, industry contacts and media
- Reach new readers
- Stay connected with existing readers
- Gather feedback
- Launch new books and products related to your books
This represents the core of your online social media marketing strategy and everything else will revolve around it. Don’t worry too much about analytics in the beginning. When you are new to social media or just starting to build your platform, you’ll avoid stress and feelings of overwhelm if you first focus on developing your strategy and then implement it in stages.
Craft Your Profile
I recently came across a comment on a blog by an author stating “I just can’t buy into the whole author profile thing. To me this is just bragging, and I can’t make myself do it.”
Your feelings may not run to that extreme, but if you are an aspiring or new author just know that it is perfectly normal to feel a certain amount of discomfort presenting yourself to the world. The good news is this will get much easier as time goes on; particularly once you get some positive feedback on your work. The not so good news is this is one of those chicken or the egg situations, because in order to get that feedback you need to get your book into the hands of readers, and that means putting yourself out there for them to find and get to know you.
The most important areas of the profile:
- Your Name: The only name you should be using is the name on the front of your books – whether that’s your real name or a pen name is up to you – but avoid nicknames or mixing your name across networks, or you’ll defeat your own branding efforts and readers will have a tough time finding you.
- Your Description: While your description (profile, bio, etc.) may vary in length or elements of your background you choose to emphasize depending on the nature of the site, the basic information should be consistent everywhere you have the opportunity to create a profile. This information will naturally change over time as you write more books and continue to build your brand, so you’ll want to keep track of every profile you set up so you can easily go back and update them as you continue to grow your author business.
- Your Picture: Depending on your brand, your audience and the network, you may want to have 2 different profile images. For example, when posting to business or professional sites you may want to use a more formal profile shot, while using a more casual profile image for channels like Twitter, Facebook or Google.
What do you plan to write about? What content will you share? Remember, this is about building relationships and a following so you need to think in terms of what your audience will want to read. That’s not to say you can’t write about your book, or your journey as an author, but readers will quickly disengage if that’s all you write about. Think 80/20 – 80% of your sharing should be interesting content relating to the topic(s) you write about, and 20% about your book and you as an author.
Choose your Social Networks
There are dozens of social networking sites, but you can easily choose where to invest your time by answering one question: Where does your target audience hang out? You may personally enjoy Facebook, but does your audience? Remember, it doesn’t matter what you say, or how well you say it, if you’re saying it to the wrong people.
Engage Your Audience
Engagement is really just conversation. Here are a few basic guidelines for engaging in the more prominent social networks.
- Facebook – Sharing content, favor others with “likes”, comments
- Google+ – Sharing content, favor posts, comments
- Twitter – Sharing links to content, retweets and @mentions
- Blogs – Leaving comments that contribute to the conversation, share with your social media connections
Do a bit of research and see how your competitors are engaging their audience. It doesn’t take long to discover what works and what doesn’t. The bottom line of engagement is just “Do it”. Start the conversation!
Does it require extra effort and time to learn the ropes and begin establishing your online presence? Absolutely! Is it worth it? How much you want to get your books into the hands of readers and achieve some level of success as an author?
Marquita Herald is an author, blogger, world traveler, Maui girl, Introvert and lover of wine, road trips, peanut butter cookies and a dog named Lucy. She writes about emotional resilience. To learn more about her writing and the power of emotional resilience visit her blog Emotionally Resilient Living at http://www.emotionallyresilientliving.com