You’ve probably heard the commonplace advice on how creating a presence on social media can help you build your author platform. The problem is that it’s all too easy to logon to your favorite social media site of choice and find that you’ve spent far too much time than you had intended, possibly eating into your precious writing time. Here are some resources that can help you get the best of both worlds: using social media without destroying your writing time!
If you’re building your social media presence from scratch or want to revamp your social media efforts, try asking yourself these questions:
Who am I trying to reach?
How well do you know your audience? Better defining your audience can help you decide which social networks are likely to be the best use of your time. Two free resources that can you help you gain a more solid idea:
Target Market Worksheet
Although aimed at freelance writers, the Target Market Worksheet is also useful for fiction writers. This diagram gives you a visual way to think about the demographics of your target audience, what your audience is looking for, and how your writing fulfills the wants of the audience. The Target Market Worksheet is available for free at AllIndieWriters.
How to Identify a Target Audience For Your Book Marketing
This thorough blog post from the Bookbub partners blog walks you through defining your audience based on demographics, what media they enjoy, and how they use the Internet. Also provides advice on how to perform further research and creating personas of your ideal audience member. Knowing this information can help you decide which book marketing ideas may produce the most results, websites to browse for relevant content (discussed in more depth below) and which social networks your readers are most likely to use. After you’ve answered the questions in this post, you’ll likely have multiple audience segments along with a better idea of where to reach these potential readers and what kind of content they enjoy. Check it out on the Bookbub blog.
Even if you’re a writer, you probably (hopefully!) have other interests beyond the written word. As encouraged in Kristen Lamb’s Rise of the Machines, a guide on building your author platform online, you may find it helpful to consider the following when connecting with others via social media:
Try reaching out to non-writers and non-readers:
After you’ve defined your target readership, you may want to expand your audience to include other potential groups beyond writers and readers of your genre. The Book Marketing Plan Outline (another free resource from AllIndieWriters) provides some space to think about this, using the example of children’s books. Instead of only marketing toward readers, an author of this genre might want to consider reaching out to parents and teachers as well. Kristen Lamb’s guide to creating your author platform, Rise of the Machines also provides more discussion on this idea. Lamb’s book suggests levering your other interests beyond writing to connect with more potential readers and share content. For example, if you write horror, you might want to connect with communities that enjoy horror games or horror movies (instead of only horror literature). Consider whether there any other potential audiences you might want to include in your marketing strategy.
Which sites should I use?
That depends a lot on who you’re trying to reach and which platforms you feel most comfortable using. Once you’ve defined your audience, it is easier to create a better social media strategy for marketing your book. Instead of spending excess time trying to market on every social media channel, you’ll likely want to focus on those likely to be used by your target audience.
Avoid Social Media Time Suck by Frances Caballo provides great suggestions on how to do this more effectively – for example, if you write Romance, you’ll likely want to use Pinterest to find potential readers. In addition to this advice on which networks may be most helpful for you, Avoid Social Media Time Suck lays out a four-step plan to improve your social media strategy. Her plan is then supplemented with lots of tools, many of them free, that you can find online to implement your strategy depending on your target audience.
Figured out which social media sites you want to use? Check out these network-specific resources with best practices for my three favorite social media sites:
How I tripled my blog traffic with Pinterest in less than a month with fewer than 100 followers: in this blog post, Daniela Uslan walks through her strategy for increasing traffic to her website using Pinterest. Her methods include creating Pinterest-optimized graphics for her blog posts, collaborating on group boards with other relevant bloggers (which you can find using Pingroupie), and adjusting when she would pin images from her site onto her Pinterest board.
Twitter for Writers by Rayne Hall
This guide by Rayne Hall provides solutions unique to Twitter, such as what to do when you hit the following limit (formerly 2000 profiles, now 5000 as of the time of this post), hosting a chat, and using lists to curate content (discussed more below). Available on Amazon.
If you’re a book lover, you’ve probably stumbled across Goodreads, the ultimate social site for bibliophiles. If so, you probably already know how to use Goodreads as a reader. Goodreads for Authors by Michelle Campbell-Scott can show you have to use Goodreads as an author and improve your presence on this site for bookworms.
How do I find stuff to share?
Ideally, most of the content you share on social media shouldn’t be your own (besides – if you did, you’d spend all of your time on social media and no time writing!). Content curation is the art of collecting relevant resources and information to share with your audience.
Before using the tools below, take a moment to list which topics you would like to find content about. If you’re a writer, you’ve likely already begun to collect content related to writing, your genre, and books. However, as discussed above, you might want to try sharing content related to your hobbies outside of your writing. Once you’ve found your topics, you can use the following tools to find content to share:
|Buzzsumo||Search for the top shared content, sites, and influencers in your writing niche.||Writing Horror, Fantasy Books, Science Fiction Shows|
|EpicBeat by Epictions||Powerful niche researching tool. Find what content is most popular and on which platforms, who the top influencers are, which days are best to share content in your niche, and more.||Horror Games, Self-Publishing, Writing a Novel|
|Feedly||Free RSS feed aggregator. If you’ve already got blogs and websites in mind related to your content, you can insert their RSS feed into Feedly, which will automatically show you the site’s new posts||Whatever sites you follow!|
|Niche Laboratory||Simply type your writing or blogging niche into the search tool and sit back as the site prepares a report of your niche.||Writing Fantasy, Horror Movies|
|Useful for organizing users that post about a particular topic.||Writers follow Writers. Worldbuilders|
|Alltop||Search for blogs and sites related to your interests and view their latest posts.||Writing, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels|
This seems like a lot of work. How is this supposed to help me save time again?
After going through these questions you’ll have a targeted strategy for using social media in a way that you enjoy and that is more likely to connect with you people who share your interests. This alone can help prevent overwhelm caused by thinking that you have to be on every network, everywhere, all the time, and wasting plenty of time pretending to be productive while spreading yourself too thin.
When you’re happy with your strategy, you can also use these tools to save you time lots of time when posting on social media, gathering content to share, and keeping yourself on track when your to-do list is already long enough.
|Buffer||Allows you to create a stream of social media messages that will be posted at the best times throughout the day.|
|CoSchedule||Editorial calendar tool to schedule your Wordpress posts and social media posts all in one place.|
|Hootsuite||Manage your social media profiles by scheduling posts in advance, setting up searches for keywords or hashtags, and keeping track of any posts you were tagged in.|
|Evernote||Jot down notes, create checklists, and save articles from the web to read later with this tool that gives you access to your content from laptop to phone.|
|Save and categorize articles from the web. It's like having a portable favorites bar,|
|Tweetdeck||View your favorite Twitter lists, track hashtags, and organize your twitter stream.|
|Trello||Organize your writing and social media to do lists, keep track of the individual steps each goal requires, and generate a calendar based on deadlines.|
But before you get too carried away with tools to make managing social media easier, don’t forget the “social” in “social media”!
How can I avoid becoming a spammy robot?
With all of this automating, you could simply schedule all of your posts in advance and never log back onto a social media network again! That’ll leave you with a social media presence, and tons more time to write. Right?
Social media, as discussed in Rise of the Machines, should not just be you throwing stuff at others without checking out what they also have to say. Social media should be a conversation.
Though the author disagrees with social media automation, I think that it’s okay when used in certain ways. As shown through my use of the tools above, I think automating social media posts is fine – as long as you’re not pretending to have a conversation that is in reality one-sided that you aren’t actually participating in.
For example, one thing on Twitter that really irks me is when someone DMs me right after I follow them, and this turns out to be a canned, automatic message. This has gotten to the point where I no longer check DMs (and I know I’m far from the only one to do this).
I think automation of social media posts is fine as long as you also log on to respond and interact with the content that others have shared. I expect that plenty of the people that I follow on Twitter automate some degree of their tweets. And I think that’s perfectly fine, as long as they also respond when someone replies to a Tweet that they posted and genuinely interact with others. I think it would be taking it too far to schedule all of your Tweets, automatically retweet content with certain hashtags, and then never logon to Twitter again – there’s no “social” in this strategy at all. But at the same time, automation is a point of personal opinion and you may be fine with more or less automation in social media than what I use.
I hope you’ve found a new tool or strategy to help put the “social” back in “social media” in a way that works for you and saves you plenty of time!
Links to resources from this post:
- Target Market Worksheet from AllIndieWriters
- How to Identify a Target Audience for Your Book Marketing
- Avoid Social Media Time Suck by Frances Caballo
- Twitter for Writers by Rayne Hall
- Goodreads for Authors by Michelle Campbell-Scott
- Rise of the Machines by Kristen Lamb
- Content Curation Tools
- Time-Saving Tools: