What would our world be without social media?
Better, some might argue.
But whether we love it or loathe it, social media has become a necessary piece of the marketing pie for almost every industry, and books are no exception. If you’re an author, you’ll need to promote your books, and social media is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective ways to do so. But running a successful social media campaign isn’t always as straightforward as you might think. Many authors have tried for years to grow their social media platforms to no avail, and they generally have no idea what they’re doing wrong. Others are just getting started, and want to learn how to do it right. So we’ve put together a guide to help you grow your following and increase your engagement which, when done correctly, should lead to more book sales.
How to Run a Successful Social Media Campaign for Authors
1. Share a mix of content
Social media marketing is less about actually promoting your book and more about promoting your thoughts, ideas, and interests while keeping your book easily available. In general, people don’t like the feeling of being sold something; they’d rather feel like they’re making the decision to buy themselves. So if all you ever share are posts about your book and where they can go to buy it, they’ll be less inclined to listen.
Be sure to include a peek into your personal life, even if it feels unrelated or uncomfortable. Remember your followers are real people and they want to get to know you. If you love to cook, maybe you want to show photos of you making a meal for your family. If you travel or adventure outdoors, share that. If you like to drink tea and read with your pets curled up on your lap, pictures of this will allow a glimpse into your world. In doing so, you’ll gain more of their trust and they’ll then be more inclined to want to learn more about you and your work.
We recommend choosing 3-4 types of content to share regularly, including content that is directly about your book, with a link to buy it. Here are some ideas to pull from:
- Behind the scenes images of your writing process
- Links to your blog posts or other published content (other than your book)
- Images of your life and things you like to do
- Other books or things you are reading or listening to
- Video or audio of your own voice talking about the book or characters
- Other people’s content that’s relevant to your book and brand, such as videos, images, quotes or links to their pages.
2. Post consistently
You’ll want to rotate the types of content you post, and make sure you’re posting consistently. All of the social media platforms utilize an algorithm of sorts, and these algorithms tend to favor those who post new and relevant content consistently on their pages. The more often you can post, the better, but the most important thing is to stay consistent and post:
- Every other day at a minimum (daily or multiple times a day is most effective)
- A rotation of content types so that you are not posting the same thing every day
If you can commit to posting three times per week, make sure one is a personal post, one is about your book and one is to other people’s content, for example. If that sounds exhausting or impossible, hang in there. You might not know, but there are lots of digital tools that allow you to schedule your social media content in advance. You can create large batches of content and schedule them according to your calendar so that you don’t get burnt out trying to come up with new ideas every day. Utilizing a free or paid scheduling tool like Later or Hootsuite, depending on which channels you’ll be posting on, can free up your time and eliminate the stress that often comes with committing to a consistent posting schedule. Some platforms, like Facebook, have their own scheduling ability, but you can find free and low-dollar, third-party systems that will allow you to schedule to several different platforms in one dashboard.
3. Use hashtags
For most social media platforms, content is searchable by hashtags. It’s a good idea to research relevant hashtags on your platform of choice, and use several with each post. When starting out, try to choose hashtags that have around 100,000 uses over ones that have millions. The more used a hashtag is, the shorter lifespan your post will have in its feed. So choosing a popular but less widely used hashtag will give your content a longer search life.
Not all hashtags are universal across platforms, so make sure you research Twitter hashtags on Twitter, and Instagram hashtags on Instagram, for example.
4. Use several platforms
There are a lot of social media platforms to choose from these days, and it can be overwhelming to try and use them all. In fact, we don’t recommend that. It’s best to choose the 2-3 platforms you know and enjoy (or are interested in learning) and focus on doing them well. It won’t do any good to spread yourself too thin and try to post everywhere.
If you aren’t yet on social media or you’re unsure which ones you want to focus on, do your research and find the platforms you think are the most likely places for your target readership to hang out. It might also be worth taking the time to learn how each platform works and the different ways you can post content on each in case one appeals to you more (like doing live video versus writing short tweets, for example).
If you already have a large following on a social platform, you should definitely leverage this; a warm audience is much more likely to engage than a cold one.
5. Keep your branding consistent
As with any marketing strategy, branding is a key component. It might seem subtle but keeping consistent colors, fonts, styles, language, etc. across all of your platforms helps you become easily recognizable when people are scrolling through their feeds. Assuming you haven’t worked with a branding consultant and that you already have a website, the easiest way to do this is to use the elements already present on your site. When you create content for your social platforms, utilize a graphics program like canva or photoshop to create a similar design style. Once you’ve decided on a general direction, you can just use those as templates for future posts.
For your profile pages, make sure to upload the same high resolution profile image and banner to each platform, so you’ll have consistency across your website and all social media pages.
6. Track your reporting / analytics
It’s a good idea before starting out to create small goals for each account and what results you would like to achieve. Then check your success either bi-monthly or monthly (almost all the social media sites offer analytics in the backend of your page/profile) and make any necessary adjustments. This is probably the most underused and most useful free tool for authors.
Some of the analytics that are most important when starting out are:
- The days and times when people are most engaged with your content (then you can start scheduling your posts for these times).
- Which type of content is getting the most engagement (views, clicks, etc); then you might want to adjust your content calendar accordingly.
- How many new followers you’re gaining. Do you find you get more on days you post? This will boost your momentum!
- The demographics of the people on your page so you can target them more appropriately.
7. Engage with your audience
It might sound obvious, but many people fail to accurately participate in the social part of social media. It’s an avenue to actually connect with like minded individuals, after all, so you should do your best to reply to all comments and messages in a timely manner. Doing so will not only show that you’re interested in your followers and what they have to say, but also tells the algorithm that you’re active, and that back and forth will be rewarded.
Alternatively, it’s a good idea to follow pages similar to yours and engage with their content. They’ll be more likely to do the same, and that’s how you develop your online community.
Sticking to these basic best practices will get your social media campaign started on the right track. It will likely start slow, but you will begin to see growth. Once you get your branding and content narrowed down, and get into a rhythm of scheduling regular posts, you’ll find that you’ll be ready to take your social media to the next level (maybe you want to run ads or organize a giveaway). Stay tuned for more advanced social media tips, or check out our social media services.
Download our free ebook to learn how to run your book launch!