When it comes to promoting your writing and your brand on social media, the options can be overwhelming. What content should you post and how often? What is the difference between all of the platforms, and which are the best, specifically, for writers and authors?
Writers often think and fear that they need to be active on all of the various platforms: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, and whatever new one has yet to be invented. It’s no wonder that this thinking leads to a common complaint that creating social media content requires giving up precious writing time. If you’re overwhelmed by this thought, we have good news: you don’t need to do it all.
Choosing one or two platforms to focus on will not only allow you to put all of your energy into the platforms you most enjoy spending time on, but also eliminate the stress that comes from spreading yourself too thin and only partially engaging in all of them.
So, naturally, your next question might be: How do you choose which one or two to focus on?
Social Media for Writers: Which Platform(s) Should You Use?
Here are a few things to consider before you decide:
- Think about where you already spend your time. Do you find that you open Instagram multiple times a day and, even though you have a Facebook account, you almost never check it?
- If you already have a channel with a large following, it might be worth it to re-engage with them.
- Think about your target audience and where they exist on the internet, as well as what will best serve your author brand (a little research on the platform’s user demographics should give you some good insight).
- Find authors similar to yourself and take note of which platforms they’re utilizing.
Below, we’ve covered all of the popular platforms you might want to choose from, with a brief overview of their user demographics and best practices for posting content, so you can get an idea of which one(s) sounds like a good fit for you and your brand.
Facebook is the oldest and largest social network around, with 2.8 billion active monthly users. It’s a safe bet that your target market is likely hanging out there. According to the statistics posted on SproutSocial, a majority of users fall between the ages of 18 and 44. However, of the 65+ demographic, over 46% use Facebook, which is more than all the other social media sites covered here.
If you decide to focus on Facebook, the best thing to do is create an author page (which will be associated with your personal profile, but kept separate so you don’t have to “friend” everybody). An author page will allow you to follow Facebook’s terms of service and serve ads to your audience if you would like to increase your following and readership that way.
In addition, you can create a Facebook group, or interact with existing Facebook groups (1.4 billion users are active in groups) in your particular niche to boost engagement on your own author page and form stronger connections.
In order to get the most out of Facebook, you’ll want to post new content on both your page and in your group (if you choose to create one), and make sure to do the following:
- Post a mix of content, videos, personal, and posts about your book(s)
- Take advantage of the ability to share links…like the link to buy your book! Make sure the link preview looks good. If not, you can change the image.
- Use vertical videos. They tend to generate 40% more engagement than landscape videos since most people use social media on their mobile devices.
- Feature your latest book or all of your books in the header image on your page
- Keep your branding (images, colors, fonts, etc) consistent with your website and other platforms where you’ll be marketing your book.
Twitter has 187 million active users, of which 70% are male, according to the popular social planning tool, Hootsuite. You’ll want to keep this in mind, especially if your book is more targeted to a specific gender. It’s also a fairly young market, with nearly 30% of its users falling between 25-34 years old.
Twitter is all about text posts, or tweets, which are limited to 140 characters, though in recent months they’ve expanded their video capabilities as well. You’ll find a big community of authors here, which should come as no surprise on a text-based platform!
The idea behind the limitation on characters is that tweets are often more conversational than a static post on your Facebook page, and the best (and often most difficult) way to engage with others on Twitter is to participate in popular hashtags. You’ll want to pay attention to which hashtags are trending, and use them in all of your posts to increase engagement. Since new tweets are posted constantly, yours will be quickly buried unless a hashtag can categorize it and keep it alive.
While you’ll find a very supportive #writingcommunity for example, the same rule applies here: Don’t be afraid to post about things other than your book! Your followers will want to know more about you, your thoughts and ideas.
Of all the platforms, Twitter has perhaps the highest necessity for engagement. Participate in conversations, retweet posts in relevant hashtags or from other authors. Follow people who follow authors in your genre, and actually engage with them and their content.
If you prefer to curate a profile through images, Instagram is the platform for you. The majority of users on Instagram are under 40, so you’ll want to make sure that aligns with your target readership before committing to this visual platform. In fact, 71% of U.S. adults aged 18-29 use the platform, though 87% of Instagram’s user base is from outside the U.S.
Instagram offers various ways to display your content, and the best way to increase visibility and engagement is to try and utilize each of them consistently. Heads up: if having enough photo and video content sounds like a headache, you might want to steer clear of this app.
The four content tools are:
- Posts are image or video posts that will appear in your curated gallery (aka profile page), and what will show up in the scroll when your followers search their feed. The more often you post here the best, but consistency is key.
- Stories are vertical video snippets that are connected with your profile image, and they are only live for 24 hours. It’s best to stay active here daily, but you have the freedom to highlight anything you like, and you don’t have to stay on brand.
- Reels are snappy videos that show up on this latest featured feature – this is now the main center button on instagram and the most watched area of the platform
- IGTV offers an area for longer format videos, so it’s a good place to speak in depth about your book, your brand, your mission, etc. and save them to the top or your profile for easy access.
Like with most other platforms, Instagram is organized by utilizing relevant and popular hashtags. It pays to do a little research and find hashtags that are trending for the kind of content you wish to publish. But also, it helps to follow some of these hashtags and engage with the users who are posting content there to try and increase your own following. For example, there are thousands of #bookstagram accounts which are just individuals posting about what books they are reading. If you can connect with this audience, you will have a strong following in no time.
To make sure your Instagram profile is optimized, make sure you’re staying consistent with your branding (across all platforms and your website). Also, you’ll want to ensure you’re utilizing a link sharing app like linktree in your bio, since instagram doesn’t allow links in posts. Unless you want to change your one bio link constantly, you must put all of your links into a third-party program and then include this link in your bio so your followers will have access to any links you mention in your posts/stories/reels/IGTV, including the link to buy your book / see your website.
Yet another platform for the visual authors out there, Pinterest offers a different take on a social sharing platform. Probably the least social of all the social sites, Pinterest’s algorithm isn’t based on how many comments and likes you receive, so it can be appealing to those of you who dislike the engagement aspect necessary for most other platforms. But, there’s more to consider before diving into this anti-social gem.
For starters, without that engagement, it’s much harder to convert followers into fans. But, considering there are 478 million active users, and 89% of them go to Pinterest for inspiration before purchasing something they either want or don’t yet know that they want, it could be a great way to increase your book sales. Plus, the new in-app purchasing availability can make this as simple as one click.
Keep in mind, 77% of Pinterest users are female, so it’s probably best for authors who’ve written to this audience.
When it comes to actually setting up your account, it can be a bit more complicated than some of the other platforms, but once the initial setup is done, it’s really easy to remain consistent.
You’ll want to do the following to insure the highest rate of success:
- Get a business account. Its free to convert your personal one if you already have it, and a business account will allow you to serve ads
- Make sure your profile is on brand
- Create themed boards that all relate to your brand. If you want to keep some of your existing boards for personal use, just make them private. Follow similar accounts and engage with them.
- Share posts from your own website (stick to consistent branding, and make sure they’re vertical!), as well as other people’s pins.
- Get your account verified. This is an extra step you need to apply for, but it will allow you to see more analytics.
- Post consistently. The more active you are, the more Pinterest will show your pins to others.
LinkedIn began as a way for business professionals to connect, and has remained largely the same today as it was when it launched in 2002. If you are a non-fiction author, especially in the business or leadership genres, LinkedIn is a great way to leverage your business audience.
With over 675 million users on the site, and an equal number of men and women, you can expect to reach mostly professionals between the ages of 26-55.
The best way to get started is to create a profile and connect with all the people you already know professionally, or anyone you think might benefit from your book(s). You’ll also want to post fresh content, either from your website/blog or post interesting thoughts or information related to your niche. LinkedIn’s algorithm rewards you for high-quality content and will show your posts to more people than Facebook or Instagram. The more engagement you receive, the longer it serves your posts to new audiences who may like it.
LinkedIn will also let you serve ads to a targeted audience, and if you join their paid membership plan, you can message users directly whom you think might benefit from your book. As with many of the other sites, the more often you post, the higher your engagement will be. And using hashtags will help the site sort your content to the right audience.
If you’re already creating video content for Facebook and Instagram, you may as well add them to your Youtube channel. It’s easy to create a channel, and you can just as easily create settings so that your videos will be served to your primary audience. Youtube is the world’s second-most visited site, next to Google, with over 2 billion active monthly users, and more than 80% of the U.S. market accessing the site every day. It’s highly likely that your future readers are consuming video content here.
Booktubers (readers who review books via video) are very popular, and engaging with them could assist your personal following or assist with receiving book reviews for your own books.
The best way to grow your Youtube channel is to stick with a brand/theme. If you wrote a book about business leadership, for example, you might create lots of video content with both tips from the book, and those that didn’t make it into the book to give your followers a reason to keep coming back for more.
Another way might be to talk about writing. You could give tips for aspiring authors, or talk about the self-publishing process, or anything else you’re an expert on.
Probably the newest platform on the scene, and one of the fastest growing, TikTok already has over 1 billion users. And if you’re writing for a young audience, Tiktok is where you want to be; over 80% of the U.S. users alone are between 16-34.
It’s a short-form video platform and the best way to grow your profile is to keep an eye on current trends and create similar videos to participate in those trends. Perhaps the most relevant trend is called BookTok, which is made up of a community of readers and writers who share books they love and make jokes about reading.
TikTok is still evolving, but they’ll soon be adding in-app purchases, so it could be one of the easiest ways to sell a lot of books…if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to post consistent video content and learn how to make it go viral. Since it’s still new, it’s the easiest platform to make your content go viral!
While Goodreads has the innate ability to be a useful social media tool for writers — it was created specifically for authors and readers, after all — due to it’s outdated user interface, most of its 90 million members use it only to keep track of the books they’ve read.
That said, every author should at least claim their profile / books on Goodreads, so that you’ll be searchable if and when readers do look for you. Readers can also rate and review your book, for good or for bad.
If you do want to utilize it to get your book out there, a couple things you can do are:
- Read and review other authors’ books
- Search the Goodreads lists, and add your book(s) to all relevant lists. This will help users who didn’t know they were looking for your book find you.
- Make sure your profile is branded and optimized
- Friend people who follow authors similar to you, and comment on their reads
There you have it! It can be a daunting list to choose from, but hopefully this overview will give you enough of an idea about which social media tool is best for you. Once you’ve narrowed down the platform(s) you’re going to use, make sure you do everything you can to optimize your profile, post consistently, and grow your following!
Starting from scratch means it will likely take a long time to gain traction with any of these social platforms, but staying consistent, engaged and onbrand will undoubtedly lead to book sales in the future.
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