As Jesper mentioned in his video on marketing books in 2019, you have to use paid ads to be visible. BUT, is paid advertising the only way to reach readers?
No. Not where there is a whole suite of social media platforms out there where people interact! These places might take time to build a following, much like building your mailing list, but it can net you not just new readers but fans. And fans are so fantastic because they will not only encourage you, they will talk about your books too!
So how do you find readers on social media?
Pick One Main Platform to Focus On
We can’t do it all, though goodness knows we try to. Save yourself a lot of pressure, as well as the potential for setting yourself up for failure due to overwhelm and pick only ONE social media platform to focus on. You’ll be so thankful later.
Having multiple accounts will not only spread you too thin, it will keep your growth slow across all of them. If you focus, you can learn the intricacies of that platform and master it. You can spend time interacting, instead of jumping to check your other accounts. Sure, you can push to other accounts if you already have profiles there as many apps and posting options allow that, but I’ll get to why that isn’t the best idea in a minute (even if I still do it, but I actually have a reason!).
So how do you know what platform to choose.
Don’t just go with the one you are on or are comfortable with. If you haven’t figured it out successful marketing isn’t about comfort. Really, it is always about stretching yourself.
So what you need to do is a bit of research. Look at the age bracket of users on the site. Do they match your ideal reader? Scroll around and look for posts about books. Are there any? Are they in your genre? Seach by keywords and hashtags. Look for interaction and organic posting of reading and book related content, especially in your genre. When you find a lot of that, join and set up your profile!
Tip: Think of this social media platform as you do your mailing list. It might take time to build, but as long as you see positive growth and interaction, you are doing it right. This is all about quality relationships, and not about spamming or quick growth, though if you hit the jackpot with a post that goes viral and wins you tons of fans that isn’t a bad thing!
Use Great Images
Just like book covers, great images catch quick attention. So you are going to want to use them.
The first rule is to know the optimum size requirements for the platform. Every single one is different and in some (Pinterest), size doesn’t seem to matter. Just like you need to follow Amazon size guidelines for your book covers, to look professional you should match the platform’s guides. A quick good search will give you what you need.
After you know that, you just need to figure out what to use!
Your book cover works! Or if you can find images that match scenes, characters, or places from your books. General reader, genre, or book images might be good too. You want a variety to keep things fresh. Check what other authors and readers are using to get a feel for what is popular.
Warning! Don’t forget if you use someone’s original art to credit the artist (and preferably ask permission before posting).
Text or no Text?
Unlike paid advertisements, you don’t have text maximums for the image like in Facebook. So, you could go crazy and put a lot of text such as quotes, memes, reviews, and excerpts. The question is should you?
See what other people are doing and feel free to experiment. Try a post with a quote, try just a fantastic image, see which one gets more likes or interactions and how many people follow you after each. You’ll get a feel for what works as you go and never stress about shaking up things once in awhile. Variety is what social media lives on!
Somethings to always consider: If you create images, add your website or profile to it so people can find you, especially if the image is shared.
What to Put in the Body
If images with little text are the thing on your social media platform, what you put in the body of the post is even more key. So what do you write?
Personal posts are fantastic. Readers like to know who you are. But they aren’t the only type of post. Try a post with a great excerpt or quote, introduce your characters, talk about your writing, where you write, what you read. Support other authors by sharing their books and posts. Make the posts engaging and fun!
What posts do you like to read on the plaform? Those are the posts you want to create.
One thing you want to use: hashtags. Not just any hashtags, but strong one. Take the time to know how hashtags are used on the platform. Can you follow hashtags? Is there a ranking system determining how your post will appear in results? Search for popular hashtags and don’t just stop at #reading #writing or your genre. Varients such as #writer #reader make a difference as well as activities and some platform variations like #readersofig on Instagram or #readersbookshelf. Spend some time gathering hashtags so that you have numerous ones to choose from and cycle through to reach different readers.
And don’t forget to know HOW MANY hashtags you can use and what you should use, which is usually different. Just because Instagram allows 30 per post, look to see what is the ideal number that gets interaction. That might be lot less!
One Post Doesn’t Rule All
This is what I mentioned at the beginning, one type post doesn’t fit every social media platform. I mean from image size requirements, text on images, what to write in the post, and numbers and types of hashtags. The flavor of all social media sites is simply different.
Even the language and tone can vary based on platform. Some like personal. I’ve always found snarky does well on Twitter while it flops on Facebook. So if you think you can create a single post and have success everywhere, you are fooling yourself. Most likely you’ll focus on the poor following on the multitude of sites even if you do well on a primary. So, save yourself the trouble and stick to one site and focus on it.
So why do I share one post from Instagram (my platform of choice) to Facebook and Twitter after telling you not to?
Because I’ve been on Twitter since 2010 and Facebook even longer than that. Instagram didn’t exist then! I was once really active on Twitter, which is how I gained of 20,000 folowers. But I’m no longer invested in it. But I have 20k followers! Facebook is similar. I have a profile, pages, and groups. I’m active in the groups and readers do occasionally look me up. I don’t want to shut down what I’ve created even though I’ve moved on to a new place.
So, I keep them in “maintenance mode” by pushing Instagram posts to my Twitter and Facebook page and timeline. I know they don’t look super pretty. They don’t get a ton of interaction, but I don’t really care. It keeps them active and a connection with the people I do care about there while my focus is elsewhere.
If you have exisiting profiles that you want to keep going, this might work for you. Just don’t stress if the growth slows. Focus on the platform where you readers are!
Would you like a cheat sheet of examples and sizes? Let me know in the comments!