When you’re hoping to becoming a commercially successful writer, writing your novel is just the beginning. Using social media to build a community (and eventually a fan base) for your writing is becoming increasingly important, whether you are a traditionally or independently published author.
Why should you be on social media?
Social media is where people go to first for their news, service/product recommendations, and to interact with companies and brands. If you scroll through any social platform you’ll see everything from authors to celebrities to restaurants using social media successfully to get their messages out. However, even if you are a little indie voice amongst all that noise, you can still be heard. Your author brand is as deserving of attention as anyone else’s. Therefore, you can harness the power of social media to find an amazing community of people who want to know more about your books and writing processes, as well as your author struggles and successes.
Increase awareness of you and your writing
Bookworms, book bloggers and casual readers alike love to recommend and discuss their love of literature online. Social media is a way for you to get yourself in front of them. Eventually, you will build a community of fans you may not have been able to reach through other marketing methods such as an author website or Amazon author page.
Being visible on social media gives potential readers a chance to get to know the person behind the stories. To get to know, like and trust you. Personally, I find Instagram has a particularly welcoming author community. Here are a few (not too overly populated) hashtags that are worth following to help you expand your author network too:
Get involved with your audience
Using social media successfully is about more than setting up a profile and hoping people flock to you. You have to do the hard, consistent work to make yourself known, and show a genuine interest in fellow writers too. In addition to targeting your posts, join relevant groups or follow hashtags (try some of those listed above!) so that you can be involved in the conversations. Answering questions or commenting on threads is a good way to gather interest in you and your work. Remember, audience quality is much more important than audience quantity. Would you rather have 1,000 engaged followers who actually care about your voice and want to read (and pay for) your work, or 10,000 random strangers who barely bother to like a post, tweet or video?
Which platforms should you be on?
Currently, the main platform choices are:
- Podcasts (either hosting your own or guest appearances)
It’s advisable to use just one or two platforms, concentrating on the ones you know how to use well (and enjoy being on!), and where your audience is. Social media can be a huge drain on your time so trying to be everywhere often leads to poorer quality content and social media overwhelm. Neither of these are beneficial for a writer!
Familiarise yourself with each platform and see what kinds of conversations are happening. Take a look at where other successful authors are producing quality content and building engagement too.
Be smart with scheduling
Although truly successful social media involves responding and interacting in real-time, you don’t want to be devoting so much time to it that it starts to hinder your writing. Authors are master procrastinators and social media is an extremely tempting distraction at times! That’s why scheduling comes in handy. You can plan some posts ahead of time (perhaps a week or two) and then just spend a few minutes each day responding to your followers or sharing content from other sources. There are a lot of great free tools out there including Hootsuite and Buffer. You can easily schedule promotions, special offers and competitions with relatively little effort, and can then get involved with the community building aspects of social media.
What should you talk about on social media?
This can be a tricky one. You need to be very careful when expressing opinions (as J.K. Rowling recently found out!), but you also want to give a true representation of yourself and your work.
In general, your content should not be overly promotional. No one is going to follow a social media account that just promotes, promotes, promotes. Instead, you should build a community through sharing insights into you and your work, other writers, things that inspire you, and cross-promotion with others.
Once you start building followers and engagement, it should be easier to generate conversations. Then, when you do promote your latest book or special offer, you have a community of fans waiting eagerly to read all about it.