How Social Media Fits Into Your Author Platform

By Rachel Thompson
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In last week’s post on author platform, I broke down the main ‘ingredients’ to your author platform. Today, and in subsequent weeks, I will break each one down into small chunks, starting with social media.

Let’s deconstruct.

What’s great about social media is that we are content curators. What does that mean? It means we share content that we feel resonates in some way with the people who follow us. It’s not the ‘all about me’ channel.

From the article: 

  • Social Media: (typically Twitter, a Facebook, Google+ (or G+ page), and one more visual channel (YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram). Many link to each other so it’s easy to say, post on Instagram and share also on Facebook or Twitter. Keep in mind that social media is not free advertising, nor is it the place to spam ‘Buy my book!’ links. It’s about connecting and building relationships.

TWITTER 

Twitter is by far my favorite social platform, because I love the amount of information and learn so much from others. I’m also able to connect with readers, book bloggers, and book reviewers, any author’s main target. Twitter (or any social media network) won’t sell books for you — it’s not free advertising (a mistake too many authors make); it’s a wonderful way to connect with your reader base, share information not related to your books (more below), and allow readers a peek, if you will, into who you are as a person. If you still think Twitter is about what you ate for lunch, you have MUCH to learn.

What I do. Here’s how I use Twitter for my author account:

  • I share something about every 2 hours (using Hootsuite primarily to schedule things in) while also live tweeting when my writing is done
  • I share quotes by favorite authors — beautiful, lyrical quotes that resonate with me in some way
  • I share links to blog posts that I’ve written on Huffington Post, here on BookPromotion.com, on my two blogs (author and business) as well as posts by others.
  • I share pictures curated from all over the web (primarily Pinterest and Flickr), anything colorful (flowers) or beautiful (landscapes or cute animals or food) that catches my eye
  • I will only very occasionally promote my current release Broken Pieces, and typically only when it’s on promotion, hit #1 on a list, or won an award
  • I’ve created some visuals out of my poetry using Pinstamatic (a great free application), which allows me to share short excerpts or lines without being overly ‘salesy.’
  • Occasional videos, if they resonate with me.

Branding is important here — you want to be consistent in what you share. So, for example, I share articles on my author account about books and book-related topics, social media, Nutella (what), sexual abuse, women’s issues, indie authors. I have created a dripfeed of relevant articles (I love Pluggio for this reason), which once a day (or more, you can set it to any schedule you want) drips news articles onto my feed. This saves me so much time and I’m still able to share ‘branded’ content that’s not all about me.

Spam. As mentioned above, spamming your links to your own books over and over is about as exciting to readers as watching Curling on the Olympics. Skip it. It’s ineffective, annoying, LOUD, and will not help your sales. Your entire platform — all the various places you share and write — plus advertising and optimization (using keywords/key phrases) will do more for your sales than spamming links on Twitter.

Timing. Though I schedule in and live tweet throughout the day, my feed is busiest in the early morning and early evening. I find that being present at those times is helpful to optimize interactions. It’s different for everyone, though. Check out (free) Tweriod for a personalized report of your optimal engagement times.

FACEBOOK 

While not a huge fan of Facebook, I’m there because my readers are. Most people have a Facebook personal account — even if they rarely use it. As authors, we are required to have a Page (where people ‘like’ it) as opposed to selling a product or service on our personal (friend) wall. Those are Facebook’s official guidelines. Creating a page isn’t difficult or really very time consuming.

I find that I connect with people at a deeper level — meaning real conversations — on my personal account. That carries over to sharing promotional news and updates on my official ‘author’ page or business page (I keep them completely separate, mostly because well, the branding is totally different).

Facebook can be very distracting for me, so I only check in a few times throughout the day. Nighttime is the most active for my friends and followers on this channel, so I spend more time there interacting, sharing, and connecting at night.

GOOGLE+

I find this platform to be helpful in that it’s a Google product, so anything I post there shows up in Google. That’s a win. I’m definitely not as interactive there as I should be, but I check in at least twice daily.

SOMETHING VISUAL 

I avoided Pinterest and Instagram for a long time because well, they seemed confusing. They’re not. I enjoy Pinterest — I find wonderful pictures to share (always giving attribution, of course) as well as utilizing it as a place to share some of my poetry and that of my favorite poets. The only limitation you will find on Pinterest is what to focus on — it’s like going to Original Cheesecake Factory and looking at their book of a menu — how does one choose?

Same branding concepts apply: create boards and pin what interests you.* It’s not difficult, but it can be a time suck. Set a time if you have to.

(*I hear a lot of whining from men that Pinterest is too girly — like any channel, it is what you make it. Yes, there are tons of wedding boards, but I don’t look at those. You can enter just about ANY topic into Search, and someone, somewhere will have pinned it. It’s a great resource and easy to share on other channels.) I also love the ‘group’ boards — a wonderful way to connect with others who have similar interests.

Instagram is easy to use on your smartphone and convenient: snap a pic, share a pic, and it goes to Facebook or Twitter if you choose. Visuals are more memorable and stimulating for us humans — pick one visual format and use it frequently. Not hourly, not even daily, but more than once every few months.

Finally, if video is your thing, YouTube is a must. Create your own videos, share relevant, related content.

TIME 

Nobody has enough time in their day to be everywhere, all the time. What you CAN do, however, is use time-saving applications (all with limited free options) like Hootsuite, Pluggio, and ManageFlitter (that’s my trifecta, right there) to schedule, follow/unfollow, find relevant articles, etc., to curate the content you want to share the most.

What are you thoughts on Twitter, Facebook, and the other channels? Have you found it to help or hurt your writing and sales? Be sure to come back next week, where I will review blogging and website optimization!

 

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