Social media for authors (made easy) — Part 1

If you’re an author, unless you have a full-time publicist and social media team, you need to be on social media yourself. In fact, even if you DO have a full-time publicist and social media team, your readers want to hear from you, in your own voice. They want to connect with you, engage with you, and buy books from you. And that’s where your social media platforms come in. Here’s our easy primer (part one of two!) on social media for authors.

  1. These are some of the main ways authors use social media:
  2. Facebook
  3. Instagram
  4. TikTok (and/or Instagram Reels)
  5. Pinterest
  6. YouTube
  7. In Part 2 of this post we’ll cover:

These are some of the main ways authors use social media:

• Create brand (book) awareness

• Build a following

• Promote an event such as a tour or book launch

• Sell books

Are you wondering if a website is enough to accomplish the goals above? A website is part of the recipe for success, but — like any good recipe — there’s more than one ingredient. If managed well, there’s something of a feedback loop that happens between a website and social media platforms. It looks something like this:

This is a text diagram for implementing social media for authors. The graphic shows the information flow from an author's website to social media platforms and back to the website.

I recently shared a post on how you can create up to nine pieces of social media content across three social media platforms from ONE BLOG POST. So, your website can be your MAIN HUB. But your social media platforms are spokes of that hub. Or, more accurately, funnels that gather and send potential customers (readers) back to your website.

Top social media platforms for authors include:

1. Facebook

The largest age group using this platform is between 25 and 34, but Facebook also has a small but mighty group of age 65+ users. It’s a good space to post links to blog posts, videos, event updates, photos, reviews, etc. You can create and invite followers to your events and you can also engage with other authors and publishers here. You join Facebook groups for writers and post your events on other group pages.

2. Instagram

The majority of this platform’s users are between 18 and 44. It’s image-driven with posts using photos, video, and graphics. Instagram has become a necessary platform for businesses in part because engaging content can reach well beyond a user’s follower base. (And yes, my dear author friend, YOU are a small business.) Instagram allows you to engage through short posts with an eye-catching image or video.

Expert tip: Instead of linking to your website in the profile — the ONLY link currently allowed on Instagram — use a tool such as LinkTree that allows you to share multiple links on social media. With LinkTree you “link in bio” goes to a customizable site with ALL of your links conveniently displayed: Your website, your publisher, where to buy your book, your various social platforms, and any reviews or events you want to include as well.

One more tip: Invest time in Instagram STORIES. These are posts that only last for 24 hours, but can be way more casual. Stories are a great way to give your followers a quick update and, because you can include links on Stories, they’re also a helpful tool for sales and for connecting audiences to upcoming events.

3. TikTok (and/or Instagram Reels)

“If your brand’s target audience includes anyone between the age 13 and 60, you should be on TikTok right now,” says Wallaroomedia. Perhaps. It’s a very fun and engaging platform with lots of room for experimentation and being yourself. Do you enjoy creating short form videos? Then TikTok might be for you. Keep in mind, nearly half of the demographic on the platform is between 18 and 24. If this is your audience, go for it.

Expert tip: TikTok has a GLOBAL audience, so this is an opportunity to expand your reach beyond the US.

If your audience is older, you might want to focus on Instagram Reels instead. Videos here are similar to those on TikTok, though trends follow a few weeks behind TikTok.

4. Pinterest

If you still think of Pinterest as the place to find craft or recipe ideas … you’re not wrong. But it’s also so much more. Pinterest has long been considered the social media platform for introverts because it’s MORE about sharing ideas and LESS about promoting a personality or even a brand. That’s not to say you don’t want to use basic branding principals on your Pinterest posts (such as brand colors, fonts, and logos).

Pinterest demographics: 32% 18-29 years old. 34% are 30-49 years old. 38% are 50-64 years old. This is also the platform that takes the LEAST day-to-day management, and interaction is rarely necessary or expected.

Types of pins: Static (a single image), Video pins (a single video), Carousel (a collection of image slides), Idea pins (a multi-page format featuring up to 20 pages of videos, images and text in a single pin), and Rich pins (these have embedded meta data that is synced from your website).

Expert tip: Rich pins include Product Pins, Recipe Pins, and Article Pins. Learn more about them here.

5. YouTube

This is the largest social media platform (81% of U.S. adults use YouTube) and, as I’m sure you know, contains a wide variety of video content. If you enjoy creating video content (or have someone on your team making video content for you), this is the place to post book trailers, videos from author events such as readings, and interviews. If you have a podcast, you can also post a video recording on YouTube. This is an effective way to grow an audience.

Expert tip: You can repurpose short-form, vertical video content from Instagram Reels or TikToks for YouTube Shorts. This newer feature of YouTube was introduced in September 2020. You may not have noticed shorts on your YouTube homepage yet. If not … scroll down. These  <60 second videos can be wildly creative. Or very simple and direct. YouTube just released a new guide for Creating Shorts if you’d like to learn more.

In Part 2 of this post we’ll cover:

1.  How to choose your platform

2. How to set up your social media

3. How to avoid burnout.

For more social media tips for authors follow AM/FM Broadcast on Instagram.

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