In this five-week workshop we’ll cover how to use social media platforms for book launch campaigns and to build your brand as an author. Topics include how to pick the right social media platform for you, how to create social media posts from the writing you’re already generating, how to plan a monthly social media calendar, and how to manage your social media platforms without burnout!
Although social media can feel like one more thing to add to your already busy life, it’s a necessary part of promotion. Authors are small business owners — solopreneurs, if you will. That’s why it’s important to use social media platforms to market your product and your brand. But authors are also creatives, and there are so many ways to use social media to engage your creative side (and that of your followers).
This workshop is for all levels with a focus on those fairly new to social media. You should have basic computer skills and feel comfortable navigating the internet. You do not need to have a social media account set up in order to take part in this class, but for those who do, we can answer specific questions about your account(s). We will discuss Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and we will use the free version of Canva to create graphics.
After five weeks, you will be able to create a sustainable social media strategy and monthly content calendar for at least one social media platform.
Instructor: Alli Marshall
Meets online via Zoom. Wednesday evenings starting March 22, 6:00-8:30.
Social media is an important part of the marketing and brand awareness strategy for any author. As I pointed last week in Social media for authors (made easy) Part I, 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.
In Social media for authors (made easy) Part I, we went through the various social media platforms, what differentiates them, and what they each have to offer. In this post we’ll talk about how to choose one or more platforms, how to set yourself up for success on social media, and how to avoid burnout when managing your social media.
How to choose your platform(s)
1. The most important question to ask yourself is: Where does your audience hang out?
If your readers predominantly flock to Pinterest, you don’t want to invest your time creating TikToks. On the other hand, if you’re writing Young Adult fiction, your readers probably gravitate to younger platforms (such as TikTok) rather than a professional site such as LinkedIn.
Take the time to do some research. One way to figure out where YOUR audience hangs out is to look at the audiences of other successful artists in your genre. If you were to create a “RIYL” (Recommended If You Like) list for your writing, what well known authors would you include to give potential readers some idea of what to expect? Make that list with five names and then look up what social media platforms THOSE authors use.
2. What platforms do YOU enjoy spending time on?
This matters a lot. Do you enjoy creating video content? Do you HATE creating video content? Do you want to engage with your audience or be more hands off? When choosing a social media platform to promote your work, expand your brand, and sell your product, you want to be sure it’s a platform on which you actually want to show up. If you really can’t stand Facebook, pick something else — your followers are likely in more than one place. What we’re doing here is looking for the Venn diagram of social media where you and your audience meet.
3. What sort of content do you like to create?
We covered this a little bit above, but it bears repeating. There are several parts to social media: The image, the headline, the caption, and the call to action. Different social platforms highlight these elements differently. Instagram is all about the image (or video). The caption matters, but you’re attracting attention with the image. Facebook, on the other hand, makes it easier to post and share links (no need to say “link in bio”). Reels are a fun way to show off your creativity in short form video or share a direct message to your audience by speaking to them on camera.
4. Pick one social media platform to start.
Weigh all the options we discussed above and then create a sustainable strategy. Follow your plan for at least three months. Get really comfortable with one social media platform before adding another to your marketing plan.
Tips for setting yourself up for success on social media
1. Consistency is key.
When creating a social media platform, pick a name that is easily recognizable — ideally your first and last name. Use the same name across platforms (my personal accounts use @alli_marshall because @allimarshall was already taken). If your first and last name aren’t available, try last and first name. Or first and last and author, or writer: @allimarshallauthor, @authorallimarshall, @allimarshallwrites, @booksbyallimarshall.
2. Be professional and recognizable.
Use a professional photo that shows your face. If you’re an author, use your author photo. Use your book cover or some portion of your book cover as your background image. If that’s not an option, choose an image that connects with your writing.
3. Fill in your profile.
Using key words that relate to your field of writing (fiction, novelist, horror, fantasy, young adult, poetry, creative nonfiction, etc.). And add your website link or (for Instagram) a tool such as LinkTreethat allows you to share multiple links on social media. With LinkTree your “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.
4. Add your social media link(s) on your website.
Also, in your link tool and on your social media platforms add links to easily connect followers to your other platforms. It’s all about networks and connections.
How to avoid burnout while managing your social media
1. Start by creating a monthly schedule.
You can create an easy content calendar by following the steps I laid out in this blog. Using a blank calendar page or template, lay out a month of post ideas for yourself. I recommend starting with three posts per week and rotating between tips (or other added value content), engagement (such as personal stories, behind the scenes glimpses into your writing space, photos of you at an author event, etc.) and sales posts. Sales doesn’t have to mean only “Buy my book.” You can share a review, a photo of someone reading your book in a fun or unexpected place, or a quote from the book. The important part is that the call to action is something like, “Learn more and find my book” and a purchase link.
2. Create content in advance.
Instead of trying to create a post each day, set aside 30 minutes per week or two hours per month to batch-create content. You’ll find it goes much easier when you’re not up against a deadline. And, when you have your content created in advance you can also SCHEDULE in advance. That means never having to remember a posting day. I’ve included some information about scheduling posts here.
3. Repurpose content.
This is not only efficient, but also good marketing. A person has to see a post something like seven times before they connect with it. Sharing the same message more than once (as long as it’s timely and on brand) helps readers to really see and hear your call to action. You can also repurpose content from your blogs, interviews, online articles, and even podcasts or radio interviews. I will share a post soon about how to download and edit audio content for social media posts.
4. Let yourself off the hook.
You want to show up consistently for your book and your brand. But sharing your work as an author should feel like more of a joy than an obligation. Follow your strategy and be as regular as you can with it. But also know that if your gut is telling you to spend your time taking a walk in the sun, or calling a friend or, I don’t know … writing? Do that. Posting can wait. Social media will still be there tomorrow. Your mental health, physical health, and creative well being are far more important than any sale.
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.
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:
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.
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 atool 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.
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).
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.
Are you a writer or blogger? Do you find that creating narrative comes easily for you but knowing how and what and when to post on social media is a bit of a mystery (if not an outright frustration)? Here are some simple steps for turning your longform writing into Facebook and Instagram posts and Pinterest pins. In fact, you can create up to NINE social media posts from one blog or article!
Choose a blogpost or piece of writing
This blogor article must be published and linkable online. From this post you’ll create several pieces of social media content:
• A Facebook post announcing the blog / article / story and sending readers to it. For this, you’ll need the link and a caption that briefly introduces your piece of writing.
• A Pin for Pinterest. You will design a simple graphic with an image representing the story. It can be as basic as the title in a nice font and color palette.
• An Instagram post that is a graphic of a quote from the piece. You can repurpose your caption from your Facebook post.
• An Instagram story with a graphic (you can repurpose your Pinterest pin design) or short video of you announcing your story. Use the links feature on Instagram stories to paste in the direct link.
Want to get more traction from that same blog / article / story?
• Pull out a specific quote or idea and make it into a graphic for Instagram or Pinterest.
• Are there tips? Pull out 3-5 for an Instagram carousel (multi-image) post. You can also post this to Facebook.
• Share a key point in a reel (short-form, vertical video on Instagram). You can repurpose up to 1 minute of that video for an Idea Pin on Pinterest.
So now you have possibilities for up to 9 (!!!) posts across three social media platforms, all from one published piece of writing. With 2-3 blog / article / stories per month, you can fill a content calendar.
Make an easy content calendar
1. Print out a blank calendar template for the upcoming month. You can also make a content calendar in Google Sheets following these steps.
This will also allow you to create a social media calendar template that you can use again and again.
2. First, fill in anything you know you want to post about such as upcoming author events, book signings, workshops, public appearances at festivals, etc.
3. Next, fill in the posts you will create from your 2-3 blog / article / stories per month. I suggest 3-5 posts per week across platforms. So, perhaps 2 Facebook posts, 2 Instagram posts, and one Pinterest pin. As time goes by, you’ll get a sense for which platforms perform best for you and you can give those platform more attention.
4. If you still have calendar days in need of posts, consider making quote graphics. There are so many wonderful quotes by noteworthy artists about the craft of writing, the experience of writing, publishing, creativity, etc. Using a tool such as Canva (the free version is excellent), you can create a beautiful graphic template and simply change out the quote each time you reuse it.
So, now you have post ideas and you have an easy social media content calendar ready to implement.
Schedule your posts
Yes — schedule! You can make graphics and write captions for your, content in advance. Why not post it in advance, too?
1. If both your Facebook page and Instagram account are business accounts, you can link them in the Meta Business Suite. From there you can post to both accounts and schedule them to post on any date, at any time. There’s even a built-in tool to choose the optimal time, when your posts have the best chance of reaching your audience.
2. You will need to post separately to Pinterest, either from your desktop or the app on your phone.
3. If you’d prefer to post to all of your accounts on one platform, consider a social media management tool such as Later, Loomly, or the very affordable SocialBu.
Those are the basics! If you have questions, don’t hesitate to message me. Want a tutorial? We can schedule a Zoom meeting. Ask me about pricing.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, please sign up for my bi-weekly email which provides more tips, trick, ideas, prompts, and good vibes for creators of all genres.
Social Media Today announced that Meta has launched new reels features in the Creator Studio App (which can also be used on your phone or desktop / laptop).
Among those features is the ability to schedule reels and that’s a big deal if you’re a content creator. Reels, for those who aren’t familiar, are short-form, vertical videos that appear on Facebook. They’re usually less than a minute, though Instagram has started to allow longer reels.
You’ve probably heard by now that video is the most popular form of content across social media platforms. Instagram Reels were launched about two years ago to compete with the short-form video platform Tik-Tok. Pinterest is encouraging its users to create Idea Pins (formerly known as Story Pins), which also use short-form vertical videos. And even YouTube now hosts YouTube Shorts, which are vertical videos of one minute or less.
Anyway, until recently, Instagram Reels couldn’t be scheduled in advance, though the planner in Meta’s Business Suite allowed for scheduling of Facebook and non-reels Instagram posts. And that’s kind of problematic if you’re trying to incorporate popular video material into your social media posting strategy yet have to remind yourself to post it. Or you have to make time during your busy to week to post and create at a time when the reel is likely to get the most viewers (for me that’s around 7 p.m., but your followers might be online at a different time). Or you have to make reels when you’re able to, or inspired to, and post them then and there in the hopes that the timing will work and the content will get plenty of engagement.
So being able to schedule is HUGE (!!) … but only if it works. So I tried out the new features in the Meta Creator Studio. Here’s what I found:
Once there, the directions for creating a reel a pretty straight forward: Upload a video. Trim it to one minute max, and resize it if needed in the resize screen. To CAPTION your video, you need to click “back” to return to the first screen (as opposed to captioning as the last step, which is the order of operations when you post a reel directly from your Instagram app).
Finally, click publish to schedule your reel for a future date.
In the Creator Studio you, rather ironically, don’t have creative tools for your reels. No stickers, no filters, no text and no close captions. You also can’t add music or a voice over.
I found a work around to this by importing my video to the Instagram app and adding close captions there, then downloading it to my phone and re-uploading it to the Creator Studio. You can do this with EITHER captions OR music, but for some reason you can’t save and download a draft with both.
You can’t edit clips other than trimming the beginning or ending, and you can’t import more than one clip at a time.
You don’t have the option to add a location, which is especially important for those promoting and event, a brick and mortar business, or a city or neighborhood.
You CAN add hashtags and tag other accounts, but neither autofill from your previously used tags or your followers.
You can’t edit or add a cover image.
I did go ahead and schedule my post through the Creator Studio, but it’s a far from ideal system. In fact, the reel I scheduled went live on my Facebook feed but NOT on Instagram. (You had ONE JOB Creator Studio!!) If you plan to use this featuring for scheduling reels, I suggest first editing your reels in a program like Canva, Premiere Pro or Davinci Resolve so that you can colorize, add text and transitions, pull in photos and additional film clips, music, voice overs, etc.
Export your completed reel video and upload it to the Creator Studio for scheduling, if you want to try it. Though I recommend waiting for Meta to smooth out the kinks.
Another option, if you’re interested in paying for a subscription to a social media management platform, is to find a platform that includes scheduling reels. Some that have this feature include Hootsuite, Planoly, and Metricool.
More options should be popping up soon. Instagram unveiled its Reels API to all social media management platforms in July and many, like Buffer jumped at the opportunity to offer drafting, scheduling, and auto-publishing of Instagram Reels. The services are included with subscriptions.