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.
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.
I recently heard the term “contentpreneure” and I like it. It describes what many of us are doing these days.
According to Forbes, “An entrepreneur who uses content as a key pillar of their business strategy. Examples include a startup producing blog posts to market their SaaS product, a consultant who creates YouTube videos to build their personal brand through informative content, or an agency that uses a thoughtful newsletter magazine as the core of how they market their services. Content is key in how one positions themselves as a thought leader, especially when produced consistently and in service of building a community.”
The article goes on to point to content creation as a route to earning (through monetization of online platforms or collaborations).
But I don’t think content creation necessarily has to be paid to have value. One of the interesting things about online marketing is that much of it is about building community. The content creator on Instagram or Pinterest is making content to share as a means of attracting potential customers to their website to purchase a product or service. But the way content creators develop customers is not through hard sell. Instead, it’s about providing value, education, entertainment, or nurturing.
I love that as contentpreneures we can fully invested both in running a business and being a maker. Was there ever a time when those two facets of entrepreneurship were so intertwined?
I’ve noticed a trend lately of friends and colleagues leaving social media to escape its toxic qualities. And yes, that certainly exists. But I’m currently inspired by the array of creative opportunities social media and online marketing are offering to innovative makers and small business owners.
Where are my master multitaskers? If you’re anything like me, you’re doing a little bit of everything (video, social media, content creation, editing, PR, media outreach, project management …) and loving it. But also going a little crazy.
How do you organize your days and weeks, and the workflows for multiple clients? I’m a lifelong listmaker so what’s working for me right now is using the Task List function in Notion in an unorthodox way.
Notion is an organizational tool that’s infinitely customizable. People use it not just for workflow organization, but also as a personal journal, to track workouts and health stats, to plan vacations, and much more. Here’s what my Dashboard (think of it as a homepage) looks like:
So what you see here are three columns. The left column is for task and idea organization, the middle column has a page for each client I work with (each page expands into task lists, goals, brand description, brand pillars, etc.), and the right column just has one thing right now—my contact lists for various campaigns.
Up until recently I was using the Master Calendar function to schedule everything that needed to be posted, such as blogs, Pinterest pins, social media posts and reels, and newsletters. My Master Calendar looks like this:
Each client has initials to identify them, followed by the posting need on the date it must go live. A red tag means it needs to be done or was pivoted away from (that way I know I can reuse that idea later). Green means it’s ding dang DONE. I like the system, but I still wanted a to-do list to jot down what needs to be done but also ideas and inspirations that come up for me. that’s how I like to work. Here’s a typical Alli Marshall to-do list:
It works! And it’s SO satisfying to cross stuff off. BUT this analog method has plenty of drawbacks. For example, see where it says “NewSong record reel”? That was a social post I was creating and it had a lot of moving parts. Still images, video, audio, and an extensive caption. I couldn’t organize those things with pen and paper because I needed them to be on my desktop so I could pull them into my Canva program where I created the reel.
So I created a new system in Notion to address this. See, notion already had a Task List function. It looks like this:
Straightforward, right? I even tried replacing my pen and paper to-do list with this digital version. But what DIDN’T work for me was the columns. All of my to-dos are To Do, unless they’re done. In which case I don’t need a column for them because: DONE. But I did need a to-do list for EACH CLIENT, all conveniently housed in one tidy document. So this is how I reworked Notion’s Task List:
What you’re seeing here is a list for each client, and each item expands to hold text, images, ideas, meeting notes, screen shots … whatever I need! It’s a big fat multipurpose multi-client multitasking to-do list extravaganza. And I imagine it will evolve. Just posting about it here has got me thinking about renaming it (perhaps: My Big Fat Multipurpose Multi-client Multitasking To-Do List Extravaganza).
As I learn more about Notion and how it helps me in my work, I’ll continue to share. I hope this post gives you ideas about how to streamline and organize YOUR workflow.