Social media for authors (made easy) — Part 2

  1. How to choose your platform(s)
    1. Tips for setting yourself up for success on social media
    2. How to avoid burnout while managing your social media

    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.

    A person attaches a sticky note to a laptop computer screen. The computer is surrounded by a coffee drink, a notebook and pen, and a cellphone.

    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 LinkTree that 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.

    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.

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

    Make up to nine social media posts from one blog post

    1. Choose a blogpost or piece of writing
    2. Make an easy content calendar
    3. Schedule your posts

    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.

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