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.

    Scheduling Instagram Reels: What works and what leaves much to be desired

    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:

    • The Creator Studio isn’t super intuitive to find. To access it, you need to sign into your Facebook account and the go to business.facebook.com/creatorstudio.
    • 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.

    The drawbacks:

    • 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.

    Notion for multi-client workflow organization

    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.