To kick-start December’s Social Media month, we asked author and social media trainer Jon Reed to give us his top five social media tools, and give his expert advice on how authors can effectively utilise them. Jon worked in academic publishing for 10 years and his blog, Publishing Talk, has the largest publishing community on Twitter. Enjoy!
Whether you are traditionally or self-published, marketing your book is usually largely down to you. This can seem a daunting prospect. But the good news is that one of the best ways to connect with your audience and find new readers is with social media – and it is easier than ever to do so with freely available tools. These tools will reach your target audience because so many people now use social media; and will help sell your books because more people buy books online than from the big chain bookstores.
There are a lot of tools out there. But you don’t need to use everything. You don’t even need to use everything in this list. Choose the ones that seem most appropriate to the audience you’re trying to reach. I would recommend using at least one ‘content’ tool (e.g. blog, podcast, video) and one ‘outreach’ tool (i.e. a social network such as Twitter or Facebook) to promote that content. Here are my top five suggestions:
If you use only one social media tool, make it a blog. It is the essential starting point and the content engine for your social media strategy – and you can be up and running in minutes if you use WordPress. Build a blog-based platform by sharing your posts automatically to social networks and on sites such as Goodreads and your Amazon.com author profile. A blog is the obvious content tool for writers, and you will often have a bank of content readily available, in the form of bloggable book extracts. But you can also write about the writing process, the topic of your book – or indeed anything you like. Use it to share your passions and develop your voice. Don’t go for a hard sell, but include a link to your book at the bottom of your posts and/or in your blog’s sidebar. And include social bookmarking buttons (‘tweet this’, ‘share on Facebook’, ‘pin this’ etc.) so that your readers can easily share your content with their own networks.
Once you have some content, you need to make people aware of it. Twitter is a brilliant tool for promoting blogs, and this a good reason for building up your followers. What’s more, you can tweet your blog posts automatically using a free tool called Twitterfeed. Once configured, whenever you hit the ‘Publish’ button on a new post, the title of the post and a link back to it will automatically tweet itself. But don’t just tweet your own posts – share other people’s content that you think your followers will find interesting too. You can also use Twitter to promote time-limited discounts, giveaways, contests and other promotions. But focus on sharing useful, interesting or entertaining content more than sales messages.
Facebook is worth a look if only because it is by far the largest network. You can, of course, use your personal profile. But Facebook pages have become the standard way of using Facebook for promotional purposes. Pages are open to anyone to view, offer greater flexibility, and loads of stats about who your fans are and how they interact with your content. You may choose a Facebook page for a specific book, or an author page to promote your writing more broadly. You can use Twitterfeed to share blog posts to your Facebook profile and/or page too, to keep people engaged. Bespoke ‘tabs’, or pages within your Facebook page, give you even more control. Use them to encourage people to sign up to your email list, download a sample chapter, or receive some free content in exchange for a ‘like’ using a ‘fan gate’.
LinkedIn is more than just an online CV/ résumé: it is another place to reach readers. It is particularly useful if you are trying to reach any professional group. One of the options for things to add to your profile is Publications. As a minimum, make sure you do this – and be sure to fill in the URL field so that people can click through to your website, blog or sales page. Then drag this box towards the top of your profile, under Summary, to make it more visible. You can also use Twitterfeed to push your blog posts through to your profile. Join some relevant LinkedIn groups – or maybe start your own – and share your blog posts there too.
Pinterest does have a smaller user base – but it punches above its weight in terms of driving traffic to your blog. In some ways, Pinterest is just another social bookmarking site, as the images pinned to its users’ virtual boards all come from websites that they link to. But because people are much more likely to click on images than text, the click-through rate is far greater. Any author can benefit from Pinterest – though its use is more obvious for ‘visual’ genres such as travel writing or children’s books. But even if you don’t want to be on Pinterest, make sure your blog posts are ‘pinnable’ by those who do. That means you need to include an image on every blog post.
Social media marketing doesn’t have to be an onerous task. You don’t need to use every tool, and you can automate some of the processes. But it pays to spend a bit of time thinking about your goals, and which tools will help you achieve them. Then get out there and let people know about your book!
Find out more about these tools, and many more, in the new edition of Jon Reed’s book Get Up to Speed with Online Marketing, available now at Amazon.co.uk. Sign up to Jon’s free 5-day email course, Plan Your Online Marketing, to learn more about setting up your social media campaign.
Have your own useful Social Media tools? Share them below!
Find our more about Social Media Marketing on our advice pages.