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When I first learned about author platforms, I was dismayed to discover that social media is an essential part of building an author brand. The majority of my experience with social media has been that of doom scrolling through endless feeds for hours on end, only to resurface and realize that I haven’t gotten anything done, and it always left me feeling disheartened. Having learned more about the different platforms available, I’ve found that there are ways to leverage them as a brand.
In general, social media is all about connecting with a wider audience. This is why follows and likes have gained traction as a driving force behind audience engagement. It’s a way for a creator’s audience to give feedback and otherwise interact with the content. So what does this mean for your book? I’ve also talked about building an author platform so that your audience can find your work, which is where the connectivity of social media comes in.
This post is all about using social media in tandem with an author brand website. Whether it’s just a static “About” page with a short biography and a picture, or a full blog, or anything in between, this advice applies to having some content somewhere. In this context, the end goal is to point your audience to your content. Here are some of the social media sites I’m familiar with, and how they can be used to foster audience engagement:
Instagram is a new social media platform for my author brand and I’m most familiar with it from personal use. By using tags, you can post pictures appropriate to your content, and make your posts searchable by those tags. What I like about Instagram is that when you’re choosing tags, a helpful menu will pop up that tells you how many posts already exist with those tags. This is built-in keyword research that can give you an idea for how developed your niche is and how many people you can expect to reach. The trick is to find tags that are being used regularly, without being so common that your post will be lost in the maelstrom. For example, the tag #poetry on Instagram has almost 65 million public posts. But, being a bit more specific with a tag like #slampoetry brings that number down to under 300k. Use the tags you think will bring attention to your posts, because those posts are what will then drive traffic to you and your work. Another strategy to incorporate would be to follow other author accounts and interact with their posts (liking, commenting, etc.). This establishes you as a real person with real content that’s worth following in return.
I personally do not use Twitter, but it’s one of the big social media platforms and so deserves a place on this list. I’ve seen Twitter used successfully by authors as a way to gain exposure and interact with other authors, with the ultimate goal of networking. What makes Twitter’s mentions different from Instagram’s mentions, is that threads can be created that are fully visible to other Twitter users. The format makes it easy to have a back-and-forth exchange that ultimately gets your name and author identity out there for the world to see. As for directing your audience to your content via Twitter, you can tweet links to your posts, but the majority of your tweets should be direct communication with the rest of the community. In other words, don’t create a Twitter account and use it to exclusively post links to your site. If you’re going to go the Twitter route, you’re going to need to do actual networking and interacting with other users if you’re going to gain any traction.
Facebook in the context of an author platform is much different than using Facebook to connect with friends and family. For an author brand, you’d want to set up a Facebook page rather than an account, and then you would be the admin for that page. On it, you can talk about your work, engage with your followers once you have them, and of course point them to your website. Facebook, like Twitter, would need more text networking vs. a platform like Instagram. You could have discussions with your followers, conduct polls, host a newsletter… there are any number of ways to interact with your audience, so you just need to find what fits you as a person and you as an author. An upside of Facebook is that, assuming you’re an established user, you can share your new page with all of your friends at once (assuming you want them to be able to find your brand, which is another consideration you’ll have to make), which will give you a good starting point for a potential follower count.
This is more for bloggers than if you just have an author landing page, but Pinterest is a very powerful tool in gaining exposure for your work. You can create a business account if you already have a personal account (they link so it’s easy to switch back and forth for use as the owner of the account) and use the former as the face of your brand. It’s easy to use free tools like Canva to make eye-catching graphics that other users can pin to their boards, and other users can pin from there. It takes some time to get started, but tags can help your posts reach your audience and then they’re just a click away from being redirected to your site. Once they’re on your site, it’s likely that they’ll browse your other content, so it’s just a matter of getting them there in the first place.
There are so many social media sites out there, but these are the main four that I’m familiar with. My advice is to find one or two you’re comfortable using, and then approach the platform as a brand instead of as a sole creator. You can be both, but by keeping a brand mindset, it will be easier to focus on what you should be posting and why. Social media can be fun, but as a brand you need to approach it as work. Develop a strategy, try it for a few weeks, and then tweak it according to the response you get. Constantly update your strategy until you find a routine that works, and then you just have to maintain what you’re doing. Here are my last bits of advice for social media as part of an author platform:
- Follow other authors and try to interact with any of their content that resonates with you. You want people interacting with you, but you’re the newest person which means that you’ll have to initiate a lot of those interactions (at least at first). Try to establish relationships with other authors, especially if they’re in the same genre/format/niche you are. Networking is what social media is all about, regardless of what platform you use.
- Be consistent in posting to your account(s). I’m still getting used to posting to social media regularly, but after switching my mentality to one where my brand is my job, I’ve gained a new appreciation for social media as a tool. Your audience wants predictability and reliability, and if you can give it to them then there’s more of a chance they’ll interact with your account and ultimately your content.
- Look into integrating with your website. There are plenty of widgets in different website builders that let you automatically integrate social media into your pages. For example, Author Rescue runs on WordPress, and I have buttons in the header of every page that lead to my Instagram and Pinterest accounts. Most website builders will have an option for “social buttons” that visitors can click, which direct them to your accounts on other platforms. Social media is all about directing visitors to your content, but it’s still important to have people directed to your social media in the first place. Exposure is exposure.
- Be authentic. You’re not a content machine, and at the end of the day, social media is about one thing: connection. Think about the people you like to follow on social media accounts, and why you like their content. Is it because they’re posting every day at 7am without fail? Or is it because you like what they have to say? Maybe it’s a bit of both? The best place to start when coming up with a strategy for social media is to ask yourself, what kind of content would you follow and interact with?
What do you think? What social media platforms do you use? What do you want to try for your author brand? Let me know in the comments! And if you don’t want to miss out on any Author Rescue content, join the monthly newsletter!