What Authors Need to Know About Social Media

You're an author and you've heard it all before: You NEED social media! 

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You need this account, and that account and that new account that just came up last night and the one that's rumored to come out tomorrow and you need twenty-seven hours and nine days a week to manage your social media work.

Deep breath authors. Sure, social media helps, and yes, we're an advocate for authors using various platforms, but we also have a few strong beliefs and we're here to share them with you today.

1. You don't need every single platform

There is a lot of pressure for authors to use every single social media platform that springs up. Doing so can have an adverse reaction on you, your platform, and your readers if you don't do so properly, with a plan, or with purpose.

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We recommend learning about the different platforms and their use. Pick the one that appeals to you, your creative strengths, and your communicative strengths and nurture that platform until it's a well oiled machine, ready to run with little thought or fear.

Yes, Facebook may have over a billion users, but if you don't love all of the effort needed to understand the algorithm, native ads, retargeting, pixels, business pages, post boosting, audience filtering, etc, you may spend a lot of time to not get results. Yes, 95% of Pinterest users intend to buy or engage with what they pin, but if you're not creating pieces that speak to them, you're spending a lot of time to get no where. 

Pick one that fits your passion and nurture that baby until it's ready to go to college and become an adult, and then start your next as a compliment. The bonus? You can tell your existing audience about your expansion. They'll be so excited to learn a new side of you!

2. Different platforms have different uses

 A rookie mistake we see many authors do is creating the same content and using it the same way for every social media platform. There is a difference between creating social media support pieces for a blog you write, and taking a photo of your lunch and sharing it Instagram (who love this) and Facebook (who won't), and Pinterest (who probably want a full review, directions, pricing, menu, and to add the restaurant to a board for future vacations).

Some social media platforms are what we at Happy Writing call lyrical platforms: you use copywriting skills paired with visuals, but the magic is usually in the copy (Facebook, Twitter,  GoodReads, your blog).

Other social media platforms are what we call visual platforms: you use strong photography, illustration, or video and your user rarely reads or interacts with the copy, or the copy isn't a defining piece of your work - that doesn't mean it doesn't matter, but it isn't the key connection factor. These are platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, Litsy, etc.

3. Social media is for platform and value, not dry marketing

Nothing turns a social media user off more than a flat ad saying, "BUY MY BOOK! I HAVE A BOOK! MY MOM SAYS IT'S GREAT! BUY ME BUY ME BUY ME!"

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Social media users want value. They are giving you their time, they want their time to be nurtured and treated with respect. This means they want you to VALUE their time. Does your social media provide your reader value? What does your post add to their stream?

Now, this doesn't mean you can't use social media to sell your books. By all means, you can. But if that's all you're doing, you're not going to get anywhere. Selling should be 10-20% of your content and the other 80% should be pieces that support your brand and appeal to your ideal reader profile.

Remember - social media is a PLATFORM. If you were standing on a box in the middle of a crowded room, what would you do? The last time you went to New York, Paris, or Tokyo, did you approach and enjoy the person screaming through a bullhorn or did you stop and enjoy the music of a talented musician or the art of a street painter?

4. Don't fly blind with your accounts

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Just like each social media platform has a different use, your readers will interact, search, and utilize each platform differently. To reach your reader, you need to be able to speak to them on each of your social media platforms. In order to do this successfully, you'll need to know a few key pieces of information.

For starters, you need to know who your ideal reader even is, what they like, what they don't like, what they interact with, what they buy, and how they use the internet. There are many tools to accomplish this, and we'll talk about them in upcoming micro-classes. Our micro-classes are FREE, and delivered through email. You can sign up for our monthly micro-class by clicking here.

Next, you need to know when your key readers are using each platform, how they interact with the platform, when they're most likely to interact with you, what keywords or content they're looking for, etc.  Luckily, a lot of this data is easy to find by looking at your account analytics.  Your analytics are more than numbers - they're telling you if your content is making the mark, missing the mark, being seen, being shared, or falling in to a black hole of doom. Learn them, use them, and love them.

5. Be Social

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The start of this blog touched on this, but we cannot reiterate this enough. Social media is just that - SOCIAL media! It's meant to be a form of interaction. If you're an introvert, social media is great for you. You can stay in the comfort of your private writing lair, and you don't have to get face to face with any one (although there are opportunities to do so, like Facebook Live). 

Social media users want to feel like they're interacting with a real person. They want to feel like they are having authentic conversations, or that you want to get to know them, too. Some of our best author relationships have been forged on social media! We love every author we meet monthly via our daily Twitter game, #HappyWriting, or our Sunday chat, #HappyWritingChat that we do on Facebook and Twitter. We've seen many authors grow leaps and bounds in their fanbases just by starting a social media game.

If you're only automating your content and not making an effort to connect and nurture your audience, you're missing a huge opportunity to maximize your social media. Doing so doesn't take any more time than what you're already spending, but the results will feel like you're getting somewhere!

What do you wish someone would have told you about social media when you were just getting started? Comment below and let us know!