I have neglected my Success with Social Media blog thread for some time, so before I dive back in, I wanted to remind you of why I started it in the first place.
As a rookie writer, I naively assumed the hard part was finishing the manuscript for my novel, followed by finding a way to get it published, but I was so, so wrong. The hardest part, BY FAR, is marketing your book to the world, and these days that means, “How do I effectively use social media?”
Over 2.7 million books are published each year in English. Of these, over 227,000 (8.2%) are fiction novels—otherwise known as my competition for readership. Even if I am one of these books on the shelf, the odds of someone finding my book are ridiculously small.
What My Research Shows
So, I realized I needed a way to become known and build a following well prior to the release of my novel. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), my novel has been delayed, which gives me more time to gain readers.
Being a scientist, I decided to conduct some research on what would be the most successful way to use social media, and this blog thread was born. I interviewed 11 authors and avid readers, and I did extensive online research. You’ll find three posts on my website at deborahmunroauthor.com about the research I did, along with three interviews. The following is the next installment.
I asked my interviewees which social media platforms they used.
• In my poll, 82% used Facebook, with 78% saying it was their first choice in social media and 50% saying it was their second choice.
• Following Facebook, in descending order, my readers used Twitter 55%, Instagram 45%, LinkedIn 27%, Pinterest 18%, and Snapchat 9%.
• In terms of popularity, following Facebook, my readers liked as their first or second choice Instagram (40% and 33%) and Twitter (17% and 20%).
Since Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were the clear favorites, these will be the focus of the next three blogs. How readers like to engage with these platforms varies, and what is acceptable on Twitter is often a no-no on Facebook, etc. So, use this information only for Facebook.
Facebook Do’s and Don’ts
For Facebook, most of my readers said once or twice a week was fine for posting something. More often than that, and people said they would “remain friends but unfollow your feed,” and once you’re unfollowed, you’re history. They won’t come back and start following you again.
Facebook is ubiquitous. You need to use it for marketing, but it has a few limitations. According to my webpage designer, Mary Ann Aschenbrenner of WaterlinkWeb.com, if you set up an author page on Facebook, that content does NOT post to your personal Facebook page. You will have to post it there separately. Thus, only people who follow your author page will see that content.
Posting on Facebook
In addition, you can set up Instagram and Twitter to automatically post things to your personal Facebook page or your author page, but not both at once. She recommends having a WordPress site, an independent author website. WordPress content and blogs can get posted to your author page on Facebook.
In spite of these limitations, I intend to set up a separate author page on Facebook. I will occasionally (once every week or two) manually repost something over to my personal page and provide the link back to my author page in the hopes some people will want to follow me.
Additional Advice for Facebook
• Remember, Facebook is a visual medium, so use color, graphics, and photos or images to keep your posts interesting.
• Short is best! Provide only a few lines and add a link for the full content on your website if necessary.
• If sharing other people’s content, always add a short summary at the top on why you shared it and what was interesting about it to you.
• Variety is key. Don’t make every post about the same thing (like about your book). I’ve provided a list below on of the most popular ideas I had with reasons as to why readers liked them.
Make your videos on YouTube so they are shareable outside of Facebook. Several of my readers said to keep them professional and interesting. Use quality images or footage and be sure to clip them down to the shortest length possible and add closed captions. Many people are reading along with your video without sound as they’re in a public place and are using their phone.
Goal is Followers
The goal of Facebook is to get people to follow you or your author page, depending on how you decide to set it up. If they officially click “follow”, then they’ll receive everything you post; otherwise, the more often they click on something you post (and “like” it), the more often your content will show up in their feed.
Finally, you can pay to boost your posts on Facebook from your author page. Some people, like self-published author Mark Dawson (who writes murder mysteries), reportedly spends $370 a day on boosting posts, and he makes over $450,000 per year. Each of his books has sold over 50,000 copies, and he does all of his advertising on social media.
Popular Topics for Blog Posts
Below is an abbreviated list of the most popular topics in descending order from most to least popular. I will post all the topics with all the details in a separate blog post.
1. It’s all about YOU, not your book. People want to engage with YOU. They’re interested in you, your opinions, your knowledge, your background, your inspiration.
2. Information or posts about the underlying science or subject of your book, or what you personally know or have expertise on.
3. Recommendations on books or short stories to read.
4. Opinion pieces you’ve written on any topic of interest to you.
5. Stories about your author journey.
6. Information and posts about the craft of writing.
7. New short stories (unrelated to your book) that they can read for free.
8. Written interviews about other authors or interesting people.
Stay tuned for my next installment on using Instagram for gaining a following. Feel free to follow my blog to not miss a single post!