This is the last in journalist Rebecca Whittington’s series of author basics. In this post, she talks about social media, an often intimidating aspect of book promotion, and one that’s easy to get wrong. I believe that the mindset of what the author wants to achieve through social media is hugely important, as is thought on the content you post. Rebecca explains here how discipline is good practice, and the different platforms authors could use, with a focus on Twitter. Enjoy!
If you want to promote your work to the masses without paying a fortune, one simple way to reach people is through social media. However, be warned, this method, though free, is not always easy; it takes work, time and effort to get results.
The best way to get social media to work for you is to start out with a plan. Identify which social media platform(s) you want to use to begin with – the main contenders, due to popularity and ease of use, are Facebook and Twitter, but there are other social media opportunities out there, like YouTube and What’sApp. I’d suggest starting simple and building on your offering if you want to later down the line.
It’s worth setting up new profiles for your project, even if you already have social media accounts in existence. This will allow you to build a tailored audience for your publishing project and also allow you to use your personal platforms to share and spread the word about your book without the boundaries between work and your own social media blurring.
It takes time to build an audience on social media, so don’t expect miracles overnight. On Twitter, the first thing you should do is follow other people, i.e. those who might be interested in your book, and people who are relevant and who interest you – these may provide you with inspiration about how to promote your own work. Get tweeting too, with links to your website and blog; some of those you follow will follow you back and other followers will find you through searches and retweets.
The key to Twitter is to not let your account lie dormant. If you want people to follow you the trick is to tweet regularly and make sure that your tweets are engaging and interesting. Try and include links back to your website or blog here and there – ultimately, you’re looking to forge relationships with people via social media, but they also need to know your sites/book(s) exist. Balance is key; think about what your followers would want to read. Your endless promotion is unlikely to be their preference.
Don’t rely on ‘bots’ to do the job for you, they will produce dull, uninspiring tweets that will see more people unfollowing you than following.
What works for Twitter often doesn’t work for Facebook, so if you’re sharing an update or some news make sure you tailor your offering for each social media account – remember your audience on each account is different and expects a different style of writing from you, depending on the application.
Use images where you can. Research shows that people are more likely to click on a tweet or Facebook post when a picture is used alongside it – just make sure the image you do use is legal; you don’t want to get sued for copyright misuse. Use pictures you have permission to share or that you have taken yourself, or make sure you source copyright-free images if you don’t have something yourself.
A top tip for social media use is to set aside some time on a weekly basis for social media management. You can schedule tweets using applications like Tweetdeck (www.tweetdeck.com) and there are loads of useful applications that can help you manage multiple platforms. Finally, do your research and set up a plan – and try to stick to it!
Rebecca Whittington is a former newspaper journalist who specialises in media consultancy, media strategy and social media and website management. She is available for media training, writing for the web and assistance on setting up projects on websites and social media networks. For more information and to see Rebecca’s own webpage and blog go to www.rebeccawhittingtonmedia.com
Developmental editor and publishing consultant Diane Hall is the author of three books; she has also ghost-written books for others and created a plethora of content, on more subjects than you could care to imagine, for numerous clients since the beginning of her career. She is proud to have fundamentally shaped series of books and more than a hundred individual titles over the last decade with various authors, nationally and internationally.
Among her editing qualifications, she holds a linguistics diploma, which involves the study of language and speech. Diane employs this knowledge in the forensic linguistic work she sometimes undertakes.
Diane has seen the introduction and subsequent rise of self-publishing, and passionately keeps abreast of its disruption of the publishing industry. She is a thought leader when it comes to the future of book marketing, fuelled by the poor results authors see when employing traditional techniques.
Thanks to Master isolated images at freedigitalphotos.com for use of the main image.