Social media is often a dreaded piece of the author platform. There are so many different places to be and to post … not to mention WHAT to post. Then there’s the matter of how to handle social media while also writing books.
Never fear! Authors can handle social media. You don’t have to be everywhere or post a million times a day. Megan Ericson, a social media strategist, joins me for a conversation on social media for authors.
LISTEN TO EPISODE 199- SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS WITH MEGAN ERICSON
This interview deals with how authors should use social media, mistakes they make, how to choose a platform right for YOU, and how to run social media on limited time.
CONNECT WITH MEGAN!
(more on Megan below!)
SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS
To discuss social media, first we need to start by backing up a step to consider the big picture. Remember that author platform is an overarching look at how authors connect with readers. (Check the post on Author Platform in 2021.) It’s the bridging of the gap between author and reader.
Social media is just one piece of the platform pie. I would totally give up social media for my email list, but social media can work in conjunction with email (more on email HERE) to help build a solid author platform. Social media is about engagement, connection, and discoverability.
WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF SOCIAL MEDIA?
The common misconception about social media is that you need it to sell your book. While I can certainly attribute some sales to social media, overall, selling isn’t main purpose of social media.
Social media, as Megan says in the interview, is a part of a larger funnel drawing readers closer. It’s a place to be discovered, to meet and connect with readers who might become superfans.
Social media is about being SOCIAL. -Megan Ericson
Go figure, right??? Being social on social media…
Social media may not be your primary place for sales, but it is great for discoverability and connection. Can you sell books with it? Sure. But don’t count on this as a primary way of selling books.
HOW CAN AUTHORS KNOW WHAT TO POST?
Nonfiction authors have it easier. There is so much built-in content around the topics they write books about. You can repackage information from the book or write about similar but related topics.
For fiction authors, it’s more about peeling back the curtain and being real, like sharing your workspace or your work in progress.
BUT YOU CAN’T JUST SHARE THOSE WORK THINGS. Social media is social, remember? Your readers want to see the real you behind the curtain.
The thing is … not everyone WANTS to come out from behind the curtain. Many people don’t want to share personal photos of themselves or their children. And that’s okay!
TIPS FOR WHAT TO POST ON SOCIAL
Pick 3-5 things you’re actually interested in that you can share about (this can include your writing). This does NOT have to relate to writing or your books, but it can. If you write historical romance, maybe you share facts or links or images to interesting corsets.
Maybe one of your things is cats. You post pics of your cats or specific kinds of hairless cats. Maybe it’s coffee. Or sushi. Or alligators. (That’s me.)
You can rotate the five things, working your promotional posts (which don’t have to be buy-my-books posts) into the flow. Consider this like an edit of yourself: you’re not sharing EVERYTHING with your readers, but picking a select few true things about you that you can share.
When readers have unique things they associate with you, they think about you. When they spot that whalebone corset, they might pop into your Facebook group and share a picture there. THAT’S what you want. Association. These seemingly unrelated things can come to make an easy way for readers to connect.
For a great example of someone being personable (and talking lots about tacos), check out author Lucy Score’s Facebook page. She has a mix of posts about her books, about other authors books, and just random posts about herself or asking readers questions.
Don’t overthink this! We’re creative. Get creative with your social media.
WHAT MISTAKES DO AUTHORS MAKE WITH SOCIAL MEDIA?
- Speaking to the wrong audience. A lot of authors write for AUTHORS, not readers. If you’re posting a lot of how-to posts, a ton of behind the scenes posts, or all writer interviews about process, you might attract other authors, not readers. Yes, authors read. But the main bulk of your audience should be readers in your genre (unless your goal is to attract authors and sell services to them). A lot of authors accidentally draw in other authors instead of their ideal readers.
- Posting all promo. When you don’t know what to do with social, you might just post links to your books, images of your book, and links about buying your books. YES, you can sell. You don’t even have to be sorry about it–we’re running a business. You can sell. But social media should have more than just links to buy.
- Not acting human. I can always tell when someone’s taken an Instagram training. I’ll have someone follow me, then like exactly six different images, maybe commenting on one. It’s like clockwork and feels… impersonal. If you attend some kind of training that has EXACT actions to follow like that, consider the spirit behind them rather than following some list. And the spirit behind most things is that you need to act like an actual human being, not a bot. Be real. Be engaged. Be engaging.
- Posting things that are too lengthy. While you CAN write more on Instagram or Facebook, these platforms shouldn’t be confused with blog posts. Write a blog post if you want to write a lot. There’s a reason those platforms are often called microblogging. Micro, as in, SHORTER. Use social to give a tease about something. A teaser of your book. A teaser of a longer blog post. Quick. Engaging.
- Using your personal Facebook profile for business. The Facebook terms of service are, as many TOS are, vague. They DO want your personal profile (where you add friends, as opposed to your PAGE, where you get likes or follows) to be about PERSONAL. The lines are much blurrier between personal and business these days, especially in the creative fields. We aren’t as compartmentalized as we used to be. Personally, I do SOME sharing of my work on my page, though Megan warns against doing it. Ultimately, you don’t want to lose your account, and Facebook decides what is too much. Use your page or a group primarily for your author things and keep the personal profile personal.
- Having two Facebook personal profiles. Many authors create a second personal profile on Facebook for their author name. This is against the terms of service. If you’re found out, you could lose your WHOLE account. Not worth it. It’s harder to get engagement on a page, but if you work hard, you can find it. Or you can use your page to run ads and focus engagement in your Facebook group.
- Not utilizing hashtags on Instagram. One of the features authors should use more on Instagram is hashtags. Look at what other hashtags authors are using. Check out this post from Kindlepreneur on the best hashtags. You can follow hashtags also to connect with readers and authors. This is a GREAT tool for being discovered.
- Taking yourself too seriously. Megan makes this point and I LOVE IT. Social is about social. Don’t feel like everything has to be perfect or totally serious. The same goes with photos and things, like for Instagram. You don’t have to have photos of you or gorgeous photos at all. Create quote graphics in Cavna. Just show up imperfectly, as you are. Be yourself. Take the pressure off.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU ONLY HAVE 10-20 MINUTES A DAY?
Megan’s best tip for managing social media is to batch and schedule. If you don’t already use batching, it’s basically taking a larger chunk of time once a week or once a month to schedule out all your content. This can save time and keeps you in the same creative flow. You can schedule natively, on each platform that allows it (for Instagram, you can schedule natively via FB) or use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Daily, your “work” on social media might be showing up to engage with your people. Responding to comments, engaging with other people’s posts, or sparking discussion on the fly.
TO SUM UP: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS DOESN’T HAVE TO OVERWHELM
You don’t have to be on all the platforms at once. You don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) spend hours a day on the various platforms.
Pick one to two places you can really engage (though I always like to stake my claim by getting the same name/handle on new social) and plan out the 3-5 kinds of posts you’ll do and make a schedule for how you’ll manage it.
Above all, remember the goal: social media is about discoverability and connection, not PRIMARILY for sales.