I posted previously general thoughts on the different social media outlets I engage with and why.
But, as an author, there’s a different piece to the whole equation than just what I enjoy. Part of being an author in this day and age is building your brand, expanding your readership and connecting to your readers. The majority of which happens online.
So, when looking at social media outlets, I also have to consider how effective that outlet is in engaging with and building my audience. There’s two pieces of that – whether its inherently effective and how adept I am with it. Because some outlets might be more effective than I realize because I just use it poorly 🙂
The prime benefit is obviously sales of my books and new readers. I love discussing books and stories and I love my characters. I spent years writing Tattered Heart and I cannot describe how wonderful it was when I was finally able to discuss those characters with other people who knew them.
Another benefit is notoriety. There’s probably a more modern term used by publicists and social media experts but essentially they all mean the number of people looking at you and listening when you talk. It’s not just about popularity, it’s about leverage.
I’ve come to think of different social media outlets like foreign currency. It’s all money but £1 is worth more than $1. 10K twitter followers is more likely to help you get an agent or sell a book than 10K pinterest or tumblr followers because twitter and facebook are a higher value currency – both in the publishing industry and in business in general.
Each social media outlet has its strengths in building a brand, in leveraging your platform in the publishing industry and ultimately in engaging with and building your audience. The question is, how well am I leveraging each outlet.
|This post was way too long so I split it into image based social media and more text based. Facebook, in theory, is a hybrid of both. You can post images, probably not as voraciously as tumblr or pinterest but maybe a little like instragram. You can post entire albums, in fact, from events or trips or just your day. You can post updates about books or writing. You can create events or let people know if you’re going to do a signing. It’s kind of the catch all social media and it does that well. If I didn’t have a blog, facebook might be the next best thing for providing easily accessible information about myself and my work.
And I can tell you in the currency exchange rate, facebook is still pretty high. I’ve had publishers tell me that 1,000 likes on a book’s page is the first step in getting the sequel published (very specifically a certain publisher regarding a specific series). Because here’s the thing, a lot of people who are more sophisticated with social media may not be on facebook much anymore. But a lot of people who aren’t on social media at all are. Your mom or your neighbor who barely knows how to turn on a computer but has the facebook app on their phone. There’s an audience there to engage with, if you know how.
But even with that audience, does facebook expand your reach? Most people become friends with me on facebook because they already know me and want to keep track of what I’m up to. They want that central feed of all different types of information. Not that facebook actually curates that feed well, so a lot of posts could get missed. Still, the intent is there. And your friends, if they’re so inclined, can share your posts to their friends and like a lot of social media the theory goes that you expand your reach in reposts. But even when posts are public on facebook they have to be wildly popular for anyone outside your existing friends to see them.
Even if people discover you through other social media outlets (because of course they love your instagram and want to find you on facebook) are they going to see enough of your posts for it to matter? Are they going to click through any of your blog posts to engage with you in all the fun ways to talk about books? Does any of this lead to the buying of books?
Or is facebook the sort of thing that has high value in the market but not a lot of effectiveness in some of the more interesting brand building efforts?
|Blogs may not technically be a form of social media but in a lot of ways they also kind of are. If you’re a book blogger than the blog is the thing. It’s where you post your reviews (even if you crosspost to goodreads or amazon or whatever). It’s got features and discussions and is one of the primary ways you engage with your audience.
If you’re an author, your blog is often a central location for your brand. Author bio, bibliography, news and events and possibly an occasionally updated actual blog post (though that last one seems to diminish as authors write books more than posts – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing).
For me, it’s a little of both. I definitely want my site to have the basic info about me and my books and where to buy them and fun links (like to my pronunciation guide). But the blog part of my site is important to me also. Partially going back to the idea that I like conversation. Sometimes I just need my own space to say things out loud. Additionally, it’s a great way to build my brand; to engage with bloggers and readers in more than a picture or 140 characters. Hopefully in a way that has some depth or in a way that’s interesting.
The benefit of a blog is that it’s the easiest place to make people aware of your work. Here’s a page all about my book. Here’s where you can buy it. Here’s nifty links to fun ancillary content. Here’s behind the scenes stories of writing it or editing it or creating that ancillary content.
And in social media currency, any book blogger will tell you that good stats are definitely leverage in the publishing industry.
Whether you sell more copies or not, by bringing more people to your blog you’re at the very least, making them aware of your work. The other benefit is if people like the way you write your blog, perhaps they’ll be curious to discover how you wrote that book.
|Goodreads is a great place to keep track of books. What do I want to read and what did I think of what I have read? What did other people think of what I want to read?
But is it a great way to connect with readers? Other than a nice display of my book with the synopsis and reviews?
I think some people are much better about the social aspect of goodreads than I have ever managed. I think a part of that is being opinionated about books they’re reading. As an author, I’ve chosen not to be highly opinionated about what I read (or, at the very least, to keep my opinions to myself). Which makes it difficult to really engage with people about books other than mine.
And I like blogs. I’d rather comment on someone’s review on their blog than on their review on goodreads. Which also undermines the social aspect for me. So, I think of goodreads kind of like a library. It’s an important place to have your book but not the sort of place you talk in very much.
|I view twitter as the most versatile and the most beneficial form of social media. That may entirely be because it’s the one I understand the best.
With the right hashtags, or engaging in a meaningful way with popular hashtags, you can expand your reach by meeting new people – whether they find you or you reach out to them. A bit of effective hashtagging and a bit of wit and you can garner plenty of attention.
It also provides excellent engagement. You can totally have a multi-sided conversation. You can post links to other people’s content in order to share interesting information. Which can then also be discussed. Or blogger’s reviews of your books – hopefully increasing both traffic to their site and awareness of your book.
It’s the simplest and most straight forward way to post links to your own content. And for friends to post links to my content. Or rewteet my links allowing me to expand in a manner similar to both facebook and pinterest. From that – do people check out my blog? Do they follow links I post to my blog or other content (like my instagram! which was totally a funny joke when all the social media outlets were discussed in one post)?
If I have 5k followers (because I’m super popular and would totally have 5k followers) and I occasionally post links to buy my books, does that increase sales? Especially from new followers who maybe haven’t checked out my book before? Do those followers retweet my buy links?
Twitter is like link heaven. Sometimes with pictures. And actually with conversations.
It’s also a high value currency. 5k twitter followers means when I sign with an agent, there’s people listening who now have at least some awareness of that agency and that agent (they can leverage my notoriety to increase their own). Editors and publishers know when I announce my book release date, the box of arcs I just got, my book tour dates and locations, that I have an audience at the very least. And a community that will act on that information at the very best.
Because that’s what you really want – not just followers but community. Not just sales but readers. People you talk to about all kinds of things and lots of different books. People that share cool links with you as often as you post fun things for them. As an author, I want the sort of engagement that is a conversation more than a monologue.
Part 3 will finish off the series and cover more of the image based social media outlets.
In the meantime, if you’re an aspiring or published author, what do you think? Am I totally off my rocker? Or just especially inept at using what are actually very effective social media tools? How do you build your brand?