If your book is in the editing stage or is even being vetted by agents, I am sure that the term social media presence has been tossed around a few times. Everyone from your youngest nephew to your best friend keeps advising you that as an author, it is important to be present on social media.
Now, why is it important as an author to understand the basics of social media marketing? Isn’t this what your publicists are supposed to understand and do for you? The answer is not a resounding yes as you would expect. Instead it is a mix of what you want to hear and what you need to hear. Yes, your publicist can support you with digital marketing activities from the publisher’s end. However, given that there are so many books which the publisher will be promoting, your book may not get noticed by potential readers. Since you are the captain of your ship, it is wise to take control one way or the other.
What is Social Media?
Social media refers to websites and apps which enable networking. This is very different from traditional media such television or radio where the communication is largely one-sided and is mostly in some form of information or advertisement.
Evaluating Different Platforms:
Every social media platform has a specified content format: short and quirky text for Twitter, photos and short videos for Instagram, and long videos or web series for YouTube. Therefore, first evaluate different platforms and then choose the one that matches your preference.
Planning Your Content:
The next step is understanding your comfort zone and planning your content accordingly. You needn’t restrict your content to just your book. Of course, your book is the primary content product, so it is imperative that you create some content around your book as well. Further, don’t just spend time and energy in putting out information and advertisement about your book. Reach out to people, have a conversation and try to engage them around your book.
Get in Touch With Book Bloggers:
As consumers who have grown up in the digital age, we do a fair amount of research before buying a product, whether it is the newest mobile phone that we want to use or a new author that we would like to try. We often try to look for relevant reviews. This doesn’t mean that we are looking for only positive reviews; we also look for negative and neutral reviews in order to help us make a balanced decision. For books, we look at reviews, the genre, the author’s profile, and may even stalk an unsuspecting author’s Facebook page!
Now think about the whole ecosystem in the process – a reader sees an ad, a Twitter chat or a Facebook post for a new book, searches about the book, comes across a few reviews, likes the reviews and automatically searches for an author in order to make up his or her mind. While the reader’s decision to pick up book may not have anything to do with the author, he/she may still want to connect with them. And this not only helps you reach out and talk to your readers directly, it gives you direct feedback on your work, too. This way, you can pat yourself on the back. You may just have acquired your first few loyal fans who will eagerly wait for your next book. Congratulations!
Advertising – The Dreaded ‘A’ Word:
Advertising is as important an activity as it is to start being active on social media. It helps you become discoverable to people who might like what you have to offer. Yet, many cringe from it like it is the plague. Preconceived notions that advertising is just another ruse of the Internet to pull money from you are abundant. But advertising done right is an absolute book.
If you would like to scale up your reach on social media, then it is best to invest in advertising options offered by each platform. If you aren’t comfortable with doing this on your own, then take the help of professionals who can guide you and work within your budget.
The Gist of Social Media Marketing:
Let’s break it down into simple steps:
- Devote time to maintain a social media profile, find a comfort zone, and utilize the platform to the fullest.
- Optimise updates. Remember that too many updates about your book will be treated as spam. And too few will miss the mark entirely. A process of hit and trial initially will help you track these.
- Interact with your fans. Leave comments and respond to the ones you get.
- Approach and follow-up with bloggers for reviews.
- Check for advertisement options on social media channels; track the results regularly if you are comfortable with it.
- There will come a time when you reach a stage when you feel the need to hire an external agency. Then look for freelancers or niche agencies which can handle social media marketing and are within your budgets.
Social media might seem like a vast, unconquerable ocean. But following these steps and rules will help you cruise across it, albeit with some effort. Because, after all, if putting in some effort means definite success, then that is worth everything you put in!