Most everyone today engages in some form of social media. From Facebook and Twitter, to Instagram and Tiktok, to Discord and Twitch. Social media, in all its varied platforms, is here to stay. That’s why in this in-depth article we are going to break down social media marketing strategy for authors! We’ll show you how to build your platform & engage readers the right way!
Let’s face it, we’re no longer using social media just to keep in touch with friends and share pics … Social media is now shopping, consuming podcasts, learning new skills, selling and trading used items, keeping up with our favorite celebrities AND discovering new amazing products including books and authors.
1 In 3 Consumers Use Social Media To Discover New Brands & Products
In fact, according to new research by SproutSocial (1), one in three consumers use social media to learn about or discover new products, services or brands.
YOU, as an author, are both a product & a brand.
According to Statista (2) in 2021 over 80% of the U.S population used some form of social media daily.
It should come at zero surprise that successful authors are using social media as a key tool for engaging their readers.
Social media is already so integrated into our lives that not having a professional form of social media for your books is now unheard of and basically career suicide.
But what if you’re dance moves aren’t all that hot on TikTok?
Like all tools for business, social media comes with its own learning curves and struggles. Fact is, you’re not a content creator. You’re probably not interested in creating YouTube or TikTok videos week after week. And you’re not trying to be a “beauty guru” or an “online “influencer”. You just want to write books!
We get it. (And if you’re an introverted author… we REALLY get it.)
Social media can seem like SUCH a time-consuming chore. Any time spent on social media is time away from writing. Which can be really hard to justify when we all only have 24 hours in a day. Not only that, but how does one continuously come up with new content day after day, week after week? Especially when it feels like growing your social media is SO SLOW. You’re not seeing any comments or shares. No one is paying attention to your Facebook page or Instagram account, so what’s the point? EVEN WORSE, it seems like every time you DO start to see some traction on social media, the powers in charge CHANGE THE ALGORITHM. When that happens you’re left feeling like you have totally start over – or worse, quit.
At the same time, we’ve all seen the big name authors who are KILLING IT on social media. They somehow seem to be everywhere, all the time. Always posting breath-taking images of their books, doing live q&a streaming, always blogging and going viral. How do they do it? How do they find time for all that AND still manage to write multiple books per year?
Well, what if I told you that you can automate most social media content?
Social media doesn’t need to be difficult or time consuming. There are many tips and tricks to make social media not only manageable, but EASY. What if I said there are ways to do it better that would not only grow your social media FASTER but also turn more of your followers into fans that BUY and READ your books? I bet you’d be more willing to spend a little time on social media if it WORKED for you.
That’s exactly what we’re going to teach you today: How to make social media work for you to get more sales and engagement for the life of your author career. We’ll tell you how to grow any social media quickly as well as how to engage your social media followers to convert them into buying customers and lifelong fans.
The best part? Our method works WITH the algorithms regardless of any new tweaks or updates – so “algorithm chasing” becomes a thing you no longer need to worry about!
Social Media Marketing Strategy Part 1: Understanding The Algorithm
If you think you can get away with not using any form of social media to sell your books, think again! Each and every social media platform has roughly a billion users. Meaning your exact audience is guaranteed to be there!
Consider this: If you’re selling makeup door to door, you’re likely to get a lot of rude reactions from men who don’t wear makeup, elderly women who no longer want it, and a lot of other people who generally just aren’t your target audience. Sure, you could convince a man to buy some lipstick for his wife, but it’s going to be a very difficult sale and a lot of time wasted. Now imagine going to a wedding convention or a fashion show and selling your makeup to the thousands of women who are looking for your exact product. Chances are you’ll sell out quick, right? Social media is similar, thanks to something called algorithms.
An algorithm is a bit of computer code that tells a specific program what to do with the data it collects. In regards to social media, algorithms actually “learn” and “react” to our online behaviors to show us more of the content we like. What does this mean for authors? It means we can “train” social media to bypass all the people who are NOT our target audience, and instead show our content (ie BOOKS) to more people who ARE interested in what we’re offering.
In other words, we can use social media to find people who are MORE LIKELY to buy our books, and then put our books directly in front of them!
This is HUGE because it virtually deletes the guesswork. So many authors say things like “I just toss stuff out there and see what sticks” then don’t understand why they aren’t getting better results. If you’re using the “see what sticks” method, chances are your social media isn’t growing much, or is growing too slowly to be of much use. You’re wasting time going “door to door” looking for readers, wading through millions of people who are NOT your audience. That is why social media can seem like a total time suck, or like you are screaming into an abyss.
In our post 3 Vital Ways To Grow Your Email List we talked about why it is vital to always be growing your list – as in always adding new potential readers to your subscriber list EVERY DAY. Many of the methods we talked about involve using social media. BUT it’s not as simple as slapping up a post and waiting for readers to do the rest. You must be willing to take an active role in growing your social media and engaging your followers the right way.
Say goodbye to the false belief that organic growth on social media is impossible, that you have to “pay to play”, that it’s too slow, or that your niche isn’t on socials. All of those statements are FALSE if you know how to train the algorithms in your favor!
Here’s the thing: Every social media platform works a little differently.
What this means is each social media platform has its own algorithm. But here’s the secret they don’t want you to know: There are KEY elements that are universal across all social media platforms! Even better; these elements are the very tools that facilitate fast organic growth with your exact audience in mind so that you get a following of real readers and supper fans, and NOT just fake bots or scam accounts. Again, these key elements are UNIVERSAL across all social medias, no matter how many updates or algorithm changes they throw at us.
Used together, these elements will grow your social media following quickly and powerfully, making it that much easier to convert your following into life-long supperfans that BUY your books.
Ready to learn how? LET’S GO!
Social Media Marketing Strategy Part 2: GROW FAST (Or Go Home)
1. Learn The Culture.
Every social media has its own culture. What do we mean by that? Think of Instagram, for example, as a clubhouse. When you first become a member and attend your first meeting or social event at that clubhouse, you’ll probably become aware of certain lingo, inside jokes, mannerisms, and expectations that you were not aware of before. In the beginning these things might feel foreign and strange. You might feel like you don’t fit in and you may think you never will.
But, as time goes on and you keep showing up to these meetings, you begin to integrate. Suddenly, you’re speaking the same lingo like a pro. You laugh at all the same jokes because you were there and you get the references now. Now you have very close bonds with some, if not most, of the members. You know exactly how things work in that space and why. Meetings and events become something you look foreword to. You even lead some of them, maybe win some awards, and can’t imagine ever not being part of such a wonderful community.
THAT is what social media is. Each platform (Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc.) is its own little clubhouse with its own lingo, inside jokes, special events, rules, and so forth. In order to truly take advantage of everything each platform has to offer (as well as to train the algorithm in your favor) you really need to integrate yourself into each specific platform’s culture.
HOT TIP: You do not need to be on every social media under the sun! It is best to master 2-3 social media platforms than to do a poor job on all of them. There are some additional tips that will make posting on more platforms easier to do, and we’ll get into those later. But for now, focus on your top 2-3 favorite social medias that you are likely already familiar with.
Going back to learning the “culture” of a platform, why is this so important? When it comes to social media, the algorithms are king. You cannot change them. This means the more you fight against the algorithms, the more you try to do things “your way”, the harder it’s going to be. That doesn’t mean you can’t think outside the box when it comes to content and engagement. Certainly, you should! But there are certain “cultural norms” that are in place for a reason, and if you break them, you’re going to have a tough time. You’re going to “confuse” the algorithm instead of “teaching” it to work for you.
For example, Tiktok is notoriously known for being more protective of their underage audience than most other platforms. You may think that Tiktok is not a good place for erotica authors, but you’d be dead wrong! Erotic romance authors are making a killing on Tiktok! And yes, they are selling to adults, not kids! But how?
Well, romance authors have learned that one of the “inside jokes” on TT is to use funny emojis in the place of 18+ text. By writing their sexy content in emojis instead of words, they are not only following the rules by censoring the 18+ parts, but they’re also appealing to the algorithm. Because emojis are such a large part of TT culture, NO ONE is confused. EVERYONE knows what an eggplant emoji is code for. Everyone can still READ and understand the content.
In contrast, an author who refuses to cover their 18+ content in this way risks having their account reported and banned. That is what we mean by integrating into the culture. Go with the flow, do what the platform likes, and soon you’ll see the algorithm working in your favor instead of against you.
So how exactly DO you learn the culture of a specific platform?
Easy. You engage in the platform as a regular person. Just as attending meetings at a clubhouse is an important part of integrating yourself into the community, so too must you participate in the social media of your choosing in order to drill down and understand the culture. Scroll the feed. Like and comment on other people’s posts. Search for hashtags that are relevant to you and your books. Follow other authors on the platform. Join reader groups. Be authentic in your interest and take part in what you can. Aim to build true friendships and connections while you are in the “learning the culture” stage. Pay attention to how other authors (AND READERS) do things. Immerse yourself.
HOT TIP: Always use the preferred posting medium. For example, Reels, Stories, IGTV, and Tiktok all prefer their content creators to use video content done in vertical. Why? Because those platforms were intended for cell phone screens and cater to people who use their cell phones to consume content instead of a PC computer. Therefore, it is no wonder that posting static images, or even horizontal videos, don’t do as well on those platforms. Again, know the culture.
Of course, if you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter for years, chances are you already know the culture and can skip this step. However, it is always a good idea to give yourself a refresher. Look at your favorite social media platform through the lens of a business owner or entrepreneur – and not just the lens of “parent posting toddler pics” or “average joe posting memes”.
2. Post A Few Times DAILY
There is much debate over how often, what time of day, which days of the week, etc. But when it comes down to it, the key to “how often?” is and always will be DAILY.
Here’s why: The more you skip posting, the more the algorithm “goes stale” for you. Skip too many days or weeks, and the algorithm starts skipping over YOU and your content completely. Want to know what makes the algorithm happy no matter which platform you choose? This answer is and always will be NEW CONTENT.
This does NOT mean that you need to create all new content from scratch every day. It just means that you must post SOMETHING at least once per day to keep the algorithm happy AND to keep your following growing with real people and not bots. You can post more than once a day if you want. But NEVER less than once a day. The only exceptions are Youtube videos and Blog posts. For those platforms, posting once a week is acceptable because of the longer nature of the content (ie long blog post or long video post). But again, those are the only exceptions.
3: Post In Every Facet Of The Platform
Facebook isn’t just Facebook anymore. It’s also Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups, Facebook Stories, Facebook Watch, and Facebook Live. Instagram isn’t just your standard Instagram feed. It’s also Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, IGTV, Instagram Live, and so on. Same goes for most social media platforms these days. What this means for authors is that it is no longer enough to JUST post content on your basic feed. If that’s all you’re doing, you’re leaving potential followers and organic reach on the table because you’re not taking advantage of some of the key elements. Make the algorithm happy by posting in EVERY aspect of your chosen platform. That means, if you’re on Facebook for example, you can’t stop at posting on your Facebook Page. You must also post DAILY on your author Stories, in your author Groups, and so on.
4: Post Content That Is Engaging
Understand that comments and shares will always go further than “likes”. Likes are nice, but they don’t really DO anything to help. ENGAGEMENT is where the real magic is at. Not just you engaging with the platform, but you engaging with READERS, and readers engaging with YOU and your CONTENT.
You’ve seen it before, the seemingly elusive viral post with thousands of comments and shares. How does one achieve such a thing? It seems like a unicorn hunt; like something that only happens to celebrities. But what if I told you it’s not all chance? There are some things you can do to increase the virality of your posts.
The key here is to craft something that readers can interact with. Switch your mindset to think in terms of striking up a conversation with your followers instead of talking at your followers. For example, instead of posting a statement, ask a question. Post a poll. Use punchy language. Use a hook. Be witty and entertaining. Come up with a game. There’s a reason those “use predictive text to fill in the blank” memes do really well. They’re silly and fun and easy to do. Use this to your advantage. Come up with similar games that relate to your books, brand, or genre. Make it as interactive as possible.
5: Post Content That Is Original
There’s nothing wrong with the occasional meme. In fact, it’s better to post a meme than nothing at all, so if you’re between book releases and struggling to come up with content, go ahead and post that funny pop culture reference. Especially if it’s on brand with your books.
The problem occurs, however, when more than half your content is not your own. If you’re not posting about your books, your characters, your genre, your writing, etc. then what value are you adding to the community? Why should people stick around? The whole point of all of this is to be selling your books. So absolutely be posting about your writing, your publishing journey, your struggles and triumphs, and most of all YOUR BOOKS.
HOT TIP: You do not need to reinvent the wheel. If you see something that you think will work well for your books, adopt it! In fact, doing more of the same (but with your specific branding and products) often works tons better than trying to invent a completely new content concept. Why? Because of the culture thing we mentioned earlier. Just like meeting reader expectations when writing, there are some types of content that already do really well on social media that you can just tweak. Like the “predictive text” meme we talked about above. There’s no reason you can’t adopt that concept, add your own text, and put your logo on it.
6. Plan Ahead
We’re talking launch strategy for your new book release here. Social Media is such a VITAL part of every single new release, you CANNOT leave it to chance! Failing to plan ahead is a key reason so many people, not just authors, struggle to win the social game. Think about it: You don’t want to be scrambling to think of what to say at the last minute. You need a game plan.
In a perfect world you’ll be planning at least 2 weeks, if not 1 month in advance. Check out The 9 Step New Release Formula for exactly how to plan and execute the perfect book launch.
Does this seem like a lot of work? While it may appear that way at first, the difference between winning & losing often comes down to this single element. As they say in all sorts of clubs: Failing to plan is planning to fail.
The first couple times you plan out a posting strategy may take a bit longer than you anticipated. But as long as you do this consistently, you can often slice planning down to less than 1 hour per month. We’ll show you how below. You can even have a virtual assistant handle it for you.
Social Media Marketing Strategy Part 3: Training The Algorithm
The information above are all universal elements that, if done together and done consistently, will keep the algorithm happy, which in turn will (A) keep your content showing up again and again (instead of being buried under larger more active accounts) and (B) significantly increase your organic growth.
But that’s just the first step! How do you train the algorithm to show your content to the RIGHT people – the people who are more likely to BUY your book? THAT all comes down to branding.
Regardless if you are posting completely original content, or sharing a meme, one thing you ALWAYS want to use is your author BRAND.
For example, if you are a sweet contemporary romance author, you do not want to post anything about aliens, cold case files, your favorite horror movies, or really ANYTHING other than sweet romance. Any time you post something that is OFF BRAND, it confuses the algorithm. Remember, as smart as the algorithm may seem, it’s still just a piece of computer code. It can only learn from what you put into it. So the more ON BRAND you are with your posts, the faster and more correct the algorithm will be when choosing who to show your content to. And yes, this is true for all social media platforms available today.
The beauty of this is that if, over time, your organic reach seems to stagger or gets blown off course (reaching bots or the wrong audience) you can instantly correct things by being more strict (or more on brand) about what you choose to post. Meaning you can keep reaching the right audience day after day, week after week, year after year no matter what else changes.
One more thing that can help jumpstart your following in a big way is to post high-concept content.
What is high concept content? Basically, anything that already has the fandom you’re looking for. For example, YA Fantasy authors can benefit from being a Harry Potter expert and posting their “expert” opinion on all things Hogwarts. Why does this work? Because the Harry Potter fandom is so freakishly vast, that you can’t NOT benefit from establishing yourself as someone who shares common interest with the fandom. Same goes for other fandoms, such as Sci-Fi authors and Star Wars, or Urban Fantasy authors and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Okay, at this point, we’ve talked so much about posting that you might be a bit freaked out. You might be thinking to yourself “Daily posts? Across feeds, stories, AND groups? Video content, too? Who the heck has time for all that??”
Don’t panic! We promised this would be painless and easy, remember? We won’t leave you hanging now. Keep reading to learn how to do all the above WITHOUT wanting to set fire to your computer.
Social Media Marketing Strategy Part 4: Scheduled Like A Pro
The number one complaint from authors when it comes to social media of any kind is that it’s “not worth the time”. WRONG! Social media is SO powerful when it comes to selling books AND building your newsletter list (which sells MORE books) that you’re wasting your time by NOT using social media! But hey, we totally get it, you gotta write more books! Writing is the author’s top priority, and we would never tell you otherwise! We would also never give you such vast awesome knowledge without also telling you how to manage it all. So let’s keep going.
1: Schedule Ahead
Facebook lets you schedule your posts to your author page feed and stories AS WELL AS your Instagram feed and stories many months in advance. If you can schedule an hour each week to plan out your pots for the next 7 to 30 days (or more if you wish) then you only need to worry about it once a week (or once a month, or even less often!)
For social medias that don’t offer their own scheduling options, there are third party apps such as Hootsuite, Sendible, and TweetDeck that allow you to schedule posts across many different social media accounts at once. Take some time to explore these options and find the one that’s best for you.
Canva, which is commonly used by authors to create beautiful promotional images, also has a social media post scheduling feature for its pro-account users. It’s worth checking to see if any programs you are already using might have similar features that’ll make your life that much easier.
2: Cross Post
Depending on which social medias you use, it may be necessary to create one video and one written post (with image) per day to cover all your bases and keep the algorithm happy. However, you do NOT need to create a totally different post for each social media. For example, that 10 second video you made for Tiktok can also be posted on your Instagram feed, Reels, and Stories. The same video can also be posted to your Facebook page, group, and stories. There’s also no reason you can’t share it on your newsletter or blog post for that week. So while you may have many social medias to juggle, in most cases you’ll be able to use one single piece of content to satisfy them all for the day.
3: Recycle Content
Chances are you’re not new to social media, but even if you are, eventually you will have gathered an extensive library of content saved somewhere on your computer or on your phone. There is NO rule that says you can’t use the same content twice! You can absolutely repost last year’s Holiday content, for example. Or tweak a sale post from your last book launch. Or use the same image from six months ago because it did really well then, and chances are it will do just as good a second time.
Using Your Social Media Marketing Strategy To Launch Your Book And Turn Followers Into Superfans!
Are you brimming with ideas to supercharge your social medias? Ready to see some serious growth by implementing everything we just taught you? We hope so! BUT there’s just one more VITAL step before we let you go!
Social media growth is GREAT, but it means nothing if your followers are not buying. The immediate excitement of watching your “likes”, shares, and comments increase can be extremely gratifying in the short-term. But it’s also easy to get caught up in the numbers and lose sight of the bigger picture. Therefore, is it VITAL to always keep in mind where social media fits into the grand scheme of turning potential readers into life-long superfans. So… how do we do this?
The short answer is by ALWAYS FUNNELING FOLLOWERS INTO YOUR EMAIL LIST.
Email marketing is SO important to the success of an author’s career that we’ve dedicated two entire posts to email list growth and email list engagement. Check out 3 Vital Ways To Build Your Email List and Engaging Your Subscribers to read those posts now.
Basically, the end goal for everything you do on social media SHOULD BE to get your followers to subscribe to your author newsletter. That DOES NOT mean posting your newsletter signup form on social media 24/7. It just means to be mindful that the point behind the engagement is to eventually lead your followers to your newsletter. Whether or not they sign up is up to them. But chances greatly increase when they are emotionally invested due to your amazing social media content. In other words, if they don’t buy right away, your newsletter is a second chance to sell them on your books. It’s also a way to keep connected to your followers on the off chance your social media is ever deleted.
And finally, when it comes time to pay for Facebook ads, you’ll have a fabulous well-constructed list of emails for which to build a lookalike audience to reach even more readers! Now you see now how everything links together to constantly build bigger and better audiences for the life of your career! But more on that in our next article.
To Sum It All Up
You now hold the keys to ANY social media of your choosing! Do you know how amazing that is? You now know how to ORGANICALLY grow and train the algorithm of ANY social media, all without spending a penny. And all for the purpose of growing your audience and selling more books in the most powerful way possible.
To summarize, here are the key engagement elements to get ANY social media to work for you:
- 1. Learn The Culture. Integrate yourself with the platform. Understand what that specific algorithm likes, as well as to know what the audience expectations and media preferences are. Then use it.
- 2. Post DAILY.
- 3. Post in every facet of the platform (Feeds, Stories, Reels, Groups, etc.)
- 4. Post engaging content that readers can interact with.
- 5. Post original content pertaining to your books, writing, and brand.
- 6. Plan Ahead.
Do those six things consistently and watch your social medias grow faster than ever before!