Kerry Gans asked, “How can an author find an online audience?” Today, I am going to not only discuss the basics that we all know about, but I am going also going to talk about some sites that authors may not be familiar with: Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram, which are considered to be soft marketing outlets.
The basic social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Google+. Let’s do a brief breakdown of how to utilize these in a marketing plan.
- Facebook pages: Don’t have a public Facebook page whether it is for you as an author or your book, make sure you start one. There are so many creative things that you can do once you do have one. It opens up a whole lot of little worlds to you.
- Street teams: Several of my author friends have street teams. I love these little groups IF THEY ARE DONE CORRECTLY. Friends and fans of the author are invited to become members of this private group on Facebook. They become the author’s mouthpieces to spread the news when new releases are coming out, book sales are occurring, or other great news, such as hitting the best seller list. Fostered right, street teams are wonderful supportive groups who represent the author well. Fostered wrong, they can become a wandering posse of thugs beating up on anyone who looks at the author wrong. So remember, those on your street team represent you to the general public.
- Networking with fellow authors: I have seen some of my author friends be so creative in their networking opportunities on Facebook. Everything from taking over each other’s Facebook pages to introduce fans to new authors to starting new groups. If you play nice in the sand box, it is amazing what positive networking can do for authors on Facebook.
- Facebook groups: There are tons of Facebook groups on every possible subject out there. I encourage authors to not only belong to authors/readers groups, but to also look for groups that discuss topics that you write on. For example, Facebook friend and true crime author Gregg Olsen belongs to a group that discusses true crimes. When he participates in these groups, does he spam? Nope, but every time they see his name pop up, they are reminded of the books that he has written.
- It is all about the hashtags. While hashtags can be quite intimidating and overwhelming in the beginning (or at least they were to me) once you get the hang of them, they are quite fun. Mix up the standard hashtags, such as #amreading or #bookworm, with ones that depict your book. For example, are you a southern writer? Utilize hashtags that are centered around southern themes, such as #southerncharm.
- Another way to use hashtags is to make up your own. When I developed The Author CEO, I got tired of using the same old hashtags and wanted my tweets to stand out. As a result, I developed the #authorceo hashtag that I use when I am posting new blogs.
- In a moment of distraction while preparing this article to send to my editor, I came across this wonderful article on BookBub’s Insights page: How Successful Authors Use Twitter to Promote Their Brand. This article offers wonderful tips by those who use it well.
- I have written extensively regarding Goodreads. Goodreads has numerous areas for authors to interact with potential readers, including groups, events, developing friendships, etc. Have further questions on how to navigate Goodreads? Check out our previous articles that I have written for both BadRedhead Media and The Author CEO.
- Google+ offers its own version of some of the features mentioned above. Hashtags, links and attachments are partnered with follower and followed circles. I use this medium as another way to get my information out to those who might not follow me in other locations.
- For the difference between Google+ and Facebook check out: How Google+ is Different from Facebook — A Primer for Authors by @K8Tilton
Now that we have the basics down, I want to talk about lesser-known sites that may not immediately come to mind when we talk about social media, but they are still quite valuable. I consider them to be subtle outlets. In my humble opinion, sometimes the soft marketing outlets provide some of the best opportunities for connecting with an audience.
- I really love Pinterest as a soft marketing tool for authors. For those not familiar with Pinterest, the concept of it is to develop boards that photos and other things such as recipes, videos etc. are “pinned” to. If it has a link or can be uploaded, it can be pinned! My advice to authors is to think of the description for your book. Let’s take again the example of a book set in the South. When one thinks of the South what is thought of? Is it cooking? How about southern locations? Maybe country music. If so, you can find some images, links, etc., that you can pin to your board!
- Still confused about Pinterest? I give some tips on the WHY and how in a 2012 article, What is Your Pinterest? Even though it was written in 2012, I stand behind all my tips.
- I have to say that I am a very visual person. What I love about Instagram is, again, the soft marketing concept. An author connects with readers through their own photos and CREATIVE use of hashtags. Focus not only on what describes your book, but also give your followers insight into you. Remember that successful sales is about rapport building. When readers feel that they can connect with an author, they are more likely to become a loyal fan and buy more books!
- Want ideas on how to use Instagram? Try: Connect with Your Readers – How Authors Can Use Instagram by @K8Tilton
- Snapchat allows authors to have online discussions with followers, called “Live Chats.” But, different from Google hangouts or Twitter Chats, these conversations disappear. Want to learn more about Snapchat and how you can fit it into your social media plan? I love this article on SnapChat for Beginners from Mashable.
So remember that today I just wanted to touch on some of the basics for authors to explore in their social media campaigns. Already being authors, creativity is in your blood. Streamline that creativity and evaluate which sites not only work best for you, but the ones you have a ton of fun using.