The world is doing more of its socialising online than ever before. Yet social media is not just the place for chatting to friends, sharing videos of cats and posting images of what you’re eating for tea. Social media is the place to be for advertising your business, interacting with customers and selling your products and services. Social media for writers is no exception.
Getting yourself active online is crucial for selling yourself – your books and eBooks, your courses, your membership sites etc. And it is vital that you interact and engage with your readership. People buy from people, and the more your readers know and trust you, the more likely they are to buy your offerings and recommend you to their friends.
Which Platforms Should You Use?
There are a great many social platforms that you could be active on, but the big three are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These are the “middle of the road” platforms. There is also the option to go the “professional” route and use platforms such as LinkedIn, or the option to go the “informal” route and use platforms such as TikTok, which is becoming ever more popular.
While it is important to be where your readers are so they can easily find and engage with you, you need to make sure you don’t spread yourself too thin. You cannot be everywhere all the time as you will burn yourself out, have no time to do any writing, and begin to dread social media. Instead, focus on one or two platforms and do them really well.
Quick note here about Pinterest … Pinterest is often mistakenly seen as a social media platform when, in fact, it’s a visual search engine. It’s a good place to be especially for businesses that are very visual, and for bloggers etc. where you have lots of online content to share. I’ll talk about Pinterest in a separate post in future, so keep an eye out for that.
Social Media Accounts
You will need to open and set up accounts with all of the platforms you choose to use. Try to keep your username/handle the same across every platform. This makes it much easier for your readers to find you (and for you to remember what your handles are).
Once you’ve opened the accounts, be sure to fill in the bios/about sections with all of the relevant information about you including a link to your website, your email address etc. The way this is done is different across all platforms, so I won’t go into detail here but if you need any guidance, please contact me and I’ll do my best to help.
Be sure to also upload a photo of yourself (or your logo but personal is best) and again, try to keep this the same across all platforms. This helps to ‘brand” you and make you easily identifiable across all platforms, which builds another layer of trust.
Quite often, people get far too bogged down in how many followers they have, how many likes they get etc. At the end of the day, what is crucial for success is engagement. The more you can engage with your readership and followers, the more likely you will be to see growth. If someone comments on your post, make sure you respond to them (the quicker you do this, the higher you “rank” with the algorithms). Ask questions in your posts and on your stories so that people have something they can easily respond to. Test out polls and surveys, quick quizzes etc. to get engagement.
Follow other people – when you first open the accounts your feed will look very bleak and empty, but find some relevant people to follow and you’ll soon find that some follow you back and you’ll begin to build some momentum. I would recommend sticking to following only relevant accounts or else your timeline will be filled with posts you’re not really interested in.
It is worth spending some time researching relevant hashtags for use with your posts, especially on Instagram. By using hashtags you will spread your post reach to more than just your followers, and will hopefully gain more followers who see your post via the hashtag. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post on Instagram and it’s worth using as many relevant ones as you can to push the reach of your post as far as possible. That being said, only use hashtags that are relevant to the post as sticking any old hashtag onto a post will simply not build engagement or reach,
In order to research hashtags, think about the keywords that you would use for a post – what is the topic(s) of the post? Who are you trying to reach with the post (e.g. #booklovers)? What keywords would make sense for your post? Type one of these into the platform’s search bar and see what other similar hashtags are suggested and make a note of those. Use those that are relevant, up to the maximum allowed.
Strategy and Scheduling
Whilst it may be tempting to barrel into your social media without a plan, you will probably soon find you’re struggling with what to post, when to post and how to find time to engage with your followers. Taking time to think about your strategy for your social media will help you in the long run as you’ll always know what you’re going to post next, and what preparation work you need to do before that time.
It’s also important to think about scheduling of posts i.e. when you are going to post. You might find that posting at the same time every day works for you, or mixing it up so you post at different times on different days. Always keep an eye on your platform statistics and insights so you can see what’s working (and what isn’t). Remember that whatever time you post, ensure you have time straight afterwards to deal with any immediate engagements.
You can utilise scheduling apps and tools such as Later, Buffer, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck etc. if you want to post automatically. These can be really useful but it’s worth noting that auto-scheduled posts tend to have lower engagement than those that are posted direct. It is important to bear that in mind when you consider your strategy. You will need to weigh up the benefits and convenience of auto-scheduling against the higher engagement of direct posts. Again, try both ways and test what works and what doesn’t. The insights and analytics that the social media platforms provide are a huge bank of information and it is highly recommended that you utilise that to the max.
Social Media for Writers
Whilst the above is true for many small businesses, why specifically should writers use social media? Using social media helps you to get your writing out into the world. You can share your journey, your works in progress, small sample snippets of your writing etc. Followers who like what they read will want to become readers of your works and the momentum will build. Social media is also a great platform for competitions and giveaways, and that kind of campaign (with a unique hashtag) will help to build followers. Once you gain followers however, be sure to engage with them using stories, polls etc. Ask them questions and respond to their replies.
Are you on social media? How have you built your following? How engaged are you with your followers? How did you start and get those first few followers? Are you struggling with social media and need some further guidance? Drop a comment below: