Author Social Media Checklist
Have you been ignoring social media? Think you don’t have time for it? Or that ‘readers will come if my book is in stores’? Do all the different forms of social media seem overwhelming?
I sat down recently with a few new friends to help them work on their social media and was surprised to see how little attention was being allocated to utilizing the Internet and social media in general, to get our voices heard. I thought maybe there’s a check list somewhere that could point us in the right direction. As a closet Internet junkie, I thought I would find something quick and easy to help bring social media to the forefront of authors marketing plans.
Boy… was I wrong. There is so much information, that I’m probably going to be blogging about social media for months to come. But I formulated a quick list of the top items every writer/author should be looking at for Social Media avenues. First thing every author must do is decide how much time they are willing to devote to Social Media – and you will have to devote time. But if you can find 2 hours a week, you can start to build a long lasting platform.
This list is by no means all that’s available; I isolated the most important and most influential ones to start. These are listed in order of importance – based on my opinion only – but again, every platform is different, just like every author and every book. You have to decide which avenues are right for you and your message.
- Personal Website: This is the number one – absolute MUST HAVE for social media. Whether you blog or not, you must have your own corner of the World Wide Web for readers and fans to find you. I recommend blogging – it’s a personal connection, but you should, at the very least, have a site to display your work and communicate events with readers.How do you come up with a site? The best way to decide how you want to communicate on your site is to see how other authors are doing it. Pick 5 to 10 of your favorite authors (try to pick 1 or 2 indie authors – I’ll explain why in a minute) and visit their websites. Make notes of what you like, what you don’t, and what features (event calendar, email subscription, etc.) you like. Once you have your lists, you will see a pattern form of how you want your site to look.Not everyone can afford a web designer; they aren’t cheap – especially when you start adding in fancy features. This is where the indie sites come into play. Sometimes simple works best. Whatever you decide – commit to it. Consistency is crucial to your readers – in your writing and in your communication. Remember – your personal website is the CENTER of your Universe. All of your other social media sites should reflect your personal website first and foremost – and should always point the reader back to your site.
- goodreads.com: Goodreads is a social channel that is perfect for authors! Recently acquired by Amazon.com, the site was designed by readers for readers. If you haven’t already joined, run to your computer now – go on… I’ll wait – you can join even if you haven’t published yet. It is free to join, and everyone starts off with a “reader” account. Once you publish (even self-publish) you can contact Goodreads and have them convert your reader account to an Author account.
- What it can do for you? Readers share their favorite books and write reviews. You can link your blog feed from your website to post in Goodreads also – updating two blogs in one. They also include watch lists, and a section for books to read. It is a great way to connect with readers, fans, and other authors. You can even do book giveaways (physical books only at this time). All in all, Goodreads should be your number 2 destination for social media. You can also check out LibraryThing.com and Shelfari.com – these are similar in format although not as influential as Goodreads.
- facebook.com: Facebook is the King of social media. If you’re serious about having a career as a writer, you must have a Facebook Author Page where fans can “LIKE” your page and keep up with your events. It’s critical to keep your fan page updated with fun information to keep your readers engaged and anticipating your next book. Depending on genre, it’s possible to have a Facebook Group page in addition to your fan page. This requires more moderation but gives your readers more interaction. A fan page also allows you to keep your private life private and separate from your writing life.
- What it can do for you? As of October 2013, there were 500 million people using Facebook. I think that’s self-explanatory. In addition, when a reader is a fan, all of their friends see your page with a note saying their friend likes you. Facebook can be an author’s matchmaker for new readers. Make sure to do plenty of social events and promotions.
- twitter.com: If Facebook is the King, then Twitter is the Queen. Twitter is especially helpful to authors as it helps you connect with your readers and other authors around the globe. You can also follow agents, editors and publishers to keep up with the business side and get the inside scoop on what’s the next big thing. Twitter can connect you with the greatest minds in publishing, writing, editing and marketing. It’s also one of the best platforms to keep you up-to-date on conferences, marketing techniques and workshops. The best benefit is instant gratification. On Twitter, if you favorite or retweet someone else’s message, you will more than likely get a response. (It’s called good Twitterquette) You only get 140 characters to say your message, but you can pack those characters with a great deal of traction. In fact, with Twitter, you will find short and sweet is the key to success. Simply put – everyone is accessible on Twitter, because that’s the nature of Twitter.
- What it can do for you? Instant connections to readers, writers, editors, publishers and agents. Not just any connection, but a personal connection.
These four are my must list, what follows is a listing of some other sites that I think are useful depending on how they are used.
YouTube: Video is fast becoming the new way to promote your books. Readers are visual in nature, so it only adds to your fan base when you engage the YouTube audience.
Google Plus: Google Plus may not be the most popular social channel; however it is connected to the mother ship, Google, so that helps in two ways: You can set up events and it will automatically add them to the Google calendar of those you invite, and the Google Plus communities. I have made many connections on Google Plus via the communities I’ve joined and have never regretted my decision to add it to my social media platform.
Blog Tours: These are great for extending your reach – the only downside I’ve found is that you have to have a published book in order to participate. Sure you can get a cover reveal and maybe even a guest post prior to release, but you need the published book to get the most out of them. They can add some needed fanfare to your book launch, and done properly, you can find many new readers you wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Lastly, a few key points to remember when formulating your social media plan and especially, once you’ve implemented it.
- Social Media sites are a collection of parties. No matter how savvy you are, social media is like a party. You can either be a wall-flower or you can be the life of the party – it’s up to you. Just remember, every party (social media avenue) has a different crowd with their own etiquette. Make sure you understand the rules of the party before you start a conversation or you could end up with egg on your face.
- Have a clear goal and plan for each Social Media channel. Don’t join a site just to say you have Social Media. Have a plan and a purpose. Know the message you want to communicate on that site and the goals you want to achieve. If not, you’ll end up frustrated.
- Patience Grasshopper. Don’t expect to sign up on a site and everyone on that site wants to be your friend. Just because you have a profile doesn’t mean you will get followers. You need to put forth the effort to attract the right Just as in real life, Internet friends like to be wooed. Show them you have something they will like, and you will find your audience. Above all else, never, and I mean NEVER buy followers. It’s cheap, dishonest, and it doesn’t get you actual readers or fans. As I’ve said before, there is an audience for everyone’s work – you just have to find it.
- Don’t focus on building an audience. I know, you just went, “what?!” I say that to mean, focus on giving value to the people that already follow you, you will attract more people like that if you do. That’s the audience you want – people who truly want to hear what you’re saying. If you always focus on trying to create new things to attract new followers, your existing followers will leave. No one likes SPAM – unless you’re talking the canned ham, and even then – no.
- Cultivate your mailing list. Encourage your followers on all your social media sites to join your mailing list. This is where your blogging becomes important, because your mailing list will remove the barrier between you and your readers. Your blog is personal, it’s your thoughts and ideas, and your fans want to be a part of your world. So take care and invite them in, give them a way to see your blog posts that works for them and they will continue to read your work.
- Be everywhere. I know I just finished saying don’t join every site, and that’s still true, but what I mean is that you want to claim your “names” and any variation of them as a form of protection. That way your fans always know you’re in control and they aren’t accidently getting posts from some kid in Luxembourg who decided he wants to post pictures of skateboards under your name. Control your name and you control your brand.
- Quality. No matter what, make sure you’ve given your absolute 100% best quality on everything you do. If you want your blog to be personal and laid back, then keep it that way. You control how your readers perceive the message – make sure they want to come back for more. I promise, if you make it worth your follower’s effort, they will keep coming and they will bring friends.
- Schedule. Whatever time you have decided to allocate to Social Media, make sure you have a set schedule. If your followers know you’re going to post updates on Fridays at 3pm EST, make sure that you’re posting at that time. Schedules are great, and it clearly defines the time you’re spending – but make sure, no matter what – you are spending that time with your readers – even if you don’t have any yet. As a fan myself, there’s nothing I hate more than someone who’s late, or doesn’t show at all.
- Define your message. Make sure no matter what, you control the message that is sent to your readers. There is nothing worse for a fan then when they think they are talking to the author and find out it’s only some web administrator with no access. They feel cheated, and you’ve cheated yourself. Your fans are your life’s blood. Whether it’s 1 (Hi mom!) or 1 million, they have invested their time (and money) in you and deserve nothing less than your undying love and respect. Treat your readers like they deserve to be treated and you will have a fan base filled with loyal readers who can’t wait for your next book.
I hope this has helped you start to focus where you want to take your Social Media plans in the future, I know I’ve given you a lot to think about. I’m going to try and post on each of the big 4 must haves in detail, but if you have any questions or comments between now and then, please send me a comment. I will try to answer you as quickly and completely as I can.
Thanks for stopping by!