Using social media successfully is a bit like Alice travelling through Looking-Glass World – to reach your goal, you shouldn't aim for the most obvious target. Instead, taking what might seem a less direct, more circuitous route might be more effective. Scottish self-published writer Wendy H Jones explains why overt marketing won't help you sell more books, but a more fun approach will, and offers four key rules for indie authors using social media.
As most people know, social media usage is growing and is now embedded into our lives. For many of us, using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter is as natural as breathing.
As writers we use social media in different ways. The obvious one is to connect with family and friends as social media is about being social. We also use it to connect with fans. With our business hat on, it is also a useful promotional tool. This is where problems often start.
How NOT to Use Social Media
Many writers forget that it is called social media and not selling media. They join every group they can on Facebook and then post links to their books every day. This tips over into the realms of spam, and I have to say, I, and I am sure many others, then ignore their posts. Though the books may be good, they do not get the exposure the author had hoped for.So how can we use Social Media in a more positive way? Thankfully there are many ways.
First Rule of Social Media: Be, Er, Social!
The first is simply to be social. Engage with people as yourself, not as a writer. This doesn't mean you have to share every single thing about yourself and your family, but you need to decide what will work for you. I am social by nature and don't mind sharing what I am doing, within reason. I am sure no one is interested in what I have to eat unless, of course, I post a photo of a huge slice of gluten-free cheesecake. The interaction for this post was huge.
Second Rule: Be Sparing with Self-Promotion
So what about marketing? Are you a member of any real-life groups? Would you go in to the group, ask everyone there to buy your book, leave leaflets with a picture and a list of places they can buy, then leave? I don't think any one of us would. We would engage in conversation, get to know the members, and occasionally mention our books. Try this in the virtual world. If you do post about your books in groups, then spread it out, a few a day to different groups. Doing it all at once swamps friends’ news feeds.
Third Rule: Take Advantage of Fun Photo Opportunities
I take photos of my books in interesting places. I was recently at a craft fayre signing books. As you can see, I took a photo of a minion holding my first book. It was posted to social media with the caption, “Even Minions Read “Killer's Countdown”.” No links to buy, just a fun photo. Photos of a book launch are also a good way of getting the word out.
Fourth Rule: Help Others
A major part of social media is about helping others. Cheer them on when they are doing well and support them when they need a helping hand. It is about interaction, engagement and mutual support. Social sharing is powerful. However, if you share others’ books, do so because you want to, not because you expect anything in return.
Social media can be fun. You can make new friends and engage with fans in ways previously unknown. This is a privilege. Treat it as such and make the most of it.
OVER TO YOU What do's and don'ts would you add to Wendy's list? What are your pet hates/first loves on social media posts by authors? Join the conversation via the comments box!