An author friend of mine invited me to speak at an upcoming gathering of the local Probatio Pennae Writer’s Club, primarily on the topic of social media for authors. I’ve had a few other people ask me how I went about my own social media strategy, and so I thought the time was nigh to sit down and put it down on paper, or at least my blog.
Before I begin — a small caveat. There are others out there with way more likes, followers, page views, etc. If you are one of them, I invite you to share your tips and strategy. Feel free to link in the comments. Also, I went to download a widget to check my blog metrics, given that I hadn’t ever done that but figured I probably should if I were going to write a blog on social media strategy. I ended up crashing my Web site in a catastrophic manner and it was down for five days. So, I give you this blog post not because I’ve figured out all the answers, but because I’m in the process of trying stuff and seeing what works. Which is pretty much the basis of everything I do with writing.
Anyway, I call my strategy: The Social Media Quadrivium Strategy. This consists of the author Web site, Goodreads/Amazon author page, Facebook and Twitter. I often advise people whose goal it is to publish to launch their SMQ prior to publication. In other words, it’s a good idea to start building your online presence before you need it. That way, you have a platform from which to launch your novel, whether self- or traditionally published. Thus, the strategy looks like this:
1. Set up your accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Start using them for their original purpose – be social. Seek out new friends and civilizations, boldly going where no one … Sorry, got away from myself. What I mean is this — build your network of friends who know you for you. Later, you’ll want to market your book through your personal network, and you absolutely should. But first, you want to find a group of likeminded, social people who share your taste in entertainment. Odds are, they will enjoy your book. Warning: DO NOT START BLATHERING ON ABOUT YOUR BOOK FIRST THING. The most annoying thing in the world is someone joining a Facebook group who starts posting ads for their book non-stop. I don’t know why they think we all want to just download their five-dollar masterpiece when we don’t know them or their work. That’s just tacky. At least say hello first.
For Twitter, you’re going to want to learn how to use hashtags. Do some searches for things you enjoy — perhaps a television show, or running, or pets. By using those hashtags, you can start following and conversing with people who are interested in the same things as you. Later on, when you post (every once in a while) about your work, they may reciprocate the interest. For Facebook, while you can and should set up an author page, I suggest using the heck out of your personal profile. Don’t inundate your friends with your book ads — just post every once in a while either a fun graphic, or a giveaway, or a blog post, or someone else’s blog where they interviewed you about your work. These are your friends. If you’re going to like and comment on the pictures of their dinner, #tbt pics, or latest Buzzfeed quiz, they can take a look at your future path to fame and fortune.
2. Set up your Web site and author pages. Amazon is the behemoth that we must all bow down to. Until the Kindle is no longer synonymous with “e-reader,” you will have to publish with them. I don’t care how unfair that system is, show me someone who made their millions solely publishing on the Nook and I’ll update this blog post. But until then, head over to Amazon and set up your author page. This may have to wait until you publish your book, but you’re going to want to do it. Next, do the same thing at Goodreads, and start joining some read and review groups. There are some awesome ones out there that offer books for reviews. I suggest you become active there before publishing or hawking your own work. That way, you give a little to the community, and then they will support you back. Last, but certainly not least, set up your Web site. There is nothing worse, I find, than enjoying a great book, trying to find more about it and the author, and then there is nothing I can find anywhere online. At the least, have a nice bio, author pic, some links to your work, and a blog that is updated. If you run out of blogging ideas, interview people. Perhaps fellow authors. That way, when it’s time to launch your book, you have a list of people you have hosted and can ask them for space on their blogs. Try to keep your site neat and clean, without a bunch of clutter that looks like your Web site was made in 1995 with Netscape or Geocities.
3. Connect your media. Here is where the “strategy” part of SMQ Strategy comes in. Anyone who finds you on one part of the SMQ should be able to get to every other part. If you make a post on Twitter, it should show up on Facebook. Your Facebook profile should have your Web site. Your Web site blog post should be shared on your Twitter (with hashtags!), as well as posted on your Facebook. This requires a little cleaning here and there, as sometimes something posted on Twitter becomes repetitious on a Facebook news feed. Still, you want each of your presence points to feed into and off of each other. For example, once I finish this post and publish it, I will post a link in my Facebook author page, Tweet it (with the #MondayBlogs hashtag) — which will also post it in my Facebook personal profile, and post a link in the Probatio Pennae group invite as a read-ahead. Also, it will automatically post in my Goodreads author profile and Amazon author page. I will Tweet it a few more times during the day, as well as reading other Tweeters’ #MondayBlogs and re-tweeting the ones I enjoy. Because your social media strategy requires connection not only in-between your presence points, but between your presence and others’.
So there you have it — my Social Media Quadrivium Strategy. I invite readers to post and share their own strategies, or offer feedback. Once P.P.W.C. convenes, I hope to post a follow-up article based on my fellow writers’ reactions. As always, happy writing!