Each month, the Nonfiction Authors Association asks a burning publishing question of the industry’s best, brightest, and most innovative experts. Here’s what they have to say!
NFAA: What are some of your best tips for leveraging social media for authors?
The real key to leveraging social media is realizing that most of your followers do not represent an actionable audience, meaning that they may not normally actually buy something like a book! They are weak relational links. Instead, you need to work to build an emotional connection through engagement over time that leads to loyalty…and action! The best way to do that is to produce consistent, helpful, and free content that elicits an opportunity for engagement.
Mark Schaefer is a marketing consultant, college educator, and the author of six books, including KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing a Personal Brand in the Digital Age.
Link to book page:
Concentrate on joining, starting conversations, and communicating with members of niche groups on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and the many other book-review and book-recommendation websites. These people are your ideal readers, especially if the topic is super-narrow. Ditto for podcasts devoted to narrow topics. These niche groups and podcasts have loyal audiences. Why? Because they don’t face a lot of stiff competition on that particular topic. If you can become the subject matter expert on your topic—and the go-to source—you can sell more books by promoting your expertise. Promote expertise first, books second.
There’s an author under every rock. Not so with experts.
Joan Stewart, a.k.a. The Publicity Hound, shares publicity tips for authors, speakers, and experts twice a week via email. Subscribe at http://Publicityhound.com/tips/sample
There are some simple ways to leverage social media:
- If you want more followers on Twitter or more Likes on Facebook, include Follow and Like icons on your website, at the bottom of each blog post, and in your newsletters to readers.
- Include social sharing buttons with every blog post you write so that your readers can share your words and sentiments with their own following.
- You can also embed your most popular tweets or Facebook posts in your blog posts.
Additionally, there’s an approach to social media that will help you leverage your tweets into relationships, and this approach can apply to more platforms than Twitter. I call it the CARE approach:
- Communicate with your followers, fans, and readers. Don’t just talk at your readers or simply broadcast your messages. Have a conversation.
- Answer all questions promptly.
- Respond to comments.
- Educate and entertain in your tweets and status updates. You’ll want to post informative content but balance those with fun memes and personalized posts. The more you can personalize your content, the more engagement you’ll enjoy.
Frances Caballo is a social media manager and author of Social Media Just for Writers and other social media books, and hosts the blog www.SocialMediaJustforWriters.com.
Forums are much more personal and fruitful places to gather an appreciative tribe than sites like Facebook and Twitter. I know you are an expert in something—maybe two or three things—so find forums where you can give people answers. For example, my expertise is in self-publishing and solo women’s adventure travel. There are newbies everywhere who will be eternally grateful for your experienced wisdom and inspiration, and who will want to return the favor by buying your books and spreading the word. Simply search for your area of expertise and the word “forum,” and you’ll see what I mean!
MARIKA FLATT/PR BY THE BOOK
We enjoy scheduling blog tours for authors and find that it’s a great groundswell of online activity around publication date. Bloggers sign up for a day and post either a review of the book, a prewritten Q&A, an excerpt, a book summary, or host a giveaway (sometimes a combination of these depending on their time/preference). From our end, we reach out to bloggers to sign them up, keep track of who’s supposed to post what day, remind each a week in advance, and make sure to log who posts and who doesn’t (so we can remind those who don’t).
During these five days of a blog tour (Monday-Friday), the client’s book will be promoted on all of these blogs and through the bloggers’ social media (and yours and ours!) to try and drive awareness of your book.
From your end, the best thing you can do is engage with the bloggers through social media on the days of their post to take advantage of their audience. We make sure that our client knows the social media handles of the bloggers for each day of the tour.
Blog Tour Setup and Execution
- Write Press Pack including book summary, author bio, and suggested talking points
- Write and edit Suggested Interview Questions (SIQ’s) to be used as collateral during blog tour
- Build relevant blogger lists from PR database and relevant campaigns from past clients
- Pitch and manage responses from bloggers; get bloggers any necessary materials for the blog tour
- Develop schedule for bloggers, including blog link, social media profiles, and day they agreed to post during tour
- Develop and send bloggers the blog tour hashtag so all posts can be shared via social media
- Monitor and collect posts the week of the blog tour; distribute them via social media and add to the client portal
From the campaign timeline breakdown:
Blog Tour Month 1:
- Design blog tour pitch and gather relevant blog tour materials
- Create SIQ’s to provide to participating bloggers
- Build pitch lists of bloggers who will be invited to join the blog tour
- Start pitching tour
- Send 4-week reminder to participating bloggers
- Support/manage all the responses from interested bloggers—designate posting dates, book shipment, and details
Blog Tour Month 2:
- Develop schedule for bloggers during blog tour to track all posts
- Send 1-week reminder to participating bloggers
- Feature the tour on our blog, special emphasis on the tour and kick-off day
- Support all the activity through all PR by the Book social media channels (tweeting, retweeting, posting the links of the book reviews)
- Detailed reporting to the client on all the activity
- Manage all responses and postings during the tour week
- Build and provide clients with all blogger SM handles to simplify the engagement process with reviewers participating in the tour
- Follow-up with outstanding bloggers
Marika Flatt is the founder of PR by the Book, a literary publicity firm that celebrates 15 years in 2017. www.prbythebook.com
I’m a big fan of the philosophy “Don’t be everywhere; be everywhere that matters.”
One of the biggest challenges authors face is time. The challenge with all of these social media sites is they all require an investment of time, creativity, and sweat equity, and let’s face it, it’s not always worth the effort you put into it. For this reason, I suggest doing some research into similar and successful authors in your market and see what they are doing in social media. I suggest reviewing 5-10 authors’ accounts and see, generally, where they are, what they’re doing, how their engagement is on these sites, how frequently they are posting, etc. Success leaves clues, and sometimes the best way to figure out your own social media plan is to follow the lead of others. So if you’re on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and several other sites right now, you may need to punt one or two of them to make way for a more robust presence on a single site, or two. You are much better off being a rock star on one site than have a lackluster presence on many.
Once you have defined the right social site(s) for you, create a plan for posting. One of the easiest things to do is to create a set of theme days. Maybe on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—that way those are three days you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to post. It’s also good to set expectations with your followers so they know that on Monday you do XYZ, and so on.
Penny C. Sansevieri is CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. and an adjunct professor at NYU. www.amarketingexpert.com