If you’re publishing a book, it’s important to connect to your audience online. That way, you can grow your audience organically and reach more people around the world. Plus, your already-established audience can connect with you. People are invested in people, and if they grow to like you, not just your book, they’re even more likely to read your next book.
In 2017/2018, the largest and most-used social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat. Each one of these platforms has a distinct function and market sector, so chances are that one or two of these platforms will be most effective for you. Thus, here is a quick guide explaining the different platforms so you can find your people.
Audience: Everyone, but as it becomes more popular with Baby Boomers, it becomes less popular with Millennials. Users age 45-54 spend the most time on Facebook. However, 18-29 year olds remain the most popular demographic of users. Facebook also skews towards women.
Uses: The average person will have a profile, which is great for sharing status updates and photos with friends. They also have a private messenger. Companies and brands (you, as an author are amongst this group) have fan pages. People with Facebook profiles can “like” your page, and then anything you post, such as status updates, pictures, videos, and links, will be in their newsfeed, which is the main page when they login to Facebook. They can comment on, “like,” or share your posts. When people interact with your posts in this way, the algorithm recognizes that your post is generating interest, and will move it up higher on the newsfeed and make it easier for people to find. You can also pay to boost your posts artificially. When visiting your fan page, they can post something, which you can respond to, “like,” or share.
Audience: Twitter skews young, and serves a much smaller market than Facebook. However, men and women use Twitter at about the same rate. On the other hand, over half of twitter’s users never post on their account after making it.
Uses: Twitter is fairly simple: There is no distinction between brands and people; you have 280 characters (recently upped from 140) to say whatever you want to say; and you can include links, pictures, and gifs in your posts. You can also follow other people, “retweet” their posts, “like” their posts, and reply. There is also a direct messaging system, but many people change their privacy settings so they can only receive messages from people they follow.
Audience: Most Instagram users are under 35 and female. While still a far cry from the popularity of Facebook, it quickly overtook Twitter’s popularity and was the fastest-growing social media platform of 2017.
Uses: Instagram is almost entirely image-based. A profile contains a user image, your name, and a brief description of who you are, plus any pictures you post on the app. Posting a picture is simple; you can either snap a picture right in the app, or use a picture already on your phone. Then you’ll have the option to choose a filter and edit the image. You can also do this with a video. When it’s all ready to post, you can add a caption, tag your location, and send the post to your other social media profiles. There are also options to stream a live video, create an Instagram story (pictures and videos from throughout your day that disappear 24 hours after posting), and send direct messages.
YouTube is a video sharing platform. The primary audience is comprised of teen and tween girls, but with over 1 billion monthly users, it reaches most everyone under 50. However, if your sole purpose of joining is to generate interest in a book, the success rate of that is hard to measure. Viewers can smell an agenda a mile away, and will have no interest in your videos. In addition, in order for YouTube to make your page more visible, you need to be constantly generating content—a huge undertaking.
Snapchat is mostly for sending “disappearing” photos. You can also make Stories, much like on Instagram. Unless you set up your account so that people can simply follow you, only people you approve as friends will see what you post. This is a high-effort, low-returns endeavor.
Pinterest is kind of an enigma. While primarily used by women (evenly spread between 18 and 64), and having the longest half-life of any social media, no one really seems to know what the true purpose is. You can follow people and tags you are interested in, and post things yourself. Most posts contain an image, some contain a few words, and many have a link to the website where the poster “discovered” the pin. This seems to be best used for finding recipes, planning weddings, making wishlists, and coordinating outfits. Fiction (especially fantasy/scifi) authors often have fun with fans on this platform, creating visual layouts of settings, fantasy lands, characters, and more.
With this in mind, it is important to have and maintain an online presence. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and join every platform out there, make a strategic decision based on your audience and what kind of content you can regularly create.
She Writes University is launching a Social Media Bootcamp this month. She Writes University is the only online, live webinar-based writing program backed by a community of nearly 30,000 fellow writers and led by an elite faculty of bestselling and award-winning authors, publishing professionals, and subject-matter experts. If social media is new to you or you want to maximize your author presence online, this is the course for you. If you are a SparkPress author, you should have received a promo code in an e-newsletter a couple weeks ago to get to take the class at 50% off, so make sure to check your email.