It’s difficult for writers to grasp the concept of using social media to increase awareness and sales. This is because most writers fail to approach their writing as a business. Even if writing is only a hobby, even if you only enter contests or write short stories, you are a business. You are in the business of finding readers for the words you put down on paper. You both want and need to greater exposure to new and bigger readership markets to make a success of your writing career.
Social media has that power—even for writers.
We’ve heard it a thousand times: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and now Pinterest. We know where we should be, but the big question is, what the heck should you say?
Anything pithy, interesting or relevant is the answer.
If we are approaching our writing lives as a business, we have a product we need to sell. Therefore, it only makes sense to develop a social media strategy built around promotion. In this, you should be posting the following:
- New book/story releases
- Anticipated release dates
- Tons of promotional material saying where to buy
- Book covers (especially Pinterest)
- Promotional sales, discounts and free Kindle weekends
- Updates on works in progress
Much of this can be done or scheduled in advance using a social media manager application like Hootesuite. You can schedule these posts and Tweets in advance and limit your promotional social media work to just one day a week or even just once a month.
As a writer, you should also be blogging. You can talk about your personal writing process, time management, research, the progress of your novel—just about anything that relates to writing. You can even weigh in on critical events happening in the publishing and writing worlds. Do book reviews of both good and bad material you’ve read. Then, tell your social media followers about your new article.
As a blogger, I try to write articles in batches and schedule them for release throughout the month in order to save time and conserve my efforts. I then go into my social media manager and schedule a Facebook post, Tweet and LinkedIn update to run at the time of the new article release, plus twice more in the seven days following. I tend to post one announcement to Facebook and LinkedIn, but multiple times on Twitter, as people may miss it with the enormous amount of people they follow. Keeping up with your Twitter stream can be a hopeless cause, so I give my Twitter followers multiple chances to see that I’ve written a new article.
Finally, you should post in your social media simply for entertainment value. A lot of writers send out famous or pithy quotes about being a writer. I love those. Or send out writing prompts to your readers. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box or be a little quirky. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:
- Cat in the Hat meets Snow White—Anyone find that hilarious?
- Daniel Silva’s new novel is out. I swear I saw Gabriel Allon skulking around town looking for me.
- Dreamed I was Hemingway last night. Must’ve been the alcohol.
Don’t be afraid to show your personality, or even your other side. You don’t have to post in the same way you write. You can also find a lot of social media fodder in your own work. Post quotes from your characters or short scenes to entice your followers to read and buy.
One final note on social media: Always include links. Social media is ultimately designed to drive traffic. “To where?” you ask. To wherever people will be most convinced that they want to read your work. Sometimes that is your website, other times it’s your Amazon page. Don’t be afraid to lead them around a bit, either. For instance, I often use Twitter to drive traffic to Facebook, and Facebook to my various websites. Get people to follow the links—it will help your SEO results if you do it right.