Many new authors ask me a good question. “I don’t have a book to promote. How do I build a social media platform?”
At this point, you’re becoming a friend to your potential readers. I like to use the example of my mother-in-law. Years ago, she adored watching Regis and Kathie Lee on television. To her, they were like friends. Of course, they weren’t, really. But to her and many others, they felt like friends.
This is what you’re doing with your social media presence as you write your book. You are making friends who will feel as though they know you. Hence, they will be excited about you and will be interested in buying your book when it’s released.
Following are my thoughts on the big platforms. Once you’re on the platforms, you can just keep using them once you’re a published author. Except for the occasional, “Wow, I’m so thrilled my book is finally out!” the way you actually use the platforms probably won’t change much from when you were seeking publication.
I think it’s okay to have both a personal and author page on Facebook. Even if you are not officially an author, you are still an aspiring author, and here is where you can talk about your project. As for your personal page, Facebook has controls so you can set the level of information you share with different Facebook friends. You don’t have to share everything with everyone you are Facebook friends with. But as a precaution, I recommend not sharing anything anywhere on the Internet you wouldn’t want everyone to see.
Twitter is a wonderful way to share information. I enjoy sharing articles I’ve read about all sorts of topics. This is one way I show my followers different interests I have, such as theology, minimalism, and health. I read many of the articles and insights my followers share as well. Because it’s easy to reach thousands of people on Twitter, this is a fabulous medium for authors.
Many people enjoy using LinkedIn and it’s an easy way to make a lot of connections quickly.
This is another way to reach people and you can categorize them according to various circles. I don’t find this medium to be as active as others I’m on, though others may have a different experience.
Pinterest is a great place to share costumes from the era where your book is set, recipes, hobbies, and other warm and fuzzy visuals. Instagram has also become increasingly popular as a visual medium for authors to share with friends and fans.
Don’t stress if this sounds like too much. It’s not. Experiment and choose which mediums you enjoy and emphasize those. I recommend spending about a half hour a day on social media for business. Yes, it’s business, but also remember to have fun!
What social medium platforms did I miss?
What is your favorite form of social media?
What platform do you think is the hottest right now?
Twitter and Pinterest are my favorite mediums. I actually learn a lot on Pinterest.
I got so many fake friend requests on Google+ that I pulled back from it. Maybe one day I’ll find time to figure out how to use it better.
Thanks for sharing!
Jackie, I’ve been reading Google+ for Dummies, and it looks like it has some very useful features in how circles work and in hangout mode. I’m curious about what you mean by “fake friends.” Is this a common social media term that I just don’t know? How has your experience with Google+ and Facebook been different in this?
Anybody else have positive/negative Google+ experience?
I had men want to be my friend and say there were in the military. The first time I became friends to be polite, and who’s not going to be nice to a military person. Then I got a ton of notices from military men and started looking them up. They don’t seem to be the people they say they are.
It sound like I need to get a copy of Google+ for Dummies. Thanks!
Tamela Hancock Murray
I had a similar experience on Twitter. It’s a shame.
Hi Carol. Generally, I am on many social media mediums with a mixture of success. I spend the most time on Twitter and my FB author page, which is the most frustrating because of the way FB controls who sees content, but I do believe much of my targeted audience is there. I enjoy Twitter and Instagram (limited success but fun) the most, and get the best traction out of Twitter and Google Plus. Linked In has also generated traffic to my site with a smaller following. I am becoming more active on Pinterest with limited success.
Specifically in regard to Google Plus. I don’t understand it really well, but I’ve generated the most followers with the least amount of effort. I find it easy to share other’s content as well as my own, to comment and to show appreciation for other posts. And the images are awesome. Some traffic does get generated to my site. It seems G+ reaches people of a wider demographic. Not much negative, except I haven’t found a way to consistently schedule posts ahead of time.
Hope that helps. Thanks for the great post, Tamela!
I get almost no engagement on Google+ – I’ll have to find you and see what you’re doing!
I use Buffer to schedule posts – I use the Awesome paid version, but you can add a Google+ profile on the free version.
I using the free version of Buffer and you can only connect a Google + page, not a profile. I can’t see the use of a page, so no scheduling. 🙁
I’m not sure I do anything special: Share my twice weekly blog post, a daily Bible verse, usually my daily joy dare post, and occasionally share another’s work.
I agree that I don’t see much action on my Google+ profile. I seem to be the most successful with my Facebook Author page (My personal Facebook page is private). And Twitter is always fun and easy to find people with similar interests by searching on #’s.
Social media is such an amazing medium. I think each platform has a distinct audience.
I’m most active on FaceBook…mainly because I think my target audience mainly inhabits this sphere.
Instagram is one I’ve been using successfully for our antique business, but don’t have an account as an aspiring author. At first, I thought Instagram was for a younger audience since my kids and grandkids were using it. But, I’ve changed my thoughts on this one.
I don’t use Google + and LinkedIn hasn’t proved that successful either.
Love Pinterest and I like Twitter too.
There’s a LOT to keep up with…and still have time to write!
Oops…I should have re-read my comment…I need an editor and another cuppa tea!!
I avoided social media for a long time because of all the hype about it and the high potential for wasting time! I began a blog several years back (my first foray into social media) and I still prefer that medium to all the others that I’ve tried because of the higher level of value that blogs provide.
I have a question. I began my blog anonymously (partly because I discuss my kids a lot on it and my husband greatly values privacy and security!). Going forward, I’ve been wondering if I should be revealing my identify on it if I hope to use it as a platform for writing. I was planning to do this once I was closer to being publish-ready – is that a mistake? I doubt revealing a name will change my following, but is it important for people in your industry to see a name on a blog?
Tamela Hancock Murray
Jen, the platform of the blog won’t do you any good if no one knows who you are. You’ll need to discuss this with your family and weigh how much value it would add to your platform as you seek publication.
Thanks Tamela, that is as I suspected! As I’ve got some plans to launch various products from the site and make some major changes to its functionality, I may do these and disclose my name all at the same time. Many thanks.
I own an online marketing company that specializes in helping people take the next steps with their blogging and social media. I agree with Tamela in that, if you want to establish your blog as a platform for your writing, you must go public. You may want to put your anonymous blog on the back burner and start a new, topically-based blog that pertains directly to the subject area you’ll be focusing on. Provide consistent, valuable information and over time, people will start to find and follow you.
I’ve been blogging since 2003, and while social networks come and go, a blog can grow and change with you. Plus, unlike social networks, you own it and you control it.
I like to use social networks as a referral source to direct people to my blog posts. That’s not all I use social media for, but it is one of my primary reasons.
You’ve given me a lot to think about as I am not yet published but hope to be. Someone at a conference said Goodreads is also a great site because it’s where readers and writers hang out. Thanks, Tamela!
THANK YOU for selecting social media for the unpublished as the topic today! It pretty much remains a mystery to me how to build a social media platform on Facebook, etc., while I have no particular reason, like a published book, for someone who doesn’t know me to want to follow me. I don’t friend people I don’t actually know, so I’m not sure what would draw someone else to want to friend an unknown like me.
Are there any strategies for this that we bloggers can share here?
Tamela Hancock Murray
Carol, to start a business platform, you’ll need to stretch and accept friendships from people you don’t know. But again, you can limit those to your business pages and keep private social media pages for your personal friends and family. To attract people, write something interesting, entertaining, informative, and compelling. Something worth their time. Let people know you’re there. Then the platform should happen.
Thanks, Tamela. My selective friending has been on my personal Facebook. When I bring up the author page, I’ll accepts all comers, just like I happily talk with anyone who wants to chat almost anyplace and anytime. As a author, maybe I’m a rare bird since I’m a true extrovert when it comes to enjoying meeting new people. It’s the actual steps to effectively let people know I’m there online and what would be worthwhile for them that are the foggy parts I’m hoping for advice on.
Good topic. We have an author FB page where we post the link to our website blogs and our new THE ALLEGORY STORY page. I also am learning to incorporate Twitter. It’s a learning curve and there are lots of people and places to help.
Always appreciate tips in this direction!
I’m bery active on social media. I started building one type at a time back in 2005. I’m thankful I had it so well built when I lost my website and 10 yrs of content last spring. My friends on social media weren’t lost because I’d been involved for so long. I use Facebook (profile, page, and a LOT of groups as well as admin on professional group pages like the Christian Authors Network), Pinterest (personal, book, goal, interview, characters, recipes, blog boards as well as shared boards with groups and other authors), LinkedIn (minimal), Twitter (personal/professiona, admin on CAN), Google+ (I post and interact, minimal on groups and need to get better, but huge on hangouts!!! It’s linked to Youtube for recording, and newly on Periscope. But I also do a podcast that posts on my website (recorded in Garage Band and uploaded to Libsyn) and that RSS feeds to iTunes and now Google Play. I also blog on the newer Pencildancers, sometimes on TheFaithGirls.com, my own website, and I write for MTL Magazine & blog. I freelance for other sites and magazines. Don’t forget you must build your author page on Amazon and any other online retailer. I think there’s more but that’s off the top of my head.
Oh phooey, thumb typing on smart phones means typos… Very, not “bery” 😉
Angela, this is SO helpful to know! You’ve given me a lot of concrete items to think about. I have some targets now! Thanks a bunch!
Is there a cautionary tale for us in exactly how you lost your website and content? I’ve already contracted with a web host, bought my own domain name, and will be bringing up sites using WordPress as my content management software. Is that risky or the safe way to go that I thought it was?
Hi Carol Ashby,
Yes, I lost my website because of a couple of things. First, I was hacked by terrorists. They locked me out and posted anti-American and anti-semitic messages. Then, I was hacked by scammers. All 3 hacks happened because my hosting service had a backdoor security problem. So I ended up switching hosts. But, the reason I lost ALL my ten years’ worth of material is that I hadn’t backedup my website in a couple of months. Then it was corrupted and lost. So the important thing is to backup to a reliable source, not your host server only, at least monthly. If you lost one month, not that big of a deal. Ten years is a big deal. I now have a skeleton of what I had before in depth and online material. I lost articles that I’d spent hours working on through interviews and writing. The other important element is adding a good protection service like Wordfence into your WordPress website plugins 🙂 It’s saved me tons this summer already.
I am most active on Facebook and Twitter. I enjoy Pinterest, but I haven’t taken the time to really utilize it as a writer. I enjoy Instagram too. I often link my Instagram photos with my Facebook page and get good feedback from both.
I have a Google+ account, and my blog links to it each time I post, but I haven’t figured out how to utilize it either.
As for what’s the hottest social media, Pinterest seems to be the one. Millions upon millions of users worldwide are on this one!
Linda Riggs Mayfield
What a timely topic! I AM published, in both the popular and academic press, and I have a platform, but it’s academic. Now I’m taking the time and making the effort to find an agent and publish some of the half dozen children’s books and adult historical novels I’ve completed over the years. I bought a domain and launched a blog on WordPress with my name as its title, and added an author page on Facebook. I’m on LinkedIn and Pinterest, but minimally. Was using my name as the site name a mistake? I have two themes on it: (1) Woman in Context (personal observations of what is going on around me, with photos I take, often with spiritual applications, and (2) Getting to Know Jo. Smith, sharing tidbits of surprising information I’ve discovered about the founder of Mormonism in the decade of research I did for a book series, to inform and to build interest and anticipation for the historical fiction series when it is published. No one except a few of my friends ever reads them, and even fewer comment. WordPress and Facebook offer options for promoting them that require bigger investments. I wonder if I need to break out the themes into separate sites with those names and post really, really often to build a following, or if I need to go with what I have set up and pay for the promotion. Ideas?
Linda, You asked, “Was using my name as the site name a mistake?”
The company I own creates custom WordPress websites for authors and other entrepreneurs, and we get asked this question often. I’ve also talked with several agents and CBA editors and marketing directors about this, and they all recommend that you use your name as the domain name (website address) if possible.
As a writer/author, YOU are the brand — not the title of your book. Many authors also buy the URL for the title of each book, and point that URL to their primary domain name (their own name).
Using your own name gives you the freedom to write in multiple genres or to develop separate sections of your site to reflect different themes, as you have done.
Having said that, the domain name for my business is “BloggingBistro.com,” but that’s because it is a marketing business for which multiple people work, and it made sense to brand the business with an easy-to-remember business name.
I also own the URL, laurachristianson.com, on which I marketed my now out-of-print books. In the next couple of months, I will be reworking that site to reflect a new business venture I’m developing. I love the fact that I’ve kept my own name as a domain for so many years — now that I’m ready to do something new with it, it’s there and available for me to play with!
In Pinterest, you can build hidden boards. I work on hidden boards for future books and wait until the release date for the book. If you’re not published or have not landed a contract, start a board for your idea or proposal. It can also help you focus on topics within the book.
I love this idea, Karen. I do that, too. That way, when you go public with your board, it already has a good amount of content on it. Presents you in a more professional light than publishing a blank board.
Yes that’s the idea-to have it look super when the book releases and the board goes public.For other social media, I often build a file of posts/tweets ahead to use after the release or prepost.
Lisa Van Engen (@aboutproximity)
Great encouragement. Even though Google+ seems dead, keep posting your work there… it raises up your ranking for SEO!
Also, Instagram is really, really popular and so easy. You need a smartphone, but its a fun medium to add without much added work 🙂
Thanks for this Tamela! Really appreciate it 🙂
I started an author Facebook page a year or so ago, timidly though, as I had nothing to promote and therefore felt a little silly doing it! I’ve been so blown away by the number of people who now follow my writing journey there and encourage me through it, even though I have nothing published yet! They just want to be part of the journey and I can’t wait for the day I tell them I actually have a book they can buy!
Alongside the journey updates, and quotes/quips/lessons learnt along the way, I put the links to my blog I write which has also worked really well to grow my online presence – alongside being a good place to encourage them back!
Haven’t tried any of the other forms of social media yet, mainly because I want to focus on doing two (Facebook & blog) well instead of a whole heap lackadaisically!
But yeah, for those wondering if it’s worth it, it definitely is and you should go for it!
I hope I’m not too late in asking this, but what about Wattpad? A place where folks can write online and share. I started to share my first finished manuscript and was encouraged to share only parts of it. Just get some followers who might be interested in buying my book when it’s finally published. There are other authors who do that and I was curious as to what you thought. Thanks.