Social Media 101

Social Media, like Facebook and Twitter, can really be a great tool for spreading the word about your books.  It takes time and diligence to build an audience and then even more work to keep the audience engaged.

Recently, I have seen a lot of people posting about the “reach” their posts get from Facebook and how Facebook claims that only a certain amount of fans see the posts. I have even read a couple of good articles about whether or not page owners should pay to boost their posts. The results vary for many people and some even say it is not worth it at all. I have seen the direct effects of having a large number of followers and hardly any engagement (comments, likes etc).  Facebook will offer to boost your post to help reach a targeted audience and of course that comes with a fee. But is it really worth paying for a boost?

When I first began working at Reader Views, I started managing our fan page on Facebook. There were more than 5,000 fans that “liked” the page however there was virtually no engaging happening. The fan page had little to no engagement from personalized status updates. Most of the posts came from various blogs and accounts that automatically post to social accounts. While having automated posts are excellent, it takes much more than this to engage fans and keep them interested. Don’t forget, just because you have 10,000 likes on your fan page, doesn’t mean that you will sell 10,000 books.

The problem I have found is that when you automatically post from blogs, they do not reach many people, or so says the Facebook stats. I decided that I would do a test to see what would reach more people and engage them with likes and comments. Below are some simple but powerful tips based on my findings regarding how to increase your engagement and get people talking and sharing the updates that you post without having to pay for a boost!

  • For Facebook, when you have an automated post or update from a blog or other website, go in to your fan page and retype the title and post. Insert any corresponding links to where you want your audience to visit in the first comment of the post. This will automatically reach more people than posting the link in the actual post.
  • Use similar steps for photos, post the photo and then go back and edit the photo and insert your link. It will reach more people that way.

My theory for the above: When you post an external link, Facebook does not gain anything from it. You didn’t pay for a boost for that link so why would they “show” your post to a ton of fans? Instead, use my tricks above to beat the system…the automated system. Just remember, this is a theory only based upon my own testing.

  • For Twitter, use that silly hash tag for key words. I know it sounds dumb and everyone is # # # everything, I thought the same thing too…but it’s all about the trend! For example, if you are sharing a book review you received saying your book is a must read and they couldn’t put it down, in a post you put something like this: #BookReview #5Stars #MustRead “..Couldn’t put it down!”
  • With Twitter, you are limited to 140 characters so make each one simple, eye catching and to the point. Use short URLS to save character space. Google has a pretty easy generator to shorten those links!
  • Post often. You can schedule your posts to update at a certain time on Facebook. Write 10-15 posts at a time and schedule them throughout the day for several days.
  • Consider using social media dashboards to help with posting to multiple platforms at one time, even multiple accounts at one time. We like to use SocialOomph. It’s free, easy and user friendly. You can even upgrade to get more features.
  • Be consistent. Ask questions to get people to comment. For example, “What is everyone doing this weekend? Me, I am going to sleep because my toddler keeps me running hard all week. #MommyTime” These types of posts remind people that you are a human and you want to chat with them.
  • Do not make every single post about your book. Do not include a link to purchase your book in every single post. Nobody likes to be sold something every time they look at their newsfeeds. The more friendly and down to earth you are, the more interested they will be in checking out your book and then even buying your book. Yes, post about your book but not all the time!
  • Visit other pages, such as bloggers who review your book, share their links, comment on their posts, attend Facebook events where you can share your links and like/follow new people. Take about 1-2 hours per week to seek out book-related pages and introduce yourself and your book.
  • Always be positive! Nobody likes a Debbie Downer. Leave the complaining about unpleasant things for whine-time with your friends.
  • Read other indie books and write reviews on your own blog. Share those links with the author fan page of the book.
  • Offer up giveaways periodically. It is a great way to get new likes and follows. And you don’t have to giveaway your book. I love to use Rafflecopter, it’s free and really, really easy to install on a Facebook fan page! Of course upgrades are available for this program as well.

These are just some simple tricks and ideas on how to boost your social media. Even if you are not a Facebook guru, doing little things mentioned above are going to increase your fan page likes and follows, and also allow you to mingle with others. Social media is for socializing not soliciting. Don’t lose followers because they think you are just another spammer.

On a personal note, I have come across some very awesome indie authors while messing around on social media. I have to admit that some authors are just so cool and laid back, that when I see they have published a new book, I buy it. I truly believe that there are many people like myself that will be more likely to buy a book from someone that is down to earth chatting with me rather than stuffing their buy links in my face all the time.

What are your social media experiences, tribulations and successes?