Thursday, March 6, 2014

Social Media Marketing for Indie Authors

Social media is a powerful tool for authors. The world we live in is highly technological and most people have 24/7 access to a digital device of some type. As we grow increasingly mobile there are new smartphones and tablets taking over our lives and there are very few people left who do not have multiple social media accounts. It just makes sense for the indie author to figure out how to reach their audience on social sites. But as with any marketing media there are right ways and wrong ways to handle a social media campaign. It is very important that the author understand that while using social media for book sales is effective, it’s not the only reason to engage on social platforms. They are a powerful and effective way of establishing an online presence and building relationships with readership.

Why Use Social Media?
Social media is growing at a rapid rate and so are the users. It’s really not just for teenagers, all ages are beginning to show impressive growth when it comes to hooking up online. As of late last year, nearly 75% of adults online were using social media sites. Facebook has over 1.4 billion users around the globe.  Twitter has 94 million members. LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social sites with 2 new members joining the network every second. The sheer numbers and potential connectivity makes it worth implementing a social media marketing campaign.

Which Social Media Sites Are Best for Indie Authors?
There is no way to name every single social media site available; and it is really not necessary. Choosing which sites to actively engage with your readership is very important. It really comes down to personal preference and finding out where your audience is. The “Big 3” social sites are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Google+ is a newer site that is gaining traction in the market. These are social media giants and have the potential to reach millions of readers. But there are also author specific sites like Goodreads or NetGalley, which can be beneficial. There is no right combination or number of sites to select and it is up to the author to decide which platforms work best for their particular purposes and interests. However, it is also important to note that it is possible to sign up for too many social sites. A self-published author should sign up for only the number of social sites that they can realistically maintain on a regular basis. Social media is not about setting up an author’s page, writing a great bio or profile and then moving along. It’s about actively engaging and building relationships with readers. This means that the author has to be active in posting, tweeting or updating with relevant information.

Adding Value to Your Readers
Of course the ultimate goal for the self publishing author is to sell books. But in order to effectively accomplish this goal it is important to take the time to build relationships with your readership. It’s okay to tweet about a new release, new idea or a promotion that is running, but promoting yourself cannot be the totality of online social activities. Think about your social sites, including your author’s blog, as a way to add value to your readers. Create tweets, status updates, or blog posts about topics that are of interest to your readers. This does not mean that it is irrelevant to your book or books; but it should be geared to adding value to readers. This gives them reasons to return time and time again. Building lifelong readership is key to successful book sales for the long term.

Integrating Social Media
Self publishing authors need a solid strategy when it comes to using social media outlets. At the center of it all should be the author’s website, which contains all of their books and blog. When a new blog post is published it should automatically be announced across linked social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Google+ is also a good social media platform to consider using. It has its own benefits, such as helping establish authorship and your online reputation. It’s also a great tool for branding.

Be Personable
Facebook allows indie authors to set up an author’s page which can be very useful for promotions, branding and connecting with your audience. It is possible to overdo it with self promotional materials so remember to be personable with your followers. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a business page professional, but mix some personality in with it and don’t just become a machine spouting out updates about your materials. It’s okay to be funny, informative and relaxed while remaining professional. Offer a wide variety of content and let your audience get a glimpse of your true personality. When they connect with you in this way, they are going to be eager to read your self published works as well. Social media is about connecting and sharing; it’s a two-way street that offers the indie author a platform from which to interact with their audience.

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