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Sunday School, Part 3: Getting started with Social Media

It's that time again! If you're following along on my Sunday School series about marketing tips for authors, I hope you've had success with your new website and blog. I'd love to hear how things are coming along, so please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me if you have questions or want to share your progress!

Tonight's topic is one that has a LOT of ground to cover, so this will be only one of many posts on the subject. Social media spans a wide scope of channels, with new sites and apps cropping up almost weekly. It's important to pull readers into your sphere of influence on the web, but when you're first starting out growing your brand, navigating all the social networks out there can seem daunting. That's why I'd like to start out by sharing three tips for you to consider before you jump headfirst into using social media as a book marketing tool:

Be Selective

It's easy to be overwhelmed when considering all your options for social platforms. Of course, you want to try and spread your online presence as far as possible in order to reach potential readers around the world, however, this is one of those cases where quality is much better than quantity, in my opinion. Even if you have the budget to hire an assistant to juggle all of your social media accounts, not every platform is going to be worth the effort. Consider easing into social marketing by establishing your author presence on two or three sites first. You can always add more to the mix later!

Target Audience Research

When it comes to choosing which channels to invest your time and energy on, the most important thing to ask yourself is this: Where are my target readers hanging out online? Those social networks should be at the top of your list because they are the sites that will give you the best opportunities to connect with the people who are most likely to buy your books. For example, if you're writing young adult fiction that targets a younger demographic, Tumblr and Instagram are excellent places to start. A nonfiction book targeting an older crowd of business-minded individuals might be a great fit for a LinkedIn profile. Facebook and Twitter are viable options for most demographics and book genres nowadays, but it's always a great idea to research where you're potential readers are hanging out on these sites and how they're using them. This will go a long way in shaping your social media marketing plan as you approach your next book launch. For a neat breakdown on some major social channels by demographic and usage, check out this article and infographic from Social Media Today.

Comparable Author Research

If you're on the fence about one or two social media networks then here is a great exercise to try. Pick out your favorite author in your genre--or an author with similar books to yours--and do a quick search of his or her online presence. If that author is investing a lot of time chatting with readers on Facebook, Twitter, or even Snapchat then you probably should be too. Seeing where others are already having success in connecting with your target readership can reinforce your decision to include that site in your own social marketing plan, and it could even reveal a promising site or app that you hadn't yet considered.

This brings me to your very first Sunday School homework assignment:

Pick three authors whose books, writing style, and target readers are similar to your own. Visit their website and see which social media buttons are present, and then check out each of their social profiles. See what they're posting and how they're encouraging followers to interact with them online. Then make a list of the top three social media sites that, based on your research, would be the best fit for your own book marketing plan. Share your findings with me in the comments section or contact me with any questions along the way.

Good luck!

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