As an author embarking on social media promotion, it’s imperative that you develop a content strategy plan and avoid doing things online that will repulse — rather than attract — an audience.
Almost every author has been told at some point, “You gotta get online and promote.” But only a small percentage of authors have actually been coached on social media best practices, so hundreds of authors are misusing social media and turning readers off rather than attracting them.
If you are guilty of any of the following social media practices, for the sake of your readership, please stop immediately!
1. Overusing hashtags
A hashtag is not the secret to getting discovered and no one meaningful is going to follow you based on a tweet where 8 out of 10 words are hashtags. Instead of trying to game the system and latching on to various trending hashtags, consider posting meaningful content that attracts your target audience.
As authors, your social media followers extend beyond your friends and family. Your followers are your readers, your publishing team, librarians, and booksellers. I see too many authors forget this and post about all aspects of their life, from photos of their breakfasts to complaining about writing and publishing. You are a public figure; your social media content should reflect that.
3. Auto-tweeting Facebook posts
We’re all looking for ways to save time, but this isn’t one of them. If your Facebook posts automatically aggregate to Twitter, you’re not using either platform effectively. Facebook posts tend to be long and meaty, tweets are short and pithy. If your lengthy Facebook content is tweeted, those tweets will be cut off with ellipses and followers won’t understand your content. If you post shorter, pithy content to Facebook, that content won’t perform as well. Take an extra few minutes and translate your content for both platforms.
4. Messaging people about your book
I can safely say that all of us, at one point or another, have received a Facebook message or @ reply on Twitter from someone asking us to check out their book. Social media is not about the hard sell — and the hard sell is the quickest way to have your account blocked.
5. Scheduling posts and forgetting about them
When tragedies like hurricanes or mass shootings take place, no one wants to hear about your upcoming book tour or recent 4-star review. If you’re going to schedule posts ahead of time, establish a system that reminds you when posts are going out and stay attuned to the news cycle so you can cancel content in the event of a national emergency.
6. Auto-posting the same content 5x a day
Yes, I know your book is out today. And yes, I know you have a newsletter. Yes, I already saw your tweet about your book tour. If you want to run one “in-case-you-missed-it” (ICYMI) tweet later in the day or remind me once a month to sign up for your newsletter, fine. But if I see the exact same tweet 3-5 times a day? The only thing you’ll get from me is unfollowed.
7. Posting about sex, politics, and religion (unless you write about those topics)
Whatever the political climate, we are all entitled to our feelings and opinions. But as a public figure, the quickest way to alienate half your audience is to post content that offends or enrages them. If you don’t write about sex, politics, or religion, then adhere to dinner party rules and don’t post about them.
8. Posting without revising
You wouldn’t send a book to your editor without giving it a read-through, so why should you post to social media without re-reading and editing your content? Tone is hard to convey on social media; that’s why I recommend reading your posts aloud in a deadpan tone. Does it convey your intended attitude and message, or could people take it the wrong way? If there’s a chance you’ll offend someone or the post will come off as bullying or antagonistic, delete or revise.
9. Only sharing other people’s content
The purpose of social media is to establish your online brand and create relationships with potential readers and influencers. How can you do that if you’re only re-tweeting and sharing other people’s Facebook posts and not posting any content of your own? When I see authors only sharing other people’s content, it’s usually because they’re unsure of what content they should be posting.
10. Posting without a strategy
Before you post your first Instagram photo or YouTube video, it’s imperative that you develop a content strategy. You wouldn’t start writing your book without an idea of the characters, plot, and genre; so why would you start posting to social media without a plan?
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