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Which Social Media Networks Should an Author Use?

A summary of 5 main social media networks and how authors could use them to boost sales

Social Media is a great way to increase your visibility as an author and to make your books more discoverable. Through social media you can engage with your readers, grow your audience, do valuable market research and connect with others in your industry.

Don't try to be on all the social media platforms at once. Pick the ones that are worth your while. [tweet this]

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to try and do it all. Checking in on social media should be part of your daily routine, but you need more than enough time to work on your book and your blog as well. Tip: in order to save time, you can also make use of a social media managing tool such as Hootsuite, where you can post updates and communicate with users from different social media networks simultaneously.

How Should You Pick Your Social Media Platforms?

  • Go for what you enjoy - Fans will notice if you are doing something half-heartedly, so pick the platforms you will actually enjoy using.
  • Go where your audience is - Have a look at the demographics of each social media platform and see where you are most likely to engage your audience.

The 5 Main Social Media Networks For Authors

Facebook

What Your Facebook Audience Looks Like

As of September 2014, 71% of adults that are online use Facebook according to Pew Research as opposed to 20-odd percent on all of the other major social media networks. This makes Facebook a no-brainer choice, no matter who you identified as your audience. Furthermore, in the U.S., women are about 10% more likely to use Facebook than men and it is also the top social network for teens.

How Authors Could Use Facebook
Facebook is a place where things tend to be personal, especially when you are interacting with people from your personal account. Your public, business page also offers many great tools. Here are some ways you can use Facebook:

  • Brainstorm with family, friends and close fans to get inspiration for your work. You can start polls and discussions and get people to really engage with your content.
  • Post Updates on newly released books, articles on your blog and other interesting content that people will enjoy. Try to use images in your posts as often as possible - they will attract more attention.
  • Run Targeted Ads - Facebook users have a very high ad engagement and count for half the ad clicks on the entire Web. Through Facebook, you can narrow down your ad audience to their age group, geographical region, gender, relationship status, behavior and interests.
  • Run Competitions and Offers and encourage people to "like" your page. Facebook users are more likely to recruit their friends to like certain pages than any other social network's users.
  • Create Events and send out invites. Facebook is perfect for supporting your book launch - whether you are planning to do it in person or virtually or both. People can indicate whether they will attend or not and you can send out reminders to those who were invited. This will give you a better idea of how many people you can expect to show up.
  • Start discussions in groups and get feedback from other book lovers.

Interesting Book Groups On Facebook

Interacting with people in Facebook's groups can help you build a following. To find groups in your genre, use the search tool. For instance, entering "Romance Novels" will get you to Romance Novels and Romantic Fiction Readers and Writers,  a group with over 2,000 members.

Here are some examples of more general book groups that may be interesting to join:

  • All About Books - 20,000 + members. A group for all who love books for authors & readers.
  • Books Gone Viral - 21,000 + members. A group where members can discuss books they like and where to get them.
  • Authors and Book Lovers Discussion Group - 21,000 + members. a discussion group for authors and book lovers to chat about their favorite books. All authors are welcome to promote here
  • Review Seekers 11,000 + members. A group where authors and publishers meet readers and users who write and post reviews of books and apps on Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and blogs.
  • Book Junkie Promotions - 22,000 + members. A group for authors to promote their books, blogs, radio interviews, tours, etc.

Goodreads

What Your Goodreads Audience Looks Like

Being on Goodreads is a must for any author. This is where your main audience is and you can target readers in your genre directly. Goodreads claims to have a reader community of 40 million people. This platform is where the hype around E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey started.

How Authors Could Use Goodreads

  • List books and share your own books as well as favorite reads with fans via Listopia.
  • Do targeted advertising. Through Goodreads' advertising program, you can target readers who like authors who have written books similar to yours.
  • Hold book giveaways to get more exposure and reviews. On average, 750 people enter book giveaways on Goodreads. Around 60 of them are likely to put the book on their to-read list and almost half of the giveaway winners will eventually review the book. Holding book giveaways will not only boost your book's exposure, but also get you more (hopefully positive) reviews.
  • Start discussions about your books. This allows you to interact directly with your readers and see how they react to your work.
  • Integrate your blog with Goodreads. If your blog is linked to Goodreads, readers will automatically receive email updates weekly.
  • Share book excerpts as well as other teasers
  • Compile a quiz about any topic
  • Show off Goodreads reviews on your website using the author widget.

Twitter

What Your Twitter Audience Looks Like

According to Pew Research, of all online adults, about 23% use Twitter. The majority of Twitter users live in urban areas. When it comes to gender, more men (22%) use Twitter than women (15%). Twitter has a relatively young audience - most Twitter users are between 18 and 49 years of age.

How Authors Could Use Twitter

  • Announce a book launch If you can get influencers (people with thousands of followers) to retweet your announcement, you can really get a great reach on Twitter
  • Publicly chat with others about topics in your subject matter. Their followers will see the conversation and may be interested in joining in or following you.
  • Share interesting content about your subject matter. Just Tweeting about your book can put people off, so do this sparingly. Post content your audience would be interested in to get them to interact with you.
  • Use hashtags to connect with readers worldwide. If you use the right hashtags, your audience will notice you and start engaging with you. Twitter is one of the easiest social media platforms to find your audience on. You can also search hashtags in Twitter to see what people are posting on things in your subject matter and to connect with them.
  • Retweet other people's posts - hopefully they will return the favor at some stage.

Interesting Hashtags To Use

#FridayReads - People use this hashtag to recommend books that they love on Fridays only. Just don't use it all the time to recommend your own book!

#amreading - Shows which books people are busy reading and can provide some interesting insights into what genre is currently trending worldwide.

#AskAuthor, #IndieAuthor, #MustRead and #WriteMotivation are more examples of popular hashtags.

Look for hashtags that are trending in your genre using sites like Hashtagify.me and Hashtags.org

LinkedIn

What Your LinkedIn Audience Looks Like

28% of all online users are on LinkedIn, according to Pew, which means there are more people on LinkedIn than Twitter. LinkedIn is where white-collar professionals do their networking. The Pew survey found that these are on average high-income, highly educated people. LinkedIn's core demographic consists of people between 30 and 49 years of age, those who are in the prime of their careers.

How Authors Could Use LinkedIn

  • Increase visibility as an author. Your LinkedIn profile will show up in Google searches, which is why you should treat this platform as an online resume. It is a great place to build credibility as an author and to network with other professionals in the industry.
  • Exchange knowledge with other authors in writer groups
  • Create a call to review to get more reviews for your books
  • Connect with editors, publishers, other authors and members of your audience
  • Research agents, editors and publishers in your field and see which ones share interests with you.
  • Create links to your website and other online content. Unlike with Facebook links, the Google search algorithm does count links from LinkedIn. This means an active LinkedIn account can increase your page rank.

Groups on LinkedIn That Are Interesting For Authors

  • Ebooks, Ebook Readers, Digital Books and Digital Content Publishing counts over 85,000 members and is a great resource for everything to do with eBook publishing. You can post questions there, get responses on articles and more.
  • LinkEds & Writers: Is one of the largest groups on the network for proofreaders, editors and authors, counting over 73,000 members. The group has been split up in several speciality-based subgroups, making it easier to network with people in fields that are interesting to you.
  • Books and Writers is a group that allows writers to market their books and is also a great place to interact with other authors and publishers. The group has more than 92,000 members.

Pinterest

What Your Pinterest Audience Looks Like

Pinterest is not the obvious choice for authors because it is a visual platform, but it could actually be interesting for certain genres. Pinterest has a very mobile audience - according to data from the Business Insider, over 48% of all social media shares on iPads are from Pinterest. The content that gets shared most are parenting, family, food and drink related. It is one of the best places to reach women, as 42% of all women on the Internet use Pinterest (Pew Research).

How Authors Could Use Pinterest

  • Create topic boards that will attract readers in your genre. Create a board for every topic you would like to cover. Examples of topics: classic books in your genre, book reviews, home library layout inspiration, book covers, quotes about writing, behind-the-scenes looks into an author's life and paintings or other images that relate to the time period of your book. If they repin any of your pins, the links will always contain the source.
  • Be Inspired while writing a book. Sometimes images can really help with inspiration. Pinterest makes it very easy to find cool things on all types of topics. Simply use the search tool at the top and type your keyword. For instance, if you are writing a Steampunk book, type in "Steampunk" to get ideas for you characters' clothing, transport, houses and all kinds of other things.
  • Get feedback from Pinterest followers on new book ideas, illustrations, book cover concepts, characters or interest in upcoming books.
  • Hold competitions and book giveaways. Some authors will require people to follow them on Pinterest and repin the post to participate. Just do a search on Pinterest on "book giveaways" or "pin it to win it" to see some examples.
  • Do market research using Pinterest Analytics. Using this tool, you can see who pins your content, what type of content works for your audience and what doesn't.

Pinterest Boards That Are Interesting For Authors

Book Community Board - 51,000 plus followers. A board for book recommendations and anything book related. Just keep in mind that they don't like self promotion here.

Jelly Books Historic Novels - 25,000 plus followers. Community board specifically related to historic novels.

More Social Media Networks To Consider

In addition to the above social media sites, there are of course plenty of others. While it is true that it is better to have a strong presence on only a few rather than just signing up for everyone just because "you have to", we encourage you to get familiar with all of them. You never know, you might stumble upon one that works perfectly for your target audience, or find inspiration and ideas that turn out to be your next big promotion channel.

Reddit

Reddit is also known as the "front page of the Internet" as it is here where many things are discovered before they start trending online. According to Pew, 6% of all adult online users are on Reddit regularly, and this community counts plenty of college-educated, hip young men. Reddit is a great place to improve your writing, get honest feedback and create a buzz. Just keep in mind that Reddit doesn't like self promotion, so you really need to add value to the conversation if you want to make any waves here.

There is a host of subreddits that are really interesting for authors. For instance, /r/books is a place where an author can host an "ask me anything" where you answer fans' questions directly and start discussions on your book. This subreddit alone has over 5,2 million subscribers. /r/writing is an active writer's community, with more than 150,000 writers, where you get to brainstorm with others and get brutally honest critique. This subreddit also has a thread for self promotion. /r/writersgroup is a similar, smaller group that focuses a lot on creative writing.

If you are into freelancing, /r/freelance is worth a look and if you want to practise your writing skills, you should really pay a visit to subreddits such as /r/promptoftheday, /r/wordplay, /r/oneparagraph and /r/roundrobin.

Google+

Google+ is interesting because it has some large book communities like the Google Plus Book Club with over 32,000 members, Writer's Discussion Group with over 30,000 members and Writers, Authors, Bloggers with 26,000 members. The Google plus audience is 70% male, and users don't spend as much time on this network as on Facebook. According to Forrester research, your user interaction on Google+ is very similar to that of Facebook - .069% of users would interact with brand posts, compared to Facebook's .073%.

Tumblr

You may already have a blog, but if your books are aimed at young adults and/or involve self-expression, give Tumblr a try. According to a Garry Tan survey, more than half (61%) of teens aged 13-18 spend several hours a week on Tumblr.

YouTube

YouTube reaches more adults under 34 years of age than any cable TV network out there, according to Nielsen. Many people spend more time on YouTube than Facebook. Authors such as John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) have had great success with Youtube, but you need to have the personality (and time) for it to host your own channel. However, consider reaching out to some YouTubers for interviews - it is a great way to get exposure.

Wattpad

Another network aimed directly at readers, Wattpad has over 30 million users. Only around 10% are writers, leaving an audience that consists 90% of readers. Wattpad is an interesting medium for short stories, but some authors even publish their books there chapter by chapter to get exposure and feedback.

Instagram

If your audience is young adults, Instagram is the place to be. According to data from Business Insider, over 90% of Instagram users are younger than 35. The platform also has a lot of prestige among teens - according to a Piper Jaffray teen survey, 32% of American teens see Instagram as the most important social media network. Although Instagram is very visual, you can still use it to post book covers, quotes, sneak peeks, author lifestyle images and more, while combining it with hashtags to create a hype.

What’s the Next Big Thing?

Every year, many new social networks, bookmarking sites and communities pop up. Everyone is looking to become the “next big thing” and though some are better poised than others, it is always beneficial to be an early adopter of a new network. As these sites initially have a limited user base, the users are hungry for new content which can make it easier to quickly gain great visibility. If you are lucky, one of these will build momentum, and as an early user, you could have a first mover advantage. Services worth keeping an eye on that are in their early stages right now include ElloTsu and Voat. They share many similarities with the sites we have already listed, but each has its own twist. If you want to stay on top of new trends and take a chance, go explore!

Conclusion

There are plenty of social media networks out there that can increase your reach as an author with tools to help boost your book sales. Networking is however all about building relationships, which is why you can’t be everywhere at once. You need to figure out where your audience is and specialize in those platforms.

Using a tool such as HootSuite can help you manage your time by providing an overview of all your social media accounts at once. You can easily keep track of your followers and the progress you are making in growing your network. Other features include scheduling of posts, exploration of your most influential followers, and a powerful search feature which helps you monitor social conversations about your book and name, letting you know exactly where your audience is right now.

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