According to creative agency We Are Social, more than half of the world’s total population now uses social media. That's 3.96 billion people interacting on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For authors wanting to create a social media strategy, that's a lot of potential readers! But, how do you know where to focus your author platform and book marketing efforts without getting overwhelmed?
By researching the various platforms and reviewing the user demographics.
Understanding the types of users on the various social media platforms can greatly inform which platform you choose to focus on. The key is to make sure that your target readers are actively participating there and that you can maintain a consistent presence there. If you can connect with these potential readers on a regular basis, you can increase awareness for your work, build a following, and sell more books. Here are 6 of the most popular social media platforms available to authors and a snapshot of the types of readers that can be found at each.
Facebook is the largest of all social media platforms with over 2 billion users and more features than any of the other platforms in this list. Facebook has the broadest reach of all platforms, attracting users from all age groups and readers from all book genres. If you already have a personal account on Facebook and are familiar with the user interface, it's fairly easy to get yourself set up with an Author Page and custom Group. Fiction authors can search for and find genre-specific Groups where they can interact with their target readers, or they can create and build their own Groups. Nonfiction authors can use the platform to share interesting or helpful content relevant to their book's topic and easily link to their blog articles, which attracts readers searching for answers or solutions.
Facebook posts can include text, photos, videos, memes, links, and more, providing authors with a lot of flexibility and room for creativity. Additional features that make Facebook so useful for authors are newsletter signups, event creation and tracking, and targeted advertising.
YouTube is one of the internet's largest search engines, second only to Google. With around 2 billion users, YouTube has a high penetration across all age groups. Because the content that is shared on YouTube is video-based (vlogging), many authors feel this platform is outside their technical skillset. When authors put in the time and effort to create and share relevant videos, they can strengthen their brand, attract readers, and build a fan base.
Video is an incredibly powerful way to communicate on all topics, including books, which is why there is a huge subset of the YouTube community called "BookTube". This community has reached hundreds of thousands of viewers worldwide with videos on book reviews, bookshelf tours, bookstore hauls, discussions, and more. Young adult fiction, genre fiction, and children's fiction are particularly popular in this community, but all genres are covered. In addition, there is a large community of authors ("AuthorTube") sharing content related to their books, writing advice, publishing advice, and more. There is definitely a place for all types of authors on YouTube, but you need the skills and discipline to create and maintain a steady stream of quality video content.
*Source: https://wearesocial.com/blog/2020/07/more-than-half-of-the-people-on-earth-now-use-social-media**Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/910875/us-most-popular-video-streaming-services-by-monthly-average-users/***Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/10/share-of-u-s-adults-using-social-media-including-facebook-is-mostly-unchanged-since-2018/
Instagram is a popular, fast-growing platform for sharing highly visual content such as photos and short videos. This platform can provide great exposure for authors, especially those targeting a younger reader. Seventy percent of Instagram's 1 billion users are age 34 and under. Book genres that generate a lot of interest on Instagram include young adult, genre fiction, poetry, and graphic novels or comics. Topics that are trending with younger audiences can also appeal to these users.
Instagram users are highly engaged with quality content, but expect a certain amount of creativity to get their attention. If you have a strong author brand or essence, let your personality and passions shine in your posts. Aesthetically pleasing photographs, a keen sense of style, and meaningful responses to user comments can make your user account stand out. In addition to showing off your creativity in photos or short videos, Instagram allows users to run giveaways, create 24-hour stories, and run ads.
LinkedIn is the world's largest professional networking platform. If you're a nonfiction author that's writing a book geared toward professionals, executives, and business owners in their 20s and 30s, this is the ideal place to be. In addition to linking to your blog or website, LinkedIn allows users to post their resumes and credentials. Your user profile can essentially act as your calling card, making you the authority or expert on your topic. There are groups and communities for writing organizations, professional organizations, speaking organizations, and more. If you're looking to network with others in your industry or to find new opportunities to take your author platform to the next level, LinkedIn can provide that foundation while also connecting you with potential readers.
Pinterest is a highly visual platform that allows users to share and discover interests by posting (“pinning”) images and videos to organized boards (a collection of pins, usually with a common theme). With over 400 million active users, this social site aims to connect people through the things that interest them, which means it can be a great platform to find people who might be interested in your book. Seventy-six percent of Pinterest users are female, so if your book's theme or topic appeals to women ages 25 to 44, you can easily reach a large pool of potential readers here.
Unlike Instagram, Pinterest is less about sharing personal moments and snippets, and more about sharing information and creative ideas. Think of it like a virtual scrapbook of all the things that interest and excite you. Fiction authors use this platform to share visuals of their characters and worlds, or what inspires their stories, while nonfiction authors share helpful or trending pins related to their book's topic.
*Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/995071/pinterest-app-mau-region/**Source: https://wearesocial.com/blog/2020/07/more-than-half-of-the-people-on-earth-now-use-social-media
Twitter is built for engagement so it's the perfect platform to interact with readers, other authors, and industry professionals. On Twitter, it's not always about posting pretty images or eye-catching videos. It's about short discussions or opinions on current and trending topics in 280 characters or less. According to Twitter's media site, there is an active community of writers and readers on the platform: "The #BookTwitter community is vibrant and vast, spanning numerous fiction genres to nonfiction, poetry and essayism. Whether it’s plot discussions or taking part in hashtag holidays like #ReadABookDay, people love talking about what they’re reading."
"Retweeting" the posts of others and participating in "Twitter Chats" are popular activities and a great way to gain followers, as is using popular hashtags to make your content easily searchable. There are communities for all book genres on Twitter, but you have to take the time to build relationships and properly network to find these communities. The more you can get involved in popular discussions and trending topics, the more you can build your following. If you're looking to connect with literary agents, media outlets, or other authors, Twitter is also a great place to network.
If you're still struggling with where to put your time and effort, look at what successful authors in your genre are doing and where they have a presence. Sometimes having just one, really active platform is enough to generate a decent readership. No matter which platform you decide to focus on for your social media strategy, you need to be consistent and create a strategy that informs, entertains, or solve problems, and doesn't just sell. Most importantly, always be authentic with your communications.
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