Moving from using social media on a personal level to using it to marketing a book, blog or business can be difficult and overwhelming for a lot of people. There are so many options out there, so many rules (official as well as unofficial community based) to learn, so many people to follow. I think the best way to approach this is by creating a plan for social media. This plan can change over time but it should be based on who you’re trying to connect to and what you’re trying to accomplish. Below I’ll walk through how I created my own social media plan and give some tips for getting started on your own plan.
Who Do You Want to Reach?
This is going to be different for everyone, which is why I believe everyone should have a unique plan rather than following some social media “expert”. When you first start on a social media platform, it’s tempting to reach out to the high profile people in your industry and try to connect with them. It’s great to follow people like Neil Gaiman or Publishers Lunch on twitter (and I do this – I get good information out of both), but I would urge you to think more about who you want as a visitor to your site. Who is it that buys books like yours? Who is it that will get the most out of the type of content you share on your blog? And focus your efforts on these people. In other words, who are your 10 people (as Seth Godin talks about)? For me, I knew I wanted to reach readers and other authors.
Where Do They Hang Out?
Moms and bakers like Pinterest. Readers and writers like Goodreads. Fashionistas like Instagram. Yes these are stereotypes but they tend to be pretty accurate ones. Think about what social media sites your perfect people are using and when they are most likely online and make a list of all the sites they might be interacting with (if you need help finding sites, see this Wikipedia list of over 100 social media sites. The big guys are in here but also a lot of smaller sites you’ve probably never heard of.) There are way too many sites out there to focus on, so you want to really hone in on the ones where your people will be most likely to interact with you. Readers and writers spend a lot of time on Goodreads, but also Twitter and Facebook and increasingly on Google+ so I decided these would be good places for me to start.
Three Key Accounts
Once you figure out who your people are and where they hang out, figure out the top three social media sites on your list and decide to focus on these. I would at least set up accounts on several others (mostly so you can secure your name – if it’s not too late) but treat the others as shallow social media sites. Interact with people who interact with you, but don’t spend a lot of time trying to build up lots of platforms. My focus is on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook although I’m beginning to move away from Facebook and towards Goodreads.
Something I’ve been doing lately that has really helped is to focus on one social media site for an entire week. At the beginning of the week I create a goal of how many new followers I want or how many interactions I want to have. I still interact regularly with the other two key sites, but most of my energy goes toward bumping up the one for the week.
A Few Final Thoughts
All social media sites are not created equal – remember that each one has a function and rules all their own. Remember too that each has a best posting time, best image layout (for example, it’s better to use horizontal images on Facebook and vertical images on Pinterest and Google+) and unique apps that work with the site.
Keep adjusting your plan – as your business/blog/sales grow(s), your social media plan should grow too. I suggest creating a weekly focus plan but also looking at your plan on a monthly or quarterly basis and comparing it to the actual results you’re seeing from each site. If you are spending a lot of time on Pinterest but getting very little site visits or book sales, it’s time to try something different.
Which leads me to my last piece of advice – be ready to try out new things! New sites are popping up all the time. Be open to learning how to use them and giving them a couple of days of testing before deciding whether they work for you or not.
Do you have a social media plan? Are there social media sites you like better than others for marketing your books? Please share in the comments below!