How To Choose The Right Social Media Outlet
*This post was updated with new information and content on June 8, 2018!
Do you feel like you’re spread too thin on social media?
Are you frustrated because you don’t know which social media outlet is best for you and your books?
Do you feel confused as to which social media outlet to spend your time using?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. It’s a very common frustration and one that needs some direction.
Social media isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation: each outlet offers something unique and attracts a different kind of person for each. And your audience doesn’t use social media exactly the same way - we all use different outlets and use them in different ways.
So what does that mean to you as an author?
You need to be on at least two different social media outlets. Notice I didn’t say all social media outlets - aim at being on a minimum of two.
But before we jump into where you should be, you need to know who you want to connect with. This is the key to your success: knowing who your ideal reader is.
If you’re struggling with identifying your ideal reader or if you need help digging deeper into the specifics, you’re in luck! We have some free online training resources available that will help you do just that.
The Purpose of Social Media in Book Marketing
It's not what you think. Social media is just the beginning of our overall online strategy - it doesn’t end there. Social media’s most important purpose is connecting you with the right people. It’s not a place to sell - it’s a place to connect.
One of the main reasons social media doesn’t work for many authors is that they don’t understand how to best use social media.
Social media is very much like an online cocktail party. This is where we mix and mingle with people. You would never walk up to someone at a cocktail party and immediately try to sell them something. You introduce yourself and get to know one another through conversation. If you find a connection or interest, you give them your information or a way to get to know you more.
Social media is where you get to know people - your blog and website are where you go after the cocktail party. This is where they gain a deeper knowledge of you, what you write about, and what you have to offer. If they are intrigued and want to know more, then they give you their email address for your newsletter. The newsletter is where you make the sale!
Social media is just the beginning of the process. And to see this process succeed you have to connect with the right people in the right places.
That means investing time where you will see results and connect with the right people.
So how do you do that?
The Major Players
There are essentially three major players when it comes to social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Yes there are more outlets out there (more on that in a minute) but these three are the baseline of any online presence. Let’s break them down a bit:
- It is the largest social media outlet in the world with the most active users.
- People are most familiar with it.
- It offers the most detailed analytics and data regarding your connections.
- Their ads are very effective if used correctly.
- More than 70% of online adults use Facebook
Some negative aspects of Facebook:
- Since it is the largest social media outlet in the world, it can be hard to be seen since it is so saturated and there is lots of competition for people's attention.
- Posts aren’t always seen in the newsfeed because of the way Facebook's ever-changing algorithm works.
- In order to have your posts seen in the newsfeed you need to have engagement on your page/posts.
- Facebook is always making changes and it can be hard to keep up.
- The only way to see significant growth is to buy ads.
So basically, in order for you to see success with Facebook you will need to invest in ads. Fortunately, Facebook ads are inexpensive, but you will need to learn how to best use them. Amy Porterfield offers excellent advice and training sessions for how to get the most out of Facebook ads, so I’d greatly encourage you to check her website out.
But even with ads, you will need to create consistent engaging content to make your posts visible and encourage people to share them. So a plan of attack is essential.
- 32% of all Internet users are on Instagram.
- 59% of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram and 33% of internet users between the ages of 30 and 49 use Instagram
- 38% of female internet users use Instagram and 26% of male internet users use Instagram
- 17% of teens say Instagram is the most important social media site (up from 12% in 2012)
- It's owned by Facebook, so Instagram has access to its powerful ads and can be easily tied to your Facebook Page.
- You have access to Instagram's incredibly popular Instagram Stories.
- Instagram is much easier to find and connect with readers than Facebook. It's much more accessible.
Negatives about using Instagram
- The only way to share a URL is on your Instagram profile. Links don't work in the captions of your posts.
- Visuals play a vital role and you need to have a strategy to make your images eye-catching and high quality.
- It has limited features and is mainly intended to be used on your smartphone or tablet.
Instagram works best for authors that are willing to post images consistently. We have a great post on an easy way to create images that work perfectly for Instagram, and another about a great service that we use to help schedule posts. We also have a great blog post that features 130+ hashtags that will help you connect with your ideal readers on Instagram.
- It is most popular within the 18-29 year old demographic.
- Every tweet you post is in the newsfeed of those who follow you.
- You don’t have to buy ads for your tweets be seen.
- You don’t have to follow users to be able to interact with them.
- You can organize your connections with Lists.
- It's easier to search and discover new connections and conversations with hashtags.
Some negative aspects of Twitter:
- Ads are not as effective or as targeted compared to Facebook.
- In order to be seen by more people you need to post more often.
- Posts are limited to 280 characters total.
- It can feel overwhelming to new users.
It comes down to this: You will need to get your feet wet and simply try these outlets to see which is best for you and your audience. It will take some experimenting, but when you know your ideal reader and know what audiences are on each outlet, it makes narrowing down where you should be much easier. Social media isn’t a quick fix - it’s something that will take some time to find and connect with your audience. When you find what works best for you and your readers, you will be set!
And remember, you don't need to be everywhere online to be seen. You just need to be where your ideal reader is already hanging out.
The "Add On" Social Media Services
Now, don’t let the title of this section fool you - the following social platforms are fantastic. They just aren’t for everyone and won’t work for every author.
Personally, I think every author should be on GoodReads. Fiction and non-fiction writers alike, this is where book lovers go to find their next book. You can connect with readers, have Q&A’s, they have fantastic customer/author services, and their ads are pretty dang great too. We have some posts about Goodreads to help you get started.
If your ideal readers are business professionals or if you are trying to connect with individuals in a particular industry, LinkedIn is a must. It has great networking tools, groups, and is great for B2B (business to business) minded people. If you don’t fit within this criteria, don’t worry about LinkedIn.
Pinterest (Image Based/Lifestyle)
Again, if visuals are a big part of your content and women are your target market, Pinterest is a must. We have a great blog post on how to best use Pinterest for your books if that is something you are interested in. We also have a great article with 10 powerful ways to attract new readers using Pinterest as well as 5 ways to significantly boost your Pinterest traffic. Be sure to check those out!
YouTube & Vimeo (Video)
Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world? That’s huge! It’s a great way for your readers to discover you and your content, especially if you use the right tags and keywords. If you plan on having a video blog or have a lot of video content, YouTube and Vimeo are the way to go. You can also use them to host all the videos you use on your own website, taking advantage of their easy embedding tools.
Which social media outlets are right for you?
Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy “here, use this!” answer that we can give you. You need to consider a few important facts.
Here are the questions you should ask yourself when considering which outlet to use:
1) Are my readers there? (We have a free video that will be released soon to help you with this - sign up for our newsletter to be notified when that goes live!)
2) How much time do I have to dedicate to using social media?
3) Does it make sense for my demographic to find me there?
4) Does it make sense for the content I will create?
Spredfast.com has a fantastic article that you should check out that lays out the demographics of social media users. This will be very helpful for you to make an informed decision.
It’s all about being aware of what each outlet offers and where that fits in with you, your audience, and what your resources you have.
What will work best for you?
Now that you’ve educated yourself regarding what each social media outlet has to offer, let’s determine how to get the most out of the one that is the best fit for you.
- Consider how much time you have per day to engage with your audience online. This is important. If you are spread thin on time or have a very unpredictable schedule, this will determine how many social media outlets you can realistically invest time into. I would much rather have you invest time in one outlet and do that really well. If you have at least 15-20 minutes per day to engage with your audience, that’s all you really need.
- Take a look at the breakdown of each social media outlet and the demographic we mentioned above. What makes sense for your audience and the demographic you want to reach and connect with?
- Educate yourself on how to best use the social media outlets you choose. Every outlet is different and the approach is unique. There are links at the bottom of this post to helpful resources for you to check out.
- Create a plan and a schedule. Once you are educated in how to best use each outlet, create a plan (how many posts you will make per day, when they will post, etc.). It doesn’t need to be a massive document - just map out your plan of attack so you know your approach and create a schedule to save time.
- Be consistent and show up. The only way to make it work is to work it. When you show up every day (even for just a few minutes) you will see a response.
- Remember - it’s progress, not perfection. Every post you make won’t be perfect, and that’s OK! Learn from your interactions, pay attention, and apply that knowledge.
Now you are armed with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision on what social media outlet will work for you!
TAKE ACTION NOW: In the comments section below, let us know what three outlets you are going to focus on with your URL's - we would love to follow you!