In 2017, social media is no longer a new platform. It’s developed rules and etiquette that seem to change every other week. But combining author brands and social media needn’t be difficult.
It can even be fun.
Some authors refuse to use social media. They’re still living in the 1970s, when publishers still handled marketing and authors could play the eccentric recluse. They haven’t realised that in 2017, authors have to do their own marketing.
Other authors dip their toe into social media. They don’t see any immediate returns, so they assume it’s a waste of time and give up.
And yet more try it out, get sucked down the rabbit hole, and are never seen again.
But there is another way.
Let’s find out how to work with author brands and social media without being an absolute tool.
Author brands and social media should be about conversation
You’re not a TV evangelist (I hope). So stop screaming in people’s faces. Remember social media is not a one-way monologue. It never was.
Facebook can give the appearance that everything’s all about you. People only share the lighter parts of their lives as they cultivate an image that they want others to see.
But we’re talking about Facebook Pages here, not profiles. I’ve seen some authors do nothing but share sales and promotions for their books. Others only post about themselves.
Totally missing the point.
Facebook Pages are about building a community for your readers. So share stuff that you think your readers might like. I know a lot of people who enjoy my books also like abandoned buildings and weird history. So I share that.
It’s about what they want to see.
Twitter is the same. If I see a Twitter feed that is literally just a stream of Amazon links, or retweets of reviews of books, I will not follow that author. Because they’re not communicating. They’re just shouting.
I always say that your author brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. I have a lot of people that share stories about macabre Gothic things or weird horror stuff with me because that’s how they see me. It totally fits in with the dark fantasy and weird fiction I write.
So that’s what I share.
Think about who your ideal reader is and share that. Get involved with conversations. Let potential readers get to know you. When they trust you, they’ll check out your books.
Do not EVER use automated direct messages
An author starts following you on Twitter. You look at their feed, they seem okay, so you click follow.
And BAM! You get an automated direct message.
It gushes a bit, telling you how much they love their fans, and they couldn’t do it without them! And hey, by the way, why not check out their books on Amazon? Or like their Facebook page? Or sign up for their email list?
You cannot assume that someone clicking ‘follow’ on Twitter is a fan of yours. And if they’ve connected with you on Twitter, don’t then try and shunt them away onto every other platform as well.
Direct messages are like the private inbox of Twitter. Sending automated crap is like sending those flyers screaming BUY NOW that you use to line your cat’s litter tray.
If you really want to combine author brands and social media, then start conversations. When someone follows you, send them a public @ reply saying hello. Maybe ask them what their favourite book is. Or ask them what they’re reading now.
So how can you express your author brand using social media?
Social media platforms don’t allow the same level of customisation as your blog. You’re kind of stuck with their visual architecture. So you need to use certain elements to communicate your author brand.
Start with your profile photo. Use the same one on all of your profiles so people come to recognise you.
Please please please don’t use a photo of your book cover. Humans connect with faces not artwork. Let people see yours.
This is my new profile photo across social media. Why did I choose this one? Because I posted it on Facebook and got great feedback. Basically – choose one where you’re smiling. People like smiles.
Next week I’ll post a simple tutorial for doing a profile photo using your smartphone and a free app. So don’t worry that you need to go and hire Mario Testino.
Try and land the same username, or as close as you can get it. I’m IcySedgwick on both Twitter and Instagram, and miss.icy.sedgwick on my Facebook Page. So you know it’s me.
Use cover photos that make sense. So you might use a book cover on your Facebook Page, but on Twitter, you can make it a bit more fun. Fun is your key word when you’re looking at author brands and social media.
And this is my Twitter cover photo.
It’s a shot of the High Level Bridge in Newcastle upon Tyne. I chose it because
- I took the photo, so I hold the copyright
- It’s foggy and a bit creepy…like my fiction
- It shows where I live, and where I’m from
You might use an image related to the setting of your books. Perhaps where you do your writing.
Don’t forget about the bio, either. This is your chance to communicate what you do as well as a little about who you are. So on Twitter, mine says;
Writer of dark fantasy & weird fiction. Folklore blogger. Doing a PhD in Gothic Horror Films. Ancient Egypt enthusiast. Supervillain. Ravenclaw. Goth.
On Instagram, it’s;
Fantasy fiction author. Copywriter. Film academic. Horror fan. Folklore blogger. Knitter. INTP. Evil genius.
Both of them tell you what I do (writer, blogger, evil genius) while they also have a snippet of my personality in them. Ravenclaw and INTP. That helps build a bridge between me and my fellow Ravenclaws and INTPs. (Leave a comment below if you’re one of them)
Remember that readers are human as well as potential customers.
So much book marketing advice seems to reduce anyone you come into contact with as a potential buyer. Some gurus even advocate that if something doesn’t net an immediate sale, then stop wasting your time.
I disagree. If you want to share your stories with people, then you need to connect with them. Learning how to use author brands and social media together is a great way to do that.
If you’re still stuck on what an author brand can look like, sign up for my free email course below…and find out!
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