First of all a very Happy New year to everyone at authonomy! We hope that this year sees you achieving your writing and publishing goals.
With 2012 hailed as the ‘year of self-publishing’, the idea of the author/marketer has really taken off; lots of blogs at the start of 2013 have been filled with advice for authors trying to promote themselves online. Typically most self-promotion by authors is done through social media: it’s an easy, instant, and free way to reach out to an almost limitless audience. However for both ‘natives’ and newcomers to social media it’s easy to make mistakes, with Facebook being an especially problematic medium given the multitude of options available compared to the more simple format of Twitter. Here are our tips on what NOT to do when embarking on your own social media marketing campaign. Knowing what to avoid is as vital as being aware of what to include, an area we’ve already discussed in (also ).
So to kick off with the most widely used and potentially difficult of social media, we’ll look at bad practice on Facebook. One common mistake is to allow Twitter to automatically post things to your Facebook page: this is a big no-no. First of all, the format is completely different; shortened sentences, bad grammar, and hashtags all make sense on Twitter, but not on Facebook. While it’s OK to post fairly frequently on Twitter, this will annoy Facebook users as it will clog up their news feed: once someone likes your page, the activity on that page will appear on their news feed, but if this is too much they may ‘unlike’ the page, or hide it from their feed, meaning that they won’t see any future posts without checking that page, which they probably won’t. Also, with #hashtags and @mentions of tweets appearing on your Facebook page it will be obvious that you’ve linked the two, which may appear lazy to some of your followers, giving you a bad reputation. Each social media site has its own format, so take time to work out what this is, and adjust each post accordingly. It’s OK to copy and paste to several sites, but make sure it’s in the correct style.
Another stumbling block of Facebook is the ability to create different types of pages: you can make a profile, a page or a group. As an author what you want is a ‘page’ which will allow you to do everything you need (which a group may not) and looks more professional than sending people to your personal ‘profile’. One mistake here is to create too many of these pages; you might have a ‘group’ for each book signing you do, or a ‘page’ for each book you release. This is not an effective way to manage your Facebook presence because having too many pages will mean you’re harder to find and your ‘likes’ will be divided up between the various pages. What you really want is one page to represent you as a brand, keeping all your fans together in one place.
One vital piece of advice, which applies across all social media, is to avoid spamming at all costs! On Facebook, for example, its bad etiquette to tag people in your promotional photos to make sure they see it; people won’t take notice, they’ll just ‘unlike’ your page. The Twitter equivalent of this is to ‘mention’ people in tweets that don’t relate to them; it will only serve to get people to stop following you. Similarly, while it’s OK on Twitter to repeat the same tweet, you don’t want to overdo it. Check out your profile occasionally and if it’s filled with the same tweet then you’ll want to add some variation. Think about what others see when they look at your profile; it needs to be interesting if they’re going to follow you.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to remember that social media is a great resource for gaining a following rather than selling your materially directly. You should involve yourself in discussions and comment on posts which are relevant to your book so that others with similar interests might stumble across you, and subsequently become interested. Posting links to buy your book are obviously useful because the end-goal is to sell, but if you can’t convince people that you’re interesting then it’s unlikely they’ll want to buy your book. Get involved, have fun and make it clear that you’re a writer but that your interests are broad and inclusive rather than purely self-motivated. Show people online that you have something compelling to say and they’ll be much more inclined to engage with your work, especially given the sea of fluff and nonsense that float about the web. Just don’t send the exact same tweet to 500 random ‘celebrities’. Will Leonardo DiCaprio really want to hear about your children’s novel? You will look like a stalker.