We often hear how important it is to be on social media, and when considering how to promote a book, certainly a solid social media game is one of many strategies that help authors gain more visibility.
But the truth is, social media is also a huge time-suck.
We’ve all been there. We start a post but get sidetracked by our newsfeed, then we hop over to see what others are saying on their pages, and before you know it, an hour has gone by.
If you’ve ever been to a casino, you probably know that they are designed with no easy escape route and without clocks on the walls to let you know how long you’ve been sitting at that blackjack table.
You might want to go back to your room or even just step outdoors to see daylight, but the path out is deliberately plotted so that you keep getting enticed to go farther, deeper, until you’re finally lost in a maze of slot machines.
Social media has a similar design. Which is great for the folks trying to get you to spend money there, not so great for authors worried about how to promote a book while still having time to see their families and friends.
So let’s look at some ways you can maximize your time on social media without getting lost in the maze of posts and prompts.
Don’t Be Everywhere; Be Everywhere That Matters
One of the biggest challenges authors face is figuring out where they belong when it comes to social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn: all present their own benefits, but which should you be on?
First off, don’t be everywhere unless you have a ton of time and your message resonates across multiple platforms. Most authors don’t need to be on every single social media site; in fact, I really recommend that you start with one.
Figure out what’s popular for your market. Where are the majority of other, similar authors? You might find that many are on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but as you start to investigate their profiles, look to see where they are getting the bulk of their engagements.
Engagement really tells the story. Often authors get onto social media and decide to post across a variety of platforms, which is fine – but they probably aren’t getting the same kind of engagement on each of them. Meaning that one site is likely doing better than the others.
When you’re figuring out how to promote a book on social media, the time you spend investigating the social media profiles of similar authors is worthwhile because you’ll start to discern where readers gravitate, and that platform is where you should focus your efforts.
If you feel strongly that you need accounts on every social media platform, consider either cross-posting content or creating a placeholder image that invites readers to follow you on Instagram, Facebook, or wherever you’ve decided to spend the bulk of your book marketing hours.
Schedule Your Content Using a Management Tool
This is a great way to plan out content for the next week or more. Hootsuite and Buffer are two management tools I love, and both allow you to schedule posts as well as check engagement and responses.
A management tool is of great use for those figuring out how to promote a book on social media because it allows you to monitor your accounts through the tool, rather than the social media sites themselves, and this keeps you from entering the “casino,” never to return to life in the real world.
Bank Your Content
If you load all your posts on Monday, you’ll want to be able to find that cool image you spotted last week, so start saving content, banking it, as it were, for later use. I created a social media folder on my phone, and if I see something I want to use later, I save it to that specific folder.
You can also plan ahead for upcoming marketing events, calendar events like holidays, or giveaways you’re planning. When you have a block of time, create as much content as you can so you don’t have to do it on top of something you’re looking to promote.
How to Promote a Book on Social with Your Five Core Messages
It’s one thing to hop on social media, quite another to know what you’ll share. That’s why I recommend that authors stick with five tracks; you can have more, certainly, but five is a good starting number.
One track is your book, another might be research you did while writing it, and a third could be a personal track where you share small personal tidbits about your life. You get the idea.
The reason I like this approach is because it keeps you focused on a handful of core messages so you aren’t all over the place with your branding and messaging. It also helps readers better familiarize themselves with your content when you’re consistently posting about your chosen topics.
Maybe you dedicate one day of the week to inspiration, another day to your book, etc. Each day has its own track, and each week you repeat those tracks – consistently.
Pro Tip Time Saver #1: Stay off Your Newsfeed
One of the reasons I love using a social media management tool is that it keeps me off my newsfeed – which, much like a casino, is designed to keep you engaged with the app and keep you scrolling. It’s an unproductive time suck.
Pro Tip Time Saver #2: Create Lists or Groups
If you need to be in your newsfeed, create lists (you can easily do this on Twitter and Facebook) of specific groups of people you want to follow. This will save you a ton of time and scrolling. You can also create groups on Instagram so the posts you really want to see are at the top of your feed.
I was reading a post by a woman in a Facebook group who said that Facebook wasn’t helping her sell more books. Keep in mind that book sales are not the goal when considering how to promote a book on social media.
Platforms are only designed to help you gain exposure, not sales. So why bother with social media? Because the key to how to promote a book is about the message, not the sales.
If you get the message right, and you’re on the right platform(s), you’ll sell books. If you’re on the wrong platform, with the wrong message, you’re just spinning your wheels and, likely, burning out.
Smart social media is really about more than hopping on a platform and talking about your book. Done smartly, it can be a great way to boost your book exposure without taking a ton of your valuable book marketing time!
If you need more help strategizing how to promote a book on social media, don’t hesitate to reach out. Good luck!