There is a common misconception that social media is free or that it is easy to do because you just need to post compelling content, and then new fans and customers will naturally find you, follow you, and automatically buy your book or service.
Easy peasy, right? After all, your 14-year-old niece has 10,000 followers on TikTok. Why can’t you?
Actually, the best social media strategies use a combination of earned and paid media. Let’s pull back the curtain and reveal the real machine that drives great social media results.
Social Media: Earned vs. Paid Media
Every company or service provider uses social media in two distinct ways: earned media, or organic reach, and paid, or what is commonly thought of as advertising. One you “earn” because you reach those folks organically. They follow you and engage with your content because they like you and what you have to offer. The other is paid because you reach into your bank account and pay to reach those folks.
Authors are often told they need to be on social media. But if you don’t quite understand why or know how to engage and convert your audience, you might feel like you’re failing. Understanding the difference between earned and paid media is a fundamental approach to help you reap benefits from social media promotions.
Creating Content to Engage Your Potential Readers
You’ve put so much energy into writing your manuscript that social media might seem like extra work that you just don’t have time for. Plus, if you build a social media profile on a platform where you don’t want to be, it shows. You can’t fake the authentic kind of engagement needed, and authors who try to fake it likely fail. We recommend knowing your audience, creating a content strategy, and use the social platforms you are most comfortable with.
Think of social media platforms like parties. They all have different etiquette, attract different types of users/partygoers, and serve different types of content/refreshments. Don’t go to the Twitter cocktail party with the same attitude you go to the TikTok rave, and don’t expect the
same results when posting identical content on each.
Knowing your audience and getting your content strategy planned out is your first step. We suggest having two social media profiles and doing them well, rather than trying to be all things to all people everywhere. Do some research to find the ones that are comfortable for you. Post content that reflects your brand message is poised to engage your audience and feels right to you. Just because your 14-year-old niece tells you that you MUST be on TikTok, don’t become a dancing author if dancing is not your thing. You don’t want to be cheugy, now do you?
Building a Fan Base for Both Earned and Paid Social Media
Once you have great content in place, work on building your audiences. Make it easy for people to follow you by linking to your social profiles from your website. Crosslink from one profile to the other. Hold promotions or contests to build followers. Most importantly, once people start following you, engage with them.
Let’s go back to that party analogy. You can’t just sit in the corner shouting out “Buy my book!” to a crowded room. They will quickly turn and walk away. Talk to people, comment on their content, share stories and your experiences about being a writer. Think about your brand
message and how you can integrate it into your social media to truly engage your audience.
Use the tools that each platform offers to help you build audiences. On Facebook, Groups are popular and are a great way to find fans in almost every genre. Use hashtags on platforms like Twitter and Instagram to follow topics relevant to your fans and see what they are talking about.
Integrate your email marketing into your social media strategy by creating custom audiences so that after you market to your fans in your email newsletter, you can remarket to them on social media. Build look-a-like audiences to replicate that amazing fanbase, so you have audiences in place for paid advertising when you are ready to put some money behind your efforts.
Building audiences or creating your fanbase has benefits to both earned and paid media. By offering great content, on platforms where you have built legitimate fans, you have the ingredients needed for a one-two punch for earned and paid social media success.
What Exactly Is Advertising on Social Media?
Most social media platforms make advertising fairly easy for the layperson. For example, you can simply boost posts on Facebook and even place boosted posts on Instagram (Since Facebook owns Instagram) with a few simple clicks. The idea with boosting posts is to create compelling content that also serves as an ad or a lead magnet.
If you are ready to take the big dive and want to advertise like a pro, you can set up your social media profile as a business account or create an ads manager account. Every site is a little different, but there are tutorials and videos you can watch for each to walk you through the process. Then, you can advertise to audiences you create, to your followers, to the custom audiences you’ve uploaded, to look-a-like audiences, and even remarketing audiences.
They’re Talking About You: Advertising with an Agency or Hiring an Advertising Manager
Your advertising message is often most powerful when others are talking about you. If we’re at that social media dinner party and I’m sitting next to you recommending to others that they simply must read your page-turner of a book, that’s better than you feeling forced into bragging about your book.
Not that you shouldn’t be proud of your writing accomplishments and want to talk about the themes and stories you create. Of course, you do and should! It’s just that most authors don’t like being salespeople; it often doesn’t suit their authentic personality.
If someone else is talking you up, it can free your time so you can have conversations about your hero’s journey and the craft of writing your novels. You get to talk about your passion while someone else goes into the salesy stuff. Let them make the close. Chances are you’ll have a better conversion rate this way, and you will feel more like your authentic self.
Having someone else do your advertising, like when Black Château does Advertising Boosts and Advertising Longevity Campaigns for books, means less of a learning curve for you. You don’t have to navigate all those different types of social media advertising platforms. And you have more time to do what is enjoyable for you, like talking about your writing, chatting with your fans, and, oh yeah, writing your next book.
It also means that you can advertise on platforms that you are not even on. For example, if your target audience hangs out on Twitter, but you really don’t like being on Twitter yourself, the agency or ads manager can still post ads for you there. Also, advertising on search engines like Google or on third-party sites like BookBub is easier since an agency likely already has accounts set up with them.
Setting up all those advertising accounts from scratch can be a full-time job, and if you’d rather spend your time writing, then hiring someone else to help with social media promotion might be your solution.
Hiring Your Imposter to Manage Your Social Media Profiles
Let’s circle back to earned social media, or organic social media, and the art of building a fanbase by being authentic and engaging. Hiring someone to do that aspect of one’s social media can be tricky. Imagine that dinner party again. You don’t want to go, so you hire an imposter to go in your place. They dress up like you and talk to people on your behalf. They have learned to “be you” and speak in your voice, working really hard to convince everyone that they are you. Creepy, right?
While big brands and companies often do very well with social media managers who speak on behalf of the brand, when authors do it, it can be incredibly inauthentic as fans want to connect with the actual writer of the book. Your voice is uniquely yours, and hiring someone to mimic you when you are a professional writer can be a series of trials and tribulations. It is difficult and time-consuming to train someone else to speak in your voice. Should you do it, work closely with the person or agency you hire to make sure they understand your unique brand and the messages you want to share with the world.
Additionally, keep in mind the greater number of conversions for your book sales will likely happen with your advertising. Since the combination is important, that one-two punch, an authentic earned social media approach coupled with using a pro to do your advertising, can be the winning combination.
You Don’t Have to Handle Your Social Media Alone
You don’t have to do it all alone. If you decide to hire someone to help you out, I suggest you begin with an audit of your social media profiles and the creation of a plan that is based on your Branding. We do this with our Social Media Support. It is a comprehensive review of your social media site from top to bottom. In some cases, clients take it and have their social media manager use it to help guide them, or in some cases, they use it themselves.
Yet, in still other instances, our clients have us do their social media work for them. It is part consulting, part coaching, and if the author would like, we can do their Social Media Management. Our approach isn’t cookie-cutter; it depends on the client and their unique needs. If you’d like to learn more, please reach out and let us know how we can help you reach your goals as an author.