Worrying about being a social media guru is exhausting, but being present on social media doesn't have to be your whole life. Maybe you won't have a gazillion followers and constantly reach new audiences, but a small social media page can still be useful. Even if all your social media does is direct people who are already looking for you to somewhere they can find your bio and list of books, it still is helping you get books in front of readers.
If social media is overwhelming for you, start out simple. Focus on being present, rather than being an amazing marketer.
Choose the right place
Choosing the right platform can give you a big advantage. There are a lot of statistics out there about different social media platforms and different demographics. I am by no means an expert, but I highly recommend doing a little bit of research on the audience that you are writing for and where they hang out online.
Age will likely be one of the largest determining factors of which social media will best reach your audience. If you can research where readers of your audience's age tend to hang out, you can focus your attention on mediums that will reach them. (Quick note: If you wrote a book for children 13 or younger, you might be advertising to parents, teachers, and librarians rather than the children themselves.)
If you have a platform that you prefer, that can also be the best option for you, even if it doesn't line up with your audience. Being comfortable on the platform will do wonders for your ability to connect with people and your motivation to keep up with your social media over time.
Look before you post
Before you try to create social media content, make sure you are familiar with the platform. Can you find content from the publishing industry and other authors? Do you understand the terminology? Do you know the basic mechanics of posting, liking, following, and commenting? These things will make having a good page much easier.
Master things one at a time
If you are already a prolific social media user in your personal life, then you can start several professional social media pages at once.
But if you're new to social media, start out small. Choose one platform and learn one aspect at a time. Don't try to master everything at once or post more frequently than you can come up with content. If you’re spending so much time on social media that you never write, it defeats the purpose.
Start out strong
Make your profile look full and fleshed out, whatever that means for your chosen platform. Add a high quality and brand-appropriate profile picture. Add a professional bio. Fill out the details the page requests, if possible and appropriate. You don't need to share private, personal information (like your relationship status), but you should fill out professional ones (like a link to your website).
Slow, but steady
New posts help more people see your page, so you want to space them out and avoid posting all your content at once. Make a few initial posts to help people see what to expect from the page, and then choose a sustainable frequency to post at moving forward. Make plans for posts going out a few weeks and schedule them to post automatically, if possible.
If you can't post consistently, consider the best times to post. Local writing and reading events, popular releases in your genre, or relevant holidays can be good times to reach your audience and interact with the larger publishing community. Make a post or two related to these events, respond to your post engagements, and engage with other people's posts and pages. Schedule your best content around these periods to help new followers find you.
Don't market in a vacuum
Participate in the social media platform that you are using. Follow other authors in your genre. Follow bookstores, conventions, and libraries. Follow reviewers and consumers of your genre. Once you can navigate the existing content, you should start to get a sense of what content is expected and appropriate for this platform. This will make a better starting point as you plan your own content or even find preexisting content that you can share with your own followers.
Don't forget to participate in the larger conversation. Comment on and like the content you follow. Share their content with your audience, when appropriate. Respond to people who interact with your page.
Being present on the social media platform turns your page into a place for conversations rather than a place for followers to be bombarded with your content. Focus on being social, rather than being a good marketer, and you can more easily build online relationships with your readers.
Happy platform building!
Need more help? Check out my marketing tips and tricks Pinterest board for advice from book marketing professionals and prompts for blog or social media posts: https://pin.it/1OcndFv
About my coauthor:
Elestrei Engrei was a huge help at providing the author perspective for this post.