With 330 million monthly active users on Twitter and 2 billion on Facebook, cutting through the noise can be intimidating and confusing. In this article, we explain how you can make your social media content attractive to readers across all platforms.
1. Interact with Your Readers
It’s no surprise that social media users want to interact with their favorite authors, actors, media personalities, and other personal heroes. It’s important for you to interact with your (current or future) readers, whether they’re gushing about your book or want to learn more about what you write. Acknowledge comments with a short reply, or simply like or RT/share posts if a direct response isn’t necessary. In the end, many readers follow you because social media makes their favorite people more accessible.
Of course, you aren’t required to reply to everyone, and you should only respond in whatever way you’re comfortable with. You don’t owe anyone a reply, especially in cases where they’re reaching out to you with negative feedback or harassment, as we discussed last month.
But a simple “Thank you for reading!” goes a long way with fans, so scheduling time throughout your week to respond to comments, tweets, and so on could be beneficial to you and your brand.
2. Create Original Content
Exciting, original content is the key to attracting new readers and exciting your current fan base. Readers like to get to know the person behind the screen, which means they are interested in the kind of content only you could create. Whether you’re promoting your book, talking politics, or sharing pics of your dog, here are some tips for keeping your content exciting for readers:
- Create unique visuals to strengthen your social media posts, especially if you’re promoting your book.
- Share a slice of your personal life, but only to the extent you feel comfortable (e.g., you can share funny anecdotes of your day, pictures of your writing desk mid-project, or a piece of writing you enjoyed).
- Share links and images related to the topic of your book. If your book involves space flight, for example, retweeting a recent photoset from NASA’s account might help tie your brands together.
- Be sure to post cover reveals, excerpts, great reviews, and buy links to help sell your books. (though you should make sure that’s not all you’re posting).
3. Consistency & Brevity Are Crucial
Recently, Twitter increased its character count to 280. This is a lifesaver for those who struggled to keep their tweets under 140 characters, but Twitter users are used to scanning their feeds quickly, and readers now must absorb up to twice as much content as they scroll. One way to make sure they stop to read your full post is to grab their attention with a snappy first line or image—but the most effective way is to simply write less.
To keep things brief on all platforms, read through your post and cut extra words. Use the additional available characters as a sigh of relief when you’d otherwise be sure to go over the limit on Twitter, but aim to be as consistent and brief as possible on all social media platforms. You might have the same experience while revising your novel—if you use thirty words to say something that could be just as well expressed in ten, you run the risk of losing a reader’s attention.
Consistent frequency of posts is also appreciated. Whether you choose to post a few times a day or a few times a week, try to be consistent. Though social media breaks are always acceptable, do take the time to be reliably present when you can, especially as you get close to a book launch.
4. Pause. Double Check. Then Click Send.
No one likes typos, but on the whole, no one will judge you for making a typo in a social media post—it happens! And sometimes, a tweet can take off before you realize you’ve made a mistake. That’s why it’s nice to train yourself to always pause and double check before you hit send.
On Facebook and Instagram, you’re able to edit posts, though on Facebook it will say “Edited” and users will be able to see what changes have been made. On Twitter, your only option is to delete and repost.
Beyond typos, here are some other things to check:
- Double-check links before posting. No one wants to excitedly click a link to buy one of your books, only to be redirected to a 404 Not Found page.
- Check your soon-to-be-uploaded images/videos. Are you posting someone else’s intellectual property without credit? Are you tagging the right users in your post?
- Ask yourself: Can your message be misconstrued? Are you making a joke that will land well with all of your followers (and beyond)?
5. Make Your Promotions Actionable
When you’re creating a promotional post, make sure your readers know how to act on this information. It’s always better to tell readers exactly what you want them to do, e.g., “Buy it now!” “Click here to see…” or “Sign up here.” If your post or tweet doesn’t leave your reader with a clear call to action, many won’t take it.
Don’t be afraid to promote your book. From some of the tips in this article, you might be wary of sounding like a salesperson, but while social media is a fantastic way to build your brand, it can also be a great place to sell your books directly to your fans. Find an angle for your promotion that sets it apart or speaks to its timing, like “Last chance!” “Perfect summer beach read!” “Great stocking stuffer.”
Following these tips, you should be able to create fun, actionable content that your readers are sure to enjoy. As with any of our marketing tips, it’s worth reaching out to your publicity or marketing team if you have questions or concerns about your current social media campaigns.
Phil Stamper-Halpin is Senior Manager, Publishing Development & Author Platforms for Penguin Random House.