Platform. The big P word. Every writer is supposed to have it, but not many know where to start.
How many accounts do I need? What type of account should I set up? What do I post about? What’s the best account to have?
The key to remember with using social media as a writer is to stick to two accounts at most that you put all your social media efforts into. Don’t try and spread yourself thin by having five different author pages and accounts that only you manage.
It’ll quickly become overwhelming, causing you to burnout, neglect your actual writing, and start reposting to the point where you lose followers.
Keep it small and simple.
For people who want to make Facebook one of their author hubs, this guide will give you an idea of where to start and how to go about it.
A lot of writers that I talk to think that having a brand and platform is a requirement to get published. They take a pessimistic view toward it.
The truth is, however, agents and editors only really care about someone’s social media reach if they are a nonfiction writer. If you write fiction, poetry, or hybrid pieces, don’t worry about it when you’re shopping for publishers and agents.
What having a brand and platform really is about is having a direct line to your audience. It’s why writers have email lists and social media accounts. So that when they publish content, they have an audience to who wants to know about it and will most likely buy it.
Now, that reason might be too markety for the pure at heart artists.
So, think about it like this, you as a writer write to be read. True, there are writers out there who don’t care about the reader and write just because they love to.
But no one is going to read you if they don’t know you. If they can’t find you and don’t know what you’re about. By having a platform, even one as simple as Facebook, you let people know that you are a writer.
Your platform let’s people know you’re a writer. Your brand tells them what type of writer you are.
Together those two things help you find your dream audience. The people who will buy or read your work.
With a Facebook page, you can use it to sell and announce books. Share recent publishing news and put out feelers for opportunities. You can also search for work. Network with publishers and other writers.
Facebook is a cornucopia of opportunities for writers.
Unlike other social media platforms, you have more of a platform to write long form posts with pictures, videos, and other interesting content on Facebook. You can show readers who you are behind all the words. This will make them like you enough to become true die hard fans.
The ones who will read your work, whether or not its good or even if they are interested in it. They’ll read it because they trust and love you as an artist and person.
Some writers use their Facebooks to create unique reading experiences for their fans, creating their own communities built around their stories.
Author Page or Personal Account
A lot of authors will caution you to start an author page. There are a lot of advantages to an author page like the ability to run ads and gather data on your audience. Those are really just some of the small perks of having an author page.
However, there is one key benefit to having a personal account as an author.
Facebook was made to connect people with other people. There’s a really gross and capitalistic reason for that, but the main heart behind how the platform works is all about human connection. Networking with people and not businesses.
That means if you have an author page, Facebook will bump your content lower on someone’s feed because they see author and business pages as a form of advertising. And if you’re going to advertise, they want you to pay for the chance to appear higher in your audience’s feeds.
I follow tons of writers within my field and genre who just have personal accounts where they share everything from their book releases, special promos, info on their home life, cat pictures, and more. It’s like getting to know the writers in a whole new way.
It also makes me buy their books more than seeing some ad appear on my feed. That I hate. What I want is the author who is a real person that pours their all into their books and the rest of their life and isn’t afraid to share it.
So, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons yourself of having a personal or professional page, but my advice is to go the personal route. Make your audience see you as a friend who they want to constantly keep up and engage with.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out which to do, search for other authors in your niche or genre and see how they are engaging with their fans on the platform. You might even learn that they don’t engage with fans on Facebook. That’ll teach you that your fans and audience might not be on Facebook. In that case, figure out where your fan base and readers are.
Who to Follow
Answer this question by answering the question of what type of writer you want to be. Don’t think big picture like Stephen King, but smaller.
Find your favorite authors within your genre and niche, follow them. Follow their followers. Engage with their posts and their readership.
Don’t go in like a shark, but like a fellow fish looking for a school to kick it with. They will welcome you into their community, and you’ll become a face and name they come to enjoy seeing.
This’ll help you grow your following as well as figure out what to post, what tags to use, and other fun social media data. It’ll also give you an idea for what stories your readership is hungry for and what tropes are played out.
Don’t just stop with the authors and readers in your niche, but follow their agents and agencies. Follow agents and agencies who put out work you admire. Follow agents and agencies you want to work with. Follow publishers and their editors and marketing team.
If they are big or small in your niche, follow them. Engage with them. Learn what they like, what they hate, and what they resonate with. Treat your following list like your online community, friends.
What to Post
I am a firm believer in a three part posting strategy.
Post about your passions, writing, and life.
Post what you’re passionate about outside of writing. Choose something that you may have in common with a lot of people in your community. For me, it’s walking/hiking. I get a bunch of followers and likes when sharing pictures and statuses about my experiences outdoors and with nature.
There’s a mystery author who writes cozies featuring cute Schnauzers. She also happens to own a couple of her own and posts about them all the time. In fact, most of her readership and audience comes from her dog posts that have nothing to do with her books.
Posting about your passions outside of writing shows your readers and fans that you are a human outside your work. They can relate with you and even will feel the want to engage with you and your content.
When it comes to posting about your writing, you can go wild. I’ve found everything from insights about my process to publishing news gets traction with my followers.
If you’re looking to build a readership fast and want to get their eyes on your posts, use tags popular with the bookstagram crowd.
Don’t go wild with your selling, though, because these are your friends. Sell to them the least. The ones who are engaged with you and enjoy your work don’t need to be sold to. They just need to know when and where to support you.
The ones in your audience that don’t engage and need a funnel of engagement and freebies to buy or read your work shouldn’t be your aim or focus. Your Facebook should be a place where you can share and talk about the things that matter to you about writing and life without selling.
A reminder post here and there will keep your fans aware of your work without pushing them out with a over abundance of ads and free incentives.
The hardest thing sometimes for writers to write about is their life outside of writing. It’s the unglamorous side of living as an artist. But it’s also that side that gives readers insight into your work and who you are.
Something about your life outside of writing could be the thing someone needed to hear to make them buy your book or read your article. Your life is unique to you and makes you stand out among all the other writers out there.
Whether you build a brand or post whatever you want without a brand, share glimpses into your life. A lot of writers I follow show literal glimpses into their life through posting pictures of themselves doing ridiculous things.
Stuff like that is priceless and helps other writers out there feel better about their unglamorous lives.
How Much to Post
An editorial calendar is a lifesaver when it comes to posting on any social media platform. Sites like Hootesuite help authors with pages post on a consistent and timed schedule with reminders for monthly themes and posting topics.
For people who are sticking the personal route, have a loose editorial calendar that reminds you when to post about your upcoming events, releases, and products.
Posting at least once a day ensures that your profile and content stays current on your followers feed. If you can manage to post multiple times a day, do it. Commit to it. But if all you can manage is once a day, vary up the times and spend more time engaging with people in your community.
The key here is consistent intent behind your Facebook engagement. This will keep you away from trauma scrolling and ending up in arguments with relatives you barely know or care about it.
Share with the intent to garner engagement. Comment and like with the intent to lift others up.
Or you know, let it all out and be the ham fisted idiot of the hour.
I wouldn’t advise that, though.
Engage, Post, Repeat
In other articles, I go on extensively about the power of engagement. I think it holds a lot of weight. People don’t want to engage with people they don’t know or who don’t make a connection with them.
Yeah, you can reach people without directly engaging with them, but it’s a cheap connection. When you like something or comment on something, you’re instantly put onto that person’s radar. Free of charge. No need to run an ad.
They see you.
Will they buy from you? That all depends on if you’re posting enough and continuously engaging with them in a way that garners genuine interest in what you have to say. And, of course, what you have to say provides value or entertainment to their lives.