Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Social media accounts for authors

What social media accounts does an author need and what should they post on them?

Set up accounts at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, Youtube and if you are an author of non-fiction, LinkedIn
Here's what to post on each:

Facebook

Set up an author page and a personal page. Facebook frowns on users having multiple personal pages and now asks for a phone number to verify accounts. In both pages you'll need a suitable page header. Here's the sizes you need:

On the author page post news about the books you have written and are writing, what you are researching, ask questions about reader preferences and what problems you've had as an author. Ask readers to review books. Tell them about any special offers and brag about any awards you've earned. Of course you should also respond to reader comments and questions. I suggest you turn off the 'Shop' link (That's Settings > Edit Page > Scroll to 'Shop' and edit it to turn 'Show Shop tab' off.) Include a link to your mailing list. Here's how to do that with MailChimp

  • Log in to your MailChimp account and in a separate tab to your Facebook page
  • On Facebook, search for MailChimp and 'Like' the page.
  • At the top right, select from the profile dropdown 'Account' then 'Integrations'.
  • From the integrations directory select 'Facebook Add a signup form to…'
  • In 'Page to use' select the author page you've created.
  • Select the appropriate 'List to use', select the 'Yes' of 'Use signup form tab' and save the choices
On the personal page join author groups—not to promote books to other authors but to interact. Facebook is a great place to get help and ask questions. It's also possible to give advice and opinions to other authors. Your personal page is a place to socialize with others, play games to relax and talk to relatives. It's a poor place to sell books but great for collecting contact email addresses but don't do this too often. Infrequently make announcements. If you have a blog - link to it here.

Twitter

You can have several Twitter accounts but two are essential. One should be your author account and the other should NOT be associated with you as an author in any way. Don't even follow each other.
On your author account - Twitter allows you to write 140 characters per tweet. In addition you can post a video or picture and a link. You can actually post four pictures and multiple links but each takes from your 140 characters.
Get the aspect ratio of any pictures you use right. Each should be twice as wide as it is tall or it may be cropped. You don't see this cropping but other tweeps will! Here's an example of a tweet image which created the wrong message because it was cropped.
What tweeps saw

What the original poster expected them to see
Video has proved more effective than static images but keep video short. Originally you were limited to 30 seconds. You can use longer video now but that 30 second limit is still worthwhile. Here's one I did using MS Powerpoint
video
Always pin a tweet to your twitter account. This makes it easy for someone you have helped and who wishes to respond to re-tweet what you want people to see.

What else should you tweet?

When and how often should you tweet?

As an author your market is global. You won't find a 'best time to tweet'. Even if you were to find most of your followers were online at the same 2 hour slot then that would mean a busy time with there being little chance of your tweets being seen. Quiet times of the day can often  be just as productive.
An average Twitter user will check their Twitter stream for just a short time each day. If they have lots of followers then each tweet is shown for just a short time. Most of your tweets won't be seen! Twitter is very much a numbers game and only becomes effective when you have thousands of followers. 10,000 seems to be the magic number here. You need to tweet often to be seen. The more often the better. You can't do that by sitting at your computer 24/7 so you must automate.
Here's what I do:
  1. I collect items to tweet—none dating news, comments, interest items, humor, quotes, images, facts, trivia, video, music. Currently I have about 5,000 in a spreadsheet.  I constantly add to this list and remove old items.
  2. To this list I add 9% promotional tweets.
  3. Periodically I randomize the list of tweets and produce a text file of them.
  4. I use a Java program on an old laptop to tweet from this list at random intervals of 2 to 17 minutes. It works 24/7 and takes about a month to get through the list before repeating. This means any follower is unlikely to see the same message tweeted too often.
  5. Every day I spend about 30 minutes responding to people who have re-tweeted me, replied to me or mentioned me. I'll also spend some of that time scanning my Twitter feed for interesting items to re-tweet and interesting books other authors have tweeted about.

How do you collect items for your Twitter list?

I use a program called Buffer to collect things to tweet. It's available as a browser plugin and each time I find something interesting when I'm browsing I can click a button and add it to a list of items to tweet. At various times in the day Buffer will post these items to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. You can re-order the posts, post at a specific time and edit posts. Buffer also keeps a record of what went out and how successful it was. The most successful posts get added to my Twitter list.

What about that non-author account?

Let's face it, sooner or later you are going to see something on Twitter which you simply have to respond to angrily. Use use your non-author account for that and you can respond safely without trolls descending on your author pages and writing bad reviews because they don't like you.

Pinterest

Pinterest is the visual equivalent of Twitter. You can post videos and images there and comment on these. Your Pinterest account is split up into boards which you can use for different purposes. Boards can be public or private. These are the boards I've created for my Pinterest account:

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