Writer’s diary 3: Social media tips for authors

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How to master social media is a huge topic, so one writer’s diary can’t possibly tell you all, but I’d like to share some great tips to help you get started. Undoubtedly, the biggest issue you have as an author-to-be is: how do you build an audience of readers when you don’t have a book out yet?

Let’s start by briefly looking at why you need a social media following. There are two types of authors; those that want:

  • a traditional publisher: you need a social media following to show the publisher that you are serious about your work, are not afraid to put some effort in yourself, and also happy to engage with your audience (this ultimately builds book sales)
  • to self-publish: you need a social media following to grow your audience if you want to actually promote and sell your book

In other words, no matter how you plan to publish, you need a social media following.

Another comment I get from people is, ‘I don’t know how,’ or ‘I’m afraid to make a mistake that is so public.’ Okay, I understand your fear on this, but you can always take a post down or archive it, so you don’t have to think of any post as ‘permanent.’ Today’s post becomes tomorrows ‘grid’, or you can remove it! As for don’t know how… well anytime I need to learn something new on social media I ask one of my younger staff or even my teenagers, they can create a reel faster than I can click my fingers! Don’t panic, it’s pretty easy to do all of this once you’ve been shown, and those close to you ‘in the know’ are more than happy to show you how.

Now this blog is not going to be a ‘HOW to make a post’, because there are so many other free blogs on this, or grab a teenager like I just mentioned. Instead, I want to give you heaps of tips of WHAT to post, especially if you are an author who doesn’t have a book out yet.

First, pick one or two media platforms to really master. For my author profile, I focus on Instagram, because twitter needs instantaneous posts and regular check-ins each day to build your profile. Facebook works best if you are going to pay for advertising, or if you have a lot of close friends and extended network of friends or associates you can leverage off. Instagram uses hashtags (#) for people to find you, so I find this works best for my tips, but really, find a platform you are comfortable with, and stick to it.

Next, decide who your target market is. Be as specific as you can be, because it is important when developing your posts. Your audience won’t all be the same – you’ll gain heaps of followers that only have a few of your target market characteristics, but you need to know who is your target reader, so you can focus on engaging them mostly. You want to know who your target market is not only so you can create content that will be of interest to them, but you don’t want a following of 10,000 random people where only 10 might actually buy your book. You are better to have a following of 100 people where 80 of them are highly likely to want to purchase your book, so creating posts that are of special interest to your target reader will help filter out those who are not interested in what you have to say, so you can spend more time with the people who are interested in what you share.

I’ll give you an example, but there are probably loads of you who will read this that only have a few characteristics in common, but you are still here, reading what I have to say (thanks for sticking around if you are only a few of these things)!

My target reader is a 36 – 45-year-old semi-professional/professional woman, college/university educated, has a love of history, fashion and interesting facts. She likes to read books that make her think or challenge an idea. She is particularly interested in strong female characters, but likes a good story even if it revolves around a male protagonist. She likes history in general, or to learn something new. She’s busy, with 1-3 children, but likes to read and look after herself in her ‘me’ time. She drinks wine and enjoys good food, music, and art.

Remember too: writers are first and foremost readers, so a fair bit of your audience, especially if you are a new author, are newbie authors too. We share the same challenges and have a love of words.

So, once you have your target reader, you can start to think about what will be engaging posts. Here are some general topics, but if you look at my Instagram profile (@belindacarli.author) you will see how I have incorporated what my target market is specifically interested in, into these topics, and added more to suit my target market specifically.

  • behind the scenes – like this writer’s diary!
  • research books you used – or post photos if you actually went to your story’s location
  • interesting facts you found out when researching your books – when you write a story, you find out a lot of interesting things. Share this with your followers!
  • things that interest your target market specifically – you see me post a lot of historical fashion facts, for example
  • something to make them laugh that is relevant – I post some funny ‘then vs now’ content I hope makes you smile
  • quotes – I try to make up my own or use historical quotes because I write historical fiction; try not to use the same old generic ones that everyone else uses too
  • ask questions – I like to ask ‘booklovers’ questions as I’m really interested to know what my audience thinks on these topics, and love it when they share

Additional topics I use to suit my target market (so think of ones that will specifically suit yours):

  • interesting superstitions and customs – let’s face it, history is full of interesting superstitions and customs
  • interesting plant medicine, essential oil or cosmetic facts – because that is my specialty, and these concepts are incorporated in my stories
  • historical food, jewellery, music, art or similar facts
  • famous historical women
  • books I read with an interesting take on what I really enjoyed (not just a book review)

I also post special events or achievements from my work, because a lot of my followers know me from there – like my YouTube milestones.

Remember to add in important dates or events, like Mother’s day, Valentines, Halloween or similar – but make them more specific to your target market interests or your books if you can.

Now: make a calendar and schedule one topic per day, then all of a sudden… voilà! You have a month of post ideas.

You will have loads more content to post once you have a book published (like the book itself, excerpts from the story and book launch events), but this will help you grow your audience until you do.

Another couple of really important tips:   

  • keep it genuine – your reader wants to hear from you
  • never rant – we could all rant about some of the things that happen in our lives, but your reader wants to be inspired. Help them escape, not add to their woes.
  • try really hard not to offend – in a public domain, you are sure to offend someone, someday, even if you try hard not to… but still, try your best not to post anything too controversial.

Finally, remember to respond to every comment, even if it is just a heart (or like). I love it when people post comments I can respond to, because it means they’ve taken the time to really read what I’ve posted, and that gives me a little buzz. Afterall, if you don’t get a little kick out of someone reading your work (even your posts), then why do you want to be a writer?

Please send me some hearts for this, you know I’ll enjoy them! Most of all, I hope this has helped you make a month of posts (then mix and repeat) to grow your social media following.

I’ll share some more social media tips in future writer’s diaries, so please subscribe to this blog to be notified when I do. This is just the tip of the iceberg that is social media!

Social media is something we do a lot at the Institute of Personal Care Science, and it helps Indie beauty brands grow their customers too. I know it can seem scary and overwhelming, so just start small and keep it regular, you can always become more advanced over time once you’ve mastered the basics.

An engaging post done daily is better than a random picture of your lunch posted once in a blue moon. I truly hope this helps get you posting good content daily, I promise to share more soon…

Happy reading!     

Published by Belinda Carli

Belinda is the Founder and Director of the Institute, and has worked with hundreds of brands on thousands of products for over 20 years. She started her career as a Naturopath, specialising in herbal medicine, before moving into a Regulatory role within an International company overseeing a variety of personal care and ingestible therapeutic goods. She grew within this role over the years to also cover Project Management of multiple SKUs and work closely with the R&D Department, before moving into her own business as a consultant for personal care and supplement regulatory affairs and formulation. After being a private consultant for a few years, she was asked to train some of her Company Clients and decided to work with the Department of Education in Australia to develop full Government Registered and Recognised courses. She then worked with peers in the industry to develop the Diploma of Personal Care Formulation and Diploma of Cosmetic Brand Management, and finally, in 2007, the Institute of Personal Care Science and the Industry Recognised courses were launched. Since then, Belinda has grown the Institute to what it is today and has presented hundreds of videos on Youtube on various formulation, regulatory and brand management topics. She has been the Official Technical Advisor to the in-cosmetics Group internationally for 5 years and a judge on International Beauty Awards Panels for many years. She has written 5 books on Beginners and Advanced Cosmetic Formulation, Organic and Colour Cosmetic Formulation and Brand Management. She has also been a regular presenter at major International events and her work can be found in many national and International publications, UL Prospector and Special Chem formulators site. She has also created the Create Cosmetic Formulas program, an online site that enables people with no prior experience to pick and choose ingredients they want in a formula, and then shows them how to put the product together. She is a member of the Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemists (ASCC) and International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC). She was the winner of the Annual Industry Award from CHC Australia for her contribution to Research and Training and was a finalist in the Australian Telstra Business Women’s Awards in 3 categories.

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