Hashtags: Use Them or Lose

The other day, I showed my teenage son a post on my Instagram feed. He took my phone and started looking at my Instagram account. Then he said, “Mom you have more followers on Instagram than I do.”

I am not a serious Instagram user. I have been messing around a little with Instagram since last fall. I am not seriously spending time on the platform. Mostly, I play with it to learn more about how to use it effectively.

Instagram hashtags

My son is social media savvy. He runs a YouTube channel. He has a Twitter and Instagram account. He is active on Reddit and Discord. He is no slouch when it comes to social media.

So, I asked him, “Are you using hashtags with your Instagram posts?”

His response was what I suspected. He told me that he was not using hashtags since he is mostly using Instagram to follow and communicate with his friends.

I explained to my son that this is why I have more followers on Instagram than he does. While I do not post much, when I do, I use hashtags. On Instagram (like Twitter) hashtags are how people discover you and your content.

Instagram makes using hashtags easy. When you type the # followed by a word in an Instagram post, Instagram brings up a list of popular hashtags containing that word. You can choose as many hashtags to use from this list as you like.

For example, if I post a picture of my new puppy, and I type #puppy, the following options come up:

Instagram Hashtags

  • #puppy
  • #puppylove
  • #puppytraining
  • #puppyforsale
  • #puppyfun
  • #puppypic
  • #puppyworld
  • #puppydog
  • #puppylover
  • #puppystagrams
  • #puppypaws
  • #puppylife

I then choose the most popular ones that fit best with my image.

Hashtags can also help you find useful information and resources. You can also use hashtags to find authors and other influencers to collaborate with. When I recently posted a picture of my puppy, I received the following comment on the post.

Influencers on Instagram

This company does not follow me on Instagram. Instead, they found me through the puppy hashtags I use on my posts. Clearly, they are using these hashtags to find people who might be willing to showcase their doggy products on Instagram so they can increase their exposure for these items.

You, too, can search on Instagram using hashtags. For example, if you are looking to find more reviewers for your book, you can find book reviewers by using some of the following hashtags:

  • #bookrecommendations
  • #bookreviewer
  • #bookreviewers
  • #bookreads
  • #booksreviewblogger
  • #bookreviewersofinstagram

Hashtags help you gain exposure and acquire more followers as well as finding other authors to collaborate with. So, use them. Use lots of them.

On Instagram, you can use hashtags generously. It’s acceptable to use multiple hashtags in your posts. In fact, you can use up to 30 hashtags per post, but experts say nine hashtags a post is ideal. The more hashtags you use, the more people will see your posts. The more people see your posts, the more your audience will increase and you can gain more exposure for you and your books.

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How to Improve Your Social Media Success

How much time do you spend on social media each day?

How much time should you spend to on social media for marketing purposes?

Every author struggles with knowing how much time to invest in social media. Social media is a time vortex. You can spend hours upon hours each week creating, publishing, monitoring and engaging with content on social media. The important question to ask yourself is whether you see a proportional return for the time you spend on social media.

 

Maybe you feel like you are wasting your time with social media. You are not having much engagement with your material and you are not seeing any return on your investment.

To ensure that you are not wasting your time on social media, first define your goal. Do you want:

  • To increase awareness of your books?
  • To increase engagement with a community of fans and readers?
  • To increase web traffic and book sales?

Know which one of these you want to focus on the most and then plan your strategy based on your goal.

Awareness

If you are looking for awareness on social media, then your goal is to post things that people will share. The more people share your content, the more people see you, increasing awareness. The type of posts that people are most likely to share are:

  • Entertaining
  • Inspiring
  • Storytelling
  • Educational

So, tailor your posts to these themes if you want to raise awareness.

Engagement

If you are seeking more engagement from your followers on social media, then tailor your posts to match those that people engage with the most. A recent study by Sprout Social showed the following:

  • 58% of people prefer visual content, specifically graphics, images and produced videos.
  • 90% of people are more likely to engage with company personality posts.
  • 50% of people are likely to engage with new product posts.
  • 31% are likely to engage with storytelling content.

Create posts that generate engagement. Ask questions, take polls, and share stories to encourage your fans and followers to comment on, react to, and even share your posts.

Web Traffic and Sales

To increase your web traffic and sales offer freebies that are available only through your website. Create incentives for people to come to your website in your posts. Use services like Pay with a Tweet that encourage people to get your freebie as well as share it wider on social media to increase your website traffic.

With as little as 30 minutes a day spent on social media, you can begin to see more success for your efforts as long as you stay focused and create content that engages people toward your goal.

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Photo courtesy of Alexa Suter.

Are You Using Social Media Correctly?

Contrary to popular belief, social media is not a marketing channel.

You are probably thinking, “What?! I thought social media is how you build an audience for books.”

Exactly! Social media is an audience building tool, not an advertising tool. Unless you are purchasing ads on social media sites or offering your followers an announcement or special on your books, the information you share via social media should not be broadcast marketing messages.

Many authors don’t understand this concept. These authors use social media to shout about their books. Recently, an indie author had the courtesy of asking if she could post about her book on Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) Facebook Page.

This author wrote:

“Good evening! I’d love to post a blurb about a faith-based children’s book that I wrote and published on your Facebook page. Is this something you allow publishers to do?”

I wrote her back and informed her that the purpose of CSPA’s Facebook Page was a place for sharing information and encouragement related to publishing and marketing Christian books, not a place for book promotion. The author then asked:

“Do you happen to know of any Christian associations that do allow promotion for books of faith? I have self-published and am having a hard time getting the word out there.”

This author was not a Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) nor are the Members of CSPA her target audience. She has no relationship with the audience for the CSPA Facebook page and was simply trying to use the Page to advertise her book.

Getting the word out about your book is not an easy task. However, posting information about your book on various social media pages, wall, and feeds is not the answer to this problem.

Social media is not a sales channel. Rather, social media is a marketing support. It is best used as a channel to amplify your message and broaden your visibility and exposure.

It’s like being a speaker at an event. As a speaker, you are there to share information and entertainment with the audience. Yes, you can mention your books, but that is not the focus of your talk. Instead, you are sharing your knowledge and experience with the audience.

Social media is to marketing what the microphone is to your speaking. The microphone allows more people in the audience hear what you have to say. The same is true for social media. It makes what you are already saying louder so more people can hear.
People do discover products on social media and then buy them. In fact, one survey found that 78% of surveyed adults discovered a product on Facebook (compared to 59% on Instagram and Pinterest). Over half of these people ended up buying the product later, but only 11% did so immediately.

As an author, you want to use social media to develop an audience that trusts you and looks to you for answers. These answers come in the form of your books. If you use social media correctly, you will enlarge your audience and expose more people to your books—and some will buy!

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Do You Know This Simple Facebook Trick?

Facebook is the most popular social networking site worldwide. With 2.1 billion active daily users, the site has been a great way for authors and publishers to connect with their audience. Sadly, that is changing.

Mark Zukerman, the founder of Facebook, has announced that he is changing Facebook’s algorithm to show more posts from family and friends in individual’s News Feeds, and to give preference to posts that get the most engagement (comments).

This is bad news for authors and publishers who have a Facebook Page (not a personal profile) for their fans to follow and engage with them on the social site. This change means that the already shrinking exposure for any given Facebook Page post will continue to shrink. Currently, less than 10% of the people who follow your Facebook page see any given information you post. This means that if you have 500 followers on Facebook, less than 50 of them will see anything you post.

Facebook has been decreasing the exposure for Facebook Pages for a couple years as they try to push you to spend money to get your information seen. You can pay to Boost a Post to all your followers and beyond, and you can pay to place ads on Facebook so more people are exposed to you and your books.

If you have put a lot of effort into building up your following on Facebook, this news can be very discouraging. After all, Facebook does provide a valuable avenue to connect with masses of people.

Don’t despair. I have a simple trick that you can use and you can get your followers to use so that you can stay in contact with them through Facebook. If you follow any Pages on Facebook, you can use this simple procedure to make sure you still see the information that these authors, musicians, and businesses post. You can also encourage your Facebook Page’s followers to implement this simple move so that they don’t miss any posts from you.

Here is the trick in three simple steps:

  1. Go to any Facebook Page you follow.
  2. Click on the down arrow next to “Following”.
  3. Then click “See First” under “In Your News Feed”.

Doing this ensures that anything this Facebook Page posts will show up in your News Feed. That way, you won’t miss anything from that Page.

If you follow Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) Facebook Page, I encourage you to enable the “See First” option so you don’t miss any of the great information we post there on a daily basis.

Just go to https://www.facebook.com/ChristianSmallPublishers and complete the three steps listed above. If you don’t yet follow CSPA on Facebook, I encourage you to do so and then enable the “See First” option.

This little Facebook trick can help you and all your fans stay abreast of all the great information your favorite Facebook Pages post.

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Are You Showing Your Best Face?

Social media. Authors tend to love it or hate it.

Social media is a powerful way to connect with your readers. For many readers, getting to know the author of a book they love or relate to is natural. Once they have read the author’s book, they feel they already know that author on some level. Social media allows them to deepen that connection.

As an author, showing your personality on social media is important. This is easier for some authors than others. Authors who enjoy more privacy often find it difficult to let their personality shine in social media, while those that are more social find it easier.

A recent study by Sprout Social found that consumers want to see the following characteristics from the brands (and celebrities) that they follow on social media:

  • Honesty (86%)
  • Friendly (83%)
  • Helpful (78%)
  • Funny (72%)

What about you? Are you showing these four characteristics in your social media posts and interactions?

We live in a world where people crave authenticity. People want to know that you are “for real” and not a made-up persona. One of the best ways to demonstrate this to your readers is through showing your failures as well as your successes.

I know an aspiring author who has worked diligently to grow her platform on social media in hopes of getting a traditional publisher to sign a contract with her for her novel. This author understands how to show her personality.

One way she has recently connected with her audience is through chronicling her efforts to go from couch potato to running a 5K race. She has even encouraged her family members to join her in the challenge. This aspiring author regularly posts her ups and downs as she attempts to train herself to run three miles.

What about you? What can you share with your readers on social media to show them your authentic self?

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Photo courtesy of Gratisography.