Are You Using the Right Social Media Channel?

Using social media to promote your books is a smart marketing strategy. Social media is a great way to gain exposure for you and your books. One survey found that 90% of marketers report that investing in social media has a direct impact on their revenue.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Snapchat—with so many to choose from, how do you know where you should spend your time and energy?

Are You Using the Right Social Media Channel?

Which social media platform(s) you choose to spend your time on should be driven by the audience you are trying to reach. However, not all social media sites are great for businesses. According to Social Sprout, people tend to follow brands and companies on some sites more than others. Here is the breakdown:

  • 66% follow brands on Facebook
  • 41% follow companies on Instagram
  • 35% of people follow brands on YouTube
  • 32% follow companies and brands on Twitter
  • 17% connect with brands on Pinterest
  • 14% follow companies on Snapchat
  • 6% follow companies on LinkedIn

Based on these statistics, authors and publishers should choose and focus their time among Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, as these sites have the greatest percentage of users following companies and brands.

To decide which of these channels you should invest the most time in, consider your target audience’s age.

Baby Boomers

If you are trying to reach Baby Boomers (those over 54 years of age), this group prefers Facebook. However, only 37% of people over age 65 use any social media. If this is the age-group you are trying to reach, then you should not spend the bulk of your marketing time and energy on social meda. Stick to more traditional marketing strategies.

Generation X

Surprisingly, Generation X (ages 38 to 54) spends more time on social media each week than Millienials according to Nielson data. This group spent nearly an hour more each week on social media. Facebook has the most Generation X users, followed by Instagram.

Millennials

Millennials (ages 22 to 37) rule Instagram. There are over 30 million Millennials on this social channel. Instagram boosts a higher engagement rate per follower than Facebook does, however, the channel does not allow clickable links in captions.

Over half of all Instagram users are aged 18 to 29.Twitter is another good channel for reaching Millennials. Twitter’s largest segment of users are between the ages of 18 and 29.

Generation Z

Generation Z (ages 6 to 21) prefer YouTube over all other social media channels. According to a survey by Visual Objects, YouTube is the most visited website by people age 18 to 24 years.

This generation also likes both Snapchat to Instagram. While there are nearly four million more teens on Snapchat than on Instagram, teenagers appear to use both channels regularly.

You have limited time and energy to spend on marketing and on social media. Choose the channel(s) you use carefully so that you have the greatest exposure to the people you are trying to reach with your message.

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Photo courtesy of geralt.

Are You Taking This for Granted?

Censorship. It’s a big concern for many people. The problem appears to be growing, not diminishing.

Last year, the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) launched the Internet Freedom Watch. One of the tenants of this organization is to protect and stand up for freedom of speech.

NRB saw a growing problems of viewpoint censorship on the Internet, especially suppression of Christian and conservative views. The organization has been documenting incidences of social media profiles that are being censored or shut down due to conservative or religious content.

The major social media players—YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—have all participated in some type of censorship. These social sites have suspended, shut down, or demonetized accounts due to their religious or political beliefs. As this trend has grown, citizens have become concerned.

In addition, each of these companies now use algorithms that determine who sees the content that is posted. No longer are users assured that their followers and fans will see what they post. Rather, each social media site determines who sees what. Some people feel that this is another form of censorship—control over the flow of information.

As the concerns grow, new options are being offered. There are two new sites offering an alternative choice for social media users.

1. AllSocial.com

AllSocial.com is a brand new social media platform that aims to be the way social media was meant to be. This site does not use an algorithm. All posts made are shown to all a user’s followers. In addition, all points of view are allowed and users will not be banned for religious or conservative content.

2. Blessings Through Action

Blessings Through Action‘s goal is to provide a virtual community for Christians on a social media platform that allows people to engage and encourage each other to more action.

I applaud the efforts of both of these services. However, I know that they have a huge uphill battle. I have seen many social media sites come and go over the years. A few have risen to the top—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest—and dominate most social media users attention.   A few other sites that are geared toward a specific topic— like Goodreads for book lovers—have also survived and thrived.

While I think your best course of action is to continue to develop and grow an audience on the social media platforms that you are already established on, I would also encourage you to check out and support these new social media platforms.

Let’s not take our freedom for granted. Lend your support to those who are helping ensure that we will be able to maintain our freedom of speech. If we fail to do this, one day, we may not have the freedom to publish Christian books.

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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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