Being an author no longer means only writing.
The publishing industry is competitive. Specifically, traditional publishing is far more difficult to break into than it used to be. Writers not only need to query an agent with a polished, nearly shelf-ready manuscript, but in order to stand out in a query box amongst hundreds of other queries, writers often need to have a standout author platform as well.
While it isn’t necessary to have an author platform to get published, having this tool in your toolkit could mean the difference between getting noticed by agents or editors and a form rejection.
For self-published authors, on the other hand, an author platform is vital to spreading the word about their books, as they do not have the marketing support traditionally-published authors receive. Though, what “support” means can vary from title to title and from publishing house to publishing house in traditional publishing.
In short, it is in a writer’s benefit to establish a strong author platform to either get published or to have success while publishing in today’s modern world.
Creating Engaging Content on Social Media: Navigating Algorithms
In order to find potential readers, it’s important to meet them where they are. Most writers will create social media accounts to engage and interact with their readers and peers.
To keep readers coming back to their platforms, authors need to 1) post regularly to these accounts, 2) share interesting content, and 3) create content relevant to their brand on each of these social media platforms.
In addition, each of these social media platforms wants to encourage people to engage with content on their platform. That means the more content you create on the platform that keeps people engaged there, the more likely algorithms are to recommend your content to other viewers. If you’re posting links to YouTube videos, for example, on places like Facebook, you are essentially encouraging people to leave Facebook and go to YouTube—which Facebook doesn’t like. They want people on their platform, not YouTube.
Therefore, effective social media marketing is striking a balance between creating engaging content on each platform and encouraging viewers to visit your other platforms, including social media, websites, etc.
When / How Often to Post Content
Most of my social media experience is with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Therefore, that’s what we will focus on today. As of 2018, here are what most experts will recommend for posting schedules on these platforms:
- Twitter: 15+ tweets/day (including both original and retweets)
- Instagram: 1-2 pictures/day
- Facebook: 1-2 posts/day
- YouTube: At least 1 video/week
As far as when to post content, most people are on social media in the mornings and evenings, with a smaller smattering of folks on during the day. Therefore, you will often find many accounts posting YouTube videos, for example, around 7:30 pm.
Personally, I like to post my content first thing in the morning, which is when people are getting up, having coffee, or just getting settled at the office. My target audience are writers who are looking to take their writing and author platforms to the next level, many of whom are often up earlier in the day. However, for the late risers and night owls looking to kick their writing career up a notch, they can still view and interact with my content when they wake up—as it will already by live.
Consider carefully your branding as well as who your target audience is—and when you can reach them.
Managing Content Across Platforms… on a Budget
If you’re anything like me, I’m juggling multiple accounts under multiple platforms on a daily basis. In addition to having a YouTube channel where I post weekly videos, I have a Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook under my name as well as a Twitter and Facebook under my brand, iWriterly.
While not everyone is going to have six social media platforms to oversee, it’s important to post regularly, share interesting content, and create content relevant to your brand on each of these social media platforms (as I mentioned above).
But if we’re “supposed” to tweet 15+ times per day, post one image on Instagram, schedule one post on Facebook, etc. and so forth, how are writers supposed to manage it all while still having a life? Social media scheduling.
I do want to have a quick disclaimer that interacting with people on your respective platforms is important, and you do want to actually log on to your accounts and comment on other people’s content as well as respond to comments on your own. However, in order to engage with your followers at the time when most of them are on the platform (and not worry about being on your computer every day at these times), you may want to consider scheduling your content.
Finding a social media scheduling tool that didn’t break the bank was a challenge for me.
For a while, I used a free Hootsuite account, which allowed me to post to several social media accounts at the same time (including posting images, and not just text). For me, I find the ability to post images to be far more engaging with my viewers (rather than simply text). The catch was I couldn’t schedule any content to go out in advance. As of August 2018, it costs $29 per month for one user to have unlimited scheduling to 10 social media profiles (yikes!). I’ve also used SocialOomph, which allows you to schedule content with a free account, but only text—and not images (limiting me to Twitter and Facebook).
While I’m not opposed to paying for services (and therefore supporting the companies offering these useful services), I’m also a big fan of being frugal whenever possible, because maintaining an author platform can quickly add up.
Here are a few examples of the things authors can pay quite a lot for:
- Creating a website
- Hosting a website (including removing ads automatically on your website, monetizing your site, purchasing a plan for plugins, purchasing the plugins themselves, etc.)
- Purchasing personalized domains
- Social media scheduling
- Hosting your own classes or online courses
- Video editing software (for YouTube or Facebook videos)
- Video recording equipment (camera, microphone, lights)
- Picture editing software (for website posts, YouTube thumbnails, Instagram pictures, etc.)
- AND MORE
With so many things vying for our wallet’s attention, it’s in writers’ best interest to be selective on where they spend their available funds.
For me, $29 per month was too much to spend on a social media scheduling tool, as vital as it is to my sanity. That’s when I discovered Later. This tool allows one user to schedule text and picture content to Twitter (up to 50 posts/month), Facebook (up to 30 posts/month), Instagram (up to 30 posts/month), and Pinterest (up to 30 posts/month) for free. The best part about this tool, in my opinion, was the fact that the content scheduled for Instagram will be automatically published (rather than receiving an alert on your phone from the social media scheduling tool, which will then redirect you to Instagram so you can then manually post your content at your desired time).
Later has been a godsend for me, and it’s completely free. I highly recommend checking it out. (For the record, this isn’t a sponsored blog. I receive no money if you sign up. I just really like these guys.) The biggest downside I’d say is having to edit your photos in advance of scheduling as well as being limited to one Twitter, one Facebook, and one Instagram account to post to (since I have two Twitters and two Facebook accounts I oversee).
For YouTube, my biggest recommendation is to bulk-record your videos and schedule them to go out in advance. You can do this scheduling on YouTube, itself, and you do not need social media scheduling tools. But that is a topic for another day.
Learn More About Author Platforms
- Author Platform Basics
- Author Platform: What Should You Put on Your Author Website?
- Author Platform: What Social Media Platforms Should Writers Use?