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Author FAQ: Should I be on social media?


Marketing a book is a multifaceted process that encompasses everything from traditional media pitching and brand partnerships to Facebook ads and speaking engagements. In our new “Smart Marketing” series, the BenBella Marketing Department will share insights into hot topics in marketing and publicity and practical strategies authors can put into practice.

Do I need to have a Facebook page?

Should I be tweeting every day?

What about Instagram? Do I need to download that, too?

In early marketing conversations and brainstorms with our authors, we are frequently asked some variation of this question: Should I be on social media? Our answer: It depends.

Many authors hope for a clear, one-size-fits-all recommendation, but at BenBella, we advise our authors on a case-by-case basis considering the author’s strengths, the unique markets and audiences for their book, and the overarching goals for their book marketing campaign.

You don’t have to be active on every social media channel, and in an online landscape that is changing so rapidly, that’s nearly impossible anyway. Choose the platforms you a.) are realistically going to be able to invest time in, b.) see your potential buyers already spending time on, and c.) you enjoy!

Social media certainly isn’t the silver bullet for book sales success, but it can be a powerful asset when marketing your work. Ultimately, we recommend authors only invest in the social media platforms they will be able to manage consistently and authentically.

Deciding where and how to start plugging in can feel overwhelming, so here are a few questions to consider if you’re thinking about whether to invest in an online platform:

  1. Where are the people most likely to benefit from and buy your book spending their time online? If you’re a cookbook author, your potential customers are likely looking for recipes on Pinterest or scrolling through pretty food photos on Instagram. But if your book is a commentary on a current political issue, you might have better luck jumping into conversations on a more news-driven platform like Twitter. Spend some time on different social media platforms to see what types of content are most successful and who the users tend to be.
  2. How much time can you devote to engaging on social media? In order to really see a benefit from your online platform, you do need to invest consistent time in producing content, engaging with other authors and influencers, and engaging with your followers. We recommend setting aside some time each day (even just 20 minutes) to solely focus on this. There are a lot of great resources and services available to help you manage social media efficiently, but be realistic about the time and bandwidth you have to devote to managing social media accounts.
  3. What are your long-term goals for your potential social media platform? While it’s hard to directly correlate sales to your social media platform, being active online is great for establishing your credibility as an author or expert and also helps you build a loyal community of people who will likely be the first to order your book. Also, consider these long-term goals when deciding between creating an author page or a book account. We almost always recommend authors build an online platform for themselves as an author versus creating book accounts because it will have a longer life and serve you for future projects and books. If you want to create both, remember that you’ll need to invest time on both accounts.

If you’re an aspiring author who has decided that social media is a good strategy for you, don’t wait. Start building your platform today! Then, by the time your book comes out you’ll have a tribe of people excited to support you.

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