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Publishing 101: Social Media Marketing

Usually I (Cat) am in charge of doing the 101s but today, Tasha is joining me for a very important and timely 101 lesson in self-marketing. This is an area where most writers struggle, and I am one of the worst -- especially when it comes to effective and consistent social media marketing.


Luckily, our very own founder, Tasha Reynolds, has accreditation in social media marketing and will be helping me help you.


But Cat, it's not a Wednesday!


Usually we publish our 101 articles on Wednesdays, but the best time to start doing social media promotion is back when you got serious about your creative career. And the second best time is right now.


Why social media marketing is important


Everyone get prepared to roll your eyes because you've probably heard this a million times before. But social media marketing is the most important kind of marketing if you're an independent writer, or a writer working with an independent press.


Most of us have small marketing budgets (and if you're anything like me that budget is actually, literally $0) and social media is the one place where we have the opportunity to do effective, free advertising.


The Challenges


There are a lot of things to overcome when learning to market yourself and your projects on social media. It's a skill to learn how to do this effectively. Some social media algorithms are influenced by luck. It eats up a lot of time that it's very tempted to use for writing instead.


Some people like to pass off this challenge, which can feel like an obligation, to a third party social media manager or consultant. While that temptation is very real, a lot of writers don't have that in the marketing budget, and a lot of those services can be predatory in their service quality and pricing. Even if you have the money, there are always marketing opportunities you can buy, and not always marketing opportunities (like social media) that are free.


The Tips:


This is where I'm going to pass the mic (or blog formatting) over to Tasha for a bit so she can use her social media know-how* to teach us all what the hell we're doing out here.


*Again I want to remind you that Tasha has a certification in Meta from Coursera. I bring this up because in our next budget-related how-to we're going to talk about when marketing might be a scam and one of the first things is to check the experience level.



Some of you may have seen my (Tasha) Twitter post the other day, about looking to escape my toxic AF day job. A huge thanks to everyone who shared it, and those who have reached out!


One of the things I've done to try and steer things in a better direction, was to take a Meta certification course earlier this year through Coursera! It was just like any other course - instructional videos from experts in the field, homework, exams, all that good stuff, primarily based on the Facebook and IG platforms. I've got copies of my grades for each module, and then passed a proctored certification exam that’s recognized by Meta - all the fun official stuff.


Generic across platforms

  • Don’t ignore the “Suggestions for who to follow” when you follow someone new. Take some time at least once a week to fall down that rabbit hole! If you’re following people whose content interests you, you’re more likely to engage/interact, and vice versa. Easy organic growth.

  • Boost the content from other accounts. 

  • For reviewers it’s easier - for example, if someone with The Scoop has reviewed a book and I see a post about it, I’ll share that post (boosting that account’s content) and also link in our review. 

  • Obviously this also works across mediums as well: podcasts, movie reviews, YouTube content, etc. Unlimited options!

  • Now a reader can get two different perspectives on a book they’re interested in, I’ve shared another account’s content to help them, and have linked our post in to boost our reviews as well. It’s a win-win-win!

  • The Almighty Hashtag

  • Recommended numbers are 5-7 per post. When possible, it’s best to separate them from the post as a whole (like IG), but of course it’s harder to do that on Twitter with a limited amount of characters.

  • Use a good mix of generic and specific terms. I’ll use Cat as an example, because she’s da bomb. Say she wants to post about REVENGE ARC to give it a boost. A good group for her could be: #bookstagram #horrorbooks #epistolary #revengearc #horrornovel #debutnovel

  • This is another rabbit hole to set aside some time for. Search the hashtags you’re thinking about using, to see what comes up!

  • Paying for Advertising

  • As far as Twitter, I’m afraid I don’t have advice on paid ads here - Elon makes enough money as it is, so screw that dude.

  • With Facebook, they officially (legit officially) recommend not bothering with ads unless you’re working with a larger budget. Like $1,000 and up, larger. Obviously most of us don’t have that kind of budget laying around, so I recommend …

  • Instagram ads! They are incredibly budget-friendly, and I’ve had great results with them for Scoop posts I’ve boosted for just $25. You can adjust how long you want the ad to run, set a maximum amount, select your target audience, and the analytics for the process are phenomenal. I definitely recommend setting your account to business, because there’s a craaaaaap ton of useful info there.


  • Biggest Takeaway: Would I love for you to all throw money at me to manage your accounts for you? Um, of course (other than the guilt that would eat away at me because I know things are tough for everyone). But there are helpful things that everyone can learn how to do, and I’m a fan of that old adage about teaching someone to fish rather than just giving them a fish.



Conclusion:


A lot of social media marketing comes down to trial and error. You need to find out what things will resonate with your audience. Some of it is also luck-based because no marketing ever has been an exact science, and social media is basically already the wild west.


But.


The best you can do is control the aspects that can be controlled. How much work you put in, and how smartly you're working with your platform(s) of choice to increase your chances of being seen online.


Learning, practicing, and getting good at social media marketing is one of the best things you can possibly do for your sales. There are always specialized online resources, as well of a whole community of writers out here if you'd like to learn more. But we hope that we've at least given you the tools to start you on the path for success.


A final note about marketing consultants/managers


As a little post-script to this article, we want to clarify that we're not entirely demonizing the idea of social media consultants/managers. There are many who are legitimate and helpful. But the best ones know how to work with writers for their budget, and many of the things that they're going to teach you are going to start with the basic practices outlined in this piece.


Tasha, for example, runs Signal Boost Consulting. If you take a personalized course with her she is going to consult with you about your goals and existing numbers. If you have a stronger baseline (by using these tools) you could come into a session and develop an even more advanced and effective strategy by having the basics down before investing money.

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