The Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously wrote that “change is the only constant in life,” and his wise words remain just as true today as they did over 2,000 years ago. Of course, this is not news to us as we witness the speed at which technology and communication has changed in the last 10 years. Luckily, many of these changes make it easier than ever for authors to connect with readers, engage with communities, and share ideas.
By now, nearly every author has an understanding of how social media can help to build an audience and most have tested the waters of venerable platforms like Facebook or Twitter. No matter what kind of experience you have had tapping into the power of social media, Heraclitus’ timeless insight means that there will always be a new opportunity to consider.
With that in mind, here is a quick overview of several emerging social media platforms beyond Facebook and Twitter, and how they might just help you and your book find a loyal audience.
It used to be that people thought of LinkedIn only as a professional networking service, but it has developed into a major player in consumers’ content consumption habits – particularly for professionals to stay up to date on business trends.
One quarter of U.S. adults were LinkedIn users in 2016 according to a Pew Research Center study, and those users are more likely to be college graduates and high-income users than other social media platforms.
If your book is categorized as nonfiction, business, or focuses on anything related to professional life, LinkedIn offers an ideal environment for you to explore.
- First steps: Ensure your profile is up-to-date with the right link to your website and your book listed under publications.
- Experiment with: sharing links to your recent blog posts and articles or repurposing a popular blog entry as a LinkedIn long-form Post to reach a wider audience and generate additional traffic back to your website.
This photo-based network – which was purchased by Facebook in 2012 – has experienced rapid growth and now occupies second place behind its parent company in terms of U.S. users (28% of adults).
Instagram is especially popular among younger users – 59% of online 18-29 year-olds use the platform compared to 33% of online 30-49 year-olds, according to the Pew Research Center.
If your book audience falls within that young age range, and particularly if you have a volume of compelling visual content from or complimentary to your book, Instagram could help you connect with your audience in a fresh and compelling way.
- First steps: Create an account, link to your Facebook Page, and start following friends and other authors in your category to get a sense of what type of content is resonating with your audience. Post one new relevant photo per week.
- Experiment with: Shoot a short video of how you get inspired to write, and add “#writing #inspiration” to the description copy to give your readers a behind-the-scenes look at your process. Or string a number of short videos together into Instagram’s new “story” format to keep readers updated on your progress in almost real-time. You can even live broadcast and engage with users in real time.
Another social network with visual content at its heart, Pinterest lets you follow interesting people and companies and create themed boards to share your inspiration.
The audience on Pinterest (26% of U.S. adults) has always skewed heavily toward women, and in 2016 the Pew Research Center reported that 45% of online women were users, compared to just 17% of online men.
If your book speaks to women you could curate boards to further add value to their lives, or use original visual content to spread your own ideas further afield. Pinterest is also a great venue for fashion, food, travel, and home-related content.
- First steps: Create an account and start three Boards that align with core elements of your message where you can Pin relevant content from other users.
- Experiment with: Create a vertical infographic that captures the essence of your book’s message with hashtags to increase discoverability among users searching for relevant keywords.
The newest kid on block still holds a huge element of mystery for anyone seeking to use it for marketing purposes. Originally conceived as a one-to-one disappearing messaging app to share short videos, Snapchat’s offering has evolved significantly to include “Stories” and brand-focused promotional units.
The U.S. audience using Snapchat is growing rapidly, and skews very young; one source indicates that 60% of its users are under the age of 25, with 23% of the total user base between the ages of 13-17.
If you are very comfortable sharing details of your everyday life, or are writing for a YA audience, your efforts in producing content via Snapchat could pay off in spades.
- First steps: Create an account and learn what type of content is resonating with a literary audience by following some of these accounts.
- Experiment with: Stay up to date with the latest topical filters and show your fun side by posting some creative snaps around town and at events to your Story.
Above all, remember that as an author, your social media usage should be fun for YOU! If you are happiest maintaining your presence on Facebook and/or Twitter then don’t rock the boat. But a little bit of exploration can go a long way, and you may even find that you gain traction and enjoy using another platform.
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