This article isn’t about how to sell books and ebooks on social channels… Instead, we will look at how to build a personal brand and become an authority in your niche. This will give you a better platform on which to sell your work. It’s a gradual process, built on organic efforts. Paid promotion can support these efforts using a modest budget.
A loose definition of social media
In this article, social media is a relatively loose concept. We’re used to defining social media as the big four. However, the realm of social reaches much further nowadays. We include YouTube, Quora, Medium, and much more.
A whole post on “how to use Facebook” or “how to use Twitter” is far too general. We need to look at the specific features of these platforms which provide value to authors and explore why they offer an opportunity. Often, it’s a varied mix of channels and tactics that has an impact, and this is specific to each commercial or personal brand.
Let’s explore this varied mix of channels, all of which can build awareness.
Approach for the main channels
I’ll dig into the details a little later, but for now let’s look at the principles of using the big four: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Facebook: Facebook are narrowing their focus back to friends and family, but this doesn’t mean that authors can’t make a mark. Groups are still a goldmine for building credibility in a niche, and pages can still be effective with a modest ad budget investment.
Twitter: Its limit of 240 characters can also open up opportunities to be creative. Authors can also connect directly with influencers on Twitter, get interviews and promotion opportunities, and build relationships with readers or fans.
Instagram: Your words tell a story, and the combination of written and visual content is always a winner. You might not have the best eye for a photo or the best design skills, but there are plenty of affordable freelancers who can help. Find them on platforms like Upwork.
LinkedIn: It may have a corporate vibe, but this doesn’t mean creativity is dead. I’ll look into a specific LinkedIn tactic later in this article, so stay tuned. The overall advice is to bring magic to an otherwise straightforward platform.
Which social channels work best to market your writing?
Hosted blog: Ultimately, you want to build the authority of your own hosted blog. This means publishing regular insights on your area of expertise. Contrary to popular belief, these don’t need to be whopping-great essays. Unique content in your style will feed the social channels.
Action: Create a quarterly editorial calendar for your own blog to maintain a strategic schedule, leaving room for timely and responsive blog posts.
Medium: As Anna Sabino writes, some consider Medium to be a more beneficial channel than a self-hosted blog. Medium gets over 30 million visitors per month, and the platform promotes its most compelling new content to a captive audience.
You can repurpose existing content for your Medium blog, although this might impact search rankings due to duplication. For the ultimate guide to using Medium, check out Neil Patel’s excellent guide for marketers.
Action: Try Medium as a consumer first, and embrace its wealth of high-quality articles. Learn how other authors use the channel, and seek out established Medium publications who might be interested in featuring your work.
Quora: The vastness of Quora presents an opportunity. This question-and-answer forum is taking the world by storm, and it’s an ideal place to showcase your writing skills, humour, poetry, knowledge, experience, and everything else. Get creative, and make your answers stand out.
Action: Seek out unanswered or insufficiently-answered questions in your niche, and impart your wisdom and creativity on the forum.
Podcasts: What could be more social than talking in person? The growth of podcasts is colossal, and there are plenty of hosts looking for interview subjects. Whether you’re a fiction or non-fiction writer, there will be a range of podcasts in your niche that are worth approaching. Read this Lulu article for more information about using podcasts as a writer.
Action: Search in the podcast catalogues for shows that suit your niche, and make contact.
Guest blogging: Building an audience for your own blog or Medium channel takes time. Meanwhile, there are many websites out there with an established audience, and you can reach them through guest blogging. It’s a win-win scenario, because the blog or website gets free high-quality content, and you get the exposure, kudos, links, and traffic.
Low-quality SEO guest blogging has made the landscape a bit more treacherous, because website owners have been inundated with spam automated approaches. Choose your targets carefully, and reach out with a personal message that highlights value for both parties.
Action: There are many ways to make contact with blog owners. Don’t settle for a cold email; consider reaching out via social, or giving them a call. The results may be significantly better.
LinkedIn Publishing: Much like Medium, the LinkedIn Publishing network combines the best benefits of content hosting and social media. As this article by Sue Ellson highlights, it’s very easy to get involved. Your contacts will be alerted to the new post, and it can also rank highly in the search engines. LinkedIn isn’t for stuffy business topics; it can also be a creative outlet.
Action: Be a diamond in the rough; add a creative spark and use storytelling to stand out from other dry LinkedIn authors.
Live video streams: We’re not all cut out for live TV, but writers now have a way of connecting in real-time to their audience. Consider “ask me anything” sessions, live readings, or interviews. As I mentioned, writers need to build a personal brand. Live video is great for doing so, using Facebook or Instagram Live, YouTube Live Streaming, or Periscope (for Twitter). You can then share the recording to your primary social channels.
Action: Keep your setup simple, especially at the beginning. Always check your available bandwidth and use a backup profile to test the streaming quality. Record the stream for later use if possible, and use audience questions to inspire future shows.
A word on paid social
Such is the profit-seeking power of the major social networks, Facebook’s organic reach took a nosedive a few years ago, and doesn’t look set to recover.
This rendered many leading Facebook pages less able to reach their audience. But this change also impacted small businesses, individuals, and interest groups. It forced them to reach into their pockets in order to guarantee that followers see their posts.
Unfortunately, it has now become a pay-to-play arena, but the good news is that it doesn’t need to break the bank. A small boost will ensure that content reaches intended groups. It’s simple really: create an update, and boost it to your selected audience. Facebook makes it easy.
Of course, each platform has its own algorithm. This article by Mic Adam is essential reading for maximizing LinkedIn organic reach. Video might also come into play here, as LinkedIn actively boosts native video uploads (vs. YouTube URLs) to showcase the platform’s capabilities.
Flipping paid social on its head, there is also an opportunity for established authors and creators to make money through influencer marketing if they have a big enough audience. You might wish to start working with smaller brands, but always ensure that client values align with yours.
Building a personal brand is essential to marketing your writing. An engaged audience will buy your work, share with friends, and contribute to the conversation in your niche. This is about using social channels to offer insights to the world through audio, visual, and written media.
With a wealth of hosts who are hungry for high-quality content, there’s never been a better time to showcase your talent. It pays to remain humble, personable, and transparent. But as the old saying goes… if you don’t ask, you don’t get! Good luck.
Oren Greenberg is a growth marketer, and the founder of the Kurve consultancy in London. He helps startups and corporate innovations projects scale using digital channels. He has written for leading marketing blogs and has been featured in the international press.