Inconceivable: Social Media Branding Might Not Mean What You Think It Means
Social Media is a mixed bag. If I'm honest, I have a lot of conflicting emotions about it. For one, it's distracting. It's so easy to spend precious reading or reviewing time mindlessly scrolling through tweets or posts. Sometimes I get sucked into a couple discussions and before I know it, I've spent an hour in back and forth dialog and searching for the perfect gif to capture my mood. On the other hand, I don't have a lot of people in my life who like to read books, especially horror books, so I'm very thankful for the community of bookish people I've found online who share my passion for reading and reviewing horror.
More importantly though, social media is an invaluable resource for promotions of any sort. But this article isn't going to make a case for why social media is important (I can do that another day). What I'm going to attempt to do is emphasize the "how" and not the "why". Because I think most people understand the need for promotion but they might not be as clear on some of the simple ways to do it...better. Therefore taking up less resources like time, money and retail space in your brain (which you need for writing, yeah?).
I'm going to be talking about your social media presence as it pertains to several online platforms, the ones I know the most about. I don't use SnapChat or TikTok (those are dangerous Black Holes of Time Suck and I don't recommend them), and I have a Facebook but I don't use it as much as these three:
I find that these three sites are the most important and effective for bookish promotions and deserve intentional branding. I also think it's important for writers to have a "catch-all" corner of the internet where everything can come together in one place in the form of a blog or website. A reader should be able to Google your name and the first several hits should carry the most information about you. The website or blog home page should tell the reader everything, at a glance, what they need to know: A current (large) profile picture or headshot that you don't mind people grabbing for promotional purposes (more on this later), links to books, available articles/interviews, media, three-line bio, social media links, and good/consistent branding.
What happens when you Google your name? If you Google "Sadie Hartmann, Mother Horror" you get (in order) My Twitter, My blog, My Instagram, My Cemetery Dance reviews, videos, My Bookshop Lists, Images, and then various articles people have written up about me. I'm still working on my Google presence and working on SEO, blah, blah, blah but it's a good start. I Googled Todd Kiesling the other day and I was super impressed, "Todd Keisling Author" resulted in everything I would need to know about him. TRY IT! If you want to improve your Google ranking search, "How to Improve My Google Listing".
2. Your Author Photo!
As a reader, reviewer, freelance writer of horror fiction, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have some quality headshots out there. When I made YouTube thumbnail images for my Celebrate Horror Event, I had to Google search author photos for over 30+ authors. Some of you were very hard to find! Either your photos were super outdated or there was only one to choose from and it was super small. Think about getting a family member to take some quality photos of you and get them posted to social media, asap. On your website is the perfect host for those. When I Google searched "Gwendolyn Kiste Author" I was so pleased with how many great, high resolution images she had out there!
3. Posting Links on Twitter
So people think you can just copy and paste a link to twitter and hit send and the click will come! Wrong. If your link doesn't have a preview image or the preview is very small, nobody will click on it or like it and that's a fact. A link without an image is dead to me. I never click on those and I know nobody else will either. So try it out first. If you post a link and there isn't an image or the preview photo is small and uneventful, post the link and then post a bigger image to go with it. The difference is in engagement. If you want people to click it, DO IT
This post from Poltergeist Press has the link and a nice, branded graphic to go with the link. Those graphics are easy to make! Which is my next point...
4. Formatting photos
Different social media sites have different sizes for their photos. Twitter images for a "lead card" have a specific size and you can look up the dimensions to make sure your graphic is formatted correctly. Instagram has two different sizes for posts; a square and a "portrait". If you're posting a book cover, you might want to check on the sizes allowed for both kinds of image sizes so that your book cover is formatted correctly and not "cut off". Or you can take a photo of your book in a creative way that will get tons of engagement:
5. Updating Goodreads
It's really important to make sure Goodreads is current. All editions of your books should be represented and all the links should work. If I click on the Amazon link from Goodreads and it doesn't work, I might go Google it, but I might forget and you might have lost an impulse buy. Your bio should have links to your website and social media platforms. An author photo is a must. There's really no excuse to have the generic profile placeholder photo on any social media site, but especially Goodreads and Amazon. It lacks a certain level of professionalism and the reader could feel like it if doesn't matter to you, why should it matter to the reader? As a reader, trust me: It matters. I can't tell you how many times I flip to the author photo while I'm reading. I don't know why but if I'm connecting to the storytelling, I want to see who is telling me the story. I looked up S.A. Cosby on Goodreads and clicked on all the things and followed.
6. Branding content and making graphics
This is kind of a level up, but if you get the hang of it, it can be fun and there is an awesome resource for you called PicMonkey to help you. My brother-in-law works for this company and I've been using it forever; since its inception. It's pretty user-friendly and it has templates for every kind of social media platform. You can upload your own graphics to brand literally every post you put on social media if you wanted to. It's pretty cool. PICMONKEY
I hope that these social media branding tips & tricks will help you promote yourself and your books more effectively and consistently! Hit me up on Twitter if you have any questions or need help getting started.
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