Before you begin using social media (which by my definition includes blogging) to promote your book, it’s best to have a plan. It’ll keep you from getting overwhelmed and stuck, and become the foundation for how you’ll measure results.
These 10 questions will get you off to a good start. Write your responses in a Word document and keep them handy, you will want to review them often.
1. Why are you doing it?
What are your goals? Why are you doing any of it? These questions may seem simplistic, but most people set up a blog and dive into social media without ever asking them, and soon find themselves frustrated.
“Everyone else is doing it” or “I was told I need to do it” or “I think it’d be fun” are not goals.
- I want to sell books and make enough money so I can quit my day job is a goal.
- I want to establish myself as a thought leader so I’ll get booked for more speaking gigs is a goal.
- I want to have 5,000 followers on Facebook in the first year is a goal.
When you can revisit your goals and remember why you’re doing it, it’ll help you during those times when you get a little stuck and feel like giving up.
2. Who is your audience?
If you want to achieve your goals (#1) you have to identify the audience that will help you achieve them. Is what you’re creating valuable or helpful to them in some way? What problem are you solving for them?
Example. Designers often blog about the design process or freelance issues. We write what we know, right? Depending on their goals, this can be effective—that is, if they’re trying to sell something to other designers, or they’re being benevolent and looking to mentor others, or if they want to establish themselves as an authority in order to book speaking gigs. But my audience is not other designers. My audience is authors, because my goal is to work with more of them, because that’s what I really enjoy. So, I’m blogging about matters that are relevant to authors.
You might be thinking, “How can I solve a problem? I am not a plumber, I write romance novels!” When I read blogs, often my problem is simply that I’m bored. I frequently visit author websites that are well-written and entertaining. Think in terms of providing value to your audience and you’ll be just fine.
3. How much content can you realistically create?
Can you write blog posts once or more per week? Can you check in to Twitter and Facebook daily? Will you create all your social content yourself? What might be outsourced? What kind of content volume makes the most sense for you?
Here are some examples of content you can create for the web to get you thinking in more specific terms: original blog posts, email newsletters, participating in discussion forums, leaving comments on blogs written by your audience (see #2), content curation (sharing other content of interest to your audience), Facebook status updates, Tweets, video, audio, guest columns on other websites, Pinterest graphics and infographics, Instagram photos.
I find it’s helpful to decide in advance what kind of content I intend to create. You can always deviate (plan to be flexible), but it’s easy to let blogging and social media slip off the list without a plan.
4. How much time can you realistically devote to social media?
I am not a huge fan of rules, but I think this is pretty sage advice: publish weekly. Frequency matters. If you don’t have the time to devote to blogging and social media, you can’t expect miraculous results. What adjustments do you need to make to your plan if you can’t commit to regular blog posts or creating email newsletters? What activities can you make time for and do really well and with some regular frequency?
5. How will you measure success?
The more specific your goals (#1), the easier it will be to measure success. For example, if you set a goal to have 10,000 followers on Facebook in the first year, you can measure that easily as you go along. Goals like “make more money” or “sell more books” can also be measured but causation may be a bit more difficult to determine. If you’re blogging, set yourself up with Google Analytics from the very start and regularly check those stats–see what kind of content spikes traffic, check search engine performance and see where referrals are coming from.
These are the big questions that will help you create your social media/blogging strategy.
Additional questions to help stimulate your thinking and create an action plan that works for you:
6. Where will I reach my audience?
7. What are the main topic categories that I’ll be focusing on?
8. Am I ready to work hard, commit to my plan and be patient?
9. What fears do I need to overcome or things do I need to learn in order to put this all into action?
10. What action am I going to ask my audience to take? Am I prepared to “ask for the sale”?
Which leads me to… (Call to action coming!)
In coming posts, I’ll be going into more detail on how to fine-tune your content strategy, deciding which tools (social media mix) is right for you and many many tactics you can use to achieve your goals. So please sign up for our email updates or click the RSS feed (all can be found up at the top of this page), follow us on Facebook, share with your author friends if you find this helpful and come back soon!
If you are already using social media, did you first make a plan? What other suggestions do you have for those just getting started?