Updated: Aug 1
Social media is a valuable tool that authors can use to build their brand and connect with their target audience. If you’re an author hoping to establish a social media presence, you can benefit from learning how to utilize the platforms of your choice. In this post, I’ll discuss strategies for using Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Facebook, including what content to share, how often to post, and ways you can engage with potential readers.
Best marketing practices for authors using social media
Here are some best marketing practices to consider when using social media to promote your work and connect with readers on the following platforms:
You've likely used Instagram to share photos about your life, but it’s also an extremely valuable marketing tool you can use to connect with your audience. Consider the following information when using Instagram:
Recently, Instagram began encouraging posters to share Reels by increasing their importance in the platform’s algorithm. Therefore, I strongly recommend sharing Reels to reach a larger audience. Reels are short videos (between 5-90 seconds) you can create within the platform. You have the option of adding audio and various effects to enhance your video.
Your readers on Instagram want to connect with you as a person, so it’s beneficial to share content from your personal life, such as the realities of your day. For example, you might share a clip from a walk you took that day or a meal you prepared the previous evening. You might think, Why would my readers care about this content? Well, it’s because sharing everyday events can make you seem more relatable to potential readers. Some additional content topic ideas you might share include shows you’re watching, a book series you’re reading, or a holiday you’re looking forward to.
While this is true for all platforms, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of posting consistently. You might post 3-4 times a week if you’re starting on the platform. If you already have a sizeable following, 2-3 posts a week is likely sufficient. Aim for at least two Reels weekly if you’re heading into a book launch.
Engage daily by spending five minutes liking and commenting on posts. Aim to comment on posts from similar authors and engage with posts that relate to your book’s topic.
Don’t let Reels intimidate you. Reels can be super simple and still be effective. You don’t need to include your face in the reel, although it is an effective way to connect with your readers.
Using hashtags (#) can also help others to discover your posts. Try to keep them relevant and niche to your post. For example, I wouldn’t use a hashtag with over 1,000,000 posts. You can see the number of posts per hashtag when you type it out.
Don’t be shy about being your authentic self. When readers sense authenticity, they’re more likely to support you as an author and want to read your work.
If you’re like me, you might initially associate TikTok with Gen Zers and viral dance videos, but there’s so much more to this platform. In fact, 50% of the global TikTok audience is over 34. Here’s some helpful information if you plan on using TikTok to grow your audience and connect with readers:
Ensure that you share videos that your target audience may find interesting. For example, if you’re releasing a cookbook, you might share videos highlighting original recipes or cooking hacks. Regardless of your post, staying in your niche and being consistent with your videos is important. For example, all your content might relate to cooking and food, whether you’re describing a delicious meal you had at a restaurant or demonstrating how to use a unique kitchen utensil.
Initially, you might find creating TikTok videos intimidating, but know there are quick ideas you can use for your content that don’t require hours to make. (I’ve included a few examples below of videos you can create in 20 minutes or less.) If you’re unsure what to share, consider looking at recent trends for inspiration. If a trend gives you an idea for a post, aim to put your unique spin on it, so it’s relevant to your audience. Many authors I know find that sharing educational content effectively drives engagement on the platform. For example, if you’re a psychologist marketing your book, you might share interesting facts about how humans process emotions or make choices.
If you’re new to the platform and want to grow your audience, I recommend posting 1-3 times a day to increase your chances of growing quickly. Once you’ve gained a follower count that you’re satisfied with, you can reduce your posts to 2-3 times per week.
With TikTok, the more you engage with other users’ posts, the more the algorithm rewards you by getting your videos in front of other viewers. Therefore, it’s important not to post and ghost. Instead, interact with other users by liking and commenting on relevant videos to your target audience. I suggest spending a minimum of five minutes a day liking or commenting on relevant posts.
It’s important to note that if your author brand differs from your interests, I strongly recommend starting a separate author TikTok account. TikTok’s algorithm works like this: if you watch and engage with videos about baking, the algorithm will show your videos to other posters who watch videos about baking, too. So it’s beneficial to have a separate account where you watch and engage with videos you expect your book’s target audience to enjoy. For example, if you're a historical fiction author, you might engage with posts that relate to history.
Gaining a following slowly and steadily is often better than attracting followers by having a TikTok go viral because you’re actually building fans who are interested in your content and want to hear from you. These organic followers are more likely to purchase your book.
When using hashtags, consider which ones are trending (between 100k and 1M views). Aim to use one trending hashtag, one genre-specific hashtag (#historicalfiction) and one that specifically relates to you, such as the title of your book.
You might think of LinkedIn as a platform for business professionals to network, but non-fiction authors can find great success using this platform to grow their audience and market their books. If you plan on building a presence on LinkedIn, you may consider:
LinkedIn is a terrific platform to help you grow your audience organically. If you’re using this platform, it’s important to post consistently and create posts encouraging others to engage by liking, commenting, or sharing your post. Some examples of engaging posts include thought leadership, personal stories, recounts of your experiences, and professional accomplishments. For example, if you’re an entrepreneur, sharing a photo and a story about your early days in the business and what this experience taught you might be effective.
To grow your presence on LinkedIn, I recommend posting 2-3 times per week.
If you’re approaching your book launch, consider posting three to five times weekly. Once you’ve gained a follower count that you’re satisfied with, you can reduce your posts to 1-2 times per week.
With LinkedIn, engagement is key. When a user engages with your post, the post then appears on the user’s connection’s timelines. To encourage user engagement, you can share relatable stories or thought-provoking questions. If you share a post about another individual or mention an organization, it’s often beneficial to tag the person or company in the post, as it promotes visibility.
Consider engaging with other authors or thought leaders in your niche or your target audience. For example, you might like, share, or comment on other people’s posts that relate to your book’s topic. By engaging in this way, you can get your name out there and improve your place in LinkedIn’s algorithm.
While personal stories are effective, remember that LinkedIn is a professional environment, so aim to relate your content to professional and personal development.
If you want your content to go directly to your connections’ inboxes, you can start a LinkedIn newsletter.
Learn more: 7 Marketing Tips for Nonfiction Authors
You’re likely familiar with using Facebook to share your experiences with family members and friends. However, you can also use this platform to update connections on your book and create niche groups. Here’s some valuable information to help you best utilize Facebook as an effective marketing tool:
Although some authors find it intimidating, I strongly recommend connecting with your audience using Facebook Live. This feature allows you to broadcast to your Facebook connections in real-time. You might have a live Q&A where you answer the readers’ questions or provide information about why you wrote the book. Some authors I’ve worked with even surprise themselves by how much they enjoy going live on this platform.
Facebook now prioritizes group posts over page posts, so connections are more likely to see what you’re posting in a group. Whether you’re a fiction or non-fiction author, I recommend starting a Facebook group for your active readers or fans. These groups may be free for anyone to sign up, or you might require applicants to submit their e-mail addresses to gain access to the group, which is an effective strategy for growing your audience.
For fiction authors, you can start a Facebook group for fans of your work, where you can engage with readers and discuss your book. For example, you might pose a question to facilitate group discussion, such as “How do you feel about this character?“ or “What would you do if you were in their situation?”.
If you’re a non-fiction author, you may start a Facebook group where you focus on the topic or its niche. For example, if your book is about building positive habits, you might start an accountability group.
If you create a Facebook group, consider posting or interacting within the group at least three times each week. When posting from a public author page, I suggest posting 2-3 times weekly.
If you’re preparing to launch your book, I recommend broadcasting at least two Facebook Live sessions.
You can engage with other Facebook users within your group by liking and commenting on their posts or replying to their comments.
Don’t discount your personal Facebook network. Consider occasionally sharing updates related to your book with these connections, as they may be interested.
If you’re posting from your public author page, consider allocating a small budget ($10-20 per month) to boost your posts to reach a broader audience.
Learn more: 8 Actions to Take if Your Book Isn’t Selling
Now that I’ve explained some best practices for marketing your book using popular social media platforms, I have some final thoughts I want to leave you with:
While you can utilize all four platforms I discussed in this post, don’t feel it’s necessary. I suggest you spend most of your time and efforts building an audience and engaging with them on one or two platforms. Try to discover where your readers enjoy spending their time and connect with them there.
You don't have to (and shouldn't be) overtly salesy. There are ways you can talk about your book without actually mentioning it. Your followers are likely to grow tired of you asking them to buy your book every day. Instead, try to gain the trust of your followers on those topics so that when you mention the book they’re motivated to buy it. You might consider the themes in the book and expand on them in different posts. People want to buy products from people or brands they know and trust, so use your social pages to give readers a chance to feel like they know the real you.
It takes time to build up a following on any platform. Don’t expect to find success on the platform overnight. Be patient when trying to grow your audience on social media, as it can take time to build a relationship and get others to interact with your content. And last, try to have fun as you build your audience and engage with your readers.
Whether you’re in the midst of the writing process or have already finished your book, now is the perfect time to consider a marketing strategy. To help you get started, I’m offering a FREE download of my guide, 10 Things You Need For A Successful Book Launch. This valuable resource is packed with expert tips and strategies to empower you to craft an effective book launch and connect with a larger audience of eager readers.