Agonizing over what to do about social media? If you’re stuck on deciding whether to take the plunge, start by considering:
- Are your colleagues and audience on social media?
- Are you willing to spend the time and energy needed to engage consistently?
Social media is often a helpful tool for book promotions, especially for trade authors hoping to reach a broad public audience. But it’s not essential for scholarly authors, especially if many readers within their field aren’t active there.
Social media is only useful if you’re comfortable and committed to putting in the time to consistently post and engage in relevant conversations. Establishing yourself as an expert to gain followers on any social platform takes time. Only posting about your new book is unlikely to drive the results you want.
While Twitter tends to be the platform of choice for the public intellectual crowd, it’s best to stick to where you’re most comfortable or where you already have a following. If most of your network is on Facebook, for example, and you feel more comfortable sharing updates there, prioritize Facebook. Consider focusing your energy on just one or two platforms.
Building a Following
Gaining followers takes time and often hinges on how you’re engaging in public conversations on and off the platform. Here are a few steps to take:
- Craft your bio, upload a profile photo, and add a header image
- Identify and follow influencers, experts, and groups within your field
- Participate in conversations that are already happening, especially ones related to your work
- Share relevant news stories and articles
- Build relationships by thanking and sharing the work of colleagues and peers
- Share the work you’re doing, including any published journal articles or op-eds, coverage, events
- Post and share consistently!
Promoting Your Book
Think through a few different ways you can talk about your book leading up to publication and beyond. And always balance self-promotional posts with other ways of engaging.
Here’s where to start:
- Make sure your bio mentions your book and identifies you as an expert on related topics
- Update your header image to include your book cover
- Post interesting “sneak preview” book content, such as #OTD facts, interesting stats, a compelling quote, a short video about what motivated you to write the book, the story behind the cover
- Announce your book is now available for pre-ordering
- Thank the folks who blurb or review your book
- Post a photo with your book when you receive your advance copies
- Share book events as they're confirmed
- Announce your book is published and post a thread on what the book is about
- Share any news coverage, interviews, or articles
- Announce award wins
Looking for a free and easy tool to create your header image or a graphic for a post? Check out Canva.
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Social Media Campaign Ideas
Still not sure how to promote your book on social media? Gather ideas and inspiration from these author examples.
Click here to view our slidedeck of author social media examples.
Twitter is generally the platform that’s most useful to our authors — it’s where many academics, public intellectuals, journalists, and curious members of the public engage and where relevant news stories are shared. It can be a useful forum not only to develop your own expertise and engage in conversations about your work, but to stay aware of relevant current events and get ideas for op-eds.
As you set-up your profile, make sure to include your book in your bio, or within your Twitter header image. You can also create a pinned tweet, with the link to pre-order your book.
Follow key people and organizations in your field, including scholars, journalists, media, and research institutes. Start contributing to discussions and commenting on news stories that are relevant to your book. Take the time to share updates about your book’s process, and thank reviewers and other colleagues who’ve played a role.
Click here to find other helpful tips in this Twitter guide for authors.
Instagram is all about the visuals! It’s a natural place for those working with art, media, and visual culture. Share an image of your book cover, a selfie with your first book copy, a photo of the book at the library or bookstore, or from a book talk. You can also repost relevant photos or stories from other accounts to your Insta stories.
Instagram is a good place to share a short informal video about the book, on what motivated you to write it and thanking everyone who supported you along the way.
Click here for more tips on using Instagram in this guide for writers.
Facebook is typically most useful for connecting with family and friends. It’s a good place to post behind-the-scenes updates on your book’s progress and celebrate key milestones. Facebook is also helpful for sharing news of upcoming events, such as a public book talk.
If your book is targeted at a wider, public audience, it may be worth researching and joining a few Facebook groups related to your subject matter. Keep in mind you should join to engage, and not simply to promote your book.