It’s not a mystery, but it does take some research, effort, and digging to answer these questions. And no, social is not just for teens. That’s so 2005.
What is your reader most likely to carry in their handbag or briefcase? This should give you a start.
Make a list. Is your reader a teen girl, a middle-aged stay-at-home parent, or a blue-collar worker? Write it all down. Then, head over to these resources:
Once you’ve determined who your demo is, you’ll have a better idea of where to find them.
One of the biggest concerns from authors, especially, is their discomfort about being on any social media channel beyond Facebook.
This is too bad because readers are everywhere! Facebook is indeed the largest social media channel in the world, so being there is definitely important. Remember, however, that you must use your author page (not personal ‘friends’ account), for marketing and selling your work.
Example: connecting with readers, particularly if an author writes YA (Young Adult), is about being where readers are, and that’s on social media channels like Twitter, SnapChat, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and newer channels I probably haven’t even heard of yet. If you write nonfiction, channels like Medium and Twitter (and Twitter is a key SEO Google ranking factor) are key. If you’re an expert in some kind of business, LinkedIn can be critical to your success.
And don’t forget Goodreads and BookBub!
According to the last full survey of social media done by the Pew Research Center, here’s the breakdown by channel:
71% of adult internet users/58% of the entire adult population
Fully 71% of online American adults use Facebook, a proportion unchanged from August 2013. Usage among seniors continues to increase. Some 56% of internet users ages 65 and older now use Facebook, up from 45% who did so in late 2013 and 35% who did so in late 2012. Women are also particularly likely to use Facebook compared with men, a trend that continues from prior years.
23% of adult internet users/19% of the entire adult population
Some 23% of online adults currently use Twitter, a statistically significant increase compared with the 18% who did so in August 2013. Twitter is particularly popular among those under 50 and the college-educated. Compared with late 2013, the service has seen significant increases among a number of demographic groups: men, whites, those ages 65 and older, those who live in households with an annual household income of $50,000 or more, college graduates, and urbanites.
26% of adult internet users/21% of the entire adult population
Some 26% of online adults use Instagram, up from 17% in late 2013. Almost every demographic group saw a significant increase in the proportion of users. Most notably, 53% of young adults ages 18-29 now use the service, compared with 37% who did so in 2013. Besides young adults, women are particularly likely to be on Instagram, along with Hispanics and African-Americans, and those who live in urban or suburban environments.
28% of adult internet users/22% of the entire adult population
Some 28% of online adults use Pinterest, up from the 21% who did so in August 2013. Women continue to dominate the site, as they did in 2013: fully 42% of online women are Pinterest users, compared with just 13% of men (although men did see a significant increase in usership from 8% in 2013). While Pinterest remains popular among younger users, there was an 11-point increase between 2013 and 2014 in the proportion of those 50 and older who use the site. Other demographic groups that saw a notable increase in usership include whites, those living in the lowest- and highest-income households, those with at least some college experience, and suburban and rural residents.
28% of adult internet users/23% of the entire adult population
Some 28% of online adults are LinkedIn users, up from 22% in August 2013. The site continues to be particularly popular among college graduates, those in higher-income households and the employed (although the increase in usage by those who are not employed to 21% from 12% in 2013 is notable). College graduates continue to dominate use of the site. Fully 50% use LinkedIn, a 12-point increase since last year. It is the only platform where those ages 30-64 are more likely to be users than those ages 18-29.
Hopefully, the next update will include sites like Snapchat, Periscope, and other channels which have captured some of the pie.
The best way to connect with readers is to pay attention to this research, understand what your author branding is (what are your key topics of interest?), and share interesting and compelling articles, quotes, and visuals about those topics consistently on the channels where your the readers of your demographic are.
What’s your genre? What’s the age range? If you’re sticking to Facebook because you refuse to try out something new, and your readers are Middle Grade, well, good luck to you.
The best social media channel is the one that connects you to readers.
It’s not rocket science — none of these social media channels are that difficult to figure out, so here’s my suggestion:
Social media isn’t just for teenagers, so throw out that old, silly notion. Sure, teens use it and have phones growing out of their hands, but so do most adults at this point. Social media is an integral part of any author’s platform, and it needs to part of yours, too. Social is social, and it’s how adults and professionals network. Every one of my clients comes to me via online connections, mostly through social media, referrals, and networking.
Tip: I find it’s really helpful to join groups on Facebook and LinkedIn — not the ‘buy my book!’ promo groups most authors join, but groups with other interests (i.e., women’s groups, professionals, wellness, etc.), to sincerely build relationships and network. Eventually, someone will find out about your books and the news will spread like wildfire.
Social media is about building relationships and increasing visibility. The rate of conversion is fairly low, however, it will help you to connect with readers who will then opt-in to your newsletter, read your blog, click on a giveaway, or follow you to find out more – all of which can lead to a sale.
Do the work.
Have you signed up for my newsletter yet?
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and two live Twitter chats: #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with TheRuralVA, Emilie Rabitoy) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with C. Streetlights and Judith Staff. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.
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