Today I wrangled author Jennifer Bardsley to chat to you about social media. Jennifer, besides having a kick-butt first name, has an awesome media platform. Let’s see how she does it!
Take it away, Jennifer!
The main character of my book Genesis Girl is a teenager named Blanca who has never been on the Internet.
Her lack of a digital footprint makes her so valuable that she gets auctioned off to the highest bidder.
My name isn’t Blanca. It’s Jennifer Bardsley, aka “The YA Gal” and I’m on the web all the time chatting about books on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Social media can be confusing. But book marketing from the couch beats braving TSA lines at the airport to fly to a convention or conference and hope for sales. Social media can be an author’s best friend—and biggest time suck.
Here are my top ten tips for using social media in an effective way to build up the best online presence possible:
- Pick two platforms you love, and go from there. If Twitter isn’t your thing, it will show in your tweeting. If you’re a wretched photographer, your Instagram feed will be crap. Don’t invest effort in a social media outlet you don’t enjoy.
- Analyze demographics. In general, a younger crowd hangs out on Instagram and Snapchat, whereas older readers might be on Facebook. If you’re a cozy mystery author, you might want to veto Instagram and pursue Facebook instead. YA authors might want to target YouTube. Find the social media platform that best matches your intended audience.
- Call people by name. Effective users of social media understand the importance of building relationships. Don’t just respond with “Thanks for the comment,” take that extra five seconds to add “Thanks for the comment, Stephanie.”
- Crack the algorithms. Just because you have 20,000 people following you doesn’t mean that all 20,000 people will see every post. Sometimes 500 people will see that cute kitten meme you shared, and sometimes 100,000 people will see it. It all depends on how much engagement your post receives. On Facebook this means likes, comments, and shares. On Instagram the goal is hearts and comments. Crack the algorithm and both platforms will allow more people to see your content.
- Only talk about your own book one tenth of the time. Nothing turns off potential followers faster than blatant self-promotion.
- Study hashtags. Twitter hashtags can sometimes have a very short half-life and you have to keep your eye on what is trending in order to participate in conversations and stay on top of the crest of popularity. On Instagram hashtags live forever. Some hashtags like #boosktagram are so gigantic that unless you are famous you will never score in the top posts for those hashtags. Smaller hashtags like #booksandperfume might give you more visibility. On Facebook, hashtags aren’t very common and if you include a bunch of hashtags you’ll look like a noob.
- Don’t ignore BookTube. Any author who is older than thirty did not grow up with YouTube and might view the BookTube audience as an afterthought. But if you ask a thirteen–year-old who his favorite YouTube personality is, that teenager can probably rattle off ten people. Learn who the top BookTubers are at the moment and also make friends with the smaller ones who might be interested in giving your book attention.
- Understand your brand as an author. Your social media platform is not a place to share pictures of your kids, vacations, or laundry pile you need to fold. Dog pictures are okay, especially if you have a pug or poodle. Cats make great #Caturday photos. But beyond that your accounts should represent reading, writing, and things that are of interest to your readers.
- Ignore what I just said about not posting pictures of your kids, if family is part of your brand. Some authors create very successful brands based on snippets they share of their family life. But it has to be done in a clever way.
- Have fun! If social media is a chore for you, than your lack of enthusiasm will show. Keep searching until you find the social media outlet that makes you excited about logging on.
About Genesis Girl
Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for The Everett Daily Herald. Her debut YA novel, “Genesis Girl” is available from Month9Books, with the sequel releasing in 2017. “Genesis Girl” is about a teenager who has never been on the Internet. Jennifer however, is on the web all the time as “The YA Gal” with over 20,000 followers on Facebook, and 14,000 followers on Instagram. On Facebook, she hosts the weekly instant book club called #TakeALookTuesday where YA Gal friends geek out, share pictures of what they are reading, and chat about books. Jennifer is a member of SCBWI, The Sweet Sixteens debut author group, and is founder of Sixteen To Read. An alumna of Stanford University, Jennifer lives near Seattle, WA where she enjoys spending time with her family and her poodle, Merlin.
Thanks for hanging out today, Jennifer!