It’s hard to be the life of the party if you don’t know what to say, so I’ve picked out 20 sweet social media tools and strategies that help writers:

  • put on their marketing hat without taking off their creative fedora
  • find low-tech ways to design high-impact graphics
  • store and share content efficiently
  • learn five-minute fixes (social media posts for days you need to focus on your writing)
  • post content that supports book sales
  • discover which social media tools and tactics best suit their personal writing persona

Social media style

1. Ditch the tactless “buy my book” posts

Be honest: how many times have you bought books because you saw a “BUY MY BOOK” tweet?

Keep the hard sell to a minimum. Not saying you can’t let people know about your books. By all means, announce your cover design, release date, new reviews.

A good content ratio shows your audience you’ve got more to offer than a sales pitch. Post 8-9 pieces of non-salesy content for every book-related post.

2. Don’t keep your distance

Social media is like an ongoing query letter to your readers, so don’t hide your awesome voice. Be genuine. Personalize. Stand out.

3. Think about your audience

What are your goals right now? If you’re pre-published, you might be tweeting and posting to connect with writers and other industry pros.

But if you’re on social media because you want to increase book sales, make sure you’re talking to readers, not fellow writers. What do your readers like?

Which leads me right into…

4. What do you know and who wants to know it?

What things are you into? What things are your readers into? The overlap here is your social media sweet spot.

Where can you be an expert? When are you: funny, educational, inspirational, informed, unique?

Don’t write about writing (or at least write about YOUR writing). This quickly turns into a “Buy My Book” feed or a writers-only space.

5. Be predictable

No, I don’t mean boring. I mean, keep your output consistent. Give people a reason to come back. Don’t vanish for months.

Much better to commit to 3 Facebook posts per week then launch an overly ambitious multi-gramming-video-Twitbook extravaganza that your schedule will force you to abandon within a week.

Social media organizers

6. Blog feeds

Sharing cool articles is a great way to keep your social media feeds relevant. But who has time to go to 30 blogs every morning checking for updates?

You need a blog feed aggregator.

Feedly

Personally, I prefer Feedly. It lets me add (and categorize!) lots and lots of blogs, read the most recent posts all in one spot, and share them to social media from within Feedly itself.

7. Digital notebooks

Raise your hand if you LOVE research. You’re going to love Evernote.

Stop bookmarking webpages. It gets out of hand fast. Besides, do you really need the WHOLE article, or just the part that tells you about Emperor Caligula’s flower fetish?

Evernote lets you save ONLY the images/text you need. You can keep different folders and add your own notes.

And it’s all online, so even if you’re on the bus or in the carpool line, you’ve got all your research on your phone.

Don’t forget to install the Evernote Webclipper for super-fast saving.

8. Image / article saver

Pinterest

More visual? Store your research and/or future social media posts on Pinterest. Group images or articles by subject (e.g., “Possible looks for my main characters,” “6 poisons that dissolve quickly in water”).

The Pin It button makes it easy to save content as you browse the web, and each image links back to the place you found it, so it’s a great way to bookmark entire articles.

9. Moving pictures


Pressed for time? Everyone loves a good YouTube video (and you don’t need to create/maintain an account to use this idea).

Run a quick search for something you know your readers enjoy and hit “Share!”

Bonus: if you’ve got an account, you can create playlists of videos — great for research, soundtracks for your writing time, and stockpiling future social media posts.

10. Shortcuts to top contacts

Ever feel like your Facebook or Twitter feed is getting so convoluted you’re missing the good stuff?

Sort your contacts into lists (Twitter / Facebook) and you’ve got a two-click shortcut to the best (and most shareable!) content in your network.

BONUS: On Facebook, lists allow you to micromanage your posts. Got photos of your beach vacation you’d like to share with family, but not your readers? Post so they’re visible to only your “Friends/Family” list.

Social media timesavers

11. Social media aggegators

Hootsuite

Ever wished you could see all your social media hotspots in one place? The direct messages, the newsfeeds, your favourite hashtags — every new stop adds minutes to your social media routine (and shouldn’t you be writing?).

Aggregators like Hootsuite let you create a custom dashboard. See your Facebook newsfeed alongside your Twitter direct messages alongside your scheduled Instagram posts — give yourself a one-stop social media control room.

12. Social media schedulers

Lots of writers find it more efficient to do their social media posting by bulk. Sit down for an hour on Sunday night and schedule a post/day for the next week.

Again, I love Hootsuite, but you could also try Tweetdeck, Sprout or Buffer, and Facebook Pages have a built-in scheduling tool.

Bonus: don’t forget the Hootlet button — allows you to share whatever webpage you’re visiting in two clicks!

Social media network builders

13. Jump on a hot topic

These can be as cute as #SquirrelAppreciationDay, as widespread as #SuperbowlSunday, as silly as #SpookyBroadway, as political as [NOPE, NOT EVEN GOING HERE TODAY].

Trends are a great way to tap into the consciousness of your audience. Also a good way to connect with NEW audiences (especially on Twitter).

14. Small investment boosts

Boosted posts

This is one of the few tools on the list that requires $$.

It’s an especially good one for published writers looking to grow a network. Put in your money (even $5.00 gets your content seen by a few hundred people) and customize your audience by age, gender, location and even interest.

Promoted content is available for Twitter and Facebook Pages.

Note: DON’T just use promoted posts to send out “Buy My Book” messages. Instead, use it as an opportunity to attract raving fans. What kind of post would be irresistible to your core readers?

15. Community builders

Odds are, you do this anyway. Your friend’s book comes out — you share the link with glowing reviews. Your favourite author release Book #3 — you fangirl/boy all over the Twitterverse.

This can add to your author cred. If I see you recommending authors I enjoy, it might tell me I’ll like your books too.

It also means that when your book comes out, you’ve got a lot of people willing to be your ambassador (a GREAT way to avoid “Buy My Book” posts). #KarmaRocks

Social media media (<– see what I did there?)

16. Drap-and-drop graphic design

Canva

According to Kissmetrics, content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without.

But, hey — we’re not all graphic designers.

Canva includes a database of free designs, templates for difference social media posts and an easy drag-and-drop interface. Other options include Adobe Post (good for mobile) and PicMonkey.

17. Meme it upmeme

Find moving memes (and other cool stuff) on Giphy, or create your own.

P.S. Did you know Giphy is now built into Twitter?

18. Free (or very cheap) graphics

We’d never want to violate anyone’s copyright, so we can’t just snag and share every cool picture we see.

Instead, run a Creative Commons search or try free image services like Unsplash, which offers 10 new images every day (you can subscribe to receive them via email).

Creative Commons

Want something custom? Cruise through Fiverr. It’s full of artists willing to create custom content (from logos to cartoons), all for $5.

19. Writer as photographer

Own a smartphone? Good news! You might just be your own best source for images.

Pass a pretty garden? Snap a picture. Hiking through a forest? Snap a picture.

For that matter, sharing more personal shots, like a “shelfie” or your writing space, makes you more relatable and authentic.

Bonus: you can post to social media straight from your phone (holy timesaver, Batman!), PLUS its easy to install free apps to jazz up your shots. I’m partial to Snapseed.

20. Video is CRUSHING it

If I could create only one kind of content, it would be video. Personally and industry-wide, any video I post, however short and rough-cut, is going to top my stats every time.

Plus video gives you the chance to get YOUR voice, YOUR face, YOUR expertise and YOUR passion in front of your audience (whether agents, readers or just cool peeps who grok you).

Both Facebook and Twitter offer native video (ability to upload directly rather than pasting in a YouTube link), and every platform out there is churning out new ways to incorporate more video.

So there you have it: 20 tools and tactics for building your online fellowship of readers and writing professionals, while — dare we say it? — kick-starting your creative muse!