Making the Most of Social Media

Social media, according to many entrepreneurs, is the best thing that ever happened to small business. It streamlines market research, makes it easier to locate valuable contacts, allows for completely-free-of-charge “advertising,” and helps new customers find you.

However, as with any popular venue it’s easy to pass unnoticed unless you work hard to stay visible. If your LinkedIn or Facebook presence isn’t attracting book buyers, consider the following points.

Have you posted a photograph, an interesting bio, and links to your online address(es)? The more complete your profile, the better, but these are the essential elements.

Photograph: People are more likely to investigate further if they see a real face.

Bio: “X is an author from New Jersey” equals instant boredom. Grab reader attention right away, as you would in a book. Identify your genre in the first sentence, note your most important book(s) and other publishing credits, include humor and human interest. But keep to one short-to-medium paragraph.
Links: Always include a link to your author/publisher website. If you don’t have one, get one ASAP. Social media accounts and/or blogs are not sufficient online presence—they make you dependent on another’s whims and problems, and can arouse resentment in potential customers who don’t want to register with your host.

Have you utilized SEO principles? Make a list of keywords that customers might use to search for a book like yours, and put every one of those keywords in your profile.

Are you too sales-minded for your own good? Social media etiquette does allow for “buy my product” talk, but frowns on using an account as nothing more than free advertising. New fans and old will visit your page (and buy your books) regularly for helpful and interesting information from your field of expertise—but not if all they ever find is advertorials.

Some authors seem determined that no one will ever read their writing without paying for a whole book. Every online mention of their work boasts about the wonderful changes this material will make in your life—with nary a specific as to how. Finding even a brief excerpt online or in a magazine is an exercise in futility. Even public libraries don’t have the books. This approach is a good way to label yourself paranoid and avaricious in a high percentage of potential customers’ minds. If, instead, you use direct excerpts from your book as social media posts, and note where they came from (with a purchase link slipped in inconspicuously), you’ll draw a triple benefit: enhancement of your reputation as expert and helpful; low-key but highly effective advertising for your book; and saving yourself the work of writing a post from scratch!

Katherine Swarts is a professional writer specializing in articles—from blogs to booklets to press releases. Her Web address is