Love it or hate it, social media can be a valuable component of any indie author’s overall book promotion strategy. With 4.9 billion active social media users and counting, social media is an excellent resource for finding and connecting with like-minded authors and readers.
But there’s a dark side to social. Used incorrectly, it can be a daunting and paralyzing time suck, so it’s worth being careful about how you employ it on your indie author journey.
In this post, we’ll cover the top 7 social media best practices for indie authors.
Which social media platform is best for indie authors?
First things first: which platform is best to maximize your reach as a writer? We get this question a lot, and the answer is: it depends. It depends partly on who your target reader is (their age, digital fluency, and communication style) and largely on where YOU want to spend your time. If you can’t stand TikTok, you’re probably not going to be able to compete for attention against authors who post daily and clearly enjoy the process.
Contrary to popular belief, no one has the time to stay active and engaged on every platform out there. You’d need a dedicated social media team for that—and if you’re working with a team of one, you’ll need to invest your time and energy where it counts most.
The truth is, no single social media platform is the “best” for authors to focus on. So pick a platform you enjoy—just one, to start—and focus on building your audience there. The platform you are naturally drawn to is where you’re most likely to excel.
#1: Pick one platform you enjoy using
This guideline bears repeating. The best social media platform for you is one you enjoy (or at least, don’t hate) using. You won’t keep showing up on a platform you can’t stand, and readers can smell a lack of authenticity from miles away.
Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to be everywhere at once: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok … The list gets longer every year. Slapping up a profile on each platform just creates a lot of empty space when you inevitably don’t have the time to keep them all up, so focus on one or two platforms and build from there.
#2: Post regularly
Consistency is key. Your social media presence should be regular and reliable, not random. Make it a commitment to show up every day, much like writing your pages—even if it’s just to connect with other users on your platform of choice.
Regular social media use is a strategic exercise. Don’t just post whatever you’re “in the mood” for. Make a plan in advance, aiming for at least one post a day on Twitter or two per week on Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook.
One way to avoid burnout or social media writer’s block is to plan themed days. For example, post reviews on Tuesdays, writing updates on Fridays, etc. When you know ahead of time what type of post you need to write, you’re that much closer to Done. Making a schedule also helps keep you on track toward your goals.
#3: Be authentic
Readers want to engage directly with authors as relatable human beings, so don’t spin your wheels creating a picture-perfect facade. No one will fall for it, and you won’t cultivate the true fans you’re looking for.
Building relationships takes time, and that holds true for digital relationships with readers as well. Active social media platforms can take months or years to cultivate, so practice showing up regularly and be patient.
Genuinely engage with readers and other writers online. Make recommendations, ask and answer questions, and give others a look behind the curtain. Whether you’re struggling with your writing project or flying through it, post about your experience on social media. You’ll provide either inspiration or validation for other writers and form some authentic connections along the way. You can even poll other readers and writers for their thoughts on a sticky plot point or potential cover design.
#4: Cultivate the world of your work
Social media offers another venue to expand on the world of your work, drawing readers even deeper into your research and expertise or character-driven universes. Non-fiction and fiction authors alike can share details of their research, whether or not they’ll make it into the book.
You can even pull readers into your writing process, offer additional information about secondary characters, etc. Give readers a peek behind the curtain and draw them even further into the world you’re building with your words.
#5: You don’t have to pay to play
Yes, paid ads can be helpful if you have the budget and know how to use them—but you can extend your reach without them. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need to pay for ad space to grow your social media following. You don’t—you just need the patience to cultivate an audience organically.
On Facebook, joining genre-based groups is a great way to meet others in the community. As you extend your reach on any platform, you can contact even more readers and other writers by promoting book giveaways, special sales, and anything else the wider world should know about.
#6: Get active in communities
Treat social media like a two-way conversation. Ask questions and talk to other users like they’re strangers at a party. Don’t talk at them about your book and nothing else; behave like an interesting party guest with tips and insights to share.
Follow others, engage authentically, and help writers who are looking for the wisdom you have to share. Social media isn’t just a great place to find readers and market your work; it’s also the perfect venue to cultivate relationships with other writers in your genre.
So follow writers and readers you actually relate to and want to follow. Don’t blindly follow thousands of other people in the vain hope that they’ll follow you back. Instead, engage with people you genuinely want to interact with. They’re much more likely to interact with you in return.
Get to know people online by demonstrating a genuine interest in what they’re saying and providing value in conversations, and your presence will grow organically.
#7: Don’t neglect your email list
Social media can be useful, but there’s no replacement for direct contact with readers via an email list that you own. Offer up free short stories or other incentives to encourage your readers to subscribe, and you’ll retain the ability to contact them no matter what changes on your social media platform of choice. Otherwise, you risk losing contact with your entire audience overnight with a mere change in algorithm.
Those are our top social media tips. Have more that we didn’t consider here? Share them below!