I'm not going to claim to be any kind of expert on social media. I'm at least a couple of decades too old for that. Over the last couple of years, though, I've developed a few simple - and completely free - strategies to use social media platforms to promote my books and my author brand.
If the very mention of social media sends you into a bit of a tailspin, that's ok. You are most definitely not alone. The tools I'm going to share here are designed to make it all as painless and automated as possible, I promise. Bear with me while I walk you through the basics.
There are so many social media platforms I could spend all day listing them. For the purposes of this post, I am going to talk about the Big Two, Facebook and Twitter. There are two others used by a lot of authors, Instagram and Pinterest, and if you're interested in engaging on those I'm going to refer you to this post by the lovely Angie Gensler. She is far more of a social media maven than I and you can delve deep into the how-tos on her blog if you wish to.
Right now, let's talk about Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TW), how to handle your accounts on there and the tools I use to automate my post schedule so I don't have to be working on my social media every day - once a week, I set up all my social media for the week and then it's DONE unless I put up a new book review.
First of all, you're going to need an account. Twitter is easier in that it doesn't require you to validate your identity, it just needs a working email address, and you should already have one of those set up for whatever author pseud you're using. Go right ahead and set it up. If @name is taken for your author pseud, try @authorname or @nameauthor. You want it memorable.
For Facebook, this is a little more complicated. If you can PROVE your author identity, ie you have government issued paperwork (like a business registration document) that states Your Real Name = Your Author Name, then you can set up a profile as your author name. For various reasons I wasn't able to do that when I started out, so I started a Page instead. You can do many of the same things as a Page as you can as a profile, and others which you can't, including having a shop, for example. You can also share the admin of Pages with other people, which can be useful if you have someone acting as a PA for you or if you have a co-author.
Once you have your FB and your TW set up, there comes an awful moment where you start wondering what the heck to put on there. If you've used Twitter a fair bit, this should be easy; just follow some relevant hashtags and retweet a lot. If not, you might want to look at this post, again by the wonderful Angie Gensler, which will give you some content ideas.
Follow other authors in your genre. Retweet and share their content. There, now at least you have SOMETHING for visitors to see.
Now, one of my absolute favorite tools is Creator Collabs. You should absolutely sign up to this immediately and start sharing posts in your genre - I spend about 5 minutes a day here. What Creator Collabs does is earn you points for sharing, which they call Reach. You get 1 reach for each follower every time you share... so if you have 100 followers on TW, each time you share a Tweet you will get 100 Reach. Now, when YOU want to boost a post (say, about that new release you have out) other people 'spend' your Reach by sharing to THEIR followers. It's a really great way to get content AND get your own content shared around. It's free unless you decide to buy Reach, but seriously, don't. Just save up and only boost posts you really need to.
Note: if you follow my link above to Creator Collabs and join up, you'll automatically follow me and see any posts I share. I follow back :D
Another tool I use is Recurpost. You can share from here to FB, TW, LinkedIn and Google Plus, up to 3 social media profiles with a free account. You create a 'library' of posts you want shared and Recurpost schedules them to go out once a day, spread through the day and assorted randomly. You can let each post run once a day indefinitely or schedule an end date for it.
Recurpost has free and paid versions, and in theory in the free version you can't attach images. HOWEVER, there is a way around this. If you are linking to another site (say, to a really awesome blog post you wrote about building a mailing list) you end it with a shortlink from bit.ly and then type a single space.
Recurpost then gives you not only a link to add an image, but a section where you can enter more text as well, circumventing Twitter's character limit too! Neat, huh! AND FREE!!! You can load up to 100 posts and Recurpost will post up to 10 posts daily per social account. It's really easy to connect to Facebook Pages as well as profiles.
Buffer is another free tool I occasionally use for Twitter scheduling, usually if I really want to blast out about something. You can have up to 10 posts scheduled on the free plan, and you can choose how many times per day you want Buffer to post for you, and at what times! What you can't do is repeat the same post constantly, so I tend to make up 10 posts with slightly different wording and, if possible, different images, schedule those 10 and repeat when the buffer is empty. You can also track post performance with this app.
One other free tool which I'm currently testing out is a Scheduling Calendar. Sign up for this and you get a new one monthly. I can't really give you much feedback as I've only just started using it, but if you like to be organised about things this may work for you.
There are literally hundreds of other tools out there which do similar jobs to the ones I've mentioned, and most of them have functionality for free. There really is no need to pay for a tool to schedule posts for you. You can check out Hootsuite, Amplifr, Just Retweet and plenty of others if Recurpost and Buffer don't do quite what you need. I've tried Hootsuite and found it terrifyingly complicated, but I know other authors who swear by it.
Hopefully, you're a little bit less nervous and confused about social media than you were when you started reading this. My best advice is; take it slow. Nobody expects you to get a thousand followers (or even a hundred) overnight. As the saying goes, If You Build It, They Will Come.
And if you follow @caitlynlynch6 on Twitter and you have 'author' in your name or description, I'll follow you back :D