The Secret of Successful Social Media

Full disclosure, that headline is clickbait. There are no secrets to social media (that I know of). The key is to be helpful, and add value to the lives of your fans. You really do need to be relentlessly helpful and passionate about your purpose to grow a following. That said, let’s talk specifics.

These days, almost everyone is using some type of social media and it gives you a great way to get in front of more people. This is one form of outreach – outreach is getting people to know you, like you, and trust you enough to buy your product (in this case, your book). Remember that obscurity is your enemy, and outreach will help you overcome obscurity.

The “Right Way” to Use Social Media

  1. First, you can tell people about things that interest you, or related news in your niche. For example, if you write about higher education, share articles that are talking about changes in higher education, related groundbreaking new technologies, or anything that is in the realm of your subject matter. The material doesn’t have to be just in your niche, it can be anything that you think your fans would want to know about. If you think it’s interesting, then you should share.
  2. The second way to use social media is to connect with your audience. If someone mentions you, it’s always good to reply to that person to reciprocate the connection. Connection is the important thing, because you don’t want to become an ivory tower that no one can access. You want to be approachable and accessible; a real person that other people can relate to.
  3. Third, use social media to show your personality. Remember that your followers are your fans. They want to see your personality. If you’re really interested in Star Wars and you’re excited to go see the newest movie, then you should share on your social media. It gives your followers another point of connection and shared interest. Remember that you’re building your brand, and your personality is part of that brand.

Popular Social Channels

Remember that not every social medial outlet will be right for you. As we talk about some of the options, think about where your fans are likely to be. When deciding what outlets to invest your time in, it’s really important to identify where your fans and followers are and what will mesh with your workflow.


Let’s start by talking about Instagram. A highly visual platform, Instagram lets you share photos with followers. You can post a caption with your photo, and there are no limits on word count. However, you don’t want to be too wordy as the main thing people are doing is scrolling through photos. Remember that visual appeal is important here, so while you don’t have to be a professional photographer, you should make sure your photos are well-lit and interesting.

If you are working on your book, you can take a picture of the chapter you are currently working on, or take a picture of your process. For example, photograph your desk, fan art, or the tools you use while writing. Instagram is not so much about marketing your book as it is about giving insights to your fans about your life and personality.


Facebook has been around for a long time and it crosses all kinds of demographics. Everyone from grandmothers to high school students are using Facebook. This gives you access to a broad market of users, but it’s important to define what it is you’ll be sharing on Facebook so that you can stay focused. Going back to our 3 points, use Facebook to inform others of the things that interest you or are timely, connect with your audience, and show your personality.

Facebook is a good place to post an article and allow people to comment, leading to conversations. If you are building a following or tribe, you can create an entire Facebook group talking about a specific subject matter. It could be your exclusive Facebook group, a group for fans of yours, or simply a gathering place for people around a common idea.


LinkedIn is a great way to make connections because it’s focused on online networking. If you’re a business or “big-idea” author, it can be a great way to connect with fans, because it’s a natural extension of how they use LinkedIn as professionals.

LinkedIn is also a great way for you to connect with leaders and experts in your field. If you are looking to connect with other authors, you can find them on LinkedIn and read articles written by others in your field.


Twitter is very fast paced. You’re limited to 140 characters, so you have to be concise. It is a great choice for sharing relevant and timely information, and you can interact with and respond to people really easily. This goes back to the idea of removing the ivory tower and being real with your followers: you want to be accessible to fans as much as you can.

How to Start

The first step is to decide which social media channels you will be active on and why. For example, Instagram is a great place to show your personality, but not a great place to sell or market books or get people to take action. It’s a really good place for people to connect with you as a fan to get a behind the scenes view of your interests. The goal with all social media is to get your followers to take action outside the social media platform itself. The end goal of your efforts should be to get followers to buy your book or sign up for your newsletter.

3 to 1 Rule

As you’re using social networks, it’s helpful to consider the three to one rule: three pieces of helpful content to every one promotion. If you start a social media account and it looks like a self-promotional spam account where you’re just pushing people to buy your products, it’s going to set off red flags. Be a good human being and treat others as you want to be treated.

Meet Fans Where They Are

Keep in mind that not every channel is right for every author. You need to use what is best for you and your subject matter. The solution for this is to read the data about your content. If you go to and type in some keywords from your genre, you can generate results about which social media channels have the highest shares and interaction with those keywords. From there, you can decide which social media channels to invest in.

Recommended Reading

To learn more about social media, check out the book Social Media: Strategies to Mastering Your Brand-Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat by David Kelly. Kelly gives solid advice on getting the most out of social media by making sure you’re using it as a tactic, not the end-goal.

Note: I recommend signing up for Kindle Unlimited to try some of the books available therein. The above recommendation is one example of a book that is no additional cost with Kindle Unlimited.


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