How to Use Social Media for Your Marketing

It’s Monday Marketing time, people!   Today I thought I’d talk (more) about social media.

Last year, I did a series on Social Media but I think discussing it specifically for Marketing is important.

Not all social media is the same.  Ones such as Twitter and Snapchat are fast-paced social media platforms.

LinkedIn is more business-oriented, designed more for making professional connections.  Instagram is obviously a more visual platform, whereas Facebook… well, Facebook has changed a lot.

It used to be where everyone hung out (except me, I was a late (and grudging) comer to the platform).

In fact, it’s a shocker I’m even ON social media.  I hate it, but it has its uses.  Like Taxes.

The main point I’m trying to make is each social media is different.  They attract different types of people, different age groups and so knowing this can make a big difference.

For example, young people aren’t on Facebook as much as they are on Twitter and SnapChat.  So if you’re a YA author who is only using Facebook as their social media platform, you’re missing out!

Now, let’s discuss using social media.


What Social Media is NOT for

The Heavy Sell

The main reason social media shouldn’t be used for the heavy sell is that it moves too fast.  Most posts have very short lifespans in someone’s timeline.

The problem is, people who try and use social media for the heavy sell, do so by saturating their timeline (and thus the timeline of their followers) with constant “buy my book!” posts.

For all the sales you get from that oversaturation tactic (if you get any), you lose a lot more potential customers.  Why?  Because people don’t like heavy sells to begin with and giving them a torrent of it on their social media is likely to get you blocked.

If all your posts are that, people will stop following you, stop interacting with you.

Spammy DMs

Someone, somewhere, (obviously claiming to be a Marketing Guru) told people to use DMs to sell.  And sell they tried!  (Marketing Guru guy needs a good kick in the pants!)

If you’re on Instagram,  Twitter or Facebook, chances are, someone has tried to contact you via DM (Direct Message) to sell you their book.  Or give you their book for free (I’m calling that out too – still bad marketing).

Unsolicited DMs are so prevalent that many people put “No DMs” in their profile bios.

What many writers do is create an auto message and the moment someone follows them, it pops up saying:

“Hi, thanks for the follow, now click this link to buy a book you don’t care about from someone you don’t know!”

Hmmm… Pass!

I have unfollowed so many people who did this.  That’s not selling.  To sell you have to connect.  You haven’t connected, you’ve spammed!  We all hate spam.

When people follow you, that is usually the first contact you have with them.  They’ve seen something on your page and thought “yeah, this person seems cool, I’ll check them out.”

So that auto message of “buy my book” suddenly seems over the top.  Imagine if you were at a conference and someone came over to talk to you and the first thing you said was “I’m an author, here’s a link to buy my book.  I hope you love it!”

Now, do you really think that would work?  Do you know that person reads Dinosaur Spy Horror?  (or whatever it is you’re writing).  No.  So let’s try NOT to do that.

Tag, you’re it

Have you ever been tagged in a post or tweet and when you got there, it was just some post where they are trying to sell their book?

I have… a lot.   Frustratingly, these are not people I’ve said “hey, tell me when you’re book’s out, I want it!” but always people I have zero connection or interactions with who copy me in.

9 times out of 10, they are flogging a book in a genre I don’t read.  What a waste of time!

I’ve even had a few use my game hashtag #TheMerryWriter on a selling post.  Not cool, people!  Not cool!

The One Trick Pony

This is where someone posts nothing but posts about buying their book.

Remember, the book is the product but you need to offer people something of value – the book is not the “something of value” unless you’re giving it away for free, and you know how I feel about that.

If your entire feed is about selling, then you’re doing it wrong.  This is why writers need to have blogs.  It gives you a place to give back to your readers, share insights and thoughts, share reviews or tutorials, share your journey… don’t just share your buy links.

These can then be shared on social media (though, not ONLY that).  You should be sharing other people’s content too.  Adding in some insights, funny thoughts, tidbits about you, asking questions etc.

Obviously, a blog only works if you’re not making every post about your book sale.


What Social Media IS for

Making Connections

Social media is a great place to make connections with other writers.  These will become your group, your tribe, your beta readers, etc.

It’s a great place to make connections with readers.  To see what people enjoy, to learn more about your genre and subgenre.  To gently share your characters and ideas in order to tease and intrigue readers who may eventually become fans.

If you do that, you won’t need to heavy sell them, they will be EAGER to hear when you’re book is coming out.

Gaining Support

Writing is a solitary business, but that doesn’t mean it is 100%.

These platforms can become places where you can reach out to people who understand when you’re going through writer’s block, that you can celebrate victories with or commemorate rejections with.

Sharing your story

No, I don’t mean throwing huge chunks of your novel into posts or exposing spoilers, I mean lightly feeding excerpts, character images, trailers and quotes to your followers.

It’s about discussing the writing journey you’re on and telling people why you love this character or that.  It’s helping people fall in love with your characters before they even read the book.

NEW slim banner-Newsletter-SMALL

PS: One person who is GREAT at this is my friend and fellow writer S.R Severn.  From pieces she has fed out on social media to the way she discusses her characters, I am already desperate to read the book and totally in love with her characters.  Check her out!


What’s this got to do with Marketing?

Depending on how you approach social media and which platform(s) you choose to use, can have an impact on your marketing.

I see all the time people stating they aren’t good at marketing, and yet their social media is full of people liking and commenting when they share excerpts of their book or a character-inspired image.

That’s marketing!

People are often doing it without even realising it.  Then there are others who follow the bad plan of sell, sell, sell and can actually do more damage to their marketing.


So, I shouldn’t sell on Social Media?

No, that’s not what I’m saying.  If you have a book out, then hell yeah, you need to tell your followers.

BUT, if that is ALL you are posting if you are DMing people with it and more of your posts and tweets are about selling than anything else.  That’s bad marketing.


Sorry, I’ve been a little absent, there’s a lot going on right now and I’m just trying to keep all the plates spinning.   I’ve hopefully caught up on all comments on this blog and replied to all entrants of my Newsletter Giveaway.

If you received my Newsletter at the end of March and entered the giveaway and haven’t heard from me, please email me again.

Social media, do you love it or hate it?

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Happy writing

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19 thoughts on “How to Use Social Media for Your Marketing

  1. Great post! I’m also not sure who told authors to slide into DMs and promote their book lol. It’s laughably cringe-y, but also a good reminder of how social media should be used instead. 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading, Madeline. I am still so surprised just how many people use the auto-DM. I mean, how can they really think that will work well.

  2. Pointing out the different age groups on those various platforms was so important. It’s obvious, yet we forget about it. Thank you for the reminder.

    I don’t think I have time to sit around on social media and scroll. And scroll. And scroll. Because reciprocity, right? I can’t just post and hope people will come. And I refuse to just like and retweet everything. So my social media game is nonexistent. I say I will get better, but it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe in a couple of months, when I move closer to work and waste less time on things like sitting in traffic.

    1. Thanks for reading, glad you found it useful. I think we need that reminder as it does change. Social media is always evolving and moving on, that one minute X is the best platform for people then sudden everyone is on Y.

      It can be a little frustrating trying to keep up. I think that’s why it’s important not to try and be active on every platform.

      I’m on LinkedIn and Tumblr, but seriously, my blog is automated to post things on them, but that’s it. I physically have no time to devote to those pages. And I’m okay with that.

      Social media is one of those things that can be great, but there’s a lot of issues with it. I’ve done well on Twitter despite coming late to it, but that means I am INUNDATED with 100s of notifications every hour.

      Just going on there now makes me anxious, so I have to break it down into sections and visit it in small pockets of time.

  3. I love this post and, from what I have seen, agree with so much of it! One of my friends on twitter does live writing streams, posts self-drawn pictures, and even has plushes of their characters that they have shared interactive pictures of with their followers–I adore their ideas and abilities!! For myself in your *sharing your story* section, I am usually more worried about spoilers. I want to share my story, but I’m also often afraid of sharing too much that they wont feel the need to read the book when it comes out. What are your thoughts on dealing with spoilers when it comes to sharing insider info about the book?

    1. Hi, thanks so much for reading. I’m so glad you enjoyed my blog post.

      Your friend has some cracking ideas! I love the idea of plushes!

      I know what you mean, there is a worry about sharing spoilers.

      My advice is share SMALL pieces. Such as an excerpt of dialogue that is interesting. It doesn’t have to show any major plot point, but show the characters’ personalities.

      Share 2 to 3 paragraph excerpts rather than pages.

      You can even share just a single line or dialogue. One of my teasers was 2 lines long. It gave no character name, no explanation but those two lines were very vivid and it got people interesting.

      I tend to leave sending longer excerpts such as 50-100 word pieces to those who are signed up on my newsletter. That way they get the special bonus of learning more about my characters and story.

      Just try not to include any poignent story points in your shares, any big reveals.

      You may think a snippet of description or a small piece of dialogue isn’t enough, but it really is. I’ve read some lovely descriptive snippets and it made me interested to learn more about the world that writer was working on. 🙂

      1. Cool! This makes a lot of sense, and I can relate! I love seeing those ambiguous short lines from others’ WIPs! Thank you so much for responding and posting this!!

  4. Thanks for your timely article about the different target audiences. I’ve been receiving many marketing phone calls and unsolicited emails saying basically “have we got a deal for you”. Social media “sell your book” is among the top of their list “must have” – at an inflated price for setting up free social media sites I either have or have made a conscious decision not to connect. I’m still looking for an effective marketing strategy which won’t cost more than a lifetime of sales!

    1. Hi Suzanne, thanks for reading 🙂 I am glad you enjoyed this article. I’m sorry you’ve been spammed with unsolicited emails and cold calls, how frustrating that must be.

      I think everyone is jumping on the “social media for selling” bandwagon and forgetting the need for connections.

      I don’t get emails or calls thankfully, but I do get DMs from marketing people telling me all about the social media things I should be doing.

      I think if we just obsess with selling on social media and using ads, we won’t get anywhere. That’s why I prefer the smaller, more subtle things like building connections, using teaser excerpts, joining communities etc.

      I think too often we’re told to sell and focus on the sale, and we lose sight of everything else.

  5. Pingback: How to use Social Media for your Marketing | Ari Meghlen – Writer | Blogger | Bad card player | Campbells World

  6. Pingback: A progress update and a post about social media marketing | Ann Writes Inspiration

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