Brand Building on Social Media

I have received so much great advice about building a brand on social media that I thought I’d share some of the tips with you. For those of you who don’t know– you are the brand. Not the title of your book. Not your favorite catch phrase. You.

This is a common mistake among authors. They think the title of their book is their brand. It isn’t. Your book is the product. Your name is the brand.

Okay, now that we know what we need to promote let’s continue.

No one can use all of social media and be good at it. The first thing you need to do is to decide which site(s) you want to get proficient in and then really engage. I’ll talk more about engaging later.

brand community

The best sites to drive traffic to your blog are:

Twitter

Contrary to what some believe Twitter is not only used for sharing what you’re eating, reading, cute animals photos, what happened on your date last night, etc… It is a huge resource for writers to gain a following and an audience for their work. The potential is enormous.

Facebook

Again, Facebook is not only used to share the first thing that pops into your mind, it’s a great catalyst for selling books, engaging with readers, promoting your brand.

Google+

Do I really need to explain how big Google+ is? It’s Google!

Pinterest

Here’s one you might not have thought would be worth your while. I, for one, had no idea of the potential this site had. This was my goof-off site, where I went to play. I’d pin writing quotes, writing tips, funny animal pictures (my favorite), but I really wasn’t using Pinterest as a branding site. This was a mistake. Pinterest is gigantic and it gets more traffic than Twitter and Facebook, believe it or not.

Instagram

Instagram could end up bigger than Facebook in the coming years. Facebook just bought Instagram and they have funneled all kinds of money into it. Because of this it’s growing at record speed.

Reddit

It’s not called “The front page of the internet” for nothing. Get a post on Reddit and your blog will blow up with visitors. Seriously, I know this from experience. My top posts/comments were all posted in Reddit. But– and this is a big but– you cannot post your own content to Reddit. Someone else has to post it for you. If you do post your own content the moderators will catch up with you and they will ban you from using the site and/or the subreddit you posted in. Also, since Reddit allows anonymity people can be unbearably cruel, rude, downright nasty. Personally, I don’t even bother to read half the comments on Reddit any more.

StumbleUpon

You wouldn’t think this site would drive traffic to your blog, but you’d be surprised. I get a ton of my traffic this way, especially when I use a photo that stands out. It’s the number two site for driving visitors to my blog, and that’s only because I don’t spend much time there. It could easily become number one.

50WaysToMurder with caption

Before we get into how to use each site effectively let’s take a step back and talk about your website/blog. First, every writer should have an email list. An “opt-in” it’s called, where people sign up for a giveaway (like I’ve done), a newsletter, and/or a new blog post. Just putting the “sign up via email” button on your blog is not enough. You need to start collecting email addresses so when you have a new book out you have people to tell. This also becomes extremely important for those going traditional. Agents/publishers want to see that you are able to sell your work.

How do we show that? You guessed it! With the email list.

For those going Indie, or who have already self-published, you need to be able to tell your audience where they can buy your next book, or that sequel they’ve been waiting for. Or, if they have shown interest, where they can buy all of your books.

Now, please don’t abuse this. Your email list IS NOT for spamming people to buy your book(s). If you try this, most will unsubscribe faster than you can say, “No. Wait. Don’t go.” Your email list is sacred, and should be treated as such. Your email list is as equally important as your blog.

I’ll be making more changes to my blog, too. Like adding a blogroll, changing my menu options (if I can figure out how to do it with CSS), and add resources for crime writers. By adding a blogroll this will also connect my brand with the ones on the list. And that’s key. You want your brand to be associated with big names in your field. So, if you write crime you’d want to include influential crime writers. If you write sci-fi you’d include blogs that concentrate on sci-fi. As harsh as it sounds you need to choose carefully, not just slap anyone’s name on there.

This is your brand!

Now, should you include people who always comment on your posts? Absolutely! Your blog is also a place to connect with like-minded folks and form friendships. Including them in your blogroll is a great way to show them how much you appreciate them.

Write good content

You’d think this goes without saying. Boring posts will get you nowhere fast. People like to be entertained, informed, educated. Stick to one of these categories and you can’t go wrong.

Spelling and grammar

I’m not a Grammar Nazi by any means. I use the same grammar in my posts that I use in my books. Sometimes you need to end a sentence with a preposition in storytelling, use gerunds, or keep hidden verbs. Should you try to rewrite to avoid this? Well, that’s up to you. I do. But sometimes you can’t get your point across effectively without bending a few grammar rules. I do, however, avoid clichés in my books, where I’m more lax about them in my posts.

Avoid typos

I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve stopped following because typos littered the posts. I’m not talking a typo here and there. I’m talking about a typo in almost every sentence. It gives the reader the impression that you don’t care. And if the blog owner doesn’t care then why should I? It takes two seconds to press the “proofread button”.

Okay, now that we have great content we want to share it and drive traffic to our site. Here are a few tips on using the above mentioned sites…

WHAT BROKE THIS WINDOW-

Twitter

  • Feature a link to your “opt-in” page in your profile. This is the first thing people see. Your goal is to build up your email list and drive traffic to your website/blog. There’s no better spot for this.
  • Make every tenth tweet about your free offer with a link and a picture that grabs people’s attention.
  • Pin a tweet to your Twitter page. When people arrive at your page this will be the first thing they see.
  • Reply to tweets. If someone thanks you for RTing their post take two seconds and reply. Being polite and courteous counts.
  • Retweet other people’s stuff. Don’t be a taker. You must give to receive.
  • Interact with people. Nothing builds a brand faster than a short conversation. The next time that person sees your name they’ll retweet for you because they’ll remember your little chat.
  • Put links to your guest blog posts with the blog owners Twitter handle. If someone was kind enough to have you on their blog make sure you promote that post widely, and include their Twitter handle so they know it.
  • Use hashtags to reach your audience. If your post is about books use #books. If your post is about writing a new novel or short story use #amwriting. For a list of hashtags see my previous post Writers, Are You Using Hashtags? Here’s Why You Should, or go here.
  • Use clickable tweets in your posts. This one is new to me. I’m trying it for the first time today. Try to make them inspirational. And, for the love of God, don’t use “Buy my book”. I decided to go with the image tweet.
 Blog is where the heart is.

BLOG is where the heart is.

To use the clickable tweet option go to: https://www.clicktotweet.com. Sign up, authorize app and write your tweet. The program will generate a code. Copy this code. For WordPress.com users, go into “text” instead of “visual” mode and insert where you want the tweet to appear. Then switch back to visual mode and you’ll see it on the screen. When people tweet this it will link back to your post.

Facebook

  • Set up a fan page, even if you don’t have any books for sale. This is a biggie. You can add your opt-in page right to your profile.
  • Interact. Social media has the word “social” in it for a reason. That means posting engaging content, sharing other people’s links/posts, etc.
  • Share your guest posts here too with the blog owner’s FB name so they’ll see it.
  • Post fascinating content that relates to your brand. If you are a crime writer like myself post crime scene photos with questions like “What weapon was used here?” I just did this, as you can see from the above broken glass image. It’s already generated some really great conversations.
  • Ask questions. Answer questions. Like other people’s posts. Share. Engage.
  • Join a FB group that relates to your brand. I’ve just formed Crime Lovers because I couldn’t find any group for crime readers/writers. All are welcome. Why not make this your first group? Click the title, or the image below, to take you to the group page.

Google+

  • Put a link to your opt-in page in your profile
  • Pick a background that people relate to your brand.
  • Post your guest posts here too with the blog owner’s name.
  • Ask questions. Answer questions. Interact. Engage.
  • Include the names of the people you want in your circles to get in on the conversation. Again, you’re building your brand. You want your brand connected with influential people in your niche.
  • Add people to your circles. Most will add you back.

Pinterest

  • Create subject boards on which to “pin” shareable content that will appeal to your target audience.
  • Follow other people’s boards and pin their content to your boards.
  • Create an image for your opt-in page like I’ve done (image above) and link it.
  • Motivational images will get the most traffic and are often circulated.
  • Here’s an article about creating and using shareable images that I got from Traffic Cafe, an excellent site for branding. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/shareable-images/
  • And here’s a cool tool for creating your own images: http://www.canva.com. A few different branding experts told me about canva.com, so I had to try it out. And I loved it!
  • Here’s another good one for creating images: http://picmonkey.com

I’m skipping Instagram. Since I don’t personally use this site I can’t talk intelligently about it. Reddit I’ve basically explained above, so that too I will exclude.

StumbleUpon

  • Post every one of your posts to StumbleUpon with the same title and tags and choose a category. I usually use writing or crime.
  • Use hashtags in your tags, but limit to one or two.
  • Turn on the StumbleUpon bar and when you find a post you like press “thumbs up” and it will automatically go to your “likes” page.
  • Post your guest posts here, too.
  • Browse other people’s “likes” pages and give the thumbs up when you find something that interests you.

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but believe me it works.

To find out just how powerful StumbleUpon really is see my post entitled Power of StumbleUpon – How-To Add Share Button To WordPress.com.

Facebook Image To Start Marketing

And that’s it!

Obviously if you try to do too many of these you’re setting yourself up to fail. No one can juggle all of this work and still find time to write. I concentrate my efforts on Twitter and Facebook. I still post to StumbleUpon, but I don’t really engage there. Nor do I engage how I should on Pinterest. Although I’m going to try to fit it in. It’s worth the extra effort.

Join me next time for more branding tips when I’ll get into the finer details of using Twitter effectively to grow your followers list.

If you haven’t gotten your free copy of “50 Ways To Murder Your Fictional Characters you can sign up here, or click on the image above. This is a 13-page booklet! You can learn more about it here.

What sites do you use? Or, what sites are you going to start using to promote your brand?

48 Comments

  1. Pingback: Power Of StumbleUpon & How-to Add Sharing Button To WordPress.com | Crime Fiction Writer Sue Coletta

  2. Fantastic advice! I’m just starting out and I’ve taken a different path to other authors by publishing a multi-touch iBook. If you are interested in this new and exciting technology then check out http://www.swordofair.net. Thanks for sharing. Rae.

  3. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    She explained this very well. It answered a couple questions I had.

  4. That must have taken hours to collect. Thanks for doing all the work. I’ve made notes. 🙂

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

    • Not really. I got most of it from two different sources, branding experts I met on Twitter who’ve been nice enough to give me free advice. That’s the beauty of Twitter. If you talk to people you can get all kinds of great advice AND make new friends. It just sucks all your time so you have to know when to quit.

  5. This is great info, Sue! At first, I found myself going around in circles with so many SM roads to try. It got overwhelming so I picked what was working to build on my brand which is a ‘been there’ crime writer. Now I just focus on my blog posts & guest blogging and exposing them with Twitter. I started on Goodreads but found it hard to use. I notice you didn’t mention Goodreads. It automatically links your blog posts. What’s your take on them?

    • Personally, I love Goodreads. I have an entire marketing plan to use on that site. It’s a great place to interact with readers and get to know your audience. However, it’s time-consuming. People can talk! Especially about their favorites books. I dabble over there when I have time. When I’m reading something really special I often post updates. It’s a fun place and I’ve already gained readers who are waiting for my books. I just thought I’d overwhelmed everyone enough with the sites I listed, so I didn’t want to add to that. I guess that’s a post for a different time.

  6. Thanks for some great tips, Sue. I didn’t know you could pin tweets, and I didn’t know about Click to Tweet either. Thanks! 🙂

    • To pin a tweet: Go to the tweet you wish to pin and click on the three dots. In the drop-down menu choose “pin tweet”. Done! To remove you can either unpin by going to the drop-drown menu and clicking “unpin tweet”, or just pin another tweet. It will automatically unpin the previous one. Hope it helps!

      • Hey Sue, I just pinned my first tweet all thanks to your advice on here. It’s a pretty cool thing to do. Thank you for the endless wealth of information.

        • Yay!!! Oh, you’re welcome, Verge. I love sharing with other writers. Did you know you can pin to your Facebook fan page, too? In the upper right-hand corner you’ll see this: < (only it's facing down) Click the upside-down arrow and a drop-down box appears where you'll see "pin to top."

  7. Reblogged this on Phoenix Rainez and commented:
    VERY USEFUL ADVICE – BRAND BUILDING

  8. Gosh this post is so helpful. Thanks for all these great tips. Going to reblog so I can go through them as a when I have time.
    Thanks again for sharing such useful advice.

  9. Reblogged this on The Lavender Field and commented:
    One of the most invaluable posts I have so far found.
    Excellent advice in easy to understand instruction for a new writer (or anything else.)

  10. For a newbie this post is invaluable.. Many, many thanks.

    Am reblogging.

    Kim.. x

  11. Hi Sue,

    This was an excellent article. I find Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon to generate most traffic to my site.

    I’m off to share your post on StumbleUpon. Thank you.

  12. I’ve tackle stumble upon a few times and failed but after reading this I’m going to jump back on and see what I can do (o:

  13. Reblogged this on Writer Babble and commented:
    Great advice about social media.

  14. Really like this post. I’ve read tons of article about building a platform and creating your brand, but this is one of the clearer and easier to follow.

    I’m putting a lot of work into my blog at the moment, I’m working on creating my own mailing list (I’ve just finished writing the PDF I’m going to give as a gift, you inspired me ;-)), I like Twitter a lot and I think I should use StumbleUpon a lot more. I’ve just discovered it and I still feel awkward with it. I’m also quite pleased with about.me if I can say (oh, right, that’s where I met you!)

    Typos? Grammar mistakes??? Running hiding my face.

  15. Great Post and excellent tips. I think it is way complicated for people who cross genres to market effectively with social media, but it has to be done.

  16. This is terrific advice, Sue! I couldn’t agree more about the vital importance of having a consistent brand across social media. Readers need, I think, to get a clear, professional and consistent message about who you are, what you write and so on. And absolutely, that message has to be professional, as free as possible of non-standard spelling and grammar.

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