On my last release countdown post, I asked if anyone had specific behind-the-scenes questions leading up to publication, and I received a question about how I’m using social media to promote my book (thanks for asking, Natalie!). Since I feel like this question is too big for a single post, I’m going to tackle it separately. I’m not really sure how many posts it will take, but I’m going to start with something I learned at a virtual Later* conference that has revolutionized how I organize my social media.
Create A Social Media Calendar
Now, if you’ve been following me a while, you can probably guess why this concept appeals to me. Any guesses?
It’s a spreadsheet!
I do love my my spreadsheets 😍. But in all honesty, before I attended the session about the social media calendar, my posting was pretty haphazard. If you follow me here on the blog, you may have noticed there were long stretches where I didn’t post anything at all. That’s because I didn’t have a posting strategy. But having a calendar has helped direct my efforts with all of my social media.
So, how does it work?
For me, it’s an Excel spreadsheet using a calendar template, with a tab for each month. For the conference presenter, it was Google calendar (I tried that, but I’m still an Office products girl!). She recommended that you plan each month out in advance, and I do try to look ahead a certain amount, but I’m not quite that organized.
To get started, you need a key for your calendar. Mine is color-coded to the types of social media I use regularly. So anything I put into the calendar is in the font of the color where I plan to post it. Blog = red, Instagram = green, Twitter = blue, and if it’s going on all three = purple. These are the three platforms I use regularly, but if you are on, say, TikTok, Facebook, or YouTube, you could add more colors. Just throwing out there that TikTok is definitely gaining ground in the book world, and BookTubers have a ton of influence as well. I just don’t have the bandwidth for them–yet–but maybe at some point. One piece of advice I’ve consistently received when it comes to social media is to only do what you enjoy and can do well. I’m not sure I would go so far as to say I really enjoy social media, but I do feel that I can manage these three well for the moment, and if I get to a point where I think I can add more, I will.
Next, to the right of my calendar, I have a box with ideas for posts. While a lot of the big ideas are for my blog, it also includes some smaller ideas to keep on my radar for Instagram and Twitter. One of my best takeaways from the Later session was to think: What are your three or four main categories for posts? In my case, they are:
- Writing/Author Tips
- Book News
So within that box, I keep a list of ideas for future posts I may write or already have in progress. For example, the Writing/Author Tips section now has additional ideas for this series; the Reviews section lists books I’ve read but haven’t yet written up; and the Book News section includes ideas for future release countdown posts as well as placeholders for other news I hope to share.
Taking the advice of the session presenter, when I’m looking ahead at a month, I start with anything I know is happening on a certain date. For example, my release date countdown post happens on all three platforms on the 24th. I also participate in a Twitter chat with other debut authors on the 21st of every month. Then I look for other dates that may have significance. Like in December I posted Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day and in January my main character’s birthday. For this entire year, I’m posting graphics celebrating the books debuting every Tuesday to support my fellow #the21ders, so I have those slotted into Tuesdays.
On the months I decide to participate in an Instagram challenge, I put the challenges into each day so I can look ahead. I also have a separate calendar for interviews I’ve scheduled, so the run dates for those are all on my social media calendar as well so I know when to promote. (I did initially try to merge these two calendars, but it didn’t work.)
Once I put the main dates in, I still have a lot of blanks, so then I look to my idea box to see what I might want to cover during the month. My main goal is to not leave several weeks without a blog post or a whole week of only books on Instagram (which has been known to happen!). For the record, I don’t schedule out all my tweets on the calendar. I just put any chats or particular posts I need to tweet about on the calendar.
What I love best about the social media calendar is that it’s freed me up to be more flexible with my posting. That might sound strange since it’s getting everything organized, but I used to feel like as soon as I read a book, I had to review it. By putting it on my calendar and knowing it has a place, I feel much less stressed about it. There were also times in the past where I’d start to become stressed because I hadn’t posted for so long, but now that I have a calendar, I can space out the topics I want to address.
I also love the ability to put things I know I’ll want to promote months out onto my calendar and not have to think about them for a while. Then when I open up the tab for May or June, I’ll remember to do it. Yes, I know I have a strange idea of freedom, but hey, it works for me!
So, creating a social media calendar is my first tip in the series. I’ll be back with another set of tips in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, let me know if you have any questions on this one!
*I’m not a Later member, so I can’t speak to their services, but the conference I attended was fantastic. I also receive Later’s free newsletter, which includes great tips.
Thanks so much for answering my question. I really like your idea of creating a social media calendar. I have one planned out months in advance for my blog. I think I should plan out something similar for Twitter. I’m not sure I’m ready to go on Instagram since my blog takes so much work. I’ll be curious what other advice you have.
Instagram can be a great marketing tool, but it’s definitely an uphill battle. I’m still figuring out my strategy, but that’s one of the things I plan to post about, even as in-progress as it is. I’ve been on Twitter forever, and it can be a great tool too. I’ll also have some tips there. I appreciated the question!