Social Media for Authors: 5 Simple Solutions

In October I spoke at an Authors Guild event in NYC about social media for authors.  It was moderately attended at the library but there were over 100 online attendees, which I thought was impressive.  I realize that digital marketing and social media marketing are areas where many people struggle.  I have significant experience and success helping authors.  We even have a Social Media 101 Guide you can download for FREE.   In the meantime, I think there are a few things you can think about right now that can boost your progress.

5 Simple Social Media Solutions

Here are 5 simple solutions to common problems I have noticed when auditing social media accounts for authors.

  1. Use your photo as your profile picture.  The panel I was on in October was unanimous with loud head shaking (if you can imagine that) when someone asked whether they should use their book jacket as their profile photo.   No.  You may write more than one book, so what happens to the following you have built on the current one?  People feel more connected to people and tend to trust profiles that feature a person, not a product.
  2. Make a plan.  Posting here and there is not the way to gain an audience.  Algorithms like to get to know you and to find that you are reliably connecting with interested followers.  Decide how many posts you want to do on a weekly basis on specific days of the week around pre-determined time slots.  Figure out what your topics are beforehand and try to be consistent.  This is especially important on your Instagram grid.  Random posting looks messy and disjointed.  If you want to show people a great photo of you on vacation, use the Stories function.  Otherwise think about what you want to share and try to stick to the topics and themes.
  3. If you hate it don’t do it.  My colleagues agree that if you absolutely can not see yourself feeding a social platform don’t get started.  It looks worse to have an empty page than it does to have a small follower count, but an active page.
  4. Spend a few dollars.  When you are starting out try boosting or advertising a post to a target audience.  See what kind of engagement you get.  If it doesn’t work well, try a different topic or image.  If that doesn’t work consider changing your targets.  Play with the platform and spend $20 for 4 days of boosting.
  5. Play.  Yes, I am telling you to play with social media.  Try different combinations of colors, images, videos, text, themes, topics, audience targets, and bids for boosting to see what starts to stick.  People born before 1985 have a more difficult time using social media.  That’s ok.  I’ve seen otherwise completely anti-tech and anti-social people get excited about the amount of creativity they can apply to start a conversation or make an impression.

You Can’t Break Your Social Media

So writers, try testing out a few things and let your work entertain you in the process.  You can’t break anything when you start out, because you haven’t built anything yet.  Worry about mistakes when you have thousands of followers.  The only caveat is that you try to avoid the same topics you wouldn’t bring up at a party: Sex. Politics, and Religion

I would love to see the community you are creating on your social platforms.  Follow me at @mckinneymediagroup and I’ll follow you back!

For additional ideas check out our blog channel and search “social media”.  You can start with advice on timing: When Should You Start Being Active on Social Media?

Instagram Insights: A Beginner’s Guide

You need a brand strategy to optimize your presence on social media, but how do you know what is working? On Instagram, you learn that from Instagram Insights. Today, I am going to break down a couple of these metrics and what they mean.

How Do I Access Instagram Insights? Claire McKinney PR LLC's Instagram Profile

You need to be using an Instagram Business or Creator account. A Business account will allow you to schedule posts, if that is something you want to do.

When you go to your profile, you will see an “insights” button. Click that. This will show you an overview of your insights. 

How to Read Your Instagram Insights Overview Instagram Insights Overview

The first thing I would do is change the default from 7 days to 30 days. This will give you a better idea of how you are trending. 

You can do this by clicking where you see “Last 7 Days” and selecting the 30 day time period. 

Now, let’s define the terms you are looking at. 

Accounts Reached: The accounts reached are the number of individual accounts who have seen your content. This differs from impressions which is the number of times your content was seen. 

Content Interactions: Any engagement with your copy. For example, saves, shares, likes, and comments are all content interactions. (Fun fact: These are all weighted the same according to the algorithm)

Total Followers: The total number of accounts that follow you. 

Below these metrics is a record of the content you have shared during the time period you specified. Here you can click to see what performed well and what did not. 

Diving Deeper Into Accounts Reached

Accounts Reached is my favorite metric to watch because it, in my opinion, shows you where you have the most potential for growth. Let’s take a closer look. Click on “Accounts Reached” in your Instagram Insights. It will bring you to a more detailed breakdown of that data. 

The first thing you will see is how many followers versus non followers have seen your content. You can see here, we have reached many more accounts that don’t follow us than ones that do. Do you know why that is?

Here’s a hint:


You can see under Content Type that Reels gave us the most reach by a long shot because our follower numbers are currently low. 

If you keep scrolling down, you can see your top Posts, Stories, IGTVs, and Reels based on reach. You will also see your Impressions and Profile Activity. We highly recommend you replicate what works!

I hope this helps clear up some confusion around Instagram Insights. If you are interested in growing your brand online, do not hesitate to contact us.


Expanding Your Organic Reach on Instagram: Video Content

Instagram, like all other social media platforms, changes constantly. However, it has never been easier to build an audience organically on Instagram because of short form video content

Using Short Form Video Content: Reels

Yes, I am talking about reels. If you aren’t using reels, and you are missing an enormous opportunity for growth. For example, when we had less than 90 followers, we created a reel that got over 3,000 views! Personally, I have an account that had around 1,100 followers and created a reel that has 1.3 million views – and is still growing. Needless to say, no other type of content would have received that sort of attention. Not every reel will go viral — most won’t — but in my experience they consistently have a larger organic reach than any other type of content.

Why is Video so Important for Increasing your Organic Reach?

People like video because it is perceived as authentic. Video allows you to connect with your audience in a way that is just not possible through still images. This is largely why Instagram has increased the ways in which you can share video content on their platform. 

Additionally, content like reels is being pushed from several different areas within the app which increases the likelihood of your content being seen then liked, shared, or commented on!

How to Share Video Content on Instagram

There are several ways to share video content on Instagram: 

  1. Stories: You can share short form video content on Instagram that will stay for 24 hours. These allow you to engage authentically with your audience and post several times a day without overwhelming your audience’s feed. 
  2. IGTV: Long form videos are great for IGTV. Generally these should share evergreen content like a podcast or educational videos. You can organize them into series based on topics. 
  3. Short video posts: You can post short videos to your feed as long as they are under a minute. These can add interest to your feed. 
  4. Highlights: Save your stories and reels shared to your stories to the top of your feed so people can rewatch them after the 24 hour period has passed. 
  5. Reels: One of the newest features on Instagram and a phenomenal way to grow organically. These can be synced with trending music, dances, or lip synced audio. But it doesn’t have to be that fancy, you can also do a simple, short talking head video where you share valuable and entertaining information. 

Pro Tips for Video Content on Instagram

  • Include closed captions
  • Look at hashtags like SEO for your videos (yes, use all 30)
  • Create branded covers for your video content that looks good in your feed as well as a standalone graphic

Don’t Post Aimlessly!

You shouldn’t post video content to Instagram just to post video content. Each piece should have a purpose and be a part of a larger strategy. If you are looking for help with developing your strategy for social media growth, we would love to hear from you.

Additional Resources: 

3 Tips for Using Instagram

3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Social Media Efforts

Tik Tok and Book Promotion


Personal Branding on Social Media: 3 Tips for Instagram

Personal branding is important. Whether you are looking to sell a product online, get a job, or become recognized in an industry, your personal brand can help (or hinder) your ability to accomplish your goals. 

In this blog series, Personal Branding on Social Media, I am going to share a series of tips for developing your personal brand. Today I am starting with Instagram tips for beginners because of Instagram’s increasing importance for B2C marketing — that’s you selling a product or service directly to customers. 

Although Instagram can be overwhelming, there are three things that are essential for creating a personal brand that can help you achieve your goals: engagement, value, and planning ahead. 

Engage with your Community

Instagram is a social media platform. Social being the focus. To be successful on Instagram, you must develop a community that engages with you, and you have to engage back. This includes engaging with hashtags that are relevant to your niche and engaging with your followers. 

Create Content with Value

You need to create Instagram content that gives value to your followers. Content that is valuable is content that entertains, informs, or inspires. This blog post, for example, is a form of informative content intended to provide value for our target audience. 

Plan Ahead. 

Trying to create a personal brand on the fly will not work. You need to plan out your content in advance so you can insure you stay on brand. Additionally, planning ahead by using a content calendar reduces daily stress around sharing content and allows you to develop a visual identity. 

Digital PR and personal branding have become an essential part of successful public relations. Without a claimed and planned online presence, you can lose the ability to share your story the way you want as well as credibility and authority in your area of expertise. 

If you are interested in utilizing social media for your personal brand, stay tuned for the rest of this series. 

3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Social Media Efforts

Improve the effectiveness of your social media efforts

Well-established companies with bigger budgets are investing a significant amount of money in digital branding and social media.  With so many options, understanding your audience and using the best tools is very important to make you competitive at any level of business.  So, whether you are representing just yourself, a micro-business, or any size company, here are 3 simple ways to improve your social media efforts.

Tip #1: Where is Your Audience?

So much of the world is on social media. In 2019 they predicted that the U.S. population will spend more time on social media/mobile devices than on TV by the end of the year.  My analytics definitely show an uptick in mobile use, with a 50/50 ratio of people who read my content on mobile vs. other devices. Social media host a wealth of loyal niche communities. With clear messaging and focused branding, these communities can quickly become your repeat-consumers.

Find your audience

Tip #2: Should You Pay for Online Ads?

Like any promotional content on a popular medium, ads on social media can be pricey. Luckily, there is more to this strategy than paid advertisements. Channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat are one-stop shops. You can create your own original content in-house, free of charge. The average user is bombarded daily with big-budget marketing. In fact, 86% of people on social crave authentic content rather than expertly-crafted material from ad agencies. Stand out in the crowded market and create something to which your audience can authentically relate, without breaking the bank!

Tip #3: Do You Know Your Audience?

We’ve talked about the ways social media branding is useful, but how will you know it’s working? There is a way, and unlike mail surveys or television polls, you won’t have to wait weeks and months to see results. Simply start a poll on your desired outlet. The media mentioned above offer functions where you can pose a question with two or more answer options, and users can select their response. These polls can run for any length of time, from one day to one week. Once the poll closes, you instantly have your results – you can even see votes as they are happening.

Download our eGuide to social media so you can find ways to improve your social media effectiveness.