Social Media 101: TikTok and Book Promotion

If you aren’t using it, you’ve heard of it. However, you might not know how to use it -or, you might not even know what it is. Today we will be discussing the underdog tool in your promotional belt. The overnight, 15-second sensation: TikTok.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a window to the latest pop culture trends among Generation Z. Gen Z (any individual roughly between 13-and-24-years-old) dominates TikTok’s user base; the same generation also happens to be the next large target group of potential consumers.

TikTok was created by the Beijing news-media tech company ByteDance. Often described as a combination of both Snapchat and Instagram, TikTok is a video-only application that posts in 15-second bursts. The app hit over one billion downloads in February of 2019, exceeding its competitors up to that point (HooteSuite). Their net user and download numbers only continue to climb.

Needless to say, a large audience is there for the taking – particularly ripe for YA authors.

How do I use TikTok?

Currently, the application is only available for download on mobile device. You will need to download via smartphone or tablet. While this sounds limiting, don’t fear: TikTok has a host of editing tools in-app that enable you to create unique and original content.

  • Setup: The first prompt you get when logging in to the application is one asking your interests. Would you like to see comedy skits? Do you follow beauty influencers? What about dance performance? Your answers to these questions feed TikTok’s algorithm and influence what content you view under the “For You” page (one of two pages that make up your TikTok “Home” screen). The “Following” page consists of users you are subscribed to after tapping around the app and finding what you like. Each user has a page setup much like Instagram -a photo of themselves, their handle, a follower count, bio, and their content.
  • Creating Content: Similar to Snapchat, creating your own content starts with a simple point-and-shoot clip. As talked about before, you only have fifteen seconds to deliver your message. Spend more time focusing on visuals, use dialogue sparingly. Most users supplement sound clips from popular music or memes rather than talking in their TikToks.

How can I use TikTok for book promotion?

Here is where you’ll need to get creative. TikTok is very similar to Twitter’s late application Vine -there is little to no text involved, and strictly video-based. In other words, TikTok users aren’t looking to read when they engage with the app.

Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities to promote your book.

  • Challenges: TikTok users generate a great deal of challenge-based content. An example of social media challenge is the ALS ice bucket challenge that took social media by storm in 2015. Users would dump a bucket of ice water over their heads in the name of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, then nominate fellow users in order to raise awareness for those affected.

TikTok is rife with similar challenges, distinguished by hashtags (much like challenges seen across other social media). There is even a “#bookschallenge” with over 109.2K views! Feature your new book in original content to spread the word. You can even create your own hashtag and start a trend by simply adding a # before your desired phrase.

  • Memes: Aside from challenges, memes spread like wildfire. Users essentially take a pop culture item and tweak it with their own personal style. From songs to live-TV bloopers, TikTokers take soundbites from these moments and make a 15-second video performing their own take. Like we mentioned before, it’s all about the visuals with this application. Having a stack of your own books as the background of a TikTok is the perfect subliminal marketing strategy.

TikTok has increased in notoriety to the point of Facebook imitating the application (Wired). It’s time for you to make use of the trend. Now you’re ready to TikTok with the best of them!

The Influencer Series: Micro-Influencers

While it’s true that some consider influencers “celebrities of social media,” it’s important to highlight the subcategory of influencers who are becoming more and more sought after by brands big and small: micro-influencers.

But who are they exactly?

To many, an influencer is defined by the immense number of followers he or she has amid their social media platforms. And while a lot brands are attracted to sponsoring those with high follow counts, others are now investing in influencers who don’t have as many followers, but higher engagement levels. Essentially, it’s the quality of their followership over the quantity. According to Forbes, “brands and marketers are now focusing on the interaction between influencers and their audiences,” which can be measured by the likes and comments different posts receive on a daily basis. More so than standard influencers, micro-influencers often have high engagement levels that brands had a tendency to overlook in the past. (Forbes)

What identifies a micro-influencer?

There isn’t necessarily a magic number of followers that separates an influencer from a micro-influencer. Brands are focused on engagements of specific audiences and how those niche audiences can potentially lead to higher sales. In the end, their goal is to promote products in ways that appear more genuine than a #ad.

The moral of the story: little guys shouldn’t be discounted. Whether you’re promoting a book, service, or anything for that matter, don’t underestimate the power of loyal followers.

For more information on influencer outreach, check out our guide.

Social Media 101: Editorial Calendars

If you’re anything like me, you know how important staying organized is- not only for your records, but for your business as well. That’s why curating the perfect editorial calendar is an absolute must when planning your social media content.

What is an editorial calendar?

Essentially, it’s a tool used by businesses and influencers alike to outline specific content over a fixed time period across different platforms (i.e. social media accounts, newsletters, newspapers, magazines, just to list a few). These calendars add the structural element your social media needs to consistently yield results. In addition to that benefit, having an organizational system in place for your posting helps to streamline the process and ultimately save time for other important tasks.

Why is it useful?

Apart from its organizational benefits, an editorial calendar lends itself to consistent posting –which ultimately boosts traffic to your website. And because of social media’s fast-paced nature, it’s crucial to get your content out there as frequently as possible in order to stay relevant and memorable. Editorial calendars are the perfect organizational vehicles to do just that.

Where can you find an editorial calendar template?

While there are a ton of free downloadable templates online or in Microsoft Word, I find it most convenient to use Google Calendar (you can find some useful tips and tricks for using the application here). I’m on my computer all day every day, and it’s easiest to go through my bookmarked websites in Google Chrome and make calendar adjustments or additions when needed. It also includes color-coding, which is another useful tool.

If you are struggling with creating content to populate your social media calendar, don’t panic. You can learn about the newer functions of applications like Instagram from our recent blog post. Happy planning!

Social Media 101: Tumblr for Authors

TumblrTumblr is a combination of social media and blogging—users actively post content to their Tumblr blog, but they can also re-blog and like other users’ posts. Tumblr can be a fun platform to use because it is very different from Twitter or Facebook, and it is a perfect platform for authors to use because it is easy and creative. The number one rule for this platform is to make sure to have fun with it!

Here are 5 ways that authors can use Tumblr:

Reblog or post GIFs or screenshots. Tumblr is full of screenshots and GIFs that are at your disposal to use, from TV shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation, or movies like Clueless and Mean Girls. You will give your account exposure this way because GIFs—especially those that are popular or humorous—will more likely be reblogged than other posts.

Use it as a blog with a purpose. Do you have a specific topic you’d like to blog about, but don’t necessarily need all that SEO and headline writing that comes with a WordPress blog? Tumblr can be a great use for “micro-blogging” or just writing a couple sentences on a topic every day or once a week. For example Clients from Hell started as a Tumblr blog, where they posted anonymous comments about bad clients. Other examples include Bookworm of Camelot which specifically blogs about literature, or That Coffee House Tumblr which only posts about coffee.

Use it as a social network. Don’t just focus on your Tumblr but make sure to follow other blogs that you are interested in and might reblog. Comment and share your stories on other users’ posts.

Use it as a news and events page for your website. Did you get a new Amazon review or were featured in a literary blog? Did you have an event last night? Share these links and photos on your Tumblr and make sure to tag the posts with tags that people frequent (books, literature, amblogging). Did you see another Tumblr post a photo of your book? Reblog it! Connect it to your website so that it is easily accessible.

Use it as your writer’s blog. If you are interested in blogging but know you aren’t going to commit to writing hundreds or thousands of words a week, Tumblr is the perfect way to keep people updated with your life by posting short blog posts or GIFs, new music you are listening to, news articles you just read, etc. with little commentary. Did you just read an interesting New York Times article on how sales at independent booksellers are up? Did you finish a book you have mixed feelings about? Post it on Tumblr and ask your readers what they think.

Many artists and creatives are on the platform, from Taylor Swift to Veronica Roth (Divergent) to Rainbow Rowell (Landline; Carry On). It doesn’t take up as much time as a regular blog and it is more interactive for users because it is so simple for another person to reblog your post. Check it out and you’ll see how much you may just enjoy it!

For more insight on social media check out our blog posts here.

Social Media 101: Snapchat and Instagram Stories for Authors

SnapchatInstagram and Snapchat are popular social media platforms for influencers, especially those who are celebrities or are in the fashion industry. The various Kardashian women are perfect examples of Instagram influencers—follow their accounts to get a rounded grasp of how useful Instagram Stories and Snapchat can be for public figures.

Snapchat and Instagram tend to skew young in terms of who is using these platforms, from teenagers to millennials in their mid-30s. As an author it can be useful to tap into these age groups to cultivate a new audience for your books and/or brand.

How both Snapchat and Instagram Stories work is that you take a photo of something (yourself,your dog, something cool you saw) and it disappears after 24 hours of your posting of it, unlike regular Snaps or Instagram posts. Regular Snaps to friends disappear after they are viewed (if not viewed, then after 30 days); Instagram posts are there permanently unless deleted by the user.

Here are 5 tips on how authors can use Snapchat and Instagram Stories:

Use them for exclusive content. Are you in the middle of writing a new book? Snap or Insta-story a line from a chapter you just wrote. Are you writing a short story for a new anthology? Snap a photo of yourself with one of the other authors or editor with something along the lines of, “Meeting with so-and-so today. Can’t wait to show you our latest project coming soon!” Creating some mystery and suspense will excite your followers.

Snap an immediate and intimate glimpse into your life. We all want to know what our favorite celebrities are doing – and snapping photos of themselves cooking food, out to dinner, enjoying a concert, or reading a book achieve that aspect of making followers feel like they are included in their lives. You can do the same thing as an author by taking a video of a book you are reading or a new recipe you are attempting to cook.

Show off your fun side. With all the funny and cute filters available (making your eyes huge, face swapping, giving yourself dog ears, etc.), showing readers how you can have fun will make you more personable.

Hold a contest. Gain followers on Instagram or Snapchat by holding a contest–with the winner receiving an advanced reading copy of your upcoming book, a box set, or a signed copy of your newest release. Hold the contest only on Instagram or Snapchat, but announce it on your Facebook page or Twitter so that you drive new people to your Instagram or Snapchat usernames. For example, post on Facebook: “New contest on Snapchat that I am announcing in five minutes! Go to [username] to see what I’m giving away this week!”

Engage your followers. Because people can message you back on your Instagram stories or Snapchat stories, post a question: “What are you reading today?” or “What are you doing today?” to engage your followers by having them respond in a message. Respond back so that they can feel that you are engaged with them as well.

Even though Instagram stories and Snapchat are similar, you may find yourself inclined to use one more than the other, and that’s fine. Just make sure to use whichever one you favor on a daily basis so that your followers don’t lose interest.

Read more beginner’s tips for social media here.