Planning Your Social Media for a New Year

Are you ready to plan your social media for a new year?  It’s going to be a wild one, so hang on tight.  Here are some things to think about as you set up your content calendar for 2024.

Elections and Algorithms

You may think the election, way off in November, is not going to affect you.  Why should it?  You are just one person, marketing yourself and your work.  The amount of global activity that will affect Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok, for example, will create an uproar.  In 2020 we were banned from promoting a film that dealt with post-partum depression because it contained “social issues” and Meta’s algorithm was filtering for topics under that umbrella.  Getting around these filters will require creative messaging and still you might have some challenges.  Also, pay attention to any changes in algorithms that are made public.  Follow Reddit channels and check out websites like HubSpot (link to article from 2023 about TikTok) regularly for any news.

Generative AI

Welcome to the first full year of hype dedicated to Artificial Intelligence, which for our purposes is Generative AI.  Generative means that content is “generated” by AI.  You just prompt ChatGpt or Bard and the rest is easy.  Not so.  From time to time I will include some of my results from AI prompts.  So far I’ve found the content very basic and it needs a lot of editing.  However, many people use it to get ideas for blogs, articles and other longer form writing.  Keep an eye on TechCrunch, which is covering AI closely.

Know Your Audience on Social Media

According to, “There are 4.95 billion social media users globally.  This means 60.49 of the global population uses Social media.” The good news is there are tons of readers and customers out there to find.  The bad news is that you must know your audience.  In fact, you should have an image of the person you are promoting your book or business to from the very start.  Imagine you are having a conversation over a beverage (coffee is my choice).  Figure out what your audience really, really wants and needs and create your content to fill those desires.  Then nurture your group with a combination of experience based ideas and information.

Be Consistent and Check Your Metrics

Set up your calendar and follow it.  Today my calendar says I need to write my Happy New Year blog.  I’ve been taking notes on what I want to say for a couple of weeks.  My team has to write three more blogs this month, create reels, a how-to video for our newsletter subscribers, a newsletter, and regular posts.  We check each item to see how it is doing and we make adjustments so that we reach the right people with the information they need and want.  Sound familiar?  If you haven’t set up a schedule for the month with your topics and content types, do it now.

No, really, I mean right now.

Check out this link to blogs on AI from 2023 and subscribe to our newsletter for exclusive how-to videos and news about upcoming courses, webinars, and more.

Generating Awareness with Influencer Outreach

With the prevalence of social media continuing to grow, influencers are becoming incredibly powerful tools in content marketing. Generating awareness with influencer outreach can be incredibly useful when it comes to relationship development. A simple Instagram post or story can go a long way in terms of making a lasting impact on consumers.

Using Bookstagram to Generate Awareness Around Your Book

A bookstagram is an Instagram account dedicated to — you guessed it — books. The bookstagram community itself is massive. It encompasses authors and readers who love sharing their passion for books. This can be a great place to share your book, especially if you have a budget. Unlike in newspapers or on the radio, people who follow these influencers and engage with their content are a lot more likely to love books. If you connect with bookstagrammers that have a specific niche that is relevant to your book, then you are placing your book directly in front of an audience that is likely your ideal audience for sales.

The key in initially building durable relationships, in my experience, is to come across as genuine as possible. Considering the numerous amounts of DMs these influencers sift through every day, taking an unorthodox, new approach can help achieve the attention you desire. Here are some tips to help you pitch bookstagrammers and begin working with them:

Tips for Pitching & Working With Influencers

1. Design your pitch around how your book can be beneficial to the individual influencer and less about how they can be beneficial to you. Any salesperson will tell you that people are of course more interested in what they stand to gain, so always keep that in mind. For instance, when reaching out to a teacher influencer, emphasize why your book would be a great addition to their classroom libraries. What teacher doesn’t love free books!?

2. Be relatable. It’s basic human nature to be drawn to people who you can relate to. It further shows these influencers that you’ve taken the time to scroll through their feed to find out what they’re all about.

3. Do not expect large creators to share your book for free. Many of these influencers have huge, active audiences. Would you want to give something of value away for free? Probably not. Smaller bookstagrammers may be more willing to trade for a free book — but make sure they have a public profile.

4. Research before reaching out. If you write thrillers, it would be a waste of time to reach out to a bookstagrammer who only enjoys romance. Show them you know who they are. Social media bios are convenient, go-to places to find that kind of personal information – so utilize it!

5. Engage with the accounts you would like to work with prior to reaching out to them. Although this is not absolutely required, it is good etiquette, especially if you are hoping to get something for free.

All in all, generating awareness with influencer outreach can be extremely advantageous if approached properly. Authenticity is essential when building any type of relationship, so treat influencers more like people and less like brands.

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?

AI Writing: Parasite or Partner

Artificial Intelligence (AI) writing is not new.  Tech platforms have been using it to finish our sentences in Google Docs; to recommend headlines for ads; and to pull relevant keywords from an infinite number of potential combinations.  However, in a way the AI we know today is “new”, especially since Microsoft invested $1 billion in Open AI and then bought exclusive rights to the technology behind Chat GPT 3 in 2020.   Fast forward past a marketing and public relations campaign and we strongly feel the conflict that makes us excited and appalled at what AI can do.

When AI Writing Doesn’t Work

I believe that AI writing for book, articles and other long form writing will create a homogenous and boring world. Yes, there are definitely uses for AI, especially in the business world.  Who wouldn’t want a technology that could write form letters, contracts, privacy policies, and corporate boiler plates.  However, when it comes to writing there is so much that can be missed.  Here are four pitfalls of AI that I say should comfort writers.

  1. Just the facts.  How can you rely on an expert’s knowledge and advice if you suspect that AI is doling out the facts?  AI does not fact check itself.  It’s up to a human to do that.
  2. Misinformation.  Similar to not having the fact, AI can pull from thousands of opinions and false content to come up with something.  A user could be embarassed by something they publish that is more myth than reality.
  3. Innovative storytelling.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, 1984, Catch 22, The Color Purple, and Beloved are all stories that broke barriers.  That’s something that writers and creatives do.  They ask us to see the world in a different way thereby provoking thought, ideas, and discussion.   Does AI have an imagination?
  4. Personal stories.  Many writers start with what they know for their first books.  They write memoirs.  I suppose AI could write a book based on a person’s life, but that person would have to write it first.

Positive Uses of AI that Save Time

Now that I’ve pointed out why writers need not break their pencils and throw their laptops out the window just yet, I should also mention some areas where AI is likely to help and/or replace some of the things people do for the better.

  1. Content creation for social media.  There is a rule I read in a book on content marketing that says you should be able to create at least ten pieces of content based on one thing. That’s a lot.  For marketers writing multiple posts to support press releases or articles, an AI partner could be a time saver.
  2. Internal marketing departments in big companies.  Eventually, you may not need writers to develop annual reports and other marketing collateral that is generated in house.  You could feed data into an AI program and have it write the language that is common to these types of documents.
  3. Writing back ad for book jackets, catalog copy, and other items that summarize a book’s content.  You could upload a manuscript into an AI program and ask it to write a summary. The question is, do you trust an open source software to observe copyright laws and protect your story?
  4. Prompts and ideas.  Generative AI may be able to help with writers block.   Give ChatGPT a prompt and see what it writes.

A Writing Prompt Result

In this example I asked ChatGPT to give me the first paragraph for a “mystery novel based in Scotland”.  I rejected the first try.  This is the second.

“The rolling fog blanketed the rugged Scottish Highlands, shrouding the ancient hills and eerie lochs in an ethereal mist. In the heart of this mystic land, a solitary figure moved silently through the gloom, his footsteps echoing on the cobblestone streets of a forgotten village. The wind howled, carrying with it the secrets of centuries past, as if the very whispers of ghosts were woven into the fabric of the night.

Detective Elinor MacGregor had returned to the land of her birth, a place steeped in history and legends. She had come in search of answers, drawn by a cryptic message from her estranged father, a man she hadn’t seen in twenty years. The message was simple but enigmatic: “Return to the Highlands, and you shall find the truth.” Now, as she ventured deeper into the heart of the misty wilderness, she couldn’t help but wonder what truths awaited her in the shadows of her ancestral homeland, and whether she was prepared to face them.”

What do you think?  Is it a keeper, or should we ask it to go back to the drawing board?

Writers Lead, AI Follows

From what I’m reading about AI writing, and other disciplines, people are still going to need to drive the bus.  So don’t ignore or fear what is happening.  (I do recommend paying attention to developments around copyright protections for your work). Learn how to play with it or use it in a business setting so you can take the lead.  You are the creative mastermind behind your material You know how to make it as impactful as it can be.

Some articles of interest include our blog on AI and Art, and this one from 2015 about Google’s win in a court case that allowed them to digitize all books.

TikTok & Book Promotion

If you aren’t using it, you’ve heard of it. However, you might not know how to use it, or what it really is. Today we will be discussing the underdog tool in your promotional belt, TikTok, and how to use it for book promotion.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a window to the latest pop culture trends among Generation Z. Gen Z (any individual born roughly between 1997-2012) 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 social app for short videos between 15 seconds and 10 minutes. The app has over one billion monthly active users, meeting or exceeding its competitors (Hootsuite). 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?

TikTok can be used via mobile device or desktop, however most creators recommend the use of the mobile version for the best experience. You will need to download via smartphone or tablet. While this may sound 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. You only have a limited amount of time to deliver your message. Even though TikTok has updated its abilities, and you can now post longer videos, most users are still scrolling quickly. Try to hook their attention in the first few seconds of your video.

How can I use TikTok for book promotion?

Here is where you’ll need to get creative! TikTok has little text involved, and is video-based. In other words, TikTok users aren’t typically looking to read when they engage with the app. Get involved in the #BookTok community to begin promoting your book. Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities to promote your book.
  • Challenges and trends: TikTok users generate a great deal of challenge and trend-based content, including the BookTok community, that you can monitor and utilize tailored to your own content.
  • Connect with your audience: Share “Monthly TBR” or “Wrap-Up” videos to show your audience what you like to read and use this opportunity to share books that are similar to yours. Grab the attention of those that are in your book’s target audience. Interact with their comments and foster those relationships.
  • Most importantly, stay active on TikTok! It’s recommended that you post 1-4 times per day to promote organic growth (Planly). Staying active on the app will not only help with growth opportunities, but also keep you in the know on trending challenges, sounds, and more. Lean in to what is trending and tweak it to align with your own content.
TikTok has increased in notoriety to the point of Facebook imitating the application, and Instagram introducing Reels. It’s time for you to make use of the trend. Now you’re ready to TikTok with the best of them!