Author Social Media Tip: Know Your Audience!

social_media_iconsI was on the phone with an author yesterday who asked me a question: “What’s the best social networking site for authors?”

My response? There is none.

Now, that doesn’t mean that social networking doesn’t work for authors. On the contrary, it has become an essential part of an author’s promotional plan. This is especially true for fiction authors, where word of mouth is the most common way that people hear about a new, great book.

What I meant was that there is no one social network that is right for every individual author. Before deciding where to invest his or her time, an author should think long and hard about who the audience is for the book and where that audience tends to spend its time.

Case Study #1
A woman writes a book about the most adorable interior design ideas for a baby’s nursery. The book is chock full of pictures, and obviously speaks to an audience of 20 and 30-somethings (prime childbearing age).

In her case, I would recommend that she dedicate her time to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Facebook and Twitter are important, primarily because of the audience — that’s their preferred methods of communications. Pinterest is also extremely important for this author, as her book is photo-centric, and Pinterest is an amazing place to share photos.

Case Study #2
A man writes a book about saving for retirement. It is geared towards 40- and 50-somethings.

This author should be focusing much his social media efforts on Facebook. After all, his target audience doesn’t dedicate a lot of time to Twitter, and Pinterest isn’t really relevant for this book. Neither is GoodReads, which is much more fiction-oriented. Instead, he should also delve into LinkedIn and Google+, as those are where a professional audience tends to spend more time.

Case Study #3
An up-and-coming author wants to be the next JK Rowling. She writes the first book of a fantasy series targeted to young adults.

Where are today’s youth spending their time? Sure, they’re on Facebook. But so are their parents. They spend more of their time on Twitter, Tumblr, and who knows where else. They may always be a step ahead of us, but it’s this author’s (or her publicist’s) job to pay attention to this young demographic and figure out where they are spending their time. That’s where the marketing efforts should be.

Case Study #4
A novelist writes a suspense-filled mystery and wants to get it in front of his target audience: both men and women who happen to love a good mystery.

Facebook and Twitter would be helpful for this author. But I would recommend that he really delve into GoodReads. The most common reason why a fiction reader buys a book is because it was recommended to them by someone else who has similar taste in books. And unlike other social networking sites, GoodReads gives you the opportunity to get your book in front of an audience of readers who you know already are interested in your genre, and have “friends” whose recommendations they value.

See what I mean? Four authors, four different online strategies for book promotion. Before you put together your social networking plan (and dive into anything and everything that has worked for other authors), stop and take a good hard look at your audience. It may save you a lot of time and money in the long run.