If your author platform is spread out across many social media platforms, how can you stop it eating up all of your time and expand it?
Your author platform is, as many readers will be aware, the sum total of all the people who want to hear from you and are able to do so. For most of us, that means our blog and social media audience. The problem is, each social media platform is a new drain on your time as you try to craft content for it. Your platform can feel less like a cohesive whole and more like a disparate array of self-contained bubbles.
Put things into context
Like most of what we do as writers, we must start by putting things into context. Our platforms are no different.
At the centre of your platform needs to be a hub that you control. While it might be tempting to use say, Tumblr, Twitter, or Facebook, these are all things you have no final say over. Anyone of those could shut you down tomorrow and that would be the end of that.
Which is why I always recommend that your blog or website should be your hub. This is where you should point people back to.
Some people go a step further and maintain an email list which acts as their marketing hub. Their blog or website exists only to feed people into the list. There is a good deal of wisdom in that approach.
For now, however, let’s look at how you can make your blog the hub of your author platform.
Your blog is your hub
In many ways, treating your blog as your hub is as much about how you think of your blog as it is anything more technical.
Your blog is where you publish fresh content. When you have news to share, it should be the first place you go to publish an announcement.
With something like WordPress (which Author Buzz UK is powered by) you can connect your social media accounts and update them each time you publish a post. That one action can make sure there is at least something appearing on each of your social media outposts.
You should try, over time, to load your site up with as much high-quality content as you can. Your site should be the best place to go for information about you. For books, for links, for the community. We will talk about that last one – the community – a little further into this article.
Your hub is the resource you can use to run the other parts of your author platform.
Are you ready to gather it all together?
Curating content with your hub
When you have focused on developing your library of interesting content on your hub, you will find there are a number of ways you can keep reusing it.
Timeless blog posts on your theme’s central topics are something you can share not just when you publish (although do that too) but later on as well.
Each social media outpost has its own optimal times to post and best number of posts to make each day. For example, Tumblr works best with between three and five posts a day while Facebook is one to two posts and Twitter is somewhere in-between (or sky-high, depending on the tastes of your audience).
This difference means that some social media sites are a lot hungrier for content than others. Fortunately, you can set them up to feed each other.
Image-based social media
There are no two ways about it, image-based social media like Flickr, Imgur, Pinterest, and so forth will require you to generate images. A camera, even the one on your phone, is going to be a huge help. I am a big fan of image macros – photos with text – usually a quote – on them. These images can be used as a resource for future blogging so hold on to them after you share them.
Some folks propose using image-based social media as a content delivery host for your images. That can save you bandwidth and works fine as long as the social media site has dependable and stable uptime.
If you create images that compliment your blogging output, then you can use those images to promote individual blog posts. Which gives you not one but two or more ways to share the blog post elsewhere.
Many of these sites allow you to connect your Twitter and/or Facebook account and will post to them for you. Which, again, means relevant content going out on these other channels. If you only blog a few times a week, you can use this to make sure that your social media has something new each day. What’s more, you can cross-pollinate your audiences and grow each section faster.
Using Tumblr’s queue system
Tumblr is a bit of a special case. It is by far the most content hungry social media outpost and the easiest to curate content for. Tumblr thrives on sharing (reblogging) other people’s content. This is seen as the friendly thing to do.
Tumblr also has a queue system which you should definitely make the most of. It allows you to pre-load your Tumblr blog with links (your image-based social media and posts hub site’s archives) as well as shares (reblogs) from relevant followers and potential readers. Just make sure the queue is nice an mixed up and Tumblr will take care of the scheduling for you.
If you allow your posts to be shared through to your Twitter account (you can choose per post), in no time your Twitter account is almost running itself.
Add in a few quotes from authors that your readers probably already like. Tumblr has a special format for sharing quotes and they seem to do quite well in terms of notes (loves and reblogs). You could also seed in a few bite-sized posts (Tumblr is big on shorter content) and you Tumblr followers will have a steady stream of platform-specific content tailored to their tastes.
Pop by every few weeks to top up the queue and answer any “asks” and Tumblr will take care of itself.
Your author platform seems to be gathering in nicely, now.
Keeping an eye on Facebook
If you are posting fresh blog posts regularly then your Facebook page should remain fairly busy. If you also have Tumblr and your choice of image-based social media feeding the odd item through to your page too, then there should be few days when your page lacks content. Those days are good for things like polls and announcements or sharing something from your archives if you are drawing a blank.
Remember to share things to your personal wall each day and your Facebook page is taken care of. It will appear to have it’s own media-specific content to keep the interest of fans from multiple sites. What’s more, it should be driving traffic back to your blog and on to other social media satellites.
Facebook can be a powerhouse of traffic but it likes to keep that traffic to itself so be sure to take every opportunity to draw your fans out to other locations. That way you can stay in touch with them and stop them dropping off the radar of your author platform.
For a solid author platform, build a community
Nothing pulls a group together like a sense of community. If your author platform is more than just a list but a vibrant community, people are much more likely to stay engaged and stick around.
Things like Author Buzz UK groups can help with that but really it is down to you. Here, your author platform hub can really help. Especially, if you encourage lively discussion in your comments section. Active comments are a positive sign that your community is engaging with what you are putting out. that’s not to say blogs without comments are not engaging just that comments are a sure sign of people taking an interest.
Never be afraid to promote your best on-blog content on your blog. Links in posts (when relevant) or attractive links in your sidebar can draw visitors further in and encourage them to explore your archives.
Think about ways you can make visitors from each social media outpost feel welcome on your blog. After all, you want them to go away with a good feeling about you and a desire to come back again next time.
Conclusions about your author platform
Try to think of your author platform as a friendly web of interconnected spaces with your blog at the centre. While each space will need a little personal attention from time to time, each space feeds another. Which should mean that as your platform grows (in friends and social media outposts) the workload does not grow with it.
I have only given you the broadest possible view today. Each social media site has its own quirks and needs which you should try to learn. With a little experimentation, you can discover exactly what works best for each one.
On a side note, I did once link my Facebook, Twitter, and few (now departed) social media sites together just a little too well. A single blog post started a storm of reposting over and over before I stopped it. Cross-link social media with care.