Wednesday, November 18

3 Elements of Every Successful Social Media Post

By Michael Rogan, @selfpubnation

Part of the How They Do It Series

Social media is an important part of today's world, and love it or hate it, it's up to each writer to figure out how we want to use it. Michael Rogan stops by the lecture hall today to share some tips on navigating our social media a little easier.

Michael is a former cubicle monkey turned self-published author, and the author of more than 35 books, including How to Write a Book That Doesn't Suck (and Will Actually Sell) and the Lazy Writer's Guide to Pinterest. He's also the creator of the seminar "5 Secrets to Making a Damn Good Living as a Writer" - which is totally free, and worth the price of admission. He is also the author of three horrible unfinished novels involving zombies and alien doctors. One of which he started working on as a 16-year-old in the back of a school bus in Encinitas, California.

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Take it away Michael...

Back in my corporate, cubicle-monkey days I attended a meeting where the analytics department shared an insightful -- yet frightening -- tidbit that the "sweet spot" for social media engagement was content with a second-grade reading level.


Not middle school. Or junior high. Or EVEN third-grade.

But good, old juice-box, "learn how to tell time on a clock" second-grade. And it's not because people are stupid or lazy. (Or maybe a little lazy.)

But because social media is where people go NOT to think.

And so before you tweet out a link to your 4000-word blog post on the importance of steampunk fiction or publish that Facebook rant about fiction contest judges, here are 3 must-have elements to add to your social media book marketing mix:

Social Media Must-Have Element #1: Visual

Sorry, but the days of sending out a text-only missive about your latest book offering on social media is going the way of the Dewey Decimal system.

People are busy - and suffering from a serious bout of smartphone ADD - and if they can't SEE what your post is about in 12 nanoseconds they'll move on. (Usually to some OTHER author's social media post.)

And reading text on a phone or tablet - or any screen - is hard. (And requires energy most people don't have.)

But instead you could do things like:
  • Include a picture or a video in every post (even short, random ones)
  • Include a picture of a dog or cat whenever you get a chance (This spreads like social media wildfire!)
  • Share an inspirational video or picture of the week/month
  • Pull quotes from your books and create a graphic featuring your sage-like wisdom (Tools like Canva and PicMonkey are perfect for this.)
  • Promote blog posts with a simple image, which contains the title of your blog superimposed on top

No matter how text-y and dry your topic may be, pictures and videos will entice your followers to "read" the meat of your social media post. (Which is usually something along the lines of "Hey...Go Buy My Book!")

Social Media Must-Have Element #2: Fun

People don't go to social media to be educated. (No matter what all those cheesy Internet marketing ads on Facebook say.) They go to have fun and see if their sister posted more baby pictures.

And nothing is more fun than contests, quizzes, and games. (Anything that lets them conjure their inner second-grader.)

This would include things like:
  • Asking your followers who their favorite author is. (Besides you, of course.)
  • Getting their feedback on their favorite literary bad guy.
  • Letting them enter a contest where they get to name one of the characters in your book. (If you dare.)
  • Having them vote on…well…almost anything!

These don't have to be complicated. Simple questions such as - "Emma or Pride and Prejudice?"; "Asimov or LeGuin?"; "Gandalf or Dumbledore?" - can do the trick. (It also deposits credit in your social media account, so when you do have something to promote your tribe will be more inclined to listen...and eventually buy.)

Speaking of tribes...

Social Media Must-Have Element #3: Tribe-Building

One of the smartest things you can do with their social media marketing is to recognize all those followers, fans and readers . And not as boring, generic customers who help you create robust royalty checks, but as inner-circle, exclusive members of a tribe.

Your tribe.

This is the "Deadhead principle" where people don't simply identify as fans of a group or an artist, but as part of a bigger collective entity. (Which many times is more powerful, and better, than the music or art created.)

You can do this by offering:
  • Fan-only discounts
  • Follower-only content
  • Collaborative boards where people can discuss and offer feedback on your work
  • Reader of the week/month platforms to recognize your biggest

This may not sound that amazing to you but having “high status” in a group, even if the group is your collection of 12 Facebook fans, is a very primal and powerful motivator.

And it’s also a nice thing to do. (And doing nice things tends to be 50% of the social marketing game right there.)

After spending way too much time--and far too much money--on social media stuff that didn't work, Michael Rogan has compiled all his shortcuts and strategies in his new offering Lazy Writer's Guide to Social Media.

Fiction University Readers: You're invited to our TOTALLY FREE seminar "5 Secrets to Making a Damn Good Living as a Writer!" - to grab your seat, head over to

About How to Write a Book That Doesn't Suck (and Will Actually Sell)

Learning how to write a book is easy. Learning how to write a book that doesn't suck and can actually make you money -- and set you up for a full-time writing career is harder. But it's nowhere near impossible. And it's far more do-able than you can imagine.

The trouble is, most books offering tips on how to write a book fail to address two key considerations:

1) Most self published non-fiction books suck
2) It's ALMOST impossible to make a living from ONE self-published non-fiction book

Believe me, I tried. No one has more churned out more epic pieces of monumental Kindle crap than I have.

But then, through making every mistake a writer can, I finally learned and honed a simple step-by-step approach to writing books that move readers, and allow me to have a full-time job as a writer. And it's that system I'd like to share with you in How to Write a Book That Doesn't Suck and Will Actually Sell...

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  1. Fantastic advice! I just picked up a copy of The Lazy Writer's Guide to Pinterest!

  2. This is wonderful - thank you! I'll be sharing this with my tribe! :)