Thursday, June 15, 2017

Social Media Content: Feeding the Beast

By Jana Oliver, @crazyauthorgirl

Part of the Indie Authors Series

One of the more challenging aspects of an indie author’s career—besides writing the books—is generating “content” for your various social media platforms. A few years back all you needed was to blog regularly, which was challenging enough. Nowadays you need endless items for your social media platforms, and coming up with all that, without resorting to the constant “buy my book” pleas, can be daunting.

Since I’m in the process of putting our house up for sale (along with all the insane prep work that requires) my social media interactions have been bare bones recently. And in some cases, nonexistent. This isn’t ideal, but it’s the best I can do at this point. However, I’ve made sure to faithfully post on my Jana Oliver Facebook page since FB is my strongest platform. Since I have a book coming out later this fall, I’m keeping my readers in the loop on how that project is proceeding, along with tidbits about the upcoming move.

Often the content I post is not something I’ve created, but cartoons or memes I’ve collected over the past year or so. Whenever I see one of interest, I save it, then resurrect it when it fits whatever I’m posting. I have a rich collection of images, comics and memes, some geared toward holidays, which I roll out every few years to keep them fresh. But every now and then I get in the mood to create new graphics from scratch. Since posts with photos (or video) are more highly favored on Facebook, you need to find a reliable source for those images.

I use Adobe Stock Photo, which costs me $29.99 per month (10 images). They have a stunning array of images. When you sign up, they give you 10 free photos right up front, then bill you the $29.99 per month from then on. To receive that price, it’s a one year commitment, so if you’re not sure you’re going to need 120 images per year, this might not be the best option for you. The credits will roll over from year to year (up to 120 for this particular plan), but if you don’t renew you lose all of those credits, and, if I understand correctly, all the images in your libraries. Ouch.When I finally decide to cease using the service, I will be sure to exhaust all my credits and download all my various libraries before I depart. As with any sites such as these, be sure to read their Terms and Conditions boilerplate carefully.

Some other stock photo sites who offer various plans, each with their own restrictions.

Stock.xchng (offers both free and paid images)
Getty Images (also affiliated with iStock Photos)

If your budget is considerably more modest, you might try MorgueFile. Many of MorgueFile’s images are free, but often you’ll find you’ve somehow selected a photo from another service, who does charge, so some caution is warranted. MorgueFile has some decent images, but many of them are of amateur quality. It’s hit or miss.

Once you’ve chosen your images from whatever site works best for your budget, consider using Canva to build the content for FB, and the other platforms. Canva is free unless you want certain custom backgrounds, and it is simple to use. In the example below, I chose an image from Adobe Stock because it matches my hero and heroine fairly closely, then plugged this photo into a solid Canva background. Once that was in place, I fiddled with the font, the font’s color and positioning of the text. In this case, the text is directly from the book, and the final product worked great for a Facebook author party.


Sometimes the graphics are as simple as touting your series.

If you don’t have a good eye for design, find someone who is and pay them to help you create a selection of graphics you can use over the coming months.

I try to tie the graphics to my books in some way. Since one of my series is set in Chicago, when the Cubs won the world series, I posted a video from the Windy City celebrating that win, which was immediately shared. If you prefer to use quotes instead of images, but are having trouble coming up with your own, consider using either BrainyQuote or Quozio. Quozio allows you to create a graphic or photo that incorporates a particular quote. If you’re into photo collages, check out Pixlr Express, which is free but does have some content that requires extra fees.

Where some authors do well with continually posting the same message on both their Facebook Page and on Twitter, I like variety. Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses and it’s wise to tailor your content accordingly. You can do a moderately long blog post on your website, put an image and the link to that site on your Facebook Page, then tweet about it. One piece of content, three platforms.

Most platforms have some form of analytics, Facebook included. Here’s the Insights about my most recent postings. The one that hit it out of the park was my announcement about being a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier award. That one gained some serious traction. The posts about the house prep aren’t hugely popular, but they do keep my readers informed and that’s important right now. Still, I keep an eye on my Reach and my Post Clicks to determine exactly what my readers would like to see in my Facebook feed. Once my life settles down, I’ll be a lot more attentive to exactly which posts garner the most attention and juggle my posts accordingly.

When you decide what kind of content you wish to post, try to get as much traction out of it as possible. Alter it to fit the specific platform and try to keep the repetition to a minimum. If I see the same post over and over, I’ll ignore it, as will most people. If you’re not a friend, eventually I’ll Unfollow you to cut down the “noise”. Harsh, but true.

In next month’s post I’m going to discuss the miracle that are interns and how they can help you pull together your ad campaigns, keep your message in front of your readers while creating that endless stream of content social media demands.  

Do you have particular sites you use to gather interesting content, or build your graphics? What has worked for you? What hasn’t? I’d love to hear your experiences.

An international bestseller and the recipient of over a dozen major awards, Jana Oliver often laments that there are far too many stories inside her head at any given moment.

Best known for her young adult Demon Trappers series, she writes what intrigues her, and spends a good deal of time fretting about whether demons actually exist.

When not wandering around the internet researching exorcisms, or posting on social media (eerily similar, those two), Jana can be found in Atlanta with her very patient husband, and a rapidly dwindling collection of single malt Scotch.

Jana Oliver | Chandler Steele | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound |

About Cat's Paw

After five years in a Louisiana prison, Alex Parkin desperately wants to start over. Even more, he craves revenge against Vladimir Buryshkin, the New Orleans drug lord who framed him for cocaine possession. The second he walks out of prison, Alex is a wanted man, both by the Russian mob, and by Veritas, a private security firm that claims to be "on his side." When his sister is brutally beaten, he has to choose: Join forces with Veritas, or let Buryshkin destroy his family.

Because of the Russian mobster, Morgan Blake lost both her husband, and her career at the FBI. Now working with Veritas, she's eager to take Buryshkin down. So eager, she's willing to do anything to make that happen, even sacrificing a certain ex-con, if needed.

As a load of tainted cocaine hits New Orleans' streets, the body count quickly rises. To prevent more deaths, and a potential drug war, Morgan and Alex must learn that revenge comes at too high a price, and that love always has its own agenda.



  1. I have yet to publish, but I maintain a "minimal" media presence with a monthly blog, daily twitter and Facebook ( though I have lapsed lately birth of grandson, elder care, you know the drill). I love Pinterest as part of my writer platform. I've used, a pay as you go option, but found a treasure trove of free photos to use without restriction.

  2. Thanks for the recommendations. I have Pinterest accounts but getting out there to do anything with them has proven to be hard. Most days I count myself lucky just to post on Facebook. I'm hoping that down the line I can get a bit more proactive.

  3. I do three things that may be helpful to others:

    1. I cross collect stuff. Things I save on Facebook from my profile can be posted to my fan page and, sometimes to Twitter. Things I find on GooglePlus (which I hardly ever post on) are rich fodder for Facebook and Twitter. Lots of things from all three places also get pinned to Pinterest.

    2. I use Social Jukebox to post to Facebook and Twitter for a low cost per month ($19.99). I have one Facebook account and two Twitter accounts set up for that price. I can fill up ten 'jukeboxes' of content for each of those. I have an AmReading jukebox, for example, feeding to my Facebook fan page and to my Twitter author page. I have another jukebox for reading memes for Facebook and an AmWriting jukebox for writing related memes and articles for Twitter since a lot of my followers there are other authors. I have an add on for Chrome that lets me save easily to the Jukeboxes and I have them set to forget. They schedule everything for me. You could do the same sort of thing with Hootsuite or any of half a dozen other programs.

    3. I have a paid Canva account to create graphics. Canva has a lot of free photos and graphics you can use to create ads and memes, to begin with. The paid account (about 9.99 a month w/ 2 months free if paid annually) gets you even more graphics free. Most other graphics there are just a dollar for a one time use. If you're using a graphic of theirs to make a book cover that isn't always free or always free because you have a paid plan, you can pay $10 to get an unlimited use commercial license. If you can't find something there to use, Pixabay is free and there are lots of great photos, graphics and vectors there.

    1. You definitely have a very organized way of working social media. Looks like you're also breaking out the kind or presentation of the content per platform, which is very savvy. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I have an annual subscription which allows me unlimited downloads. The pictures aren't good enough to use as cover images, but they're good for inspirational memes and blog posts. I think I pay $90 per year.

    I also have SocialJukebox. I'm only using it to share to Twitter at the moment while I figure out how I'm going to share to Facebook. I use it for retweeting memes, evergreen blog posts, and book reviews I've written.

    I use Buffer for sharing to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram, and I can personalise the post to each (e.g. so the tweet has two relevant hashtags, while Instagram has more, and I usually delete them for the other platforms). I don't share everything on every platform - I do pick and choose so hopefully people don't see the same thing over and over.

    I use Buffer for sharing my own content (e.g. new blog posts), and for sharing good posts I find from others (like this one). I spend a couple of hours a week and "fill" my Buffer, and it then drips the articles out over the next week. I'm on the Awesome plan which allows me to link 10 social media profiles for $10/month.

    I'm another Canva fan, although I get all I need from the free version at the moment. It's great.

    What I'm not so good at is tracking my analytics. I'll get there!

  5. Wow, you people are really working it here. I wasn't aware of SocialJukebox. I'll have to check it out. Thank you for letting us know what's working for you.

  6. Tweet deck is another program I find useful for scheduling and organising twitter. PowerPoint is still a good program for graphics and a photo source.