Tired of posting a lot of words on your social media accounts with little to show for it? Feel like you’re just spinning your wheels? Wondering how to get more of your followers to notice your posts? Social media experts say that using more visual content—images, photographs, and video—will give your content a significant boost.
According to B2B Infographics, photos are liked twice as often as text updates, and videos are shared twelve times more than links and text posts combined!
We’ll show you how to take advantage of the power of visual content for your author pages and profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, and anywhere else that works. Along the way, we’ll look at practical examples from several of your fellow authors, including chef Hilah Johnson, tech evangelist Guy Kawasaki, comedian B.J. Novak, thriller writer Scott Sigler, writing mentor K.M. Weiland, Facebook expert Amy Porterfield, and more!
Ready? Let’s get started!
13 WAYS TO BUILD VISUAL CONTENT FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
Here are several ways you can create visual content—images, photographs, and video—that will build a closer relationship with your current readers, and create opportunities to build your audience. Some of these options may take some planning, but some are simple enough to try today.
Introducing the Author
Before you do anything else, make sure all of your social media profiles and pages have up-to-date photographs of you and images of your current products or titles. In addition to your basic headshot, some platforms allow for you to create something fun alongside it. Facebook and Google+ have cover images, for example, and Twitter allows you to change the background. If you have a timely message, like a contest, sale, or webinar, consider switching out the cover or background images to reflect the new message for a limited time.
Facebook profile for Hilah Johnson
Facebook profile for Paulo Coelho
Facebook profile for Pharrell Williams
Twitter profile for Guy Kawasaki
Twitter profile and background for Chris Well
Google+ profile for Can Akdeniz
Google+ profile for Tyora Moody
Sharing your personality on camera fosters an even deeper connection with your readers. Adding video to your website can make your site “sticky,” which means you’re able to keep the attention of visitors for a longer period of time. The “stickier” the site, the better it looks to Google for search rankings.
Here is a welcome video created by author Mariann Mohos to promote her title You Want WHAT??? Concierge Tales from the Men and Women who Make Las Vegas Dreams Come True.
If you have a YouTube channel, there is a specific place for users to create a welcome video to introduce yourself and to encourage them to subscribe to your channel. Here’s the one I created for my author channel. (I avoided saying anything YouTube-specific because I intend to embed the video in some of my other web pages as well.)
One of the most valuable ways to build and engage the audience is to create different forms of content that support each other. For example, if you write about arts and crafts, you might create free content that demonstrates your expertise. If you write about a particular issue or topic, you would want to create content that builds your authority as a thought leader in that space. If you write fiction, you want to create content that would draw the exact kind of potential readers who would also be interested in your own work.
Information graphics or “infographics” use fun images and colorful graphics to make it easier to grasp complex or otherwise boring information—statistical data, historical facts, geographical information, what have you. Although primarily used by nonfiction writers as teaching tools, there are creative ways for fiction writers to use them as well.
SlideShare is sort of a “YouTube for slideshows.” Create your files in PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote, or OpenDocument, and then upload them to SlideShare. Your slide decks can then be viewed on the site or embedded on your other sites. You can use these slide shows as another way of sharing loads of technical information in bite-sized portions.
Photo Albums and Themed Boards
Why not share any photographs from your research? The covers from your favorite books? The posters from your favorite movies? You can also share photos of the tools of your trade, of the places you write, of your local booksellers. Anything that would connect with your ideal readers.
Just Add Text
Another suggestion: Take images and add captions to share a quotation that is motivational, funny, or of other interest to your particular readers. It is easy enough to add words to images with Microsoft Paint, or with free sites like PicMonkey and Picfont.
Just The Words
Or you can make the image be just the words, too. Comedian and author B.J. Novak posted this on his Instagram account:
Give your readers a vote on your next product! If you have more than one project in the works, ask which they would prefer to see first. Or quiz them on topics within your sphere as an author: If you write mysteries, what is their favorite detective series? If you write puzzle books, what are their favorite types of puzzles or activities? If you are an expert in social media, what are the questions they want you to answer next?
Nerd Alert ran a poll to determine whether respondents read prologues:
Do you have some expertise that can be demonstrated on camera? (Assuming, of course, it is related to what you write.)
Chef and author Hilah Johnson stars in the video series Hilah Cooking. These short-form instructional videos features Johnson sharing recipes and how-to tips with beginner and intermediate cooks, and those looking for simple, low-cost recipes.
She recently released a revised edition of Learn To Cook: A Down and Dirty Guide to Cooking (For People Who Never Learned How) and the second edition of The Breakfast Taco Book. Her website is also chock-full of downloadable recipes.
Watch a recent episode: Breakfast Meatloaf Recipe – Make Ahead Breakfast
Are you a teacher? Do you have wisdom to share?
When K.M. Weiland isn’t writing her fiction, she’s mentoring other writers through Helping Writers Become Authors—which includes a website, blog, newsletter, and a series of short teaching videos.
Her books for authors include Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, and her fiction includes the western A Man Called Outlaw, the medieval epic Behold the Dawn, and the epic fantasy Dreamlander.
Here’s a recent episode of her video blog:
A Lesson in Eliminating Unnecessary Characters From Your Story
Tim Schmoyer is another author who creates teaching videos. Officially certified by YouTube in Audience Growth, he trains online video creators and marketers through YouTube shows at ReelSEO and Video Creators to help them master the YouTube platform, build their audience, and spread their message. He recently published the book 30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel.
Here is one of his recent videos:
2 Essential Elements of Successful YouTube Channels [Creator’s Tip #87]
Behind the Scenes Videos
Take your readers on a field trip! Posting short videos on YouTube, or micro-videos on Vine (6 seconds) or Instagram (15 seconds), you can share:
- Where you researched your latest book.
- How and where you do your job.
- The people with whom you work.
- Your local bookseller.
- You writing.
- You not writing (when you’re supposed to be writing).
- Sharing quick tips.
- Sharing quick words of wisdom.
- Sharing quick words of encouragement.
- Pitch your book.
- Pitch your series.
- Share what you’re reading.
- Review the books that inspire you as a writer.
- Review the movies that inspire you as a writer.
- Review the TV shows that inspire as a writer.
- Review products that you use as a writer.
To promote her Christian historical romance novel To Whisper Her Name, author Tamera Alexander and her publisher created a series of videos that took viewers to the Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, Tenn., the setting for her novel.
Playlist: Tamera Alexander: Welcome to Belle Meade Plantation
Trying to amp up the engagement with your readers? Take it to the next level by letting them create the content: Ask your readers to send or post pictures or videos of themselves with your book. Ask them to create video reviews and recommendations. (Make sure they create hashtags or send you a link.) As these images or videos come in, you can then re-post or embed them on your own accounts.
Thriller author Scott Sigler held a contest where readers could enter a photo or video on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. Watch him explain the rules:
Author Lisa Renee Jones also did a photo contest, with the added wrinkle that you could send either a real photo or a photoshopped fake:
For his debut novel, Failstate, SF author John W. Otte held a contest for readers to create a book trailer. This video explains that contest and its rules.
Want to see the entries?
Playlist: Failstate Book Trailers
CallS to Action
A “call to action” or CTA is a direct message to the reader that prompts them to do something: “click” or “like” or “follow” or “scan” or some other specific action. Experts say that most readers will not follow-through unless you specifically ask. For any any other campaign or event where you want your potential readers to engage—you have a book on sale at a special price; you are holding a virtual event; you want them to sign up for your author newsletter; you have a contest—remember to include that vital piece of instruction on a button, banner, or other graphic or text, in any of your visual content intended to drive a response.
How do you use images or videos to boost engagement with your readers? What tools do you rely on for creating a better range of visual content? Share your experiences in the comment box below!