Social media is part of our personal and professional lives now. Authors who self-publish their books are tasked with building their audience, then staying connected with them. So, in order to accomplish this, putting out interesting, engaging social media content is required, regularly if not daily. I have helped authors create posts for various platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs on WordPress, LinkedIn, Tumblr).
Visual content is particularly challenging yet essential. Everyone likes seeing a picture with your post and in fact, it’s much more likely to be noticed. It’s possible to create graphics without being a designer with expensive software and extensive training. Sometimes you DO need a professional graphic designer, but not for your everyday posts.
Of course, “easy” is a relative word. Never kid yourself, there is ALWAYS a learning curve. That said, I like these free online tools for social media, and I use them daily. You might find them helpful, too!
I like these free social media tools because:
- Free versions have full features.
- Next-level upgrades are inexpensive.
- They’re easy to learn use for the technically-challenge (me).
- They make you look more professional! Not cheesy.
My number one pick, helps you create social media graphics, ads, headers and more with excellent, customize-able templates and super-easy-to-use graphics tools (compared to something like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, for example). Lots of free photos to start with, too, with an option to buy photos or graphic elements for $1 each. But you can do a lot with the free options. And, you can use Pixabay for additional photos you can upload to Canva. My favorite feature is the text additions. So easy to use and lots of fonts to choose from, too. Most of it is drag and drop. Hurray!
Once you start creating social media posts, you start looking for photos and illustrations you can use. And as authors, you know there are issues of copyright on Internet images. Don’t risk a copyright violation! You can search for “free photos” to find a source, but be careful. “Free” is another relative term. I’m confident using Pixabay and I use it often. At this time, it provides LOADS of free, searchable photos and illustrations you can use. All pictures are released under Creative Commons CCO into the public domain.
Buffer and Hootsuite are similar apps. Both of them help you schedule various social media posts in advance. So, you can create a batch of posts and then get them scheduled at your own chosen intervals (date and time). This is really helpful for planning your time. Which one to choose? Think about which social media platforms you use the most frequently and then see which ones Buffer and Hootsuite cover. I use Buffer, because I like to use it for Pinterest posts; while Hootsuite currently doesn’t have Pinterest in the mix. If you search the Internet, you’ll find more apps that do a similar function. Find one that works for you! I also schedule Twitter and LinkedIn posts using this app.
In additional Facebook “fan pages” and Tumblr have their own respective scheduling features included in the app, in case you don’t feel like using something like Buffer. Facebook personal timelines do NOT have a scheduling feature so Buffer/Hootsuite is a good choice if you only use Facebook personal timelines to post.
Twitter users! Go to Tweetdeck.Twitter.com, log into your Twitter account, and see all of your Twitter activity on one customizable page. Tweet, retweet, reply, track, and view trends. This is the meaning of “social.” You can more easily see what those you follow are posting, react and interact. It can be used for a single Twitter account or for multiple accounts. I have two Twitter accounts and so this consolidates the info onto a single site. Very handy!
Finally, this online writing tool is excellent for checking your blog and social media content for spelling, grammar and usage errors. Stop posting something, then finding embarrassing mistakes, or having your readers point them out (even worse).
BONUS: And this last “bonus” resource, in case you haven’t already discovered it, is Goodreads. It’s not an app, per se. It’s a great source for quotes that you can use for all sorts of reference and inclusion in writing and posting. You can search for quotes by person or by topic. Plus, there’s a “quotes widget” that you can embed in your website (or ask your webmaster to help if you don’t do this). The widget allows you to pick favorite persons, then it randomly selects and posts quotes by those persons. Pick your favorite authors (or songwriters, like Bob Dylan) and you can easily have another interesting bit of content on your website.