Social Media Tips for Speakers, Authors, Event Promoters and Creators

By Gail Z Martin

Social media is a powerful tool for people in creative industries to build their audience, develop dedicated fans, and boost sales and event attendance. Most of the programs are easy to learn and affordable even for small budgets. Don't be hesitant to learn new skills—dive in and discover how you can use social media to increase your market share!

Online Brand Building for Authors

Amazon offers a free “author page" for authors whose books are for sale through the site. Look for “Author Central" and follow the instructions to set up your page with your photo, bio, video and social media links. Your Amazon author page will show up whenever the site serves up a list of your books. You can even connect your blog so that every time you post to your blog, your author page gets an updated link/synopsis. Not only is your page a one-stop place for people to find out more about you and find all your publications, but anyone who follows your page will get automatic notifications whenever you add a new book.

Author Central is free, and in addition to your author page, signing up also gives you access to some of Book Scan's reports to help you track your sales. While self-published authors can easily look directly at their sales numbers, authors who rely on a traditional publisher only receive reports twice a year. Being able to check your sales in between reports, or whenever you run a promotion, can be very helpful.

Goodreads is another essential author site. While Goodreads is designed more for readers than for authors, it is a vibrant—and huge—community of people who love books. Like any community, Goodreads has its own norms and etiquette. Please take the time to read the instructions for authors and follow the guidelines. Goodreads readers are extremely welcoming for authors who take the time to approach them correctly, but things can get prickly if you go charging in with a heavy self-promotion vibe.

Sign up for an author page on Goodreads, and you've got your own bit of online real estate in a vibrant hub of authors and readers. Make sure you've got a good photo and bio, then link your book videos, blog and Twitter (another place your posts will automatically update) and make sure all your books are showing up in the list of your works. If something's missing, it's easy to link the absent book so that it does show up. Goodreads' “librarians" are very helpful in a pinch, but the instructions are good enough you won't need much help.

Explore your new page. You can list upcoming events, like book signings and author appearances, and make yourself available to take questions from interested readers. Goodreads encourages its members to read and review, and many Goodreads reviewers cross-post to Amazon. As a reader yourself, you can upload the covers of books you've read to your digital 'shelf' by using the helpful mobile app to scan the book bar code, thus sharing your reading list with your fans and friends.

Goodreads also makes it very easy to invite your Facebook friends to join you on Goodreads. You'll want to do that, because the environment to discuss books is much different—and dedicated—on Goodreads than it is on Facebook. Check out the groups on Goodreads dedicated to different books or genres and consider starting your own group. Unless you're already famous or the book is a big bestseller, you might want to start out creating a group on a topic instead of just about your own books (check existing groups so you don't duplicate). You can always create a group about your book(s) later.

Goodreads giveaways are a great way to whip up some excitement about your new book and get it into the hands of people who are likely to read and review. You can also use the “events" function to create online chats scheduled in advance to connect with far-flung readers who can't make it to a live event.

Relate to members as a reader first and an author second on Goodreads, and you'll build good relationships. Recommend books you've enjoyed by other authors, but remember that publishing is a very small world, so if you post reviews, only post positive comments. Negative posts are very likely to reach the author, whom you might find yourself sitting next to at an event in the near future!

Pinterest can be another good site for authors, if you use a little imagination. Start with 'pinning' (adding photos) of your book covers. Then create boards related to the topics/themes of your books. That might include travel destinations/locales where the books are set, motivational quotations, photos of items mentioned in the books (for example, I have a whole collection of pictures of abandoned buildings on Pinterest that ties in to one of my fiction series), recipes, clothing or lifestyle items. Or, make collections of things that interest you and share as a way to give readers a glimpse of the 'you' behind the book. When you travel or attend events related to your books, snap photos and share them on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook.

Social media for authors also involves connecting with others in the publishing world, learning from other writers, and getting tips from those with more experience. A wealth of writing blogs exist to provide a wide range of information for authors on all aspects of publishing and the writing life, but one of the most established is Absolute Write, which bills itself as the 'watercooler' for authors, just like the place conversation occurs in an office break room.

Building your newsletter subscriber list gives you direct access to your most engaged fans. Use a mail program that includes landing pages and autoresponders or utilize an extra site like ConvertKit or BookFunnel to offer prospective readers a free story or book in exchange for signing up. I use Constant Contact's 'event' software to create online promotions where I offer a free extra story or novella in exchange for sign-up with proof of purchase of one of my books. It's a great way to expand the subscriber list while rewarding new fans.

Let readers know where you're going to be by creating a list of upcoming events (signings, author appearances, book-related speaking engagements/events) on your web page and in Goodreads. Goodreads even has a feature that will let subscribers know about author events in their ZIP code! Remember to mention events on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and live tweet/post from events whenever possible.

Just because you deal with words doesn't stop you from using video. YouTube, Google Hangouts, Facebook Live, Periscope, Snapchat and other programs can be great ways to liven up your blog and social media posts with a personal touch and let your readers feel like they've met you. Do a video snippet from a book signing or author event, visit a site you've mentioned in one of your books and show your readers around, or just welcome readers into your workspace for a minute or two for a “behind-the-curtain" look at the writing life.

Making the Most of Social Media for Speakers and Event Promoters

ESpeakers is a site for speakers who want to have their sizzle reels seen by event runners and event coordinators who want to find new speakers. Make sure to fill out your profile fully and take advantage of the options provided to help you find and reach your ideal audience. Several membership levels are available with varying services, but at the upper end, ESpeakers integrates with several major CRM systems, has tools for lead tracking and email marketing, generates detailed reports, and has a mobile app. Beginning speakers will find the basic level robust and easy to upgrade. Take advantage of how easy ESpeakers makes it to upload video and connect to your social media networks, as well as its integration with speakers' bureaus.

For finding smaller groups close to home or in specific cities, take a look at Meetup. I covered the general capabilities of the site earlier in the book, but I want to talk specifically about its appeal to speakers and meeting professionals here. Meetup makes it easy for event runners to gather an audience for one-time or recurring events. It's perfect for pulling together events for a tour or organizing an ongoing meeting for a group or organization. And for speakers, it's a fantastic way to discover new groups that might be open to having you present to their group.

LinkedIn ranks up there with ESpeakers and a good CRM system for being a necessity of the speaking business. Add the casual connections you make to your friends on Facebook and Twitter and invite the most valuable new acquaintances to LinkedIn. Share video snippets on your LinkedIn feed, and post backstory about your topics and speeches in articles and blog posts, which you share on LinkedIn. Encourage your hosts and attendees to recommend and endorse you for your subject matter and speaking skills.

How long has it been since you updated your profile on CAPS or other speaking industry or professional associations in which you're a member? Life gets busy, and before you know it, your profile might be a year or more out of date. Sometimes, it's the simplest things that pack a lot of bang for the buck. Keep your profile/bio updated, add some fresh video snippets and video testimonials from recent events, make sure that your topics/events are current, and get a new headshot. If the sites have an online forum, be helpfully visible by answering questions, referring resources and being of service, keeping your own profile high without being self-promotional.

If you're a speaker with a back of the room book, then everything I said earlier about authors also applies to you—with the addition that every opportunity to promote your book also promotes your events and vice versa. YouTube, Periscope, Facebook Live, Google Hangouts and all the other easy video sites should be part of your everyday marketing arsenal. Take fans on tour with you when you travel, checking in from airports, hotels, event sites and any extra sightseeing. Do one-minute interviews with other speakers and event attendees. Tell viewers how they'll get more out of the event by reading your book, or encourage people who have read your book to delve deeper by attending upcoming events. You can even have someone in the audience stream you on Facebook Live during a live presentation (if the event is free and open to the public).

If you're a speaker or an event runner, your permission-based mailing list is your lifeblood, and live or online events provide the perfect way to grow your subscriber base (just make sure people know you're adding them to the mailing list when they sign up for events, drawings or information). Hold business card drawings at your events for prizes, post an offer on your website and blog providing a series of short video tips or an article in exchange for signing up with an email address. If you're speaking at an event that you're not hosting (and therefore don't have access to the attendee mailing list), create a special offer (like a bonus webinar or video series extending the event topic) that requires attendees to provide you with their email addresses, and ask the event runner to share your offer with all the registrants.

Put your newsletter signup or special offer link in every book and handout. Use Rafflecopter to manage online contests and capture email addresses.

Your email newsletter software should be robust enough to have services to help you grow your attendee base. Look for the ability to do online and email polls to increase engagement. (You can also offer a freebie in gratitude to those who participate in a poll and share their email address, which goes into your newsletter list.) Some programs, like Constant Contact, have an event invitation component that is easy to use and includes a lot of useful options like landing pages, autoresponders, the ability to accept fees/donations or sell product, and more.

Utilize web video like WebinarJam, GoToWebinar, and even Google Hangouts and livestreaming on YouTube to hold your own online seminars. All-in-one programs like StealthSeminar can handle live webinars and automated replays with a lot of nice extra features. Webinars can be great ways to bring prospects down your sales funnel, lead people from your presentation to your book or coaching programs, or gather email addresses. Best of all, you don't have to leave home!

New Ideas for Creators on Social Media

Whether you're an artist, musician, filmmaker, designer, photographer, crafter or other creative professional, you're looking for ways to grow your audience and share/sell what you create. Many online sales sites have social media components which can be helpful for connecting with customers and other creators, but you have to realize the potential.

Etsy is a core site for selling handmade, unique or vintage items and craft supplies, and it also has a forum for discussion threads that you can use to connect and engage with shoppers. Etsy Teams is an online way to have conversations with customers and other sellers about the kind of items you make and sell. Etsy Local enables customers to find their favorite online Etsy sellers at live events like craft fairs and street markets. Not surprisingly, Etsy makes it very easy to promote your items and Etsy page through social media on Facebook, Twitter and other sites.

Ebay isn't just the world's biggest yard sale anymore. If you sell through Ebay, consider using its social media features to create 'Collections'—themed groupings of items that you offer for sale to encourage customers to buy related and complementary items. Sharing your listings on Facebook, etc. is easy through the built-in interface.

DeviantArt is a well-established and popular site for graphic/visual artists that considers itself a community as much as a sales site. Profile pages, journals (in-site blogs), and folders (collections of items) make the site highly customizable for sellers and fans. Forums, chat rooms and in-site email (notes) enable and encourage conversation between and among artists and fans.

BandCamp, Behance, LikeMind, and Dribble are other sites designed for connecting creative professionals with fans/customers. Look for ways to raise your visibility within the sites you choose so that you become part of the community and develop relationships both with customers/fans as well as other creators. Take advantage of the ability to share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest with links back to where people can buy what they see. Use your blog and social media posts to share the story behind your work, your creative process, even glimpses of works in progress to capture fans' attention.

Don't overlook the possibilities of YouTube, Periscope, Facebook Live, etc. to build engagement. Take your fans on location to street fairs, flea markets, craft fairs, galleries—wherever you show and sell your work. Upload short videos of you working on a new project or talk about how you work and how you developed your unique style or technique. Do a one-minute retrospective of past pieces or show 'coming attractions' of new work. Team up with friends in the creative community to create videos that showcase several artists at once—perhaps combining music, performance art and visual art. Bring your visual art to life with a 'music video' and camera movement (look for royalty-free music from sites like MusicBakery).

Your email newsletter list is just as important to your livelihood as it is for authors, speakers and event runners. By building and engaging your subscribers, you can drive traffic to live events where you are showing or selling, to online sales and promotions, and to your own site to showcase your newest work. Reward subscribers periodically with digital bonuses like sketches or single songs. Build your list by asking people to sign up when they browse your real or online booth. Advertise seasonal sales, holiday offers or coupons, and take advantage of the connection between your email newsletter software and social media sites to share your updates and encourage more people to subscribe. Use Rafflecopter to gather emails with online contests. Have a sign-up on your blog and website, and on your Facebook business page. Let your online customers know that their purchases get them a free digital bonus and a subscription to your newsletter.

Kickstarter can be a godsend for creators—if you can inspire confidence that you will fulfill the project with a quality product. For this reason, it's good to have a track record before venturing into Kickstarter so that backers can feel confident that you will deliver the goods. Musicians, filmmakers, craftspeople, artists and other creative professionals have used Kickstarter and crowdfunding successfully to bring specialty projects to life or get enough of a guaranteed pre-order to make production worthwhile. A successful Kickstarter also creates a backer list, which can be invited to join your newsletter to get regular, non-Kickstarter updates on all your work.

Social media provides valuable ways for authors, speakers, event runners and creators to connect with your audiences and collaborate with peers. You can showcase your work and build your brand while demonstrating your credibility and extending your influence by being a good neighbor in these important online communities.

Excerpted from The Essential Social Media Marketing Handbook


Gail Z. Martin owns DreamSpinner Communications. Contact her at