Most of us have some sort of feeling about social media. But whether we love it or hate it, there’s no denying that it’s an important way for authors to reach their audiences. At Ooligan Press, we have a set of best practices for supporting our authors and their books through social media channels. As part of the “Inside Ooligan” series, here’s a look at what the Ooligan Press Online Content Manager does for our books in production. As with many elements of book production, it starts earlier than you might expect—about six months before launch. Here are some of the key milestones and tools that we use.
Social Media Strategy Document (SMSD)
The SMSD is the customized go-to social media guide for each book. It is a combination of branding, marketing, communication, and author/illustrator information. The strategy document gives a timeline for different phases of social media engagement (announcements, awareness, pre-orders, launches, and sustainment). It also collects information such as the author’s social media handles, types of posts for each platform, who we think would love to read this book, and ideas for engaging with audiences about the title. We start on this document about six months before publication, and collaborate to keep it updated through the launch phase of the book.
Each book gets its own focused set of posts, which we call a “campaign”. The campaign is coordinated with objectives for each phase as mentioned above. For example, about 120 days before the book’s pub date, we share a well-designed announcement post. That is the prompt to start posting weekly content about the book, to generate interest, and grow its audience in the pre-order months prior to launch. As we get closer to the pub date, the pace of posts will increase and we start looking for posts from the author to share. Some of the tasks are dependent on book milestones—for example, we won’t have an author unboxing video until the printed copies arrive. The timeline for the social media campaign is integrated into the Ooligan Press Production Timeline template, so that the book’s project team and author know what to expect.
Third-Party Scheduler and Bulk Upload Sheets
Ooligan Press has several goals with social media. We want to connect audiences to our books, share information about Portland State University and our program, support and engage with other regional independent publishers, and be a voice for increased representation in publishing. That’s a lot of moving pieces and varied content! So we use a third-party social media scheduler to help us stay on track. We are currently using Buffer, which allows us to schedule content ahead of time, and also provides some key analytics for different campaigns and types of content.
To ensure that our posts look good and are easy to understand, and to maintain some consistency with many different folks designing content, we have an established approval process for social media items. Like many organizations, we use Bulk Upload Sheets to organize draft posts. Our Design Manager and Copy Chief are then easily able to approve posts or suggest edits. Afterword, the Online Content Manager can find everything that needs to be scheduled in one place. The Design Manager also provides a color palette, fonts, and approved images to create social media content for each book (drawn from the cover). This helps everyone stay consistent with imagery and makes the book’s content easy to identify visually.
Engagement with Authors and Author’s Followers
One of the most important things that we do in social media as a publisher is to amplify and support an author’s own social media presence. We always ask authors to tag us, share photos, and be as present as they can in this process. It comes very easily to some authors and others aren’t so involved, but audiences are really eager to know who is behind these beautiful covers and they love to see “behind the scenes!” While actively working with authors, the Ooligan social media team holds giveaways of advance copies or other book-related swag, posts live from events, and answers questions and comments about the book. We have also collaborated with outside publicists that authors hire. This process doesn’t end after a book launches and we are always delighted to share and boost an author’s social media efforts.
All publishers want to generate interest and excitement about each of their books, and to help readers find the books that are right for them. Social media is a key piece of that effort at Ooligan Press. Take a look at our social media accounts to see these tools in action! What are the most challenging or important parts about this process? We’d love to hear from you.