Girl making a peace sign towards her phone camera on a mount in front of her

Why Influencer Marketing is More Important Than You Think

Would you feel comfortable hiring an influencer for marketing purposes? A lot of startups, but also many traditional companies, swear by it. Others strictly stick to the classic marketing measures. What is it about influencer marketing that drives opinions so far apart? I have taken some of the most popular counter-arguments and contrasted them with my own view.

Argument 1: Authenticity
Influencers only promote products for the money and don’t care about their followers. To a certain extent, I agree. However, every form of paid advertising does the same thing. The difference is that influencers stand behind their advertising message with their own face and name, which should make them more careful in choosing what products they advocate for.

As studies show, the media channel we trust most in is Word-of-Mouth. No medium can compete with a personal recommendation, especially if you are familiar with this person—and yes, this includes influencers, even though most of their followers don’t know them personally. Good influencers are in close and friendly contact with their community, and through that, they achieve the feeling of belonging to a group for people in that community. While you could imply influencers fake closeness to their communities to make money, I think that many underestimate the group dynamic of a community that follows the same interest and, of course, the feeling of being the center of such a community. Because even if no one likes to admit it, no one becomes an influencer without liking being the center of attention.

Argument 2: Giving up control
When I hire an influencer, I have no control over the content spread about my product. First of all, it is absolutely possible to remain in control by creating a detailed brief for the influencer beforehand. However, I would highly recommend giving up some of the control.

When you book an influencer, you are not only booking an advertising channel, but also a whole personality that comes with it. They produce authentic content by often using the same way of speaking, imagery, et cetera. They are probably closer to the target group than you are. Furthermore, they have expertise or engage themselves in a certain topic, through which they achieve an opinion leadership in that area. That expertise can be in factual topics as well as in creative topics like dancing, makeup, and so on. Therefore, it is recommended to take advantage of their experience and involve the influencer in the creative process from day one.

Argument 3: Social media equals bad
As soon as I hire an influencer, I make myself dependent on the social media platform. As mentioned before, booking an influencer is more than just buying an ad space on a social media channel. Influencers are the rock stars of the digital age. Depending on their success and their target audience, they appear in TV, radio, newspapers, you name it. Some might even have a format of their own or have established a brand. Use this for content marketing in any media channel. By offering content instead of pushing ads in the audience’s face you will bypass ad fatigue, which occurs after people see a particular ad too often. Instead, you can place your product directly in the channel they choose to see.

However, what should not be forgotten is that social media is the most sought-after medium among the younger target group. It also facilitates a direct dialogue with them. Dialogue marketing has long been used as a very effective method, as you can get direct feedback from the target group or even use crowdsourcing for creating new content.

In the end, it is important to note that influencer marketing is nothing new in principle. Our buying decisions have always been influenced by friends, celebrities, fictional characters, and so on. Booking influencers on social media, on the other hand, is really new and combines a whole lot of very effective marketing methods among saving you a lot of work steps in the operative execution. However, it is important to remember that every influencer is also a human being who makes mistakes and can get into crises. Therefore, you should not see them only as a marketing tool, but you should always be in close contact with them and solve problems together. This way you not only ensure that your product doesn’t go down the drain together with the influencer, but also preserve your own authenticity.

Book shelf including books of different genres, colors, and sizes.

Eight Celebrity-Run Instagram Book Clubs and Where to Find Them

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced people around the world indoors, many picked up books to pass the time. Due to the global nature of social media, readers were able to connect over titles with people they may never meet in person. Celebrities or influencers with existing social media followings have found their platforms to be an opportunity to share their interests and spark mass discussions about books via book clubs on Instagram. Here is a list of eight celebrity-run book clubs which host discussions on Instagram:

  1. Belletrist, founded by Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss @belletrist on Instagram

    Emma and Karah, both avid readers, channeled their hobby into an online community of like-minded subscribers. Though social media and the unifying power of the internet have shaped Belletrist’s success, the project kicked off twelve years ago thanks to snail mail. Best friends Karah Preiss [living in New York] and Emma Roberts [living in LA] would always be sending each other books in the mail and writing little notes on them. It became the center of their friendship, exchanging recommendations and discussing them. They have similar tastes, but are also very different, so there was a nice blend of having so much in common yet still being able to learn from each other.

  2. Our Shared Shelf, founded by Emma Watson @oursharedshelf on Instagram

    As part of her work with UN Women, Emma Watson decided to start a feminist book club to share what she learned and hear other thoughts on the works she engaged with via Goodreads. Watson decided to step back from the Goodreads account, but will continue sharing books on Instagram with #OurSharedShelf.

  3. Between Two Books, founded by Florence Welch @betweentwobooks on Instagram

    Between Two Books was started in 2012, when an Irish teen tweeted Florence with the idea that she should have her own book club. It has grown into a vibrant online community, still led by original members, Kate and Leah, along with Florence, Maria, and Terri-Jane. The club regularly features guest recommendations from artists, writers, musicians, and directors.

  4. Reese’s Book Club, founded by Reese Witherspoon @reesesbookclub on Instagram

    Each month, Reese (book-lover-in-chief) chooses a book with a woman at the center of the story. There is no formula to book selection, but the book club looks for ways to deepen connections to books, authors, and ourselves.

  5. Noname Book Club, founded by Noname @nonamereads on Instagram

    Noname Book Club is a community dedicated to uplifting POC voices by highlighting two books each month written by authors of color. In addition to building community with folks across the country, the organization also sends the monthly book picks to incarcerated comrades through the Noname Reads Prison Program.

  6. Read With Jenna, founded by Jenna Bush Hager in collaboration with The Today Show @readwithjenna on Instagram

    Each month Jenna picks a new book to read with viewers and discuss on The Today Show.

  7. Andrew Luck Book Club, founded by Andrew Luck @albookclub on Instagram

    Andrew Luck uses his book club as a platform to share his love of reading with a large audience. Every month, Andrew recommends two books for readers: one for the “Rookies” (younger folks) and the other for “Veterans” (more seasoned readers). Andrew tries to interview one author each month and share that podcast on his website.

  8. Kaia Gerber’s Book Club, founded by Kaia Gerber @kaiagerber on Instagram

    In the midst of COVID-19 lockdowns, Kaia decided to start a book club as a way to stay connected with her followers beyond the surface level uses of social media. Kaia shares book selections in her Instagram story, and the following week discusses the book on Instagram live (sometimes with a friend, writer, guest, etc.)

The cover of SHORT, VIGOROUS ROOTS, a 2022 anthology published by Ooligan Press, centered over an image of a colorful foreign city taken from the sky

Designing Basic Social Media Images for Your Book

Are you lost when it comes to designing social media images for your upcoming book? This step-by-step guide walks you through the process of creating basic social media images to promote your book, including the preferred image dimensions for several social media platforms.

  1. Determine Your Platform(s) and Dimensions
  2. What social media platforms do you want to promote your book on? Popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have different suggested image dimensions that are their “best fit.” Because you want your book’s online promotion to be professional, you should follow these suggested dimensions. According to Sprout Social, the suggested dimensions for visual content on each platform are:

    • 1200 x 630 pixels for Facebook
    • 1080 x 1080 pixels for Instagram
    • 1200 x 675 pixels for tweets sharing a single image on Twitter

  3. Choose a Design Software
  4. Adobe Creative Cloud is the industry standard for graphic designers, but because social media posts are more ephemeral in nature, it’s perfectly acceptable to make your designs using free software like Canva. If you don’t have access to an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription or are worried about being overwhelmed by Adobe’s software, Canva is a free and easy design software that I recommend.

  5. Set Your Dimensions and Upload Your Cover
  6. The dimensions of your design should be based on the social media platform(s) outlined in step one. Social media posts aimed at promoting your book should incorporate the book’s cover, so you’ll want to upload it to the design software you’re using or have the file ready to incorporate into your design later.

  7. Find and Download a Copyright-Free Image that Complements Your Cover
  8. You want a copyright-free image that emphasizes the cover without being too busy or distracting, but you also want to stay away from images that are obviously meant to be “background” rather than the focal point of your design. If your book has a cover design brief, try selecting simple images that follow the tone and color scheme outlined in the cover design brief. Images like these will naturally go well with your cover because both designs are working from the same brief. If you’re unsure where to look for copyright-free images, websites like Pixabay, Unsplash, and Pexels are safe, user-friendly platforms to start your search. Although these websites offer copyright-free images, double-check each website’s search settings to ensure that “copyright-free” isn’t a search feature that you need to turn on before starting your image search.

  9. Upload and Position Your Image
  10. Check that the image isn’t blurry at the size you need to fill your design’s dimensions. If it’s blurry and you’re familiar with Photoshop, you can try sharpening the image there, but a blurry image most likely means you should choose a different copyright-free image for the background. Position the image over the dimensions of your design in a way that gives the design the best crop lines possible. In other words, make sure that the dimensions of your design don’t cut off the background image in a way that’s distracting.

  11. Place Your Cover
  12. Since your cover is the focal point of the image, I recommend centering it in your design. Canva and Adobe both have guides to help with this. However, if your background image has a unique border, some type of visual element on one side, or if the dimensions make the cover look “off” when centered, try aligning the cover within the background image using the rule of thirds or aligning the book cover to something in the background image. The goal is to have the placement of the cover within the design appear natural. The goal of centering or aligning the cover within the background image is to keep the cover from appearing as though it “floats” in the design.

  13. Download and Preview Your Design
  14. For this last step, simply download your design (I recommend downloading it as a PNG file) and review your work! Double-check that your cover is positioned the way you intended and that nothing shifted during the download process. Be critical of your work and ask yourself if the focal point of the design is the book cover. Once you’re pleased with your design, you’re ready to write a caption for your image and post.

Congratulations, you’ve designed a basic social media image for your book!