4 Must-Have Elements of a Social Media Profile (And What to Do With Them)

Struggling with what to do with social media? You’re not alone. If you’re not already using social media, it can be an uphill battle to figure out what to do and—more importantly!—how to be effective.

The first step to effective social media use? A rocking social media profile. It’s about building a foundation. When people land on your profile, they have to be able to connect with something to make them want to follow you or like your page. Because if they don't? They'll be on to something else.

So what do you need to rock your profile? The recipe goes like this:

1. A Profile Picture of You.

Yes, of YOU. Your book cover is awesome, but it won’t be the same as connecting with you, the author—a real live person! It sounds silly, but being online can be very impersonal at times, and having your smiling face as your profile picture goes a long way toward combating that.

When people surf through social media, they see profile pictures first, names later. That's why having a picture of yourself is so important. It's easy to scroll past a book cover. Seeing a face is much more personable—literally!

But. You knew there was going to be a but, right? Your picture has to be current—within the last five years—and recognizably you. If you’re uncomfortable sharing a photo of yourself, consider building an avatar, or a picture representation of yourself. For $1.25, My Blue Robot will let you create your own.

2. Optimized Cover or Header Photo.

Don’t worry, optimize isn’t a naughty word. All it means in this context is that you keep in mind where your profile picture lands on the cover photo so you don’t cover up important text or images. If you want to see what we mean, Book Bub put together 39 examples of great cover photos for authors.

A cover photo (Facebook) or header photo (Twitter) gives you the opportunity to brand your social media profile so it’s recognizably you and your book. Besides being social, you’re on social media to promote your book, and a cover or header photo is a subtle way of doing it.

3. An Interesting Bio.

A social media bio isn’t just there to inform people about who you are. It’s there to entice people to follow you or like your page. You want people to think, “Oh, that person sounds awesome! I want to know what she’s up to!”

Even better, most social platforms make it easy for people to find you based on your social media profile. That means you should include words that people might be looking for, such as author or the genre or subject area you write in as well as what your interests are.

Think about the topics you’ll be talking about on social media (you know, the ones that aren't your book). Those can all go into your bio too. Do you like cake? I bet you’re not the only one. Mention your awesome cakes in your bio. Show that you’re more than a person who has a book he's trying to sell.

And don't forget to include a link to your website so people can connect with you in other places! Including your location, if the social media platform has an option for it, is also a great idea—readers love connecting with others near them, and it's another way you can make yourself discoverable.

4. Non-Book Related Updates.

If someone lands on your profile and all your updates are about your book? Pass. People are going to turn up their noses and go follow someone they know they can connect with. Someone who won’t blast them with updates about the book she’s selling.

Remember when you added your interests to your bio? That’s a great place to start for creating updates. Post a picture of a cake you made on Facebook. Tweet links to your favorite cake decorating sites. Connect with other cake lovers.

Better yet, connect with readers about books. No, not your book. Other books. Ask people what they’re reading and what they’d recommend. Start conversations about your favorite book (no spoilers!) and build relationships. When people are genuinely interested in you, they’ll be more interested in your book, too—without you ever having to mention it. (Psst. Because that’s what your bio and cover photos will do for you.)

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