First Impressions Are Everything: Using Social Media Banners to Promote Books
They say not to judge a book by its cover, but people often do, and that's one of the reasons why first impressions will likely leave a lasting impression. Why else would stores such as Macy's make elaborate storefront arrangements? It's often to draw customers into the store.
In thinking of storefronts, one of the most effective ways for authors to passively market and promote their books in an ongoing basis, is through various social media channels, and not just because it's free to use social media. I'm talking about one main aspect of social media, which is Facebook and Twitter banners. Social media banners are often the first things we see when visiting an author's social media channel. Social media banners generally serve as an information tool within an author's profile page and can drive potential readers to an author website or landing page. If there's a particular cause associated with an author's writing or their book, a social media banner can also help to raise awareness. Other times, a good social media banner can help an author gain social media followers, which can go a long way toward author brand awareness. (There are of course also other forms of social media that allow for banners, such as LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, etc. but for the purpose of keeping things simple within this article, let's focus on Facebook and Twitter, at least for now).
A good social media banner ought to contain an image of the author's book (3-D book images, rather than flat images of covers, tend to perform better), the publication date, a tagline or blurbs, and a background image having to do with the book. Other good rules of thumb include listing the book publisher's name, the author's website, or perhaps even a slogan such as, "Available wherever books are sold," "Get your copy now," or "Buy it today!"
Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and believe it or not—even the rudimentary program Microsoft Paint, are all good programs for constructing a social media book banner. Sometimes a book publisher's in-house designer might be willing to help design social media banners for authors, too. It's generally recommended that a professional designed construct a social media banner, which is one of the reasons why 99designs is such a terrific site for finding a designer for a great price. One important thing to keep in mind when designing a social media banner, is that depending on the site, each type of banner will have varying recommending image sizing or dimensions. Doing otherwise will often result in an image that is cut-off or distorted, so it's never a one size fits all when it comes to designing a social media banner.
An effective social media banner design will add value to an author's overall brand. The secret in the sauce, for the representation of an author's brand in a banner, is all about graphic design. Increased engagement, more followers and potential book buyers is all directly related to good graphic design. Again, good graphic design is why I usually recommend that authors enlist the help of a professional graphic designer to construct social media banners.
Professional designers will have a portfolio of previous designs for an author to review and consider. I would suggest reviewing with a potential designer existing social media banners from bestselling and award-winning authors that one admires. Knowing what works well among the competition may help one construct an even stronger social media banner presence. Some designers will help clients analyze the competition and create a competitive strategy based social media banners that were proven successes. Apart from admiring a designer's portfolio, look for a designer that has a good reputation and trade references from clients. A good designer will put forth at least a few potential social media banner design pathways for an author to consider. No one should sign-off on any design until they are 100% happy with it. After approving and preparing to pay a designer for social media banner design, they should be able to digitally deliver the banner design in a simple and easy way, such as email or download link.
An author should seek a design that fits with their overall brand and rings true to their followers. There's nothing worse than a social media banner that is completely off-brand for an author. A very strong and cohesive design aesthetic will ring true and go a long way toward establishing a strong author brand.