So I’ve recently (re)joined Twitter (that is to say I had an account which I never used and now I do) and I’ve done pretty good at starting to build a following there. I’m fortunate that in my day job I’ve had the opportunity to take some great social networking webinars & classes and I figured that today I’d share some of the tips I’ve managed to acquire because… well, the first week on Twitter was pretty much a wall of “buy my book” posts (usually between the hours of 6pm-9pm and I assume that’s because most social network scheduling software is telling you that’s when it will get seen most?)
The reason I follow an author is one of three things:
a) Being Polite & Supportive – you follow me, I follow you and we (ideally) help each other.
b) Entertainment – I like your book or I like what you say on social networking… it makes me laugh or entertains me.
c) Information – you share some freaking amazing shit and I absolutely want to learn what you have to share.
Chances are VERY good that you do the same thing. So – I’m here to ask, no beg, all writers to PLEASE “keep the SOCIAL in Social Networking” because it’s going to help you in more ways than you realize. Find out how behind the break!
If you haven’t figured out the major differences between Twitter and Facebook (and I’ll speak to these today to keep from rambling) it is in the refinement of how information is presented.
FACEBOOK: The goal of your Facebook news feed is to show most interesting stories (as determined by a computer algorithm which tracks what you click “like” “share” or comment on as well as a few other things) to a person at the top of their feed and display them in the best way possible.
TWITTER: The goal of Twitter is to make information available enmasse leaving it up to the user to filter down what they do or do not want to see (this means you get a lot more “spam” but you don’t miss anything you’re looking for unless it’s because you’re just too overwhelmed by the amount of information coming at you.)
Let’s talk about Facebook’s mysterious algorithm. This is GREAT news for Authors because if someone is actually following you, chances are they are interested in what you have to say because it’s entertaining or informative to them & this will result in engagement… (the act of your readers liking, commenting on, and sharing your posts to others.) Like word of mouth in the last generation, this is probably the BEST way to pick up the best leads on potential readers of your writing. If my friend “likes” your post, or leaves a comment… or shares it… chances are really good that I might consider going to your website or picking up a book you wrote!
HOWEVER … you have to be sharing more than just advertisements. The “buy my book” posts posted every night between 6 & 9pm get old really fast and people will just scroll past without looking at it if that’s all they see out of your account. Eventually they might just go on to block your posts or unlike you altogether. If you find that more than one “buy my book” post on your screen at any given time you’re probably not using Facebook to your best advantage.
Let’s talk about why…
SOCIAL (remember that word, it’s key) networking is all about being SOCIAL! Don’t believe me? Look at it this way: when you fire up Facebook, do you pause to read ads or do you only stop when you see interesting pictures, videos, & news from people and products you actually enjoy? Of course you look at the fun stuff and skip the ads… we try to do it with satellite radio, with our tivos, and everything else where people have found a way to advertise to us.
STOP over advertising to your followers. Share your products when you have something new that is of interest to them (a sale, a promotion, a new cover etc) otherwise they will stop following or just simply hide your posts… which is probably far worse because you have no idea you’re failing to reach anyone!
Think about Social Networks like a party! It’s where people come to learn new things, get a quick laugh, and catch up on people and things they love. No one goes to a party to be advertised too! If someone came up to at a party and started begging you to buy their Amway – you’d leave and with good reason!
So, ask yourself these questions:
- Are your posts Informative (about something other than your sales?)
- Are your posts entertaining in some fashion?
- Are your posts PERSONAL. As an author who has written a book they like, your readers want a peak behind the curtain. Don’t be afraid to show them you’re human!
- Did you give them what they were looking for when they LIKED or Followed you… ie: news and behind the scenes look at the author & stories they love?
If you’re doing these things then chances are VERY good that your social network is growing (even if slowly) with quality potential readers instead of faceless bots, spammers, and uninterested parties who might have only followed/liked you to get a follow/like back.
ENGAGEMENT – People want to feel special and acknowledged. Take a moment to look through your newsfeed and watch for accounts that follow you back that are individuals and not companies. Like/favorite posts, share and retweet. COMMENT!
It may seem old fashioned, but remember how you felt the first time that someone you were awed by (writer, editor, agent) spoke to you directly and without promise of money or other incentive. Bet it felt pretty good, right?
Everyone wants validation. In a word where we’re drowning with information and memes, sometimes the BEST way to win a loyal reader is just by meeting them on their own ground and acknowledging them.
Every great writer started with a single reader buying their book. Before social networking that was won by word of mouth and who you know is just as important today as it was then. With so many authors writing great books and self-publishing, the one way to bring initial attention to your work is by making sure YOU stand out a little bit too. Make connections … just make sure you’re not forgetting to actually spend time writing too.
Last Performance Predictors – where Facebook’s new algorithms are involved (especially now that they are driving people harder and harder towards paid advertising to reach target markets) the performance of your most recent posts help determine the reach of your next one – so literally you’re only as good as your last social network post.
It’s not so important that you constantly post (so save your time for writing) but that you post quality posts when you can. Your posts should engage your potential readers, provide entertainment and information that they came to your page to find.
So quick do’s and don’ts…
1) Don’t waste all your writing time on social networking. It’s good to be there when you can but not at the cost of doing your actual job. Got 15 – 30 minutes a day for social networking? Great, spend five minutes retweeting, five minutes chatting with other social networkers, and five minutes creating new and original content that might interest your followers.
2) Don’t oversell. If they already follow you, they like you and your product. You’ll reach more TRUE POTENTIAL READERS (instead of fly by night followers who could care less) by engaging your existing fans with quality content.
3) LESS IS MORE – don’t post a novel on facebook. You can link to a blog about a topic if you have a lot to say. Nothing wrong with that. But almost NO ONE is going to click “read more” and scroll down more than one screen to read anything.
4) Share GREAT images... that will catch eyes and sell better than you realize.
5) Make it about your readers – talk to them like a real person. Dish about what you both like (your books) but don’t make it about the sales (some authors share notes, character sketches, back stories, wardrobes on pinterest etc) be human… and be funny. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself or have a bad day. Your fans like to know that you’re not any different than they are – you put your pants on one leg at a time too. And just engage them.
Best of Luck!