I am new to fiction writing (someday I’ll be comfortable dropping that disclaimer, but for now, it is what it is). But I am not new to social media. I have been using it, studying it and documenting its evolution in great detail for over six years in a professional capacity. So you’ll just have to trust that I have substantial street cred in this area.
Social media is a wonderful and brilliant thing, especially for those of us going the indie or self-publishing route. We don’t have the strength or reach of traditional publishing companies, so we’ve got to be “all in” when it comes to building our audience, our platform, our community and our connections. Building a platform through social media is not about numbers. It is about relationships. And relationships are what will help us connect to our audience. Here are the three cardinal rules to live by as you get started in social media.
1. Be Casual
The connections we can make via social media can (and should) be powerful and productive. However, if your connections are not personal, you are not doing it right. No, I DO NOT want to know your weight or what’s in your medicine cabinet. But your messages, your whole online presence, needs to be personable, friendly, and approachable. You’ve got to be comfortable with the casual conversation that makes it evident that you actually give a rat’s ass about the person on the other end, whether it is a reader, a writer, a publisher or anybody else who chooses to make a connection with you.
2. Be Conversational
Social media is not just a pulpit for you to broadcast a one-way message. That only works for the very well known among us. For most of us traveling the indie publishing path, we need to think of social media as a cocktail party, not a lecture hall. We can’t just drop in, spout some wisdom and expect people to listen to it or act on it just because it came from us. We should mix and mingle, we should refill drinks and start conversations. Be a good host! Meet people. Make a social connection. Keep an open mind and assume that you can learn something from every conversation you have and connection you make.
- Temper the sale pitch tweets with a note of congrats to a fellow author who just accomplished a goal.
- Don’t obsess over increasing the number of “Likes” on your Facebook fan page. Instead focus that energy on creating captivating open-ended content that will keep the conversation going. If you do that, the Likes will certainly increase.
- Mix posts about your WIP or your latest work for sale with tips you’ve discovered that you want to share with others.
3. Be Responsive
And most importantly, DO NOT let blog comments, Twitter connections or emails go unanswered or un-acknowledged. Social media users expect (dare I say demand?) timely and social communication. Anything less is rude and (gasp!) corporate. I know, I know; we are all busy: deadlines loom, ideas must be jotted down lest we forget them, etc. Believe me, I am right there with you. But, you can do irreparable damage if you do not take the time to cultivate your online communication. In fact, if you can’t commit to being responsive, I suggest you do not get into social media at all.
So there it is. Greever’s 3-step guide to not sucking at social media. If you’ve read this far, perhaps now you’re saying to yourself, “this guy hasn’t even published a book yet, I don’t need to listen to him.” And your words are very true. I am still trying to get to my first published work. However, I’ve got dozens of articles and a book out there (under my real name) on the topic. But let’s put that aside for a moment. Before you dismiss this as irrelevant, remember that I am not just an aspiring fiction writer. I am also an avid reader, a picky book buyer and a comprehensive book reviewer…just like all those other people you are trying to connect with. Think about it.
What about you? What other tips do you have for writers to connect with their peers and audience? If you’re a reader, how would you prefer to connect to your favorite writers?