Social media can be a great tool for writers and authors looking to promote their work and connect with readers, but when you’re just starting out it can be difficult to know how to tackle it. Keep the following dos and don’ts in mind when planning your social media strategy.
Interact and engage with followers
Social media is about more than just sharing links, and in order to use it effectively, you need to interact with your followers in a variety of ways, from inviting them to share their opinions to running polls to asking and answering questions.
Aside from talking to your audience, you also need to take the time to listen and respond to what they are saying. Think about the people you enjoy following on Twitter or Facebook. What are they doing to keep you engaged? How often do they post? What sort of things do they talk about? Do they have a one track mind or do they share an interesting mix of topics?
Connect with other authors and editors
One of the most useful things about social media is its ability to put you in touch with likeminded individuals you can share ideas with and learn from. You can follow well-established writers you admire, interact with other aspiring writers like yourself and even connect with editors and agents who may ultimately be able to help you get your work published.
Try to choose your followers carefully, however, as following too many people you don’t know can lead to a confusing news feed, especially when you’re just getting started.
Find the right balance between personal and professional
The biggest reason people choose to follow writers on sites like Twitter or Facebook is because they like what they’ve read and want more of the same, but sometimes they’re also interested in learning more about the writers themselves.
With this in mind, try to find your own voice and share a combination of both personal and work-related messages. You don’t have to divulge overly personal details about your life, but you may want to give readers a peak into your writing process or what you do in your free time every now and then.
Go overboard with self-promotion
New writers often make the mistake of using social media solely for self-promotion, which can be frustrating for their followers. Rather than promoting only your own articles or links, make an effort to share and re-tweet things your readers and followers may find interesting, whether it’s a blog post, news feature, Tumblr image or YouTube video.”
When you do promote your own work, try to keep your tone more conversational than promotional and invite readers to share their thoughts on the matter.
Take on too much or do anything halfway
Although having an online presence is important, if you try to take on too much you’ll end up doing it poorly or inconsistently, which can be worse than doing nothing at all.
Every site serves a different purpose, so take some time to figure out which ones are right for you and learn how to use them effectively. For instance, Google+ can help you connect with new readers; Instagram will help you build brand awareness; and using Good Reads is a great way to establish yourself as a new author.
Obsess about numbers
When you’re just starting out it will take some time to build up an online following, but don’t worry too much about the numbers. It’s quality, not quantity that matters. Your social media following will grow as the popularity of your content does, so rather than worrying about likes, shares and followers, focus on creating engaging content that will keep your readers coming back for more.