As writers and authors, many of us use various social media channels to help brand our names and blogs. The age old question that seems to plague many of us is, what’s working for us in terms of gaining more following and readership?
The question may seem simple, but the fact is, different platforms seem to be more and less effective for each one of us. I’m no SEO expert by a longshot, but from what I’ve gleaned from my own experience, and from reading about some experiences of others, certain platforms just seem to work better than others, depending on the type of posts made and sometimes depending on the genre we write in.
The first step to success in gaining followers is to engage with readers and commenters when they do visit our posts. Depending on the genre we write in, and the particular social site we’re posting in should dictate what types of things we should post. We can all try out different sites to see what the feedback is, but keep in mind the more sites we’re on, the more sites we have to babysit.
There’s nothing wrong with posting on many sites and weeding out where we’ll find our most engaged readers are. From there we can decide where to focus more of our attention. Remember, readers want informative information, entertaining posts, and posts pertaining to writing. And when posting about our books, we should be focusing on an interesting element of our book, or perhaps a promotion we’re running to inform readers about the opportunity. Also keep in mind that social media works by informing and sharing. This means, sharing posts from others too because that will bring us more connections with others, and in turn, these people will eventually become willing to share back our posts on their channels.
Every platform seems to have their own niche and focus. The main thing to keep in mind is not to push people by constant posting to ‘buy our books’. Nobody wants to be sold to. If we put out good info and engage with our readers and they like what they see, then we can talk about our books, share a promo on our pages and gain more interest because once a follower enjoys our posts they may very well be interested in our books and letting them know our books are on sale is a good thing.
What and where should we post for effective engagement?
I recommend posting things that are relevant to the things we write about, and gear the posts to the type of social media we’re posting on. When I say this, I mean, take Linkedin for example, Linkedin is a site to make connections with others in our field, ie: writers, editors, publishers, artists, promoters, etc. Linkedin is also a place that anybody can look at our resume and works and take opportunity to contact us for a potential job or interview related to our expertise, etc. So I post my blogs there and articles of interest related to the writing field that I come across. You can also write, post and publish your own articles on your page there. There are numerous groups we can join and interact with others there. I’ve met many new interesting people on that site. Another important aspect of Linkedin is that connections can endorse us for skills. That can look attractive to someone who is sniffing out our profile. When I first began learning about self-publishing, I spent a lot more time on Linkedin participating in group forums with other writers, and I can say I learned a lot from them. I find now that I don’t have the time to spend in forums, but I still check in every day, as new people request to connect with them frequently, and I also receive messages from connections, sometimes asking to participate in a group or an invitation to connect or to an event. Linkedin should be a site that all professionals join. One never knows what opportunity may be offered us from there.
Twitter is great for sharing posts to bring blog traffic over to our site. It’s a great site to gather like-minded followers who like to read what we’re putting out. We can link to anything from there and using the appropriate hashtag to gain specific readers to the type of content we’re posting is just one way of gaining new readers of our content. We can advertise our books sales, post quotes and add links to our websites for those who like the meme or quote we posted the link to, to draw them over to our blogs, just to name a few things to do there. The point is to respond to tweets, share back by tweeting posts of others who take the time to retweet us and follow. I spend 20 minutes every morning catching up on notifications and checking out new followers and sending out tweets. That’s all I can manage in my busy days, but there are apps such as Hootsuite and Buffer that allow you to pre-schedule posts at various times. Those are apps I haven’t mastered very well because I’m not a pre-planned tweeter. But throughout the day and evening, when I’m reading an article or blog of interest, I’ll always hit the ‘twitter’ button to tweet out the post I’m reading, so in essence, I still tweet intermittently through the day and night, but I only go there once a day to respond and check out new followers, and after looking at their profiles, decide if I will follow back. I say this because, we all get those ‘followers’ who sometimes have no connection to our writing world. We’ll all learn how to sniff out these followers by clicking on their profiles and most of the time they have no avatar, no website, and an ‘egg’ is representive of their avatar. That’s usually a flag for me not to follow.
Facebook is an interesting platform. Before I began writing books, I had de-activated the app because I didn’t enjoy the world seeing my posts, but that all changed when I wanted to start selling books and had to put myself out in the public eye. If we’re writing books, we should have a Facebook author page, and in order to get that you must first open a personal page. Personal is a word I now use lightly because once upon a time, that’s what my page there was for, personal friends and family to share family photos, events, milestones, etc. I opened my author page to post my blogs, articles pertaining to writing, promotions, anything to do with my books, you get the picture. What happened? Well it seems that many of my followers from my author page had found my personal page and began ‘friending’ me and I felt I had to friend them back. So ultimately, over time, my postings have changed on my personal page to more posts related to the things I believe in, and things I write about. I post memes that are funny pertaining to women, aging, menopause, etc. And I post many quotes and memes on kindness and justice. I usually go there in the evenings when I have some time after blog reading to check out other posts, see who has ‘liked’ my posts and thank them, and scour around to some of my favorite pages on Facebook to find some inspiring or funny post to post on my page. I also tend to use my page as a sounding board for little incidents I encounter occasionally that I want to rant about or share a laugh with others about. Facebook is also good for creating an event page when we’re running a promo, and you can pay for ads where they will ‘boost’ your post to get more eyes on it. The ad thing isn’t always a success for everyone. Some authors say it was a waste of time, some like it. From what I gather, depending on the genre we write in and the audience following us is what makes those ads more or less successful. I haven’t tried it yet, so I’m no authority.
Instagram, I feel, is a more personalized type of site geared toward people’s passions. I am by no means a pro on that site but I was curious to join because I’d heard that many writers like that site to post personal pictures, book photos, quotes from their books, and snippets of personally liked things there. Apparently, many readers love to get to know more about their favorite authors and snippets from their everyday life. I believe Instagram has recently begun allowing us to make short little videos now we can post there as well as letting us post live links. I haven’t tried the videos yet. Instagram is mostly a mobile based app. So it’s quick and easy to add a photo from your phone or a video you’ve made on your phone, add a caption or a link to your post or book, or your website, etc. to gain more followers of your work and make friends. I often send a photo from my Facebook page over to Instagram and write a caption with a hashtag because just like Twitter, if you hashtag your posts, people who follow those hashtagged categories will be able to see them. I don’t go to Instagram nearly enough to use it to its full potential, but I am there and so are hundreds of my photos. Once or twice a week I go there to see how many ‘likes’ I’ve received and to check for messages.
This is another interesting app I use. Again, I don’t spend much time going to my actual site but I have 40 boards set up there with categories I like to post in. When I come across a blog post I enjoyed and think it would fit one of my boards, I always ‘pin it’ to one of my Pinterest boards. I send all my own blog posts there. I have a board where I send all my author friend’s book covers to, and a board with everything to do with my own books: excerpts, interview links, book covers, etc. There is a myriad of things you can pin there, and other people who enjoy our pins sometimes invite us to be able to pin articles to their boards. It’s great because we can create our own boards of interest and those who are interested in our board topics will see our posts. Again, don’t forget to edit before pinning with your website or a link, it’s just another outlet to draw readers to our work.
I send all my posts and many blogs I read to Google. Besides being another place where readers can find us, Google is one of the biggest search engines in town, and the more you feed it, the more discoverability you will have on the web. When I Google my name, D.G. Kaye, I come up on the first 19 pages of Google, that’s good stuff!
So these are the sites I use to send my posts and other interesting articles I come across, to. There are many other social sites around, but I have my hands full keeping up with these, and for now, I have my time allotment system in place for all of them. But I know in the near future I am going to want to revamp my system and probably delve a bit more into getting more out of social media than I’m currently taking from it. At least I’m linked up and gathering followers in the mean time and that’s a big plus for us to keep building our platforms.
What’s working for you?
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