The above graphic does a good job showing every available social media outlet ever created, what type of social connection the outlets provide, and a ton of other information. Too much information, to be honest. Especially for someone who’s still working on developing their own platform and brand.
One of the best pieces of advice I see time after time is to pick two or three social media platforms, and develop them first. THEN branch into something new. For me, because I have to juggle several massive time commitments, I prefer to focus on platforms where I can access them through a single app dashboard, like Hootsuite or Buffer. Because of this, it does limit my choices. That isn’t always a bad thing, however. Depending on the amount of time you want to invest in your networking and platforming having a limited range of choices can be beneficial.
Now comes the fun part, where you make YOU stand out from the crowd. Many focus on the number of followers they have for a given social media site. While that number can be impressive, it’s the quality of followers that really is going to be the telling point. Once in a while, you’ll get someone exceptional, like Jason or Chris who develop massive, high quality followings in a relatively short amount of time (a couple of years vs a couple of decades), but for most of us this is where the marathon really begins.
When you’re working on Facebook, remember that it is one of the most used “go to” sites for social networking. They regularly change their algorithms for what does, or does not, show up in the feeds of everyone. Because of this, even if you have an active following you may still find yourself buried in the bowels of articles hitting your follower’s walls.
I came across an article a while back that broke down different ways of working around this – one of which was to encourage your followers to add you to an interest list. A good idea, and one that remains relevant. However, you need to do something to reward your following for doing so. Once again, it goes back to social media etiquette – don’t scream “buy my book”, “look at me”, “pay attention to me” all the time. That’s not engaging, and I’ll admit to being horrible at being engaging. (Yes, that ought to give you a clue how bad those practices are!)
Also, don’t rely on feeds from your blog or other social sites to generate engagement either. Several other articles I’ve read agree – the more clicks there are between the information you want to share and the person you want to share them with, the less likely your audience is to get there. So, you’ll want to make sure to have some original content for your Facebook feed.
- Facebook tends to be personal, so sharing personal anecdotes is not only accepted, it is also expected to a degree. Please remember, however, that if you post something to ANY social media site it is permanently available to be found and used at any given time. Do not share phone numbers, addresses, or information that you do not want out of your control.
- Be yourself. Facebook allows enough room that if you are at talker, you can post something really long, or if you are someone who prefers answering in shorter formats, you can do that too. For most purposes, if you are on Facebook, treat it like a more interactive blog. As you develop a following, and as your friend’s list grows, if you are not being “real”, folks will definitely start to notice.
- Interact – I see time and again from authors I interact with that any books they’ve purchased were from people they interacted with. It’s all right to have “drive-by” posts occasionally, but plan accordingly when you’re posting to respond to any comments you receive. Even if it is a “thank you” for a complement, or an “I’ll think about that” when someone leaves a suggestion. (No, you don’t HAVE to take the advice – you still should acknowledge the one commenting though.)
- Moderate your news feed. Just like with any social site, people from all over are going to comment. Knowing when to shut down a conversation, or even remove/block people from seeing your feed is important. In effect, you are running one of the biggest niche groups – one focused on you. Your friends can see what you share. They can comment on it, and then other friends may comment back. Moderating the comments can help keep down the flame wars (unless you’re actively encouraging for some unknown reason). This will help build trust that you and your brand are someone that can be trusted. Even if the discussion gets heated, that’s all right – some people like to see the water boil.
- Have fun and be enthusiastic – again, this is about networking. Having fun is part of what networking is all about. If you’re having fun, and enthusiastic about what you are doing, it will spread to your following.
Twitter is a micro view of who you are. It is very tempting to use it to only blast out the “buy my book” type tweets because of this (yes, I’ve been sorely tempted to let this turn into a spam everyone platform.) However, there is more you should do on twitter other than become just another bit of spamming flotsam. I’ll admit, it’s hard to condense thoughts down into the 140 character maximum allowed, but it is possible. Here are a couple of ideas that I’ve found useful:
- Use the themes in your writing to focus your tweets. If you’re writing is science fiction, find (and share) articles that fit with what you are writing about. If you are writing fantasy, then perhaps you can share articles from around the web focused on one of your races.
- Graphics – a major life saver for me. They allow more text to be shared in exchange for a 22 – 24 character image link. Often I’ve used this when I’m promoting for others – not only can I show off the cover, but I can also include their book description as well. That leaves room for a couple of words (and appropriate hashtags) along with the buy links.
- Interact – if you see a comment that perks your interest – respond to it. If the people involved in the conversation don’t want you participating, then they’ll either ask you to not respond again, or they’ll take it to direct messages where you won’t see the conversation any longer.
- Retweet others – A caveat to this, however is to be a little picky about what you retweet. Try to only share tweets that are relevant to what you are writing. Being able to quote tweets enables you to share and comment, which has a good chance of opening up a new conversation.
- Use your lists. If you’ve developed lists, rotate through them. Even if you are using a third-party app so you can monitor multiple lists at once, try not to hang out on the same lists every day for months on end. The more you get out and circulate, the more your name goes out and is seen.
- Be polite – It may seem odd that I emphasize this here, and not for Facebook or your blog. However, Twitter runs like wildfire, and outside of Facebook is one of the most heavily used social media sites. It also has the highest carry over between social media sites that I’ve observed. Remember back to the first couple of posts, when I compared Twitter to the blood that circulates in your body and your blog the heart that pumps it? Every other social media sight is the vascular system that carries the news left by Twitter. So, if you’re rude there, news will spread faster than through any other social media.Sure, if someone is wrong, or peddling BS – feel free to call them out. If you are by nature, someone who others find “rude” don’t change! But, if you are someone who tends to fall naturally into the realm of “polite”, don’t let anyone tempt you into a flame war on Twitter. It gets ugly – fast. And, it will come back to haunt you in ways you would never imagine.
That’s it for this week. There are almost as many other social media platforms as there are ways of developing social media networks. If you have tips and tricks that you wish to share, feel free to leave them in the comments below. I look forward to hearing them. If you have a post up somewhere with more detail about building up your networks, and how to develop interactions, feel free to leave the link in the comments – I’ll do my best to moderate them, and make sure it’s valid.
Next week, I’ll dive into one of the biggest pieces authors need to have in their platforms – reviews, and what to do with them.
(Spammers, I do moderate, and if it the link does not go to a valid article, it will be deleted.)