Maybe you use Facebook and Twitter in your private life. Maybe you avoid social media completely. But publishers, publicist and marketing gurus will advise that authors really need to be using social media. So are you up to the challenge?
The big mistake most folks make is only posting “buy my book” at random intervals, like a series of billboards on the highway. Instead, picture social media as an old fashioned ice cream social…
The room is full of people. Small groups are gathered here and there, chatting comfortably. When you enter the room, you could stand in the corner by yourself mumbling “buy my book,” but no one would hear you. You could stand on the buffet table and shout “BUY MY BOOK,” but people would just turn away.
So you look for people you know and nod “hello.” Instead of barging into their conversation, you approach and listen politely. You chime in with an appropriate remark and look for an opportunity to subtly turn the conversation so you can mention your book.
There may be folks who could be important contacts in the room, but instead of grabbing total strangers by the lapel, you ask friends to introduce you to them so you’ll make a better impression.
If you can’t get an introduction, you might hang around nearby looking friendly and watching for the chance to make an intelligent comment or compliment. But not in a creepy or pushy way.
Before you know it, you’re the belle of the ball! People like you and include you in conversations with their other friends. Folks you don’t even know take notice and listen in to hear what you’re talking about. Just remember that popularity is fickle and if you don’t bother cultivating these new friendships, you’ll find yourself once again the ignored outsider.
Building your online social network isn’t any different than this fictional ice cream social. You start by “friending” and “following” people you know. Engage them in conversation by commenting on what they post. Write interesting posts of your own and reply promptly to anyone who comments – even if they’re nasty about it. A brief, polite response to troll behavior makes you look really good in comparison!
See who your friends know online and ask to be introduced to good contacts. Pick conversation topics that attract people you want to know by searching for and using the hashtags they use. Nearly every social media platform uses hashtags now, which is handy if you are saving time by linking your accounts to tweet from Facebook or vice versa.
If this sounds like work, well, it is at first. Just like any relationship. But if you put extra effort upfront into building your online network, then maintaining your friendships becomes a pleasure. In fact, chatting with your friends may threaten your writing time. But that’s a topic for another article!