When I signed on to Twitter today, I came across a message from one of my newer followers. She is an author and was very complimentary about my author platform (social media sites, websites, blog, and books). She wanted to know how I went about building my social media following. I responded and told her I’d love to help, but perhaps the best place to start would be for me to lay out my own experience and then I could answer any questions. Hence, today’s blog article!
First off, the most important thing you need to know is that there is no one way or answer on how to establish your social media platform. If you search online, you will read so many different perspectives and ideas that your mind can easily become boggled! My voice, my thoughts, will be just one of the masses. Again, it is a matter of trial and error and finding what works best for you.
The Big Secret
Okay, you got me. It’s not really a secret. When building a platform, it’s all about common, everyday courtesy and kindness. Whether you are reaching out to someone with a smile, a handshake or across social media: Be genuine. Make a true human connection. The internet opens us up to so many possibilities as authors, with a far greater reach, than ever before. But treat this gift as if you were meeting someone for the first time in a coffee shop, across a conference table, or in a cozy bookstore. Offer good will and be gracious. Kindness begets kindness.
Things to remember:
Grow organically. No, I’m not referring to a vegetable garden. I’m again speaking of human connection. People get fascinated by numbers. But I’m always reminded of the lesson my grandmother taught me–it’s better to have one true friend than a dozen false ones. The same principle applies here. There are so many offers to “buy” followers. Why? You don’t want numbers. You want quality interaction. This takes time, and it takes commitment. It is not something that happens overnight.
It’s not about you. Repeat that to yourself over and over again. Yes, you can relay your personal stories and experiences but only as it relates to how you can help someone else. It also means that your social media account is not littered with your own advertisements to sell your product. Yes, you can incorporate some of your marketing material but that is not your primary focus, that is at the bottom of your list. Too much advertisement will only turn away your followers.
Help your fellow authors. You are in competition with no one. If you have a quality product, it will sale. Bottom line. Plus, I am of the opinion that there are never enough reading options available so why not help your fellow author. If they have questions, answer them! Remember when you first started out and how hard you worked? Wouldn’t it have been nice if someone had helped you, or if they did, wouldn’t it be nice to pay it forward? Now is your chance.
Provide value. Whatever your niche is, provide valuable content for your readers. Offer them something, whether it is your knowledge, a free book, a short story, resources—something. Engage your audience.
True or False? The relationships you build on social media are real.
I am really hoping you said true, because they are real. At least, if you’re making a real connection which is your goal. If you said false, you’ve got a long, hard road ahead of you because you don’t truly believe that social media is a place in which to grow not only your brand, but the relationships that will sustain it. I met two of my dearest friends on Twitter. All because I treated the relationship the same as I would have if I had met them in person.
Let’s get right down to the nitty-gritty. When building out your platform there are a few key elements to consider:
Website. As an author you need to have a centralized place of information about your books. You also need to consider whether you want to maintain a separate author site. Why consider two sites? It depends on who you are as an author. For myself, I have some future projects that may not be appropriate for younger children. By maintaining my children’s book site separately, I can tackle the more grown-up issues on my author site. Also, it hosts my blog which is geared towards adults.
Blog. What information do you want to impart on your audience? What do you have to share with them that they may feel is worth their time in investing in your blog. With so many options, you have to find your niche, your voice. Make it something that you really care about. For me, it’s children’s literacy and helping my fellow authors. We are all on this journey. Also, I want to connect with parents and teachers so that we can exchange ideas and information. Find your goal, and then set about on that path.
Newsletter. Eventually, consider putting together a monthly newsletter. This can consist of any information you would like to put out to your readers. My preferred provider is MailerLite. It is simple to use and is easily integrated with my websites.
Why are these elements important? As you establish yourself on social media, these key items are going to be the home-base for your information. Social media should link back to your content.
With so many options for social media, you need to pick and choose your primary outlets—unless you plan to live on social media 24/7 or hire someone to manage it for you. And let’s be honest, how many of us can afford that? And even if we could, we would be losing our one-on-one connection with our audience. Here are my favorite choices for social media, in order:
Twitter. It is the third most popular social media site only being surpassed by Facebook and YouTube [Source: http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites]. It is also where I have my biggest following, over 11k, which means it is at the top of my priority list.
Facebook. Although it may be #1 on social media, it’s my second choice. It’s a lot easier to send out a quick Tweet versus maintaining an author page and a children’s book page. Plus, I know that when I send out a tweet–it’s out there. Facebook is always changing up who sees your posts and I’m never quite sure how much of my audience is receiving my information. Of course, since I’m not devoting as much time, my numbers don’t even compare on Facebook. The other downside, I want to keep my personal life separate from my author life. I get so many more invitations to my personal page from strangers than I do on my author or book’s page that I just don’t accept if I can’t find a common connection. This may seem counter-productive, especially after you read, The Big Secret, but we all deserve a private space of our own. Yes, there are protection settings you can implement but do you always want to worry about what setting you’re in before you post? Food for thought.
Pinterest. I love Pinterest. It ranks #5, but I’m surprised it’s not higher on the list. It’s a great place to find information or park your own. With all that said, I’m not very active on it. Why? Strictly due to lack of time. It is definitely on my list to grow in the future. However, you will find my board there along with my blog articles. For a great tutorial on Pinterest, and how it can benefit you, I highly recommend you follow Melyssa Griffin on Facebook.
Google+. The sixth largest social media site is also a place where I share my blog articles. I admit I am not active on it otherwise. Again, I’m saving my participation time on Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn for when I have more time to devote to social media. If you are a part-time author (which means you’re still a struggling author with a day job) your time is extremely limited so you have to find a balance between work, home life, your pursuits as an author, and managing social media. If you’re not careful, that teeter-totter quickly gets unbalanced!
These are my four main social media platforms. Yes, you’ll find me on YouTube and Instagram (which translates to I’ve registered for an account) but as authors choose your options wisely and then prioritize the time you have to devote to each of them.
Helpful Social Media Tools
We all need a little help when it comes to managing our social media accounts. Whereas you need to maintain true interactions, you also need content management. This is when outside tools come in handy. One of my favorites is SocialJukeBox. It is so easy to use and works with both Twitter and Facebook.
For managing my followers, again it’s not about the numbers, I prefer Crowdfire. If you have someone follow you just so that you will follow them—and then drop you like a hot potato—that’s not a true connection. It’s time to cut the cord and move on. Crowdfire is an excellent way to find those individuals.
Building out your author platform should be as unique as you—the author. Let it be a reflection of your personality, your goals, and your content. Let your message shine throughout. Let me see who you are so that when I reach out, I feel as if I already know you. Before long, your numbers will grow—organically—because you will have taken the steps to make a genuine connection.
Need more information? Have a specific question? I’d love to help! Leave a comment below. Or, if you have a suggestion, I’m sure we would all benefit from your experience. Please share your thoughts!
Wishing you every success,