That’s my answer to this week’s question. That’s my advice to authors—and to all of my other friends and colleagues who are trying to spread the word about their nonprofits, community groups and upcoming events. I use that word—regularly—because it does prompt some careful thought. At the heart of it, effective communication through social media should be as thoughtful as your regular contacts with friends.
So what do I mean by
Regularly means different things to people. Think about how often you check in with friends via a personal visit, a phone call or a text. Your readers also expect to hear from you on a regular basis—in an authentic way—as often as you might reach out to some of your friends. Readers on social media want to feel included in what you are doing. They want to know how you are. They want to celebrate milestones with you. Sometimes, they want to answer your questions. Keeping your social media contacts interested is the key to keeping them around until the time you have finally published your first book—and then more books after that. Share with your followers what you are writing, what you are reading—and even what has you stumped. You’ll be surprised how helpful your community can be.
As Pew’s research shows us, Facebook is far and away the most widely used form of social media and the vast majority of Facebook users check in on a daily basis. A platform like Twitter may draw a lot of followers, too, but those folks don’t check in as frequently. Given the pace at which tweets appear and fade into the ongoing cascade of tweets, you’re less likely to have a timely interaction with friends and colleagues on Twitter than you are on Facebook.
Given that your friends check social media at varying paces, you also might want to update your postings at various times of the day.
I like to change up the times I’m trying to reach people, says Bill Bode, a longtime media expert in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a publishing partner with Front Edge Publishing.
Some people check social media first thing in the morning. Others prefer to check in at the end of the day. I urge authors to send updated messages over a number of days—and, at different times during the day.
Do some research and learn as you go
In addition to learning from experts like Bill, you can learn from other authors. I challenge my friends and colleagues to become detectives. Check out how other authors use social media. Get involved in a friendly and helpful way in connecting and sharing. Where are those successful authors appearing in social media? Do they seem to be successful? How are they engaging their audience? How regularly are they posting? What’s the feedback when they post?
You might even spot wild horses out there—authors who are forming fresh communities in creative ways on social media. They may have found niches of untapped readers. Encourage those innovative authors. Learn from them.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for social media. But your eye should be on that word
social—with all the friendly, encouraging, intriguing and timely ways you socialize with friends in real life.
About Susan Stitt
Susan Stitt is marketing director of Front Edge Publishing. Over the years, she has guided many authors through the challenging process of launching books and developing strategies that will grow readership. She also has worked widely with nonprofits. Now, she will be sharing her expertise twice each month on our Front Edge Publishing website. Sign up to get these columns by email.