Social media writer’s block. It’s a thing! You have no problem hammering away at an 80,000 word novel, but when it comes to a 140 character tweet? Forget about it! You end up posting about what you had for dinner or what you did during the day, and nobody seems to be listening . . . or following. If that sounds like you, then these seven social media tips are just what you need.
Who Are You Writing For?
Before you think too hard about what you’ll say, consider who you’ll say it to. You don’t start any social network with followers, after all. So where do you find your audience? Start by following people you actually want to follow. Don’t follow 5,000 people just so they’ll maybe follow you back. Follow people you genuinely want to interact with—and people who would actually interact with you. You could follow Bill Clinton because you happen to like what he says, for example—but don’t expect him to interact with you. Once you are following them, show you have interest in what they’re saying by responding to their tweets and engaging in conversations. Never forget, social media marketing is a two-way street.
Facebook and Twitter . . . Basically the Same Thing, Right?
There are a lot of ways to be lazy with your social media marketing. One way: posting the same content on Twitter and Facebook. Is that so bad? In a word: Yes! Your message on each network should change—people who regularly use Twitter are a different audience from people who use Facebook . . . so your message needs to be altered.
People tend to spend less time on Twitter than Facebook. That doesn’t mean Facebook is more important because when you look at the demographics, people on Twitter tend to be younger, college educated, and earn more money. They’re a completely different group of people, so of course you’ll want to have a different tone when engaging with them. Facebook is more about engagement. Use Twitter to talk to your fans—it’s engagement, but it tends to be more informal engagement; use Facebook to engage with them—create content they’ll absolutely want to share and like.
Twitter is in real-time. What do I mean by that? Twitter tends to be about what’s going on in the day—it’s very casual. You may talk about what you’re writing or getting ready for. Your fans tend to see you in a much more personal and intimate way. Time usually doesn’t matter on Facebook—if someone reads it today or next week, it wouldn’t really matter.
You’re a writer, so you probably know all about your writing voice. That voice should carry over to social media as well. Don’t post uninspired tweets—show that you really enjoy doing this and you aren’t doing it because someone is twisting your arm.
Before tweeting or posting something on Facebook, ask yourself if someone would actually care: will it benefit them in any way? Nobody will care that you had a tuna sandwich for lunch, unless you could make that sandwich a little more interesting . . . taking a picture of the sandwich, for instance, and then giving a recipe that shows why this sandwich is truly unique.
To Share or Not to Share
Sharing interesting articles is another popular thing you can tweet for engagement. But try and think of articles people may not actually have heard of. Don’t tweet an article about who won the presidential race . . . tweet an article about something a little smaller, but that needs to be read.
Don’t Talk, Converse
As you grow and start to get followers, start thinking about ways to make them get engaged with your message. Charities are one place to start. Who doesn’t want to help people? But instead of saying “here’s a great charity that helps kids read,” say “millions of kids can’t read. Here’s a charity that helps. Please retweet.” In the second example you’re asking your readers to actually respond to what you're saying. As an author you’ll obviously want to make your message somewhat book inspired. You can do this by posting book recommendations or asking people what’s on their reading list. But you can also occasionally promote other authors. Helping other writers will help yourself in the long term.
Hashtags are one of the easiest ways to get followers quick, if you use them right. On Twitter, a hashtag is something that starts with a # sign. When a person clicks on the word after it, they see other people talking about that topic. So, for example, if you are talking about politics you might end your tweet with #politics.
Here’s a few things to remember about hashtags:
- First: don’t hashtag everything. Use them when they seem relevant, but every post doesn’t need nor should have a hashtag.
- Second: don’t be generic; posting a tweet about how happy you are about something with #excited will not find you any followers.
- Third: use hashtags relevant to your followers—if you are at a writers conference, for example, and there’s a hashtag for that conference, use it. This will connect you with other people at that same conference.
- Last: think of hashtags that build into your brand—unique hashtags that only you use. So, for example, you might have a hashtag for the book you are working on, and whenever a reader clicks on it, they can see all the tweets about that particular book; or you may ask readers and influencers to use a certain hashtag whenever they talk about your book.
You don’t grow your social network overnight; you don’t grow it over a few weeks. It’s a long process. It’s something you should be working on as you write your book—not as you prepare to release it. Be persistent, and don’t give up when it’s not growing as fast as you want it to.