Writers and Building a Social Media Presence

I’ve been working hard on building a social media platform for my writing so I can promote my work  but it occurred to me there are so many ways to do this.

I spent the last 10 years working for an engineering company and a big part of my job was preparing tender documents and searching out business development opportunities. I was good at it. In fact the company is now working in 3 areas that I highlighted for future development when the markets they were operating in were becoming less prevalent.

I have a pretty creative mind when it comes to business, I always have. Someone once told me I could sell snow to Eskimos. I’ve never been driven to sell myself before yet helping others comes easy to me.

Friends come to me with ideas of things they are doing/ selling or want to try to do and the ideas just flow but when it’s me sitting down to promote myself the ideas dry up.

So I decided I need to look at my writing as a different person I am trying to promote and because I don’t use my given name that helps me get in the mindset.

As far as I can see there are two ways to crack the social marketing world for a writer. You can collect followers on Twitter and likes on Facebook or you can find the people out there who want to interact and the potential customers for your product.

At the end of the day most of us are writing with the aspiration of not only having people appreciate and read our work but also being prepared to pay us for our efforts.

If you want to collect followers and likes then go ahead, hit up all the ‘Team Followback’ people and like everything under the sun and you’ll get thousands of followers but if they don’t use your service, retweet your messages or buy your work is there any point?

I’ve just been looking at who my followers on Twitter are following to see if there is anyone that would be of interest to me and I was surprised by how little sense there was to the followers.

I saw people following teenagers talking about Bieber and One Direction. If you want to be taken seriously then are they your target audience or are you following them so they follow you and all their followers follow you?

You’ll probably end up with a timeline full of drivel you don’t read and thousands of followers who don’t engage or use your services.

Or, do you follow the people who are old enough to vote and might actually need or use your service, interact with you, help get your message out and buy your product?

If I’m going to take someone seriously on social media, especially in terms of business then I might look to your followers and if I see a bunch of teenagers talking Bieber then I’m not going to take you seriously. I’m also going to look at your tweets before I follow you to see if I find you interesting and engaging.

If your product or service is good enough then you need to be targeting the right people to sell it to. If you want to be seen as professional then make your social media profile professional too.

I see little value in hitting up the ‘Team Followback’ people. I am trying to sell romance novels, short stories and young children’s stories. Teenagers are not interested in what I am trying to promote and as such are not going to buy my work.

So if they won’t buy my work and retweet my messages to generate promotion are they of any benefit to me?

I decided to follow the people who might be interested in my work. Namely people who work in publishing, other authors of similar work, literary agents, journalists, book reviewers and bloggers, writing competitions and magazines etc. who might be interested in my work.

I decided if I’m following you and you’re on my timeline then I’m going to engage with you. By talking to people I have made two contacts who have promoted me on their websites, fellow authors helping promote other authors. This is what I what my social media presence to be about.

I retweet people if they say something I enjoy, if they have a message I agree with, if they make me laugh and if they need help promoting something, I do this in the hope that when I need help they will remember and repay the favour.

I have no time for people who are automatic tweeting like a robot. Its social media and therefore it should be interactive and that means talking to people.

If you have thousands upon thousands of followers then you can’t talk to all of them but how many of those thousands of people are using their hard-earned cash to reward your efforts and buy your work and how many of them are just clogging your timeline?

I accept if you’re EL James you won’t and don’t need to interact with all your followers but I’m not EL James.

I’m not saying I’m right, everyone has their own ideas but its something that is bugging me.

I want to interact with the people who are reading my work. I want them to be able to say Hi and tell me they liked it or suggest how I can make it better. I want to talk to humans and not follow people who autobot spam messages promoting their work.

The way I see it when I approach publishers it is going to make me look a more attractive all round prospect if I can say my blog has had this many hits, my website this many hits, I have x amount of Twitter followers and I’m active on Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin.

Even with a professional publishing contract I’m probably going to be required to do an amount of self promotion so if I can demonstrate that I already do this at the time of contact that can only help me, right?

So far I’ve found the following things have helped me to promote myself online and to build a bigger social media presence.

They may not work for you or you may not have considered them so I’ll give you a list:-

  • Twitter – Follow your competitors, people who are your potential customers, people who can help promote your work, people who post helpful articles and tips for your chosen market, people who blog and review in your chosen market, magazines, books, blogs etc written for and about your chosen market, people you would like to interact with and finish it off with a little bit of you and the things you like and the people you relate to. You don’t have to automatically follow everyone who follows you and you can mute the people you find boring without affecting your followers figures or them knowing! See who your followers are following from time to time and you might find some interesting contacts you didn’t previously think of.
  • Facebook – pretty much the same as Twitter. Link your Twitter to post your messages on Facebook to kill 2 birds with one stone. Join groups of similar minded people.
  • Google+ – Link your Twitter, website, blog and Facebook to post on Google+ and interact with people. I have found a lot of interesting articles on Google+ that have given me ideas for marketing and promotion too.
  • Create a blog – find your voice whether that is reviewing products and services, offering advice to people, writing random things that annoy you, writing helpful hints, posting stories and articles or using it as a soapbox for your emotional issues. Be you and be honest and people will relate to that.
  • Create a website – I used Weebly to create my website. I found it easy and I’m not particularly great with technology. I promote my Facebook and Twitter on there and have a news page to keep people up to date with what I’m doing and of course I promote my work. I post the website updates to Facebook, Google+, Stumbleupon and Twitter too. Use the website to do more than just sell your product, use it to show a bit of who you are too.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile – I created a new profile for my writing persona and I link it to my website to attract new followers and interest. I’m still working on the best way to use LinkedIn for promotion but it’s another avenue you could attract interest and its free so you have nothing to lose my promoting yourself on there.

The main thing to remember is talk to people and interact, you don’t know who they are or how they can help you. Strike up a conversation and you might just find that person will be able to help you further down the line or you may find a new drinking buddy. It’s called social media for a reason!

Another handy website is Stumbleupon. Post your website and blog pages on there and you’ll get loads of extra hits. Plus it is a really cool site for filtering the web and finding things that interest you that you wouldn’t usually get to see.

There is a website called Twellow which is the ‘yellow pages’ for Twitter users so if you have a business to promote add yourself on there.

Like I said I don’t have all the answers. I know what I’ve been working on in the last few weeks and what has worked for me so I’m happy to share my ideas incase it works for someone else too.

If anyone else has something they want to add to this that has helped them then please comment, we can all help each other, we don’t all need to be competitors!

 

 

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