We’ve talked previously and at some length about the best blogging practices for writers who want to increase the reach and effectiveness of their online presence, but in today’s increasingly connected world, blogging is only part of the puzzle. Authors who really want to get their names out there need to also be present on social media in a big way. After all, Facebook has over 700 million active users worldwide, while Google+ boasts around 343 million (and the bonus that Google+ posts can lead to better page ranks in Google searches) and Twitter has over 230 million. That’s a lot of potential readers!
Social media can be a powerful part of your online toolkit—but it can cut both ways, so it’s important to follow some simple advice in order to put your best foot forward:
- Be Yourself, but Be Your Best Self: Social media is all about engagement and dialogue, so it’s even more important to be genuine and natural in your social media circles than on your blog. After all, nobody wants to follow someone whose feed is nothing more than a chorus of “buy my book.” But the immediacy of social media also makes it easy to put your foot in your mouth, so remember to be polite, be kind, and think before you post.
- Reach Out: The best way to win new followers on social media isn’t by sitting in your corner saying witty things. Reach out, tag people, comment on their posts. In open-ended forums like Twitter and Google+, follow people who’re prominent in your field and engage them in conversation. On a similar note…
- Credit Your Sources: If you’re re-sharing a link to a funny cat video, be sure to mention who you got it from. If you’re sharing a quote, find out who said it first. If you’re sharing a picture, credit the artist. This is just good manners, and it’s also a way to help build your network.
- Know Your Stuff: Re-sharing stuff is great, but you’ll only get so far by recycling other peoples’ material. Read widely in your field, and learn what’s going on with the people you want to reach. You’re a writer, so chances are you have a lot to say on a range of subjects. Get out there and say smart stuff; people will start to notice.
- Water the Plants: So now you’ve got a few hundred friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter. That’s great, but that’s only going to take you so far if you can’t keep them interested. You keep them interested by “watering the plants” with regular, original, and engaging posts. At the same time, you want to avoid “over-watering” with too much filler, or your message will get lost in the noise.
- Be Ready to Change: The social media landscape is constantly shifting. Twelve years ago, Facebook didn’t exist, and six years ago there was no such thing as the Facebook “like” button. Now they’re both ubiquitous. Keep your finger on the pulse of social media trends, and be ready and willing to shift with them as needed.
Social media can be a noisy, hectic, and sometimes scary place to spend time, but when it comes right down to it, there’s no better platform for engaging and maintaining an open dialogue with your readers. In this day and age, it’s virtually impossible for a writer to find much success without a presence on social media. So just keep these best practices in mind as you navigate the world of social media, and you’ll do fine.