When you begin building your social presence, try to forget that you’re online; instead treat each new follower like a friend. If you showed up to a first date or met someone at a party and immediately started pitching your book, you wouldn’t be very popular, and the same goes for social media. Your digital relationships need to be nurtured, and growth takes time and commitment. So, find things you have in common, join groups with like-minded people, involve yourself in conversations about relevant topics; exist as you would in the real world.
The #writingcommunity offers a lot of opportunity to new authors. Besides the very popular #NaNoWriMo, the short story hashtags #vss365 and #vssprompt and the pitch event #PitMad are all fantastic resources to write daily or regularly, and to engage with the creativity of other writers. Community is key to success on social media.
The twenty-first century world of social media isn’t so much about long, thought-out posts as short, digestible snippets of opinion with entertaining and accessible content. There’s a reason Twitter only allows for 280 characters, so try to include imagery (gifs, emojis or photos) with your posts whenever possible, and try to build a catalogue of different content types (video, audio, etc). You don’t want to blast people’s newsfeeds with photos, but you do want to make sure you’re posting a diverse variety of posts.
Even with the help of scheduling tools like Hootsuite, it can be hard to compile enough content to post regularly. So, in line with the first ‘C’ of social media, do some digital networking. It’s only going to reduce your chances of getting noticed if you shut yourself off from the writing community and treat every other crime/thriller/history writer like the enemy. There’s power in numbers, so why not work together to get noticed? It’s only going to help your cause to give other writers a shout out, a retweet or a recommendation – celebrate their work and they will probably do the same for you! It’s all about give and take.
Once you’ve built a large enough following, it’s time to thank them for taking notice of your work and supporting you. A giveaway can be a great way to give back to your loyal followers, and also to increase your following. If your book is yet to be published, maybe you can offer a sneak peek or a proof copy? If it’s already been published, get creative – maybe a personalised edition would get those retweets going. Don’t forget to get some merchandise created: nothing says serious author like a sticker!
Your social presence shouldn’t just revolve around your work. If you look at the Twitter and Facebook feeds of some of the most successful authors, you’ll notice that much – if not most – of what they post is unrelated to their writing. Try to be a person, not an author – what are you interested in? What’s on your mind? It could be politics, a film you saw, a conversation you had; the more human you are, the more likely you are to build an audience of people who empathise with you and enjoy your insight into the world. A good writer doesn’t just tell a story on the page of a book.
Be sure to engage with the trending hashtags section on Twitter – this highlights the most talked about topics, which you should try to interact with on a regular basis, though without it seeming forced! This can be anything from the anniversary of a well-known author’s death to an episode of Love Island – if it’s what people are talking about, it’s important.