We all know social media can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to our personal and our professional lives. I can’t count the number of times, I’ve seen conversations online, about which platform is your ‘favourite’ and which ones you would like to ditch. But whether you love or hate it, social media is here to stay, and it’s an important part of your strategy for communicating with readers and growing a community of people who will buy your books and become your champions. It’s also a great place to seek inspiration, become involved in writing exercises and workshops, and to create lasting friendships in a community of other writers. Finally, it’s a wonderful place to give something back. Social media is, after all, what you make of it.
There are many reasons why you might sign up to a particular social media platform. There are many reasons why you might choose to leave one. But, if you are in the business of anything, social media can be a powerful way to increase your chances of reaching your goals, whatever they might be. The key is creating content that connects – you cannot simply toss out a tweet, or throw out a Facebook post, or quickly share a story or reel on instagram, and then leave it there. Social media is most definitely not a case of, ‘build it and they will come.’ It requires regular, quality content, follow-up, interaction and connection with audience – these are the things that improve your standing in the algorithms, which are constantly changing.
When you are immersed in your writing, it can be difficult to pull yourself away for the most mundane of tasks, such as cleaning the house and cooking the dinner, let alone checking social media and posting useful and interesting content! However, some time spent on your social media content each day, can improve your connections with other writers, agents and publishers, and very importantly, with readers.
On the flipside, it can be easy to become overly engaged in social media, checking multiple times a day to see who has liked or commented or followed you; becoming stressed by what other people are achieving, feeling like you are a failure and experiencing serious cases of FOMO. The important thing is to strike a balance that works for YOU. Selecting the channels that work for you and your goals, as well as what you enjoy, is important. Nobody can be on every channel at all times. Selectivity and quality, as well as genuine connections, are the key.
Things to Ask Yourself
- Why are you posting this? Does this content offer something to your audience?
- Does it inform them, educate, inspire, support, help, make them laugh, entertain them, make them feel?
- How do you want them to feel when they engage with your content? Emotions and evoking people’s senses, as well as leading them to connect to something in their own history, can be powerful. Not all social media posts need to be big and loud and important – but they need to be genuine and real. It’s a bit like writing a novel – find your voice, engage the senses, combine show and tell, encourage people to stop and read/watch/listen/view, your content.
- What action/s do you want them to take after engaging with your content, if any?
- What problems are you solving – problems don’t necessarily mean big life issues. It could be as simple as directing someone to a place to find a book, or an event, or inspiring them, or making them laugh, or simply growing connections with other people.
- Who is/are your target audience/s? Where do they hang out? Which platforms?
- Who is in your community already?
- Don’t just think about WHAT you say, think about WHERE you are saying it. Consider the psychology of WHY someone is on a particular channel at that time of the day or night?
- What are they looking for?
- How can you solve their problems? What can you offer them?
- What is your background/history/area/s of expertise? What content leads back to your core business?
- Is your content best when it’s images, words, video, all of these?
- What one off pieces of content can you create?
- What themes and hashtags (where relevant) can you use to create ongoing content?
- Be yourself. Be real. Don’t try to copy or mimic other people’s content and platforms – add something to the conversations. Show your successes and your failures. Show all of the glorious and the messy moments of life.
- You can’t be great at every social media channel! Find your best 2 or 3 and make them amazing.
- Your content needs to engage people, not just be there for the sake of it – you have to stop the scroll.
- Understand how your community searches for information and what they like to see, by exploring other accounts in your industry.
7 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Social Media
- Make your messages clear & consistent – what is your WHY? What are you writing about? Who are your writing for?
- Fill your profiles out properly – use all of the space and be sure to be consistent across channels, be clear & cover the most important aspects about you and your writing, that you want to share.
- Build a Newsletter list on your blog/website, if you have one. This is often the most successful way people sell their products or services in any industry.
- Cross post on different channels, but don’t just repeat the exact same content on all channels all the time.
- Use GOOD images, as well as your words. Develop a library of your own photos to use on posts and/or use free image sources, such as Pixabay and Unsplash.
- Schedule social media using one of the various tools available. I personally use Later and like it’s simplicity and functions. I have also used Hootsuite, Buffer and MeetEdgar.
- Respond and interact – don’t just dump posts and never respond to comments – it’s the social part of social media! And it really helps with those algorithms.
Finally, ask yourself:
- Are your profiles filled out properly and thoroughly?
- Are all of your accounts and profiles telling the story you to share about you and your work?
- Would a new visitor follow me after seeing this profile and what would they think I stand for?
- What makes them want to follow me? How would I connect with them in a way that means they stay for the long term and become a supporter of my work?
- What can I offer people in my community? What can I do for others in my community? Social media is not about taking. It is about sharing – you need to support and care about other people and their work, this is what makes truly human connections, in spaces that can be anything but real.
Spending a little time researching others in your community, where they hang out and what they are interested in, finding relevant hashtags, creating connections and encouraging discussions and networks, using tools available to make it less tiresome, will go a long way to ensuring social media is working for you and not the other way around.
I have been working online and creating communities online and on social media since 2001. I have over 100,000 social media followers across my own platforms. I have worked with small businesses, not-for-profits and large universities, on creating content and social media strategies. If you are interested in a consult with me to work on making your social profiles and content sing, get in touch here.
See you on the socials!