Social Media for Authors: Adding Value

I’m trying to become more active on Twitter. For the past few days, I’ve been scrolling through my feed, checking things out. I’m following 800 people. Surely there will be something interesting, right?

Wrong. Unless you like hundreds of promotional tweets shoved in your face.

Much of Twitter is wading through truckloads of spam. It’s slightly classier than Viagra ads. Then there are those pithy quotes, from famous people and from books authored by the Tweeter. One step up are tweets of interesting articles, some of which I’ll look at. But it’s not what I want.

Finally, I spot a real, live human being (Nat Russo) who mentions losing weight this week. I tweet him back. “Good for you,” I said. Nat responds. OMG I feel like Robinson Crusoe finding Friday. He assures me that there are actual people holding conversations on Twitter and recommends a few (BTW, Nat has a whole series about Twitter on his blog, A Writer’s Journey, which I intent to gobble up as soon as I get a chance).

I’m thinking about those hundreds of writers and others, spending all those hours tweeting, whose promotions I skimmed over because I had no connection with them.

So, Rule 1: Be authentic and share yourself, connect with people. Hugh Howey and Colleen Hoover (follow Colleen on Facebook, her posts are hilarious) are extraordinary at their ability to share themselves with the public. I hunted up Nat’s blog because he talked to me.

Rule 2: People are either looking for information (otherwise known as “help”), or they’re looking to be entertained. That’s why they buy your books. This is called “adding value,” and that’s what will help them connect with you.

Rule 3: Put Rules 1 & 2 together. Connect in an authentic way while being helpful or entertaining. Or both.

Rule 4: Telling people about your book is neither connecting nor is it helpful or entertaining. Promotional posts, shares and tweets should be about 1% of your social media output.

So what exactly does this mean?

The new mantra in marketing is “Something for Nothing.” I just made that up, but savvy marketers like Tim Grahl of Your First 1000 Books say it is vital to give away your content.

If you write non-fiction, it’s easy. Give away valuable bits from your book. Tim says to be sure to give away your best stuff. Make it immediately useful. His mantra? “Be relentlessly helpful.” He says not to worry about giving away too much. It makes sense. If I like what someone has to say, I’m going to go buy their book rather than waste time digging through hundreds of archived posts or waiting for them to put it all on the internet.

If you write fiction, you can post free short stories on your site. If you post an excerpt, make sure it is a complete story in of itself, or the reader is going to be turned off. Find ways to connect with your target audience. Fiction writers typically blog about writing, post book reviews or post about subjects dear to the hearts of their target reader.

I’m still figuring this out. I’m in the process of making this site more attractive to dog owners, my target audience. I’m now creating dog memes for #WoofWednesday, and I have a gallery of my real-life four-footed muses. This is a work in progress.

Oh, but wait, there’s one more rule!

Rule #6: Give the people on your mailing list a gift they can’t get any other way, and keep giving them unique content.

This needn’t be onerous. For my emails, I send out my dog memes in addition to any notices. I add a line or two of back story about the dog or the meme to make it special. As for that special gift, be creative. I give members of my mailing list access to a drop box folder with deleted scenes from my books (Okay, there’s only one in there so far, but I have lots to add!).

For more about this, check out Tim’s book. To see if he puts his money where his mouth is, sign up for his mailing list and get his free 30 day course on building your platform.

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