Wednesday, October 31, 2018

If You Want To Get Noticed on Social Media, You Need To Interact

Social media is, on the surface, one of the greatest blessings a professional creator could ask for. It costs you nothing to sign up, you can immediately join all kinds of communities, and with zero impact on your marketing budget tell everyone about your latest project. All it takes is starting a conversation, and from that point you've got it made in the shade!

The problem most folks run into, though, is they don't know how to break the ice... or if you're looking for a more accurate visual metaphor, they aren't sure how to kick the anthill.

Hoo boy that's a lot of potential views... now to get the proper wind-up...
The problem most folks run into is that they just toss out a link, and back away. They might even include a short message like, "Hey everyone, I'm super excited because I just dropped a new release! Come check it out?" While there's nothing wrong with that in theory, you're still up on your soap box shouting down at the crowd. What you need to do is step off that box, and have a conversation with folks.

You Get Better Results Talking To People, Rather Than At Them

Think about the posts you make in groups when you aren't trying to get a spotlight on your professional releases. When you're just there to share some info, or to poll other members, or to ask a question or three. Are your posts more casual in tone? Do you include pictures for attention? Most importantly, do you ask questions that other people can see and respond to?

Because you should do all of those things when you're writing a promo post.

You there! What's your favorite horror novel?
While people on the Internet don't traditionally need your permission to share their thoughts and opinions, if you outright invite them to leave comments on the post you made then it's like they're compelled by ancient fey law to say something. Which is precisely what you want them to do.

Here's a perfectly functional example of what I'm talking about:

Hey guys, it's International Cat Day, so I wanted to ask everyone a quick question... who is your favorite fictional cat? Alternatively, what is your favorite book where the protagonist is a cat? Asking because I just finished reading From A Cat's View, which has my hard-boiled feline tale "Stray Cat Strut" in it. While I still love Leo, my Maine Coon enforcer who works the mean streets of New York, this book was full of other great stories. Now I'm in a groove, and I was hoping you could all make some additional suggestions for me!

The tone of this post is extremely casual, which immediately makes it feel less like a sales pitch. Even though I specifically mention a book that I admit I'm a contributing author to. Instead of a commercial, it feels like one of those, "Oh hey, I've been reading this thing that's pretty unique. You heard of anything like it so I could keep going down this rabbit hole for a while?" conversations that happen all the time on social media. Because while the plug for my story and the collection it's in is fairly naked, it has at least some cover in that I'm talking to the people in the group to try to start a conversation.

And every time someone leaves a comment on that post, it gets pushed back to the top of the group. Even if I'm the one leaving a comment in response to something someone else said, which is why I will always reply to someone else's thoughts and suggestions. And every time that post buoys back to the top of the group, that's a chance for more people to see it, and give their input. It's also a chance for spirited debates to start (or flame wars, those are good for business, too), and every time someone stumbles across the post they might click the link to see what book I'm talking about.

Every click-through to From A Cat's View is, therefore, another chance to make a sale. And even if only one in every ten people who see the post click it, and only one in every ten of those people decide to get a copy, those numbers can get pretty big if the conversation keeps refreshing your post to the top of the page for two or three days on end. Especially if people share the post to keep carrying on that conversation on their own pages.

The point here is that if people see you are genuinely involved in the conversation, then that makes you seem more approachable. You're no longer just some random person tossing out a sales link and trying to get money out of everyone else's wallet. No, you're just like them; a reader, a cat lover, and someone just looking for recommendations. This stops people from seeing you as a billboard (which can be easily tuned-out), and it makes you a part of the community.

It doesn't guarantee that you'll avoid catching flak for self-promotion (even if you're burying the lead), nor will it skyrocket your sales overnight (barring some fantastic luck, anyway). But I can say that if you re-think your post style and content, you'll find that you get a lot more engagement from people if you try to set up a round table discussion than if you get up on your soap box and talk at people instead of to them.

That's all for this week's Business of Writing post. Hopefully this helps folks who've been trying to drum up some numbers, but have fallen short.

If you'd like to see more of my work, then you should check out my Vocal archive, or head over to my Amazon author page to Buy My Books! If you want to stay up on all my latest releases, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, to help support my work you can Buy Me A Ko-Fi to give me a one-time tip, or go to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a regular, monthly patron. Either way you'll have both my eternal gratitude, as well as some free stuff as a thank you for your help!

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