You know that you can use social media to make connections and engage readers before your book is done.
If you’re following my Organic Book Marketing system, that’s the Engage phase. It’s a time to build real relationships with your readers, fellow authors, and influencers in your genre.
I keep saying “real relationships” until I’m tired of hearing it from myself.
But sometimes I get something from an author that makes me embarrassed for her. I may say “real relationships” too much, but she hasn’t heard it yet.
1. “I’m thrilled”
My gut-level response: “Well, good for you.” I don’t care if she’s thrilled or not. I don’t have anything against her, because I don’t know her. After reading the message, I know a little about her, but still don’t know her. And she doesn’t know me.
What to do instead: When you strike up a conversation in real life, you probably begin with something you have in common with the other person. The weather. What a long line you’re both standing in. The coffee is great/terrible here. Or maybe a question: Have you ever been to one of these events before?
Begin by pointing out a shared experience or interest with your reader, the more unique the better. This may take a little research — checking out the LinkedIn profile, the Facebook page, the Twitter feed, the person’s website. It’s an investment of time that will pay off. Her message is an investment with no payoff.
2. “I . . . I . . . I . . .”
I didn’t take the time to count the “I”s in that introduction. I’m sure I don’t have enough fingers and toes.
On the internet, everybody shouts, “I! I! I!” or “Me! Me! Me!” It’s a fact of human psychology that we’re all more interested in ourselves than anyone else. We can point out what’s good and bad about that, but it’s just a fact. It’s true of me, and possibly true of you, too.
You know how you go to a party, and there’s someone who goes around talking about “I, me, my” all the time? You’re not that person face to face. Don’t be that person online.
What to do instead: Use “you” sentences. (I know, your teachers told you not to write in the second person. Their advice doesn’t apply here.)
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and talk to them about their problems, hopes, dreams, and interests.
3. “Do this. Do that. Do something else.”
Have you ever had a boss or a parent telling you a whole list of things to do before you can process any of them? If the one doing the telling has authority, maybe you have to deal with it. You take some notes, make a schedule, get busy.
But if it’s a stranger giving you this whole list of relevant and irrelevant social media platforms to connect with her on? I know, she means it to be a selection, but it still comes across as overwhelming.
What to do instead: Pick one thing. Connect on Facebook OR Twitter OR Goodreads. Whatever.
You can send different emails to contacts you’ve made on different platforms and invite them to connect with you there.
You could also offer a free download in exchange for joining your mailing list, and then you can list your various social media platforms with links to connect to you there. It will feel more like a selection in your newsletter, and they’ll have multiple chances to follow through.
4. Notice how great I am
It’s fine to give your credits in your bio. But do you tell a fellow writer you just met that you have a “well-received” article? If it’s an objective fact, “I just won an Academy Award!” fine. But what does “well-received” mean? That she got a couple of emails praising her?
And anyway, if I’m interested in her fiction genre, I’m probably not much interested in her nonfiction work. And vice versa. Unless it emerges from real conversation. Then maybe.
What to do instead: Personalize it. Don’t send the same email to all your various audiences. Or even the same wording to different people. You wouldn’t have the same conversation with your friend Sue as with your friend Dave.
What social media can do for you
You can use social media to spread the word about who you are and what you’ve written. Your fans can share your work with their contacts, in a widening circle.
Fortunately, you’re smart enough to remember that you’re talking to real people, just as real as the ones you meet every day. And they have about the same level of tolerance for nonsense.