When I teach social media, I give authors tips on how to manage social media so it doesn’t become overwhelming, step-by-step guidance on how to navigate each channel, and advice on what type of content to share. But what I can’t teach is how to be genuine. Being genuine is one of the most important aspects of social media. No one wants to follow an author who posts links like a robot, with no emotion, thought, or personality.
But one thing I’ve noticed while working with authors. Many of you are shy. You get uncomfortable with the thought of sharing anything personal online. I hear things like:
“Well I’m just not that interesting.”
“No one wants to hear about me.”
Let me break it to you–that is so not true. Readers want to connect with authors. AUTHORS. That’s YOU!
Dictionary.com has a few definitions of “connect”:
“to establish communication between; put in communication”
“to cause to be associated, as in a personal or business relationship”
“to associate mentally or emotionally”
Notice how none of these say “to share information to an audience without listening to the audience” or “to spam purchase links online” or “to ignore communication by automating everything.”
Connection is something deeper. Connection requires you to research your audience and listen before you speak. It requires openness on your part, because those that are genuine in their social media networks are the ones who make the deepest connections.
As I mentioned at the start of this article I can’t teach you how to be genuine. However I can share a few tips to help you get there:
- Share more than links. One of the biggest problems I see on author’s social media is a lack of any type of content outside of links. If you need some ideas on what type of content you can share, check out this article.
- Look at authors in your genre. What do they share? Use those ideas on your own channels. Some of my favorite authors to follow online are Victoria Schwab (@veschwab), Maggie Stiefvater (@mstiefvater), and John Green (@johngreen). Take a minute to look at what personal things they share and work towards sharing similar things about yourself.
- Don’t thank everyone for everything they do. Thanks is VERY important but if you thank every person for every retweet, like, comment, or favorite, your words of thanks will lose their meaning. Find a balance between saying “thank you” and showing it. For example, if someone follows you on Twitter, instead of thanking them for the follow with an annoying autoDM, take a moment to check out their profile and see if they are someone you want to connect with. If they are in your target market (aka a reader) or in your field (a fellow writer, or publishing professional) consider following them as well, and RTing a tweet of theirs you like. Those actions will go much further than an unfelt “thank you”.
- Engage in conversation for the sake of connecting, not selling. Join in on Twitter chats, add your thoughts in a conversation thread of Facebook, or tune into a Google+ hangout. Just remember your goal is to be social and make friends and connections, not to hand sell your book. Those connections you earn are more than capable of finding the link to your website in your bio and discovering your book.
- Start small and don’t over share. Not ready to share a ton of selfies or pictures of your dinner every night? Good. Being genuine doesn’t mean your focus is on you, you, you. Start with sharing one thing a day. Try a picture of your writing space for the day or a quote from a book you are currently reading. Share things about your day-to-day that you know you enjoy seeing from other people. If you are a cat fan who loves seeing other author’s cats, why not share a picture of your own kitty? Sharing your interests will help readers find things in common with you so they can connect. And that, dear author, is priceless.
Talk back: What makes a person seem genuine online? What makes a person seem fake?
About Kate Tilton:
Kate Tilton has been in love with books for as long as she can remember. A relatively new voice in publishing, Kate has been serving authors behind the scenes since 2010. Founder of Kate Tilton’s Author Services, LLC, Kate works as an author assistant and social media manager with the mission of connecting authors and readers. Kate is the creator and host of #K8chat (Thursdays at 9pm Eastern), a contributor to BadRedhead Media, and has appeared on popular media such as Publishers Weekly, The Book Designer, Kobo Writing Life and Rafflecopter. A cat-lover and fan of many geeky things, Kate can likely be found curled up with the latest Doctor Who episode, plotting world takeover, or connecting authors and readers in any way she can.