Staying connected to readers and making sure that you can interact with them isn’t just a necessity in this industry, it’s vital. Social media has given us some incredible opportunities, as authors, to be able to stay in touch with readers. Quite honestly, not only does interacting with readers on social media help me as an author when I want feedback, but it’s also amazing to have a support group around you.
Readers, to me, aren’t just readers; they are friends and family. I’ve laughed with them, cried with them, celebrated with them… The point is this: The book community is an amazing, supportive community, and as an author it’s crucial that you learn what works best for you when it comes to communicating with readers and using them as a resource.
My Top 5 tips for Engaging with Readers
Lots of people try to look at social media like this beast they have to conquer. They think they have to be awesome at Twitter, and Instagram, and Facebook and the list just goes on and on since it seems like more social media sites are popping up on a daily basis. It gets extremely overwhelming. So my advice is this: find ONE that you do really well and focus on that. It may be that Twitter is your jam, or you LOVE taking pictures and sharing about your life, so you love Instagram. Its easy to spread yourself too thin and by trying to be great on every platform, and if you do that, you are going to miss out on what’s important with your readers and fail to develop a meaningful relationship.
Start a Fan Group
Because of the way that Facebook’s algorithms picks and chooses which posts a user sees, it can be difficult to actually reach your readers. If you form a fan group, you can engage with readers, do discussions, Q&A’s and make it more like a family.
Post on a Schedule
This relates to number 1. Once you’ve chosen where you want to focus your social media energy (Instagram and Facebook are my favorites) make sure that you set an actual schedule, otherwise it’s going to be hard to build your platform and remain engaged. The best times to post are in the morning and at night when people aren’t at work.
Hashtags are a way to join discussions and reach a wider audience. For example, as a romance author, I use hashtags relating to romance novels and books so I can reach readers who haven’t heard of me yet.
Don’t Make it All About You
I know this is hard. You’re an author after all, and this is your brand, right? Yes, it is, but at the same time, I think social media can get very selfish, and that can turn followers away. As an author, social media should be more about the reader than it is about you. Make sure you respond to them, comment, repost, and engage. And if for some reason you can’t, make sure they are aware that you are on deadline or that you are traveling. Communication is key.
I could probably talk about social media and connecting with readers all day. I truly feel that the best way to communicate with people who love your books is to share your life as an author and be transparent. Keep the lines of communication open and don’t try to do it all. Your readers will understand and follow you to where you focus your time. In the long run they will appreciate it because, hey, not spending all day on social media means that means you’re writing more books!
Rachel Van Dyken