Being an independent author has its challenges, not the least of which is marketing. But social networking platforms aren’t designed to be an avenue for constant spamming complete strangers with desperate pleas for acceptance. They are social networks, designed to meet new and interesting people. The key to meeting those people is to act like one yourself. Here are three helpful hints to being social in the social networking scene.
- 1) Introduce Yourself – The hardest part about being social in any situation is taking the first step. Sure, some people are better than others but it still takes a bit of courage. Being an independent author means being the publicist, and that means being social. It’s easier to be social online since there is that World Wide Web between you and other people, but that is where it can get tricky. Don’t use that anonymity to be something you’re not. And don’t use it to push your agenda. Your goal is to meet people. Meeting people simply means saying “Hi”. The best way to accomplish that online is to tell someone you liked their quote, joke or post. Whether it’s a blog, a tweet or a video mash, chances are you’re going to encounter something online that you enjoy. Be honest. Tell them why you like their content. Relate it to a story of your own. DO NOT add a link to your website. Just put yourself out there.
- 2) Be Patient – The only expectation you should have for social networking is to meet people. Often times that means simply adding your comment to the plethora of other comments on that funny blog you read. Sometimes it means simply clicking the “Like” button on a post. Not every interaction with someone else online is going to lead to a sale of you or your product. There are 7 Billion people in the world. According to recent studies, there are 2.27 Billion people on the internet. That’s a lot of people, across the globe, with diverse interests and hobbies. Not all of them are going to fall in line with yours. Begin with the first step by interacting with others and having conversations. A following takes time.
- 3) Be Consistent – Putting yourself out there took courage. You did it because you found something online that you liked, that you wanted to be a part of. Maybe you wanted to share somebody else’s blog with your followers. Maybe it was a quote or a picture. The person you’ve interacted with online may have followed you or commented back. You’ve begun to build a relationship. Continue that relationship. Don’t neglect the individuals you’ve come in contact with. It takes effort to recognize people, and they will understand if you aren’t saying “Hi” every day. But go back to them and like a post or comment. Continue to be interactive. Remember to keep your interactions online social and not marketing. Don’t ruin a friendship by beating them over the head with requests for likes or shares or forwards. If they like you and they like your content, they share your work without being asked. Be consistent by sharing their work as well. The benefits will come, and be long lasting.
Many people mistake social networking with marketing. It falls into the category, but can’t be treated as a product. Trust isn’t built the same way in official marketing practices such as press releases, banner ads and public appearances as it is in social networking. Those marketing practices are taken for what they are, a means to sell a product. Social networking is a means to build relationships.
Utilizing social networking to increase exposure for your work will have long lasting effects. Spamming your online friends may get you one sale, but without trust that friend may not come back. Or worse, that friend may talk bad to others about their experience with you. Taking the time to be social may keep that friend coming back indefinitely, and you might find that friend becomes your loudest supporter online.