How To Effectively Engage With Readers On Social Media
You’ve probably heard us saying, “You need to engage with your readers!” a time or five. It’s a vital element that needs to be implemented in your social media strategy as an author to build a solid and thriving audience. But what does this actually mean? How do you actually engage with new people on social media in a way that actually makes a difference in your book marketing?
Writing engaging content (meaning blog posts and other content on your online outlets) is one thing, but to make a lasting impact (think lasting career, not just current book sales) you need to go a step further.
First, let’s identify what does not constitute as quality engagement with new connections:
Sending them an automated response
An automated “welcome” is not a good first impression. Automation (in certain situations) can be a good thing, but not when it comes to social media or trying to make a good first impression with your fans.
Telling them to go buy your book
Picture yourself being introduced to someone, face-to-face for the first time. Your first response or interaction would not be, “Hey, let me show you where you can buy my book!” If you wouldn’t say or do something in person, don’t do it on social media.
Assuming your readers need to engage with you first
If you’re sitting around waiting for people to talk with you first, you’re going to be waiting for a long time. In this day and age, authors have to seek out their readers. There are thousands of options out there for readers - you need to give them a reason to pay attention to what you have to say.
Now that you know what not to do, let’s focus on how you can easily engage with readers to create a lasting impression.
1) Get Visual
When you share visual content (pictures, video, infographics, etc.) you will see a drastic increase in engagement. Studies show that when images on social media it can result in an 85% interaction rate on Facebook and increase retweets by 35%. That’s huge!
But you might be wondering, “What kind of visuals can I share as an author?” Oh the possibilities are endless! Here are a few ideas:
- Share behind the scenes images/video of your writing space.
- Ask fans to share a #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) image around a particular subject (like their first day of school, their senior pictures, etc.).
- If you have a book club or writing club, share pictures of your group.
- Ask fans to add a caption to an image.
- There are great free apps that allow you to create great images like InstaQuote (we have a tutorial on how to use this app here).
- Share pictures of your pets - everyone loves an animal picture. :)
- Shoot a quick video asking your readers for their help or participation in naming a character.
Get creative! Show your personality with your pictures and videos - your readers will get to know the real you, and you will get to know them as well.
2) Share links to other blogs/articles
Sharing relevant or timely content from other blogs and articles can spark a dialog with your readers very quickly. Stay up to date on current events and news, and share those links on your social media outlets. Ask relevant questions to get the conversation rolling and respond to fans that share their thoughts. It’s a great way to establish trust and get to know what your readers are interested in and passionate about.
3) Repost your blog content
When you create great content for your blog that is evergreen (meaning it’s continually relevant) you can reuse that content over and over. As your audience grows that content will be brand new to them and will spur on new conversations. Maybe change up the headline or pose a different introduction or question in your post to freshen the approach. Your blog posts have a long life if you keep them alive by reposting them. AND they get your readers engaged - win/win!
4) Giveaways and contests
Who doesn’t like to win stuff? This is a great way to not only get your fans engaged with your social media, but it draws in new fans as well. Here’s a very complete article on how to hold the perfect social media contest by Jay Baer.
5) Find what is trending
Trending topics and hashtags are a great way to get involved in conversations that are already taking place online. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all feature trending topics so it’s an easy way to fire up conversations and connections.
How to engage on different social media outlets
To get more specific, here are ways you can engage with your audience on each of the major social media outlets:
One of my favorite features of Twitter is their use of Lists. What they do is help us organize our connections and make your Twitter newsfeed less overwhelming. For example, when I get a new follower on Twitter, I place them in a particular “Twitter List” so I can join in on conversations that speak directly to our audience. We have several posts to help you better use and understand Twitter and Twitter lists.
Set aside five minutes every day (or every other day) to look at the bios of your new connections. Comment on where they are from, something that they mention in their bio, or even check out their website. Show interest and get the conversation ball rolling.
Hashtags are an excellent way to find new connections as well as joining conversations that are already taking place online. Knowing key hashtags that your readers use (we have a few posts on using hashtags here) you can peek into conversations already happening and become a part of it. But whatever you do, DO NOT promote or “make a sales pitch” for your book. That will turn people off faster than a light switch.
When you get a new “like” on your Facebook Page, feature those people in a post. Welcome them to your community and give them a shout-out.
Make a list of authors, organizations, businesses, etc., that speak directly to your audience. Go in and join conversations already taking place on those pages.
Ask questions on your Facebook Page and respond - this might seem like an obvious one, but create an atmosphere on your page where fans are encouraged to take part.
The best way to get the ball rolling on growing your Instagram following is to actually start following people - don’t expect them to just find you. Make a list of authors, organizations, companies, etc., that have a similar audience as you and start following the people who follow those accounts.
Take a few minutes every day to go through your feed and comment/like their posts. Don’t just wait for fans to comment or engage with your pictures - you have to reach out to them as well and start a conversation on their posts.
Don’t just post pins about your book - remember, this is a lifestyle outlet. Create boards that will relate to your core fans and share insights about your life: foods you love, decorating ideas, how-to’s, creative inspiration, etc.
Comment on your connection’s pins. That’s the best way to start conversations - get that ball rolling!
When you know your audience, know what they respond to, and have your finger on the pulse of what is going on within your community, it is very easy to create content that will engage your readers.