The Marketing-Free Way To Grow Your Audience

Last week Marcus and I attended a "welcome home" party for a dear friend who just moved back to Nashville. We knew several people at the party but a large majority of the people there were new faces. When we finally connected with our friends they introduced us to multiple people there and started conversations between us and our new acquaintances. It was a seamless way to connect with new people and develop new friendships. 

You might be relieved to hear that this is how social media and modern online marketing is intended to be used. Many authors that I talk to say, "I feel so slimy marketing myself and my book on social media," or "I don't feel comfortable talking about myself all the time," and so on. 

When modern marketing and social media is done correctly, you aren't only talking about yourself and pushing your agenda - you're actually the host of an online party creating conversations. 

Let me explain...

You've heard me say before that social media wasn't created for marketing. It was created for relationships. When social media was introduced to the world, a barrier was removed between you and your fans. An author's only option to connect with readers isn't limited to depending on a gatekeeper (like a magazine editor, producer, journalist, etc.) to let the public know about them and their book. Now we can connect with fans directly. 

So why do we feel like we still need to talk like we are "marketing" to them? In today's day and age consumers can smell marketing from a mile away. And when we use a marketing approach to our social media and online resources, it turns people away and you miss out on a genuine and authentic connection. And that's a huge miss because those authentic connections turn into dedicated fans. 

So how do you communicate with your fans in an authentic, non-marketing way? Here are five tips: 


1) Ask Questions 

That might be a Captain Obvious point, but it's true. And it's something that many authors overlook. And it doesn't need to be related to books, your book subject or anything like that. You're talking to real people - get to know them! The more you know them and what they respond to, the more connected you will be. 


2) Respond 

Again, Captain Obvious is approaching, but when people respond to your questions, leave you a comment, or share something with you, respond! It takes seconds to do. And before you know it, you'll have a conversation going that will connect you in a deep way. So the next time you post something about your book, this new connection with take action or respond. 


3) A Survey 

Many authors that I talk to have no idea what they should blog about, talk about in their newsletter, or post on social media. That's normal when you are getting to know people and don't have that touchstone of familiarity. Something you can do is simply ask what they are interested in. You can set up a free survey using services like Survey Monkey that can help you formulate a survey, which will give you loads of ammunition to use to create quality content that your audience will connect with. Whether you have a large or small fan base, a survey is always a great tool to tap into. 


4) Fill-In-The-Blanks

If someone posted a question that required a long, thought-out answer, would you take part? Probably not. But if someone were to ask a question that required a quick, easy answer, would you take part? Probably. One of the tricks to getting your posts seen, specifically on Facebook, is to get as many likes, comments, and shares as possible. When the Facebook algorithms see that people are interested in what you posted, they will bump it up in regards to importance, so more people will see it. So giving the option of quick answer questions is a great option to not only get to know your fans but to get seen in news feeds. So questions like, "My dream vacation spot is ______________" or "If I had an extra $1,000 I would buy _________" are great options. 


5) Reader Features 

Another great option is to highlight or feature your readers. If you publicly thank them for following/liking your page, leaving a comment on your blog, etc., it's a great way to show your  appreciation but it also takes the focus off of you. If someone leaves a comment or question that would generate a great conversation, highlight it and share it. Ask for more thoughts/feedback. The more your fans and potential fans are involved, the deeper the connection you will have. 


This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many ways to connect with and grow your audience in a non-markety way that will generate solid and dedicated fans. So instead of thinking of how to "push" or market your book or your writing, think about how you will generate conversations. Remember, you're the host of this online party - make those connections. 

TAKE ACTION NOW: How do you engage or create conversations online? Let us know in the comments below! 


Photo from Paul Townsend - "This Is Your Life" (1950 on BBC) with Russ Conway