Making social media matter

Stop wasting time and start building your writing career with these tried-and-true tips

Social Media

Aim for connections, not numbers

You’re far better off connecting with a few good influencers than signing up (or worse, buying!) a few thousand disengaged “followers.”
Freelance writer and attorney Tami Kamin Meyer says, “I don’t accept all [social] invitations. I peruse the profiles of people who ask me to connect to determine if I share professional commonalities with them. If I don’t, I don’t accept.”

Stop selling

If you keep trying to sell, sell, sell, people will stop, stop, stop listening. So offer something else. Create a unique game or quiz. Show a sneak peek of an upcoming release (yours or someone else’s!). Ask a question (“What’s your favorite late-night guilty reading pleasure?”). Share quotes, quips, or gripes in a graphic format.

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Resend an occasional meme (yes, even a Kylo Ren one). Or make your own meme.

Like the comments of your friends. Respond to their questions. Interact with them.

In short, find ways to engage with people, and they’ll stick with you.

Be social

It’s SOCIAL media after all. Don’t be afraid to reveal your personality. Stephen King posts about his dog and other aspects of his life almost as often as he does about the world of writing. John Green is more likely to post about politics than his books. Philip Pullman regularly responds to current events and society issues.

And people appreciate it.

R-rated blogger (and New York Times and USA Today bestselling author) Chuck Wendig puts it plainly: “Social media is not great for authors selling books. But it is an excellent way to make and cultivate professional connections – and, dare I say it, friendships…Worry less about selling books online. Worry more about being a COOL HUMAN meeting other COOL HUMANS.”

Wendig has it right. Being a COOL HUMAN is a far better long-term strategy than being a used-car-salesman-style book hawker who’s talking at people versus communicating with them. But if you’re still not sure what to do with your own social media, start with retweeting/resharing/reposting things that COOL HUMANS like Wendig, King, Bruns, and others do. You’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

Come visit me on facebook.com/ryangvancleave and tell me how it’s going!

Ryan G. Van Cleave is the author of 20 books, and he runs the creative writing program at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. Web: ryangvancleave.com.

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