In my own (lucky) experience, your online pals become your real-life friends. My online friends rock. They are my tribe and I can't imagine my life without them. That, my friends, is the real power of social media.
We spend time with these people, whether it’s chatting on social media, sharing a writing sprint or cat video, asking about a plot problem, trying to figure out what kind of cooties your kid has, or sharing morning coffee.
People are seeking authentic connections online and, by joining in, an author is opening themselves up for connecting. For introverts that can be a scary prospect. My advice is to take your time and conserve your energy.
The best part of all this? Seemingly disparate people throughout the world are connecting through social media (and sometimes in real life!) and enjoying the hell out of each other.
Some of those people are readers who might just be inclined to buy your book. Even if they don't, you'll have made scores of new friends. That's a beautiful thing.
Sometimes I'm lucky enough to see my internet pals in person — at conferences, on vacations or when they pop through town. When I see them, there are hugs and smiles and words and fun. You see, we know each other already. We've spent time together. I get as many holiday cards from my online friends as I do from my family.
I know, I know. Many of you are introverts. But you are also authors who have realized that no one is going to ring your doorbell and ask you if they can buy your book.
You've got to put yourself out there a little, which brings up a most important question...
What the heck do I post?
If you really don't know what to talk about online, try the 'ten phrases game.' (aka the "How many words does it take to get to the center of YOU" exercise.)
I will throw myself under the bus here so you have an example of what I mean. Here's Jenny in 10 Bullets or Less:
- Rejuvenated by creativity
- Nurtured by family and friends
- Loves to give back
- Teaching lights my fire
- Growing things hits my Zen button
- Gluten-free eating changed my life
- Thankful to be alive
- My guilt muscle is strong, but my humor muscle is stronger
- I dream of being an organized person (and a good singer)
- Morning mantra: Give the scary lady some coffee
And I still left plenty out, and you will too when you try this for yourself. (This exercise is hard!!)
What do those ten points equal topic-wise?
- Help me organize!
Those are eight areas where I can bond with other people on social media!
If you're coming up blank on how to convert these topic ideas into action, here are some tips to make the process easier:
- Effective social media is a thousand drops of water sprinkled across months, not throwing a big bucket of updates out at once. High volume sharing tends to tire out most followers.
- Pick only one (or two) social platforms and really embrace them. You can do more if you have the time but DON'T do 5-6 different apps with no interaction. Pick the few you're most comfortable with and visit at least once a day for the first few months.
- Look up the people you already know and see what they're posting about. Jump into those conversations. If it's online, it is open to the public...just be polite about it.
- Find the hashtags for topics you know a lot about or have interest in.
- If you're just starting on a platform like Twitter or Instagram, go look at someone you admire and follow all the people on their list who look interesting.
- Be sure to use the 12:1 rule by responding or retweeting twelve items/links/conversations from other people for every one of yours.
Sum up the essence of YOU in up to 10 points and post it for us in the comments, along with your fave Social Media hangouts. I also challenge you to connect with as many of the people in the comments section as possible - comment on their self-summary, follow their social media links.
Before you know it you will have a tribe. If you have a tribe already, you'll have an even bigger one. 🙂