Each social network is unique. They have different demographics, features, channels and overall cultures. Don’t even try to pretend that SnapChat and Twitter users behave the same. However, there are some basic best practices that will serve you well no matter what platform you are on.
Follow these guidelines any time you are taking the plunge into a new network, and you’ll be engaging new fans in no time.
1) Use consistent profile content
When you fill out your profile for this new social network, be consistent with how you represent yourself on your author website and other networks. This means using the same headshot and the same or similar bio (depending on the network’s bio requirements).
This makes it easy for your fans to find and recognize you one network to the next.
2) Listen first
Before you jump into the conversation, observe how others engage the community on this new network Joining a new network is like going to a party—but is it a swanky cocktail mixer or a rave? Like any social group, real or digital, the only way to understand the dynamics is to observe.
So first thing you should do when joining a new network is to follow some people and start watching your feed.
3) Explore your niche
Once you start to get a feel for the general dynamics of the network, dig deeper. Where are your target audience engaging on this network?
Sometimes this means engaging with publication accounts or other thought leaders, sometimes it means joining groups, sometimes it means using certain hashtags. Whatever methods this site uses to connect likeminded people into communities, take advantage of them to find your readers.
4) Be helpful (not salesy)
Some call it the 80/20 rule (80 percent of your posts should be helpful, the other 20 percent may be promotional), while others prefer a 90/10 ratio. But the key takeaway is that you should focus an awful lot more on what is valued by your target followers than on boosting book sales.
Sometimes this means sharing helpful resources. Other times it means offering entertainment. The important thing is that the majority of your posts don’t have anything to do with buying your book.
5) Share yourself
The reason you don’t want to sound too salesy on social media is because this is no place to drum up sales—instead, consider this a place to build relationships with readers so that they care about your books later.
And a crucial part of any relationship is getting to know the other person. So don’t be afraid to show a little personality. Let the general dynamics you see from others on the network inform how much you let loose.
6) Avoid negativity
In short, don’t be a troll. Treat online followers just the same as you would treat a real life person. (After all, that’s what they are!) It can be easy and tempting to criticize an image, or pounce on someone you disagree with. But remember what you’re doing here. You are building connections.
Connections are made from positivity. Negativity will cut you down with everyone else—and look terribly unprofessional to agents and publishers.
7) Experiment to find your voice
Every single social network I’ve been on, it took me a while to understand why I wanted to be there. Observing is an important first step, but for me, I have to start posting before it really clicks.
So don’t wait to feel like an expert before you jump in—it’s okay to feel a little unsure of yourself at first. Proceed cautiously, engage consistently, and pay attention. You’ll be surprised how fast you start to feel at home.
Don’t be afraid to try something new
It is easy to feel unsure about how to engage on a new social network—even the ones we know well are constantly updating and evolving!
But expanding your online platform is a great way to reach new readers, so don’t let a little uncertainty hold you back. Use these steps as a guide to help you find your footing, and you’ll be amazed at how fast you learn your way around start making new connections.
By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.