I’ve been working in social media, blogging and all-around online platforming for about as long as I’ve had a career. I’ve even dabbled in some myself, as a writer and freelancer. But I didn’t launch my own author platform until this fall, when I got a publisher and made the decision to use a pseudonym.
This meant I had to start all over from zero. Sure, I got a bit of help from my existing networks by announcing my new author channels on them. But the truth is, the view is totally different from down here at the bottom of the social media heap. Building up a platform from ground zero is one heck of a slow process. I knew this fact going in. What I didn’t know was what this would feel like—how frustrating it is to be counting your platform one follower at a time.
So as I sit here and refresh my Twitter follower count 10 times a day hoping it will finally hit the 100 mark, I try to remind myself of a few important truths about online platforming.
Slow Doesn’t Mean Wrong
If your numbers are building slowly, it’s not because you’re doing anything wrong. It’s just the way it is.
This misconception is why articles about online platforming for authors are so popular—everyone is looking for that trick they’re missing that will make their page views and retweet numbers soar. Believe me, I keep my eyes open for one myself. But the simple, aggravating truth is that platforming takes time and persistence. Just keep on going, noticing what works and what doesn’t along the way.
Small Doesn’t Mean Bad
Want to know a secret? There are ways to make your numbers to go up faster, like use the follow-back method, or join an authors’ social media group like ASMSG, where members follow and retweet each other to help bolster each other up.
In these cases, people follow and share based on obligation. So the numbers created using these tactics are empty—these followers are unlikely to buy your next book, and may not even know who you are. It may feel good to report those high number to an agent you’re querying, but be careful. These are short-term gimmicks that don’t build meaningful connections. When it comes time to drum up book sales, expectations will be high, but all those followers won’t do anything for you.
Remember, this isn’t about a race to the highest number. It’s about relationships. A smaller group of people who followed you because they love what you’re about is better than a large following of people who hit “follow” out of a sense of reciprocation, and then never give you another thought.
What Does Work in Platforming
That said, there are a few ways you can see your following grow a little faster while still building genuine connections—you just have to be willing to put in the hard work. This includes things like blogging more frequently, guest posting on more sites, and increasing how often you post on social media.
If you pursue these, just remember to keep your efforts at a level that is sustainable for the long haul. This is especially true for blogs, where it’s most obvious if you change your schedule willy-nilly.
Whatever You Do, Keep On Going
I know how it feels to be frustrated with slow-growing platforming stats—I’m living it right now. But don’t get discouraged. All those consistent efforts you put in will accumulate into something big over time. You just have to keep at it.
As you get more comfortable with managing your platform, you’ll find yourself capable of doing more and more of it. Even better, the bigger your platform is, the bigger it will grow—because there are more people sharing your posts, and you’ll be easier to find in searches.
So take heart, and keep at it. You’ll see those stats grow with time.
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.