Think You Know Social Media for Writers? Here’s What You’re Missing.

Social media is all about being heard!

Or is it?

We tweet, we post, we comment, we update, we check in…and at the end of the day we still don’t see any significant increase in our followers, or in our book sales. What is going on? Do we just not get this whole social media thing? Are we not doing it right? We know it’s all about connecting and sharing, but we’re connecting with the whole internet universe, and we’re sharing all our stuff all the time. And we’re still asking…where are our readers?

The big myth about social media is that it’s all about you. Promoting your book, driving your sales, pushing your message. But if you go into social media with the intent of only benefiting your writing career, you’ll most likely get just as far as auto-tweeting book teasers that no one ever clicks on, and then stall out.

The truth is, social media is not about you.

It’s not about how you can benefit, but about who you can benefit. When we shift our social media energy into open-hearted curiosity we find that followers, subscribers, readers, and supporters are naturally drawn in and want to participate. That’s when we can take a look around and see the people, organizations, and causes that are in ideal alignment with our own message, and then reach out and connect to form a positive alliance.

So for instance, if you’re an author who writes historical fiction, you already know that you want to connect with other writers, as well as readers interested in reading historical fiction. Now let’s get curious and take things a step further. What about other people who enjoy history? What about teachers and students? What about renaissance faires and Civil War reenactments? Find those people on Twitter and follow them, share something from their Facebook pages, find something cool they’re doing and mention it on your blog.

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If you write horror, find the people who are obsessed with Halloween. If you write Mission Impossible thrillers, check out the people who are into spy gear and gadgets. Chick-lit writers can take advantage of the huge cult following of Sex and the City. YA writers can tap into the potential audience of parents-of-teenagers, who very likely might be reading those same YA novels right along with their kids.

An interest group already exists for whatever genre or topic you’re writing about. But most writers miss the golden opportunity by stopping short right there. That one group is tied into other groups, and you can access that rich, fertile ground of potential readers through social media.

Once you find the people you think might be interested in your writing, get interested in them. Start by sharing their stuff. Like them, mention them, retweet them, and genuinely support them. The key is that you have to choose people and organizations that you actually think are cool or helpful or interesting. This is how you build strong, lasting relationships that truly will benefit your writing career. Your enthusiasm for someone else’s passion is not only infectious, it’s usually appreciated. When you start sharing the love without expecting anything back, the partnerships that can help you grow and thrive as a writer will reliably show up without question.

Here’s the 1-2-3 punch for social media magic:

Get Creative
Brainstorm all the possible audiences for your work.

Build Connection
Reach out and follow, subscribe, like, and support.

Share the Love
Promote their stuff first: Stand behind them, and mean it.

This is how you find your fans. By opening your own heart enough so that you get curious about what’s in theirs. Social media doesn’t have to be a drag, and it doesn’t have to feel like an impersonal community either. You get to decide how much benefit it can be to you, but first you have to make up your mind if you want to be of benefit to anyone else.

Start with just one other person. Find one person today you feel would probably connect with your work and share the love by giving them a shout-out in some way. And then find someone else and do it again tomorrow. I guarantee you’ll see your social media life start to bloom.

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