Now, having hung up that hat in favor of the work-at-home mom and erotic historical romance author hats, the crowds I interact with online are far different from the business-minded, SEO-techno-lingo-fluent, streamlined and sales-savvy bloggers I dealt with every day.
This is a great thing! These are people who are more my flavor, with goals similar to mine and a language that feels more like my native tongue.
Yet...and I hesitate to say it, but it needs saying. I see a lot of those don'ts I learned from the SEO masters being perpetuated by the authors with whom I spend a lot of my online time. Here are five of the most common I see:
1. Don't Engage Fans and Followers. Twitter these days feels like a stroll up Barker's Row in a carnival. Lots of people shouting about their books, blog posts, and giveaways. Post after post of, "Buy this!" and "Read this!" and "Look what I made!" Not one single post that invites me to interact. So...I don't.
2. Infrequent and Unfocused Blog Posts. A lot of blogs that I see from authors out there have no regular timetable. Some read more like personal blogs, not posts written by a professional focused on the business of writing. I never know when to visit. I never know if I'm approaching a professional writer, or my frazzled neighbor. In my own extremely busy life, I never know if their next post is going to be worth the time I spend reading it, so I don't subscribe to their RSS feed --if they even have one! There are some fantastic bloggers out there. @JSMorbius over at The Crypt is a great example of regular posting, and engaging readers and followers both on his blog and on Twitter. He asks questions and interacts with his readers, which leads me to...
3. Never Inviting Comments. Your fans have something to say. If they're following you, chances are they love your work because you evoke an emotional response and they want to share it. Blog posts, tweets, and Facebook updates that are just statements and give no window for your followers to share something of their own is a recipe for disaster. They'll go elsewhere, to some place where they'll feel their voices are welcome. Ask questions! Make an observation and invite people to share their own. Give an opinion, share a thought or experience, and then invite them to share their own! I promise, they will.
4. Random PMs. Now, I've gotten a few Private Messages or Direct Messages on Facebook and Twitter from my fellow authors who actually wanted to engage in conversation. Sadly, this is not the norm. Usually they go more like this, "Hey! I just Followed you back! Check out my link/buy my book/check out my app via my affiliate link!" Um, how about no? Sending me private messages like a telemarketer phone call does not an endearing follower make. In fact, I just might unfriend/unfollow you, or even worse, BLOCK you. Your fans are not targets. They're fans, and they're people. Social media is just that: to be social! People complain all the time that advertisements have weaseled their way into everything from pop-ups to commercials at the movies, and then turn right around and turn into social media pop-ups of their own, invading their fans' social engaging experience. Not cool.
5. Not Sharing Other People's Interesting Stuff. This one is a doozy. Some people do share other interesting stuff, on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. But what I commonly see on Twitter is people erasing the "RT @SomeOtherPerson" tag that lets others know it is shared from elsewhere. I realize space is limited, especially on Twitter, but those aren't the tags you want to remove! Trust me. People notice when you RT their stuff, and are usually very happy to repay the courtesy. Lots even mention you in Tweets or posts of their own, with links to your own work, sharing and re-Tweeting your updates, or just to thank you.
Let people know you're in for the conversation, and not just a carnival barker. I promise. He will strain to hear a whisper who refuses to hear a shout. Stop being one of those people whose voice is drowned out amidst all the other shouting going on. Show you actually have something interesting to say.
Then invite others to join in.
What say you? Do you have other social media advice to share? Anecdotes that go along with the 5 Ways here? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!