Virtual Communities for Writers: Building a Fan Base Around Your Writing
Most business professionals have known for years that social media marketing is essential for success. Perhaps you never thought of it as “marketing” before – these things you do to get people to appreciate your writing. But deep down, it is marketing.
It is establishing a fan base, it is sharing your passions with others, it is creating a conversation around a topic you feel passionately about, and it is sharing wisdom.
And it is an essential task.
Not only will establishing an online community of followers helps build your writing career, but it will also create a community of like-minded individuals. Being an academic essay writer, I’d like to say that this support system is more valuable than money (although, it will probably provide that too in the long run!).
Regardless of your reasoning, there is no possible situation where having thousands of devoted fans is a bad thing. So just do it already!
Most of us lack the motivation to put pen to paper each day – no matter what we are writing. The thought of undertaking a massive project like marketing our work on social media seems nearly impossible.
Plus, adding another task to our to-do list is often a bad idea for two reasons.
First, it could make us feel even more overwhelmed and stressed – like we have too much to do and not enough time to do it. This often causes us to do nothing at all because we just don’t know where to begin.
Second, it might be tempting to spend all our time doing “fun” stuff like chatting with friends on Facebook and never actually write a thing worthy of marketing.
However, it is essential to get the job done and to make your presence known on social media. You should have had it done yesterday.
Think about it. It is nearly impossible to have one without the other – a successful writing career and a devoted fan base. How can you establish yourself as a writer if you haven’t convinced anyone to buy into what you have to say? And how can you create a fan base if you have nothing to share with them?
Find a way to write and create an online fan base at the same time.
There are numerous social media platforms you can join, but that doesn’t mean you need to join them all. Spreading yourself too thin is almost worse than not creating the account in the first place. If you don’t have time to interact and develop every one of your social accounts, don’t bother. You will just alienate people with your lack of interaction.
That being said, you need to know what the audience is like on each social platform. Then, you can choose where you want to begin your marketing campaign.
- Facebook is like your high school reunion, college homecoming, and family Christmas dinner all rolled into one. It’s good for reminiscing, catching up, and not taking yourself too seriously.
- Twitter is like a noisy cocktail party. It’s good for quick, informal interactions – but the person you’re chatting up with will probably move on to the next group of people before you have a chance to develop a real relationship.
- Google+ is like a club – like-minded people come together to share their passions. It’s good for finding fans in your niche, but it might be hard to develop a more diverse following.
- LinkedIn is like a hiring agency. It’s good for making business connections, finding a job, and buddying up to industry leaders.
If you already have a social media account that has primarily been used for personal communication, it is time to do a little housekeeping. Edit, purge, and update.
Think of your profile as a business card. You want to convince people to pick that card up, put it in their pocket, and pull it out when they need your services. In online terms, you want them to circle, follow, subscribe, or like you.
Would you go to a marketing event in the “real world” and give out your contact number on the back of a napkin, scrawled in barely-legible ink? Why would you think to do the same with your online presence?
Upload a profile picture (this is an absolute must) that is of your face – and only your face. Don’t snap a selfie in the bathroom mirror. Don’t pose beside your precious car. Don’t include your husband, kid, or dog.
Humbly and simply tell your story. Show you are capable, trustworthy, and friendly.
Remember social media is social. It was designed as a way to converse and interact with other people. If you use it for purposes other than what the manufacturer intended, you’re asking for trouble.
While social media is great for marketing yourself and your writing, that isn’t the sole purpose. To be on the safe side, spend 80% of your time sharing the works of other people. Consider your audience and then link to content they would find appealing – articles, videos, photos.
At most, 20% of your social media interactions should be spent on self-promotion or your contributions to the conversation.
Another way to think of it is like this: follow the example set by NPR. For approximately 363 days a year, the radio station shares quality, relevant content. They spend the rest of their time asking for pledges. People gladly accept this little bit of self-promotion – and willingly give back. NPR works hard to earn that opportunity by sharing great stuff with listeners the rest of the year.
Be like NPR. If you consistently provide great insight to your readers, they will be more willing to check out your stuff because you’ve earned the right to toot your own horn.
If you are waiting for universal acceptance of your writing, you’ll be very poor for a very long time. You will never create a composition that generates 100% agreement. Accept that fact right now.
If someone calls you out on your social media platform of choice, ignore the criticism. Don’t get angry. Don’t fight back. Turn the other cheek.
If they attack you again, block them. Then get on with your life.
Writers are creative creatures. We don’t typically respond well to stiff, rigid rules. Therefore, it isn’t surprising to learn we are telling you to disregard what social media marketing experts typically advise people to do.
Many marketing experts will advise their clients to formulate a plan before jumping into social media. “What are your goals? What tactics will you use to meet those goals? Take a look at these strategies that have helped Business X increase their ROI by a million.”
It is probably safe to say none of that applies to you. Even for them, it isn’t a guaranteed way to create a fan base. In reality, there is no right or wrong. All you can hope for is to do what is right – for you.