The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing Part Two: How to Make Friends and Find Your Social Media Voice

In Part One: I cover the first steps to creating an online presence by making your own website and setting up social media profiles.

Now you have your own website and have activated your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

What do you do next?

1. Friend all contributors to any magazine issue or anthology you have been published in.

2. Friend or follow everyone you’ve ever met at a writing conference no matter how super-important or inconsequential you think they might be.

3. Follow all authors whose books you enjoy on Twitter.

4. Ask writer friends to suggest friends on Facebook—not a million—like, five is a good starting number.

5. Follow all publications and publishers that you would like to work for to keep abreast of things like reading periods and other kinds of submissions announcements.

At the end of this you will (hopefully) have a few friends and followers.

Now, Post!

In the beginning, posting once or twice a week will be adequate. The purpose of these posts is to assure any readers, reviewers or potential new publishers that you are still alive and active in the world. These posts needn’t be profound. They should be non-confrontational evidence of your existence.

What to Post

Apart from news about your upcoming releases and public appearances you will most likely just be liking and sharing other people’s material.

A good beginning social media regimen might look like this:

Monday & Thursday

Make 1 original post updating your current status

Share three posts

Like, retweet or comment on 5 of your friends or followers’ posts

Follow pages that interest you and post items are relevant to your preferred genre or themes that you explore or are important to your fan base. For example, I write genre fiction (fantasy, science-fiction, mystery and romance) so I follow and share art from fantastical art pages, factoids from science pages, and news of interesting or ingenious crimes. I also write humor so I share humor posts from sites like The Onion and The Hard Times because I know at least some of my readers will also enjoy them.

Because I also write a cooking column for Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, I often post interesting or unusual information about food as well.

Another strategy is to find a news story that resonates with themes or characters in your novel and share a link to that, excerpting a catchy phrase from the article (in quotation marks, of course) to grab the attention of your readers.

But the main question to ask before sharing anything is this: Is this related to my brand? For example, if your story is set in London and you come across a photo or news story that qualifies as #onlyinlondon, then by all means share it. And use that hashtag too. But don’t do the same thing for Budapest or Rio…unless you actually reside in one of those places then that, too, would qualify as your brand because it has to do with your own personal regionality.

Pay attention to your news feeds and see what kind of posts get the most likes and use that feedback. After a few months you will most likely begin to develop your social media voice and better understand who is noticing and responding when you speak.

Remember: Your mission is not to only talk about yourself. It is to boost your own signal by curating an entertaining news and trivia experience for your followers.

Keep in mind that people go to social media to Have Fun.

They want to continue the experience of being entertained by you, not interact with you on a deep and personal level. Avoid broadcasting your:

1.    Private beefs with others in the industry (authors, reviewers, editors, fans, etc)

2.    Private beefs with your friends and family (this is what the private message function is for!)

Responding to Reviewers

Nowadays it’s very common for reviewers to contact authors directly with links to their reviews, whether they be positive or negative. This is somewhat problematic for authors since very few authors can read their own reviews and still maintain a positive attitude toward their writing. So I suggest following a protocol of strict politeness.

For a positive review:

“I’m glad you enjoyed the book! Thank you so much for your time and hard work.” And repost the link to the reviewer’s site on your social media.

For a mixed review:

“Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review my book.” And repost the link if you feel the reviewer had a good point, and the review is overall positive.

For a negative review:

“Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review my book.” You are under no obligation to repost a negative review.

As you get better ts using social media you’re going to begin to naturally up your game. You will find a group of online friends who “get” you and learn who you come into conflict with.

Now you have created an online persona--the crucial evidence of your continuing existence so vital to today's world. Now go forth and sell some books.