Social media can be an effective, low-cost method for building relationships and expanding the size and scope of your audience. However, authors can easily undermine their efforts by losing the focus on their purpose, by not being persistent in their efforts, and by attempting to do too much at once. This work is low-cost in terms of cash outlay, but expensive in that it requires dedicated and persistent effort over a long time.
Focus is the first important dimension in successfully building a social media audience that will result in increased demand for a book. Focus first and always on the actual reader audience for the book. Direct all of your communication and content to people who may be interested in the content, message, and purpose of your book. It may be very tempting to begin using your social media presence to share information about writing and storytelling to other groups, such as that writing club you meet with once a month. Don’t do it. That will only distract your audience away from the key messages to communicate to promote the work, and it uses up a scarce resource – you.
Being focused also means being consistent. Consistency includes staying true to the core purpose and mission of the work, delivering different messages about the same theme, using similar names that reflect the work in places like Facebook pages, web sites, and Twitter hash tags. Include information from the content of book, about the content of the book, events relating to content of book, and new developments as you promote the book, such as a speaking engagement, or review articles, and so on.
Speaking of your core purpose, nothing undermines you faster than pushy selling or talking about controversy that has nothing to do with the subject matter of your book. Avoid hard selling unless you want to turn off your audience quickly. Your focus in building the audience on social media is not selling your book. Instead, it is in building a relationship with as many people as possible who are interested in the content of your work and who may become interested in developing a relationship with you as well.
Other topics to avoid completely include controversial items like politics and religion, or other hotly contested issues that seem to generate lots of social media buzz. These too are a significant distraction for your purpose and serve to undermine you and your objective in growing a large fan base. Criticizing someone else can sometimes feel justified, particularly when an offending party writes a hurtful post on your site. Stay above it and remain focused on your message. Sinking to the level of such criticism makes you look small and it is not relevant to the purpose and content of your book.
Don’t try to go too big, too fast. Content can be very small. Twitter limits you to just a few characters, but can include links to more information. There is no need to write a long essay each time you post. Focus on your own web site, Facebook page, Twitter handle, and other closely managed sites first. If you first become very good at managing a regular and valuable flow of content on these sites, you can consider expanding to other sites. Expanding too fast will overwhelm you and it will show up, on the web where everyone can see it.
Share information regularly. Again, this is information, not pushy selling. Sometimes you can’t think of an inspirational message to send out when you need to do so. That’s fine, share relevant and interesting posts by others. That broadens the scope of your content and encourages sharing of your messages.