The advice isn’t as unsavory as it may sound. After all, I’m not talking about spying around street corners but instead observing the competition on social media.
For example, how do other authors engage with readers? Who do they follow? Who follows them? How often do they post?
You get the idea.
[clickToTweet tweet=”New to social media? Spend time ‘lurking’ first via @CaballoFrances” quote=”New to social media? Spend time ‘lurking’ first”]
One way to learn is through imitation. More than one author has learned to write by simply and arduously typing the manuscript of an acclaimed author.
What can you possibly learn? Well first, you’ll get a lot faster at typing. You’ll also be able to examine how the plot develops, how the author constructs scenes, and how writers develop their characters and dialogue.
As Stephen King admonishes, if you want to write, you need to be an avid reader. There’s no other way around it.
So what exactly will your competition teach you about social media? Keep reading.
10 Things to Discover About Your Competition’s Social Media Use
- Do the authors you’re watching thank their followers as a group or do they thank them individually?
- How many writers converse on social media, answering questions and asking questions? Or do they merely post information?
- Are the authors you’re watching post images and videos? Hopefully, every tweet and Facebook post has an image.
- Do you get the sense that they’re having fun on social media, or do their posts and interactions seem forced? Do they have a relaxed style? Do they use emoticons or emojis?
- Examine their hashtag use. Which ones are the observed writers using?
- Is engagement high on their posts?
- Are the writers taking time to create branded images that carry their website link or Twitter handle?
- Who are they following?
- Take a look at who follows them.
- What is their posting schedule? Do they break from posting for days at a time or are they consistent?
[clickToTweet tweet=”On Twitter, don’t retweet praise of your books or blog posts @CaballoFrances” quote=”On Twitter, don’t retweet praise of your books or blog posts”]
8 Social Media Best Practices
Once you spend time lurking about, try to develop some of these best practices:
- Upload a picture of yourself for your avatar. Don’t be an egghead or use an photo of your cat, dog, book cover or favorite lake as your avatar. Your avatar needs to appear professionally. If you don’t want to hire a photographer, ask a friend to take a picture of you. Don’t wear sunglasses or a hat.
- Use Canva.com or PicMonkey to create a banner. Find and use copyright-free pictures at LibreStock.com. You can add your book covers, announce the publication of a new book, or use an image that reflects a scene in your book.
- Don’t waste the space for your bio. Your avatars and bios are searchable on the Internet, and you want to use your bios to advance your author brand and your professional appearance.
- Adhere to all character lengths.
- Interact with your colleagues. Although I used the term competition in the headline for this post, you don’t have competition on social media. Authors who write in your genre are your colleagues. So reach out to them for co-promotion opportunities.
- Never spam your followers, friends or fans with messages to buy your book or sign up for a giveaway.
- Pay attention to the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time you’ll need to post Not interacting socially with other writers. It’s important to be friendly on Twitter, meet other authors – even those who write in your genre (perhaps especially those authors) – and promote other authors. The more authors you meet and promote, the more they will suggest your books to their readers.
- On Twitter, don’t retweet praise of your books or blog posts. Promoting yourself in this manner is akin to bragging.
Frances Caballo is an author and social media consultant. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online and building their platform. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Online Book Marketing Strategies for Writers