Evo Terra is a publishing coach. He helps would-be and established authors use today’s digital tools to publish, promote and sell their work. He kindly agreed to share some of his knowledge on social media marketing for authors in this guest blog post.
So, without further ado, here from Evo is some great advice on building your fanbase, illustrated with pages from Meagan Klementowski’s delicious cookbook, Addictions:
Fanbase is a tricky word. It doesn’t mean Facebook fans. And it doesn’t mean existing customers. Instead, it means an active and committed community of people – real, live people – who will help support you and your books with the two things you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) buy; word-of-mouth and reviews.
The social web is a great place to build, care for, and feed a fanbase. But it’s also easy to slip into the role of That Guy (or That Girl), and your social stream starts resembling a spam-filled sewer more than a fun, interesting, and engaging stream of information.
Let’s Talk Cake: The Recipe for Building a Fanbase
And that’s where the cake comes in. Baking a cake is easy, but only if you follow the recipe. Building a fan base with social media is quite similar, with various ingredients added at different times, in the right ratios to produce a tasty result. With cake, you need things like flour, sugar, eggs, milk and salt. Those five ingredients have analogs in the types of content you can share or behaviors you can emulate on social channels: interacting, sharing, supporting, information and promoting.
The bulk of a cake is flour, and the bulk of your social content should be interactive in nature. Have honest conversations with other people. Listen to what people are saying – to you and others – and add your relevant comments. If someone mentions you; respond! You’re a long way from being too popular to answer each and every person each and every time. Until that time comes, concentrate on being a nice human. Not an author, photographer, chef, teacher, or artisan – a human. Just be. You should spend the bulk of your time just being social on social media.
Add Sugar by Sharing
Measured by heft, sugar is the next most common ingredient in a cake. For social content, your next most-common action should be finding things to share. Only share things – links, images, stories, etc. – that you personally find interesting. Don’t try and guess what your audience might be interested in. But if you do find interesting items from your growing fanbase, be sure to share them! Share your own stories and experiences, too. These can inspire and educate your fanbase in a very natural and comfortable way.
A cake recipe only has a couple of eggs in it, and your social stream should have some, but not a lot of, support-related content. Overloading can make you look like a know-it-all. And when you do share your knowledge, do it without any strings attached. This isn’t the time for quid pro quo. Just share and teach from time to time. It solidifies your position as an expert and as a nice person.
Just a Splash of Information and Promotion
A splash of milk makes the cake a little creamier, and a splash of information on where you are in your creative processes can do the same for your social stream. But the key word is “little.” If you’ve been busy sharing lots of informative, supportive and interactive content, the occasional update – word count, new project, tour, guest appearance, etc. – is a good thing for your audience to hear about.
And finally, the salt. No one wants a salty cake. And no one wants to read the social stream that says nothing but BUY MY BOOK over and over again. But you can, from time to time, ask your growing fanbase to take action on your behalf. That may be to buy your next book, support a cause you care deeply about, or take another action that benefits you. Just do so sparingly.
And as you continue to build your fanbase with great content, you may find yourself needing to do this less and less, as you find your fanbase doing the work of selling your book for you.