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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Carlton

Trigger Social Media Engagement Using a Personal Touch

The image shows a screen shot of the create post text box on Facebook. It emphasizes the blank text box as authors struggle to think of content that will generate social media engagement.

Take a deep breath because I'm about to talk about the elephant in every writer's room: social media presence.

In an era where writers often find themselves heading up their own branding and marketing, social media savviness is a must. It doesn't matter which publishing route you take. Whether you're looking to appeal to traditional publishers or you're pursuing self-publishing, you need to build and foster online channels to connect with and grow your fan base.

But in an arena where writers are a dime-a-dozen, how do you make yourself stand out?

While I've had great success with self-publishing, I've also struggled with the challenge of building an online presence. My marketing plans always leveraged more traditional forums to promote and sell my books, such as speaking events, festivals, fairs, and press coverage. Only a small fraction of my sales came from social media or online advertising.

But I'm in the midst of changing that. In fact, I've successfully generated an uptick in social media growth, engagement, and online sales - and I did it without spamming the internet with links to my books. Instead, I made a conscious shift in the type of content I generated, and the strategy was as successful as it was easy.

Generate Content That Fosters Personal Connection

Humor me for a moment by thinking of a celebrity that you follow on social media. It can be an author, a musician, or an actor. Once you've identified them, take a few minutes right now to look at one of their social media accounts. What do they share and talk about in their posts?

More often than not, you'll find that musicians, actors, and celebrities aren't hard-selling you on their projects and products at every turn. Sure, they talk about them from time to time, but the bulk of their content is focused on giving their followers a glimpse into their everyday lives.

That's because people don't want to be bombarded with sales pitches on social media. While they'll embrace periodic updates on projects or products they're interested in, the main purpose of social media is to give them a forum to connect with people they admire on a more personal level.

Noticing this, I decided to test a more personal approach on my Facebook page. Instead of publishing quotes from my books, articles on writing, and no-nonsense sales pitches, I began producing content that I would typically share on my personal accounts (within reason). For example, I've recently shared:

  • Photos from my hikes and places I've been

  • Questions that invite people to share their interests or experiences

  • Recent drawings from my sketchbook

  • The occasional funny meme

  • Selfies coupled with personal updates and musings

Equally as important: I also responded to comments and engagement on these posts in a timely manner, which strengthens my relationship with my followers while simultaneously increasing the odds of my content reaching more newsfeeds.

Within a month, I experienced a 57% increase in my content's engagement and a 110% increase in page visits, and those numbers continue to grow. More importantly, I'm maintaining an active, ongoing dialogue with my readership so that when it is time to share a great deal or a new release, they'll be around and invested in the news.

Adjust the Personal Content Dial to the Cravings of Your Audience for Better Social Media Engagement

That said, social media audiences can differ drastically from one author to the next (and even one social media platform to the next). If you're a fiction author like myself, you may lean more heavily on personal content that fosters connections with your readers. But if you author non-fiction content and have positioned yourself as an expert in your field, your audience may crave less of you and more of your expertise.

Know your audience, and adjust the dial on your personal content to the level that they're craving. This may mean less day-to-day insight and more free expertise, tools, and inspirational posts. Test the waters with different content to see what your audience is most receptive toward, then tailor your approach to include more of what generates a positive response.

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