Guest post by Zena Shapter

I didn’t mean to become one, but over the last few years I’ve become a social media consultant. Writers started asking me how to use social media and, after a while, I thought – why not? Since I know about social media … why not share my knowledge?

What’s that? You’d like a share in some of that knowledge too?

Well okay then, you’ve twisted my arm! After all, it’s what everyone wants to know these days, right?

How do I establish my writers’ ‘platform’?

How do I sell my novels through my website?

What are the secrets to getting more people to like my Facebook page?

Well, let’s start by addressing some of that lingo…

Establishing – Selling – Getting

Nope. None of that’s working for me. Instead think…

Involvement – Discussion – Content

Here’s what I mean

Tip 1: Establishing vs Involvement

Social media is not a static thing that you can establish. You don’t set it up then leave. Social media is a choice to get involved. When I advise writers and businesses of this fact, they groan… “but I don’t want to have to talk to people”. Well then, why are you getting on social media? Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads… it’s like picking up the phone. If you don’t want to talk to people, why pick up the phone in the first place? If all your listeners hear is an empty dial tone… they’ll soon hang up.

On the other hand, if you’re happy to get involved – talk to people – then you’ve got it made. People are on social media because they want to connect. The first thing I do every morning is pick up my iPhone and check it. The last thing I do every night is pick up my iPhone and check it. Hubbie is the same. It’s not because we’re workaholics (though, I kinda am), it’s because we have this deep need to connect with others similar to ourselves. If you have this deep need, as I do, then social media will work for you. Find me here if you like.

Tip 2: Selling vs Discussion

I had a client ask me the other day (okay, really, every client asks me this): when will I start to see sales from all this? I get it. I understand that the effort they put into connecting/talking with people on social media takes time, and that time should be rewarded with sales. But here’s the thing – people aren’t on social media because they want to buy a book. If they want to buy a book they go to Big W or Target, they go to Amazon or Book Depository, or *gasp* they go to an actual bookshop! They’re on social media because they want to connect – they want to learn, share experiences, be the first to know about updates or new products (yes, including books). Word of mouth and recommendations do result in sales. But those sales are a by-product of the social media experience. That’s why aggressive selling doesn’t work on social media.

Instead, if you want to sell on social media, get people discussing your work. Blog and tweet topics relating to your book, to generate interest. Browse blog sites already discussing relevant issues and join in with the comments. Find similar books to yours on Goodreads and chat with fans about their experience of that book. Get talking to people!

Tip 3: Getting vs Content

How do you ‘get’ more people to like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, or add you to a circle on Google+? The short answer is: you don’t. There’s no getting any people to do anything they don’t want to do. If they do it, it’ll be because they want to. Why do they want to? Because you’re offering them something they want. So if you’d like more fans on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or anywhere else, start by offering them something they want.

Ideally, that something is your book, right? Ideally, your book is going to connect with people and they will want to connect with you back. But what if your book isn’t getting the publicity it deserves? What if people don’t know your book’s even out there? Then your something… is you. You can be what fans come back to connect with, beautiful wonderful you. Are you funny? People love humour. Use your humour to connect with others. Are you kind? Be generous with your blog or Facebook page, support other writers and people will want to connect with that. Are you clever? Are you a pioneer? Have you simply got something to say about, well, a lot of things? Offering people good content is what will attract people to you on social media. Offer good content, and they will come.