By Anisa Claire.
Facebook is an ever-changing social media beast, but one thing always remains the same, and that’s how to grow your audience organically. Over the last few years, social media has become an extension of my daily life. I use it, primarily, to promote my books and magazines and I’ve learned a lot along the way. This article, I hope, will help you to get started or to get out of a rut.
Over the course of the last twelve months, nearly 4,000 Absur’D colouring books and colouring activity books have made their way into the hands of both fans and customers. Color On! Magazine, a magazine for colouring enthusiasts, has over 500 annual digital subscribers and sells approximately seventy-five to one hundred current print issues, and around fifty past issues each month, as well. That means around 900 to 1,000 books and issues go out to paying customers each month. It isn’t a massive amount, and I’m not getting rich from it, but I make a living and have been able to replace my previous wage as a full-time property manager. I also have been published in a few magazines and do some freelance articles that earn me between .07 to .10 per word.
The reason I mention all of that is because I know when I read a ‘How To’ article, the first thing that pops into my head is… Well, what is your experience? How much have you sold? How big is your following? Because, let’s face it, time is limited and we want to read advice with proven results, right? And my opinion with ‘How To’ articles is that honesty is the best policy.
Okay, so let’s dive into Facebook. Facebook has two different options, the first being your personal profile page and the second being a business page. For this article, I am going to focus on the personal profile page because I have found a lot of success with mine. I will cover the business page in the near future.
If you would like to checkout my Facebook profile, you can find it here, but make sure you come back to the article when you’re done! I have a lot more to talk about (haha): https://www.facebook.com/anisa.claire1
The most important thing, in my opinion, (if you’re using your personal page as an extension for sales) is to make sure your page is still a functioning PROFILE page. It still needs to be a place where you are yourself and it isn’t ALL about sales. People will grow tired of only seeing sales posts. I always try to think in terms of what I find engaging about social media and then apply that to my own page.
Keep it personal. I can’t stress that enough. Make your posts fun and inviting. Give your audience something to comment on and get involved with. In other words, treat them like you would treat your family and close friends. And by personal, I don’t mean ‘dramatic’ or even dipping into your ‘personal’ life. I mean personal as in things people can connect with, relate to, and interact in.
With a profile page, it is sometimes hard to get past the idea that your family and friends will be watching everything you’re doing. If you’re concerned about that, simply unfriend them and let them know that it isn’t personal. That you’ve decided to use your page for a more focused purpose. You can always find other ways to keep in touch with the people you truly want to keep in touch with.
Another thing you might feel is guilt about dumping so many writing-related posts on them, or in my case, colouring-related, too. Well, they have the option to unfollow you if they grow tired of seeing your posts, but it’s my opinion that they will likely support you rather than dump you. And if your posts are fun and inspiring then it really shouldn’t matter, right?
Keep in mind now, though, that by using your personal page as a stage… it’s a public page. If you don’t want ‘strangers’ seeing pictures of your kids, don’t post them. Use another platform for those kinds of posts.
Okay, so now you want to grow your friend list. I wouldn’t suggest just running out and friend requesting anyone who lists having an interest in reading. Grow your friendships overtime and through personal interaction. Join some groups that focus on things that involve elements of the genres you write in. Of course, the obvious ones are reading or writing groups, but extend beyond that. Take a few minutes to think of other areas where you can reach people.
If, for example, you write fantasy books… look for groups about dragons, old world weaponry, vintage clothing, even. Anything that relates to your world of writing AND that you, also, are interested in. It’s difficult to connect with people in a situation where you’re not interested in the content, too.
Once you’ve joined some Facebook groups, start socialising! Don’t post sales posts. Interact with people. Talk with them. Laugh with them. Ask their opinions. Take the time to show them that you’re interested in them as a person, not a sales target. This takes time and it isn’t a process that will happen overnight, but you’d be surprised how fast your following will grow when you take the time to interact with people on a social level.
Also, building it this way provides a stronger base. It’s similar to dieting. You might be able to lose 100 pounds in a month or two, but the likeliness of you keeping that weight off isn’t very good, right? The same goes for a social media following. If you gain a large amount of followers through superficial means, chances are you’re not really going to benefit from it. It’ll end up just being numbers.
I can honestly say that a lot of my following have not only turned into great friends, but they’ve stuck around and have been interactively supporting my ventures since they discovered me. They are repeat customers and they are enthusiastic supporters. Truly, they are the reason I have the small amount of success that I do.
That’s another important thing to remember. You need your fans more than they’ll ever need you. That’s the truth. Without them, you have an awesome book with nobody to enjoy it. That’s why it’s important to spend as much time as you can interacting and showing these people that you appreciate them.
That said, you obviously can’t be on social media 24/7. I try my best to respond individually to as many people as my schedule will allow. If, on a certain day, deadlines are looming and I am extremely busy, I will do blanket responses to thank people for commenting. I try to avoid that whenever possible, though.
Allow people to post on your timeline. I have my page set so that I have to approve posts going on my timeline from people on my friend’s list. But I approve almost all posts unless they are a generic tag in a contest or something like that. The reason I do this is because a.) I want to see their posts b.) I want them to be able to show their posts to other people on my friend’s list and c.) it helps to keep my page looking more active without me always having to be the one posting to it and d.) I want them to know that I appreciate them and the time they’ve spent.
Stay neutral. Unless you’re building a presence that revolves around political rants, religion or an outspoken personality… which would be the only exception… don’t post things that have the potential to take a nasty turn. Just avoid it. It doesn’t mean you’re selling out or that you don’t have an opinion. It simply means this isn’t the place for it. When you walk into a bookstore, there are many books to choose from, but one thing you’ll notice is that the store, itself, isn’t pushing their personal beliefs or opinions on you, right? The same goes for your page. Stay neutral. Don’t vent. Not there.
Use a current profile picture of yourself. Profile pages that have no pictures of the person who is operating it are often times, well, suspicious. You wonder why that person isn’t showing themselves and it comes across as not only impersonal, but very unprofessional, as well. That said, choose your pictures wisely because, again, it is a public profile. Always put your best foot forward and be proud of who you are and what you look like.
Pictures make things more personal. They really do. Because the Internet is still a bit of an odd concept, in that we can make great friends and connections with people we’ve never actually met in person. Being able to put a face to the name helps tremendously in that regard.
Post things you like to see. If you’re scrolling through Facebook and come across a post that gets you laughing or thinking or feeling… share it! It helps, again, with connecting and socialising, but also with keeping your page interesting and active. It shows a bit of your personality, too.
Get creative about ‘sales’ posts. Don’t just post ‘buy my book’. It doesn’t work. Add some personality to those posts, but mainly, try to think of other ways to reach your audience that doesn’t involve the words ‘buy my book’. For colouring, it’s pretty easy because you can colour a page and share it. If a person likes it, they’ll ask where they can get a copy. For writing, you can do things like share quotes from your book or start discussion posts on specific aspects of your story that doesn’t include spoilers. You might put up something like… “In my story, INSERT STORY NAME HERE, I spent a lot of time researching fishing. I found it particularly interesting that this breed of fish…” That’s an example, but you see where I am going. It gets people talking and your story name is mentioned without being intrusive.
Network with, and share posts from, other writers. This one, sadly, is not often done, but the benefits are endless. Don’t be afraid of competition. Invite it! I believe if a product is good… it will sell. There is enough room in the world for all of us, and just think if we all stood together how big our marketing reach would really be? It would be massive. Yet, instead of standing together, we often stand alone. All that does is give the power over to the humongous publishing houses. Take the time to interact with other writers and to share their content if you’re able.
Use pictures. Find an open source website to get pictures for your posts. It helps catch people’s attention and express what the post is about in a glance.
Okay, so to conclude… the best way to grow your audience organically is to invest in interacting with your audience. Be creative. Be personable. Reply to people directly when you can, make a big effort on that front but, obviously, still leave yourself enough time to create. Stay neutral unless you’re goal is to build your personality around being outspoken and argumentative. Network with other writers. Use a current profile picture and avoid overselling. Just be you and be genuine.