Social Media has taken over the world, or at least parts of it. Its rise in popularity has been stunning. It’s literally changed the way most of us use the web forever. And that’s no exaggeration. Of course, along with it, Social Media has risen to be one of the most important tools for promotion, especially self-promotion. Yet a challenge remains: finding a delicate balance between self-promotion and alienation. How can you promote yourself well and still keep followers happy? How can you avoid being obnoxious? Here’s some suggestions from one who’s spent a lot of time and effort studying that very thing.
First, Social Media is called Social for a reason. Your focus needs to be on socializing not selling. The key to Social Media success, no matter what you do with it, is networking and relationships. When authors ask me when to start Social Media so they can promote their forthcoming book, my response is: you haven’t already? I started two years before my book came out. And I had almost no work to promote. Instead, I built friendships, learned who was out there, what people were doing, and supported and promoted them. My focus was not on me, it was on others. And that’s key to Social Media success. Making it all about you is the quickest route to obnoxious failure. Making it about community is the quickest route to success.
Second, Social Media are communities. Yep, I repeated myself. That’s okay, because this point is important. The key to Social Media success is providing useful content people will enjoy and value. The quickest route to that, before you’ve found your own niche, is to retweet the links and content of others. If you read it, and it’s valuable to you, share it. If someone’s doing something cool, let people know. Take the time to pass it on. People will remember. And they will reciprocate. And if you have established a history and reputation for supporting your community, your community will support you.
Third, support people with praise. If someone succeeds at something, congratulate them. It takes seconds to do it. It feels good. You’ve been on the receiving end, right? So I don’t have to tell you. Let people know you care what’s happening with them by responding with support. If they’re having a hard time, encourage them. If they’re succeeding, congratulate them. If they write something cool or send something useful, pass it on. It’s all about community.
Fourth, self-promote with care. I send out the same self-promotion tweet no more than twice a day. This may be supplemented by Retweeting or posting something someone else says, yes. But that’s them tooting my horn, not me. If I have several things to promote (I run more than one blog, for example), I will still only do two a day per item I am promoting. I do once in the morning and once at night to catch both crowds. I cross post from Twitter to Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn and that’s it. The rest of my Social Media day is spent either encouraging, supporting or spreading the word as described in the points above. It’s not all about me. It’s not obnoxious. My friends know I have projects I am excited about. Many of them are in the same position and doing similar promotion. Being with a small press, they also know I may tweet a bit more about it than they do. It’s okay. Small measure is fine. Posting twelve or fifteen times a day about it, that’s obnoxious.
Fifth, wording matters. Use your sense of humor. Use humility. Don’t be pushy. When you do self-promote, do it in a way that’s not obnoxious in presentation. People don’t mind you letting them know your stuff exists. You have a right to be proud of your accomplishments. You have a right to want to share it. But if you’re obnoxious about it, they will mind. Most won’t even bother with it.
Okay, so there you have five tips for Social Media Self-Promotion success. Really, five tips for Social Media success, I hope. I wish you the greatest success in your Social Media endeavors. And hey, in case you’re interested, I wrote a book.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST (Thursday noon AEDT) on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.