Image: Matthew Loffhagen
Whether you’re a newly self-published author or someone who’s been around the block a few times, chances are you’ll wish that your social media following was a little more engaged.
Some writers struggle to gain a single ‘like’ online, while others who’ve patiently cultivated their following can become frustrated when even after months of building hype, many of their followers fail to buy their latest novel.
I find that there are four levels to any author’s fan community. I like to call them the Disinterested, the Interested But Lazy, the Engaged Who Don’t Follow Through, and finally, the Die Hards. The trick, as far as I’m concerned, to an effective social media campaign is to encourage followers to climb the ranks, slowly rising through the levels to become Die Hard fans.
Influencing fans isn’t always easy though, and as such, in this article I’ll talk a little about each of the three lower levels, and how you can encourage your fans to level up.
The largest of all the fan levels, the Disinterested make up basically everybody on planet Earth who is too busy or too distracted to give your writing the attention it deserves. Even if they’ve read and enjoyed your work, they don’t follow you on social media, and they don’t pay much attention when their friends share your posts.
This isn’t necessarily their fault. Life is busy, and social media is full of amazing distractions. You’re just one voice shouting in a sea of other voices, and they often don’t have time to pause, appreciate your social media post, and then comment on it or engage with you.
The trick to levelling up these fans is to encourage them to slow down and read your post. To do so, you need to fill your social media account with sharp, snappy comments, links to interesting material, or bright, eye-catching pictures.
For an excellent example of how this can be done, have a look at author Rainbow Rowell’s Facebook page. She links regularly to interesting news articles that fans of her book might enjoy, and she features a lot of artwork – whether it’s posters for her books or fan-art created by her community. In doing so, she convinces her fans to slow down and appreciate the content that she’s sharing.
So, the trick to levelling up Disinterested fans: grab their attention.
The Interested But Lazy
‘Lazy’ is perhaps a harsh word to use. These fans aren’t deliberately lethargic, and they’re often engaged enough to be reading your posts or looking at your work. They simply fail at the next hurdle: they don’t engage.
They don’t ‘like’ your posts, comment on them, or share them with others. They see your post, note it as interesting, and then keep going about their daily lives.
Drawing out shy fans enough to get them talking about you can be difficult, and you’ll have to bait them out. Try asking direct questions or encouraging discussions. Run contests for the best answer, or offer some other incentive to them to convince them to try engaging more, even if all they do is ‘like’ a post.
New York Times Bestseller Marissa Meyer does an excellent job of encouraging discussions on her Facebook page. She posts regularly from a very honest perspective, giving followers a glimpse of her personal thoughts and opinions. She talks about her own favorite books, and she runs contests for fans to get involved and create or contribute to the online community in return for fun prizes.
In order to level up the Interested But Lazy, encourage them to engage.
The Engaged Who Don’t Follow Through
Probably the smallest segment of your following, the Engaged Who Don’t Follow Through are vocal about their love for your work. They’ll like and share your comments sometimes, and they’ll be eager to talk to you and tell you how excited they are for your upcoming book. Yet, when your book launches, they are nowhere to be seen. They talk big, but fail to actually buy your work.
The Engaged Who Don’t Follow Through might also fall short of their promises in other ways: they might buy and love your book, but they won’t leave reviews online. They might ‘like’ your tweet, but won’t retweet it to their own audience. In many ways, this level of fans are nice to have, but they’re falling short of their full potential.
Sadly, there is no magic formula for converting these fans into solid book sales or helpful online evangelists. All you can do is be persistent – keep asking for their support, and keep reminding them of the easiest way to buy your books.
Have a look at author Sonia Faleiro’s Facebook page. Almost every post involves a call to action – these range from a polite request to read and share an article she’s written, to a plea that followers download her latest book. Sonia Faleiro’s followers are constantly being asked to do something, and she makes it clear that her fandom is not designed to be a passive experience.
Leveling up the Engaged Who Don’t Follow Through involves a call to action.
The Die Hards
If you keep pushing your following to grow and level up, you’ll see spectacular results. It doesn’t matter whether your following features three fans or three million: by politely but consistently sharing engaging content, encouraging discussion and calling your followers to action, you’ll increase the number of Die Hard fans who’ll willingly follow you and your writing to the end of the Earth.
Have you had any experience with these tactics? Do you have any tips on how to help followers to level up? We’d love to hear your thoughts: please feel free to share in the comments below.