Image: Matthew Loffhagen
Picture this: a new reader has stumbled across your book. They adore it – they’ve devoured the entire thing in a matter of days. They’ve fallen in love with your characters, they’ve immersed themselves in your story’s unique universe and they’ve relished every second they’ve spent with your story.
Then, the ride is over, the book is finished.
This is a crucial moment – how the reader responds next determines whether you’ve gained a fan for life, or whether you’ll lose them as they go on to enjoy work by a different author.
If a first time reader connects to an author’s social media, they’re far more likely to stick around. A follower on Facebook, Twitter or other sites won’t have to proactively seek out information about your other works, they’ll be provided details with minimal effort on their part.
But how can you convince a reader to make the leap to following you online? While there’s no fool-proof method for gaining followers, here are three simple tips to help you on your way.
Tip #1: Advertise Everywhere
The more your social media profile is seen by your readers, the more likely they are to engage with it. We’ve talked in previous articles about the benefits of a call to action at the end of your story; that call to action can be as simple as including a few social media links.
You can go further still by including links on the back cover of your book, and on the inside cover before the story starts. It’s simple math, but the more places you advertise your social media presence, the more likely your readers are to pick up on them.
The popular online comic strip Two Guys and Guy is a great example. Have a look at the site and see how many times each page links to Facebook, Twitter and other social media profiles. These links aren’t obtrusive or annoying, they’re just little reminders dotted around the page that if site visitors enjoy the comic, they’ll likely enjoy the writer’s tweets and posts as well.
Tip #2: Give Them a Reason
Ideally, when a new reader first finds their way onto your social media page, they’ll find something that makes them want to stick around. You’ll need to provide them with something they can’t find elsewhere: unique content that, where possible, carries over the flavor from your books. You could share an insight into your writing process, a joke or comment that will entertain, or even just use social media to have friendly conversations with fans that will help readers to feel that you’re accessible.
While this may sound like very basic advice, you’d be surprised how many writers forget that they’re tweeting or posting as an author rather than as a ‘normal’ person, and end up bombarding their followers with inappropriate content.
A smart author will fill their feed with a healthy balance of all kinds of content, but it’s most important to make sure that what you’re sharing fits the following that you’ve developed. While some fans of crime thrillers will appreciate a cupcake recipe, the majority of them might prefer an insight into creating the personality of a fictional killer.
Ernest Cline, author of the bestselling Ready Player One, gives us an excellent example of how to connect with a social media following. His book speaks particularly to a young readership of pop culture enthusiasts, and fittingly, his Twitter feed is full of in-jokes, references to famous movies, fan art for his works and retweets from culturally relevant nerd celebrities such as Wil Wheaton.
Yet Cline also manages to bring the human element to his Twitter profile, showing his adventures at music gigs and movie screenings. He engages with his fans to give his followers the feeling that their attention is appreciated. To top it off, he has regular references to his upcoming second novel, keeping followers excited for the next installment of his work.
Use a scheduling tool like our free social media dashboard Social for Publishers to help manage your flow of content.
Tip #3: Share the Love
The primary reason for a first time reader visiting your social media page is that they’re after more of your writing. While it may sound counterproductive, sharing news and information about other writers is actually an excellent way to get these readers to stick around.
If a reader has taken the time to visit your social media profile, they’re probably eager to find more of your work to read. When they’ve exhausted your library, they’ll want something similar. Giving readers suggestions for other books to read means that your social media page is relevant to them. As they learn to trust your judgement, they’ll start to become even more excited about your latest project.
The additional upside to this is it that most of these links flow both ways. Someone searching for references to an author you’ve mentioned on your social media will find their way to your page too. Plus, you have an excellent opportunity to build your relationship with similar authors, and they may be willing to return the favor. It’s a win-win situation!
Be Vocal, Be Interesting
There are a thousand different ways to convince readers to follow you on social media, and these three suggestions barely scratch the surface of what a savvy author can achieve. The most important points are to remember to advertise, and provide quality content, so that readers can find you online and are then interested in sticking around.
If you’ve found a useful trick to encouraging your readers to become social media followers, I’d love to hear it! Please feel free to share in the comments below: your tip might be just the suggestion a fellow author needs to begin developing a solid online following!