Whether you’re a blogger, journalist, author, or small businessperson, you want people to read what you write. And with the popularity of social media, reaching readers has never been easier.
Or more challenging.
I’m asked at least once each day this question: How do I find readers of my work?
One author friend says readers should find you. Unfortunately, that rarely works given the billions of ads, tweets, messages, shares, pins, emails, and other bits of information that crosses our eyeballs each day.
Here’s what I do for my own accounts and also what I do/recommend for my clients.
1) Keywords. Everything you do for your author platform starts with knowing your keywords. This is the basic concept of branding, which most authors tell me they don’t understand.
What are keywords?
Let’s break it down: which words best describe you, your work, your book or service? Are you a mystery writer? Then that’s a keyword. Are you a book blogger? Then that’s a keyword. Do you eat ice cream upside down while juggling? Then you’re on your own. (Kidding. I could totally brand that.) Pick around six to eight keywords and that becomes your foundation.
Remember this also: everything is changeable. Nothing is set in stone.
An example of my author account, RachelintheOC: author, social media, men, women, love, loss, humor. For my business account, BadRedheadMedia: social media, books, book marketing, branding, self-publishing, reading, writing.
These are the topics I read about, write about, and search for readers who are also looking for these keywords.
See, your head hasn’t even exploded yet.
2) Search. Now that you know your keywords, use the search function in whichever social media channel you prefer. I use Twitter’s Search and Advanced Search screens. They are extremely helpful to look for readers. For example, I’m a nonfiction essayist. So I look up terms like ‘reads nonfiction,’ or ‘nonfiction essays,’ or ‘nonfiction bloggers,’ etc.
The biggest mistake I see with authors on Twitter and Facebook is they are targeting other authors. Sure, authors read too. But too many people focus on selling instead of targeting.
Well, of course, spamming your own book links repeatedly is pretty douche-ish, also.
If you’re not a tweeter, use Facebook’s Search, Google (they have a great free keyword search tool), YouTube, whatever.
I personally use ManageFlitter.com (I use the Pro version but it’s free for individual accounts) for most of my account management. It’s so easy. Enter a search term and it finds relevant accounts using that term or people currently tweeting about it. It also weeds out fakes, eggs, inactives, and nonfollowbacks. It’s great.
3) Following. The main reason I prefer ManageFlitter over any other search is that I can use the Fast Select button, and follow say, one hundred targeted people at one time. (You cannot do that on Twitter itself or even other follow/unfollow third party apps in one quick step.)
Why follow that many? Everyone is different. I have about 80K followers, and yet I follow about only about 16K. Why? Lots of reasons but mostly I only follow those who are interactive and share great info. If all you do is spam your book links, I’m not your girl.
4. Research. One of the best books I’ve read on the science of social media is by Dan Zarrella, titled Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness. I like this guy. He’s done a ton of research on millions of emails, tweets, facebook messages, and other various and sundry stuff and shares with us the results.
One of the biggest tips I’ve gleaned from him is the theory of ‘Contra-Competitive Timing,’ which breaks down to this: in many cases, the most effective times to send are the less popular times; because your messages have less clutter to compete with, they break through. Friday at 4pm is the most retweetable time.
Which makes sense. We’re busy during the week, barely having time to respond or thank people. But evenings and weekends are less busy, so people can pay more attention to social media and will share more stuff. This is good to know but also important to employ.
5. Ads. From a purely qualitative point of view, ads are extremely useful if for no other reason (besides increased exposure) than to see the insights. Who is clicking? Where are they clicking? Which ad resonates the best?
If this is a foreign concept to you, I encourage you to be brave and spend a buck or two a day on Facebook ads, Goodreads ads, or Google AdWords. We learn by doing, so jump in.
You don’t need a degree in marketing to create an ad. Granted, AdWords can be confusing (which is why I make my husband, The AdWords Guy, do it for me – okay, that sounded funny). But I find it quite easy to create a Facebook ad and have seen great results from that.
There are a multitude of places you can find readers if you make a true effort, in addition to the ones I’ve covered here: blog tours, book bloggers, book clubs, GoodReads, Shelfari, Library Thing and more.
I find that targeting my reader base is much more effective from both a marketing and time-management perspective than sending out links about my book, my book, my book, all the time, repeatedly, until it becomes redundant (see what I did there?).
I’d love your feedback. What did I miss? What do you find effective? Please share below.
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