The Reason Authors Must Be Genuine on Social Media by @K8Tilton

Authors Be Genuine on Social Media by @K8Tilton, cat, badredhead media

When I teach social media, I give authors tips on how to manage social media so it doesn’t become overwhelming, step-by-step guidance on how to navigate each channel, and advice on what type of content to share. But what I can’t teach is how to be genuine. Being genuine is one of the most important aspects of social media. [share ]No one wants to follow an author who posts links like a robot[/share], with no emotion, thought, or personality.

But one thing I’ve noticed while working with authors. Many of you are shy. You get uncomfortable with the thought of sharing anything personal online. I hear things like:

“Well I’m just not that interesting.”

“No one wants to hear about me.”

Let me break it to you–that is so not true. Readers want to connect with authors. AUTHORS. That’s YOU! has a few definitions of connect:

  • to establish communication between; put in communication
  • to cause to be associated, as in a personal or business relationship
  • to associate mentally or emotionally.

Notice how none of these say “to share information to an audience without listening to the audience” or “to spam purchase links online” or “to ignore communication by automating everything.”

Connection is something deeper. Connection requires you to research your audience and listen before you speak. It requires openness on your part, because those that are genuine in their social media networks are the ones who make the deepest connections.

As I mentioned at the start of this article, I can’t teach you how to be genuine however, I can share a few tips to help you get there:

  1. Share more than links. One of the biggest problems I see on author’s social media is a lack of any type of content outside of links. If you need some ideas on what type of content you can share, check out this article.
  2. Look at authors in your genre. What do they share? Use those ideas on your own channels.  Some of my favorite authors to follow online are Victoria Schwab (@veschwab), Maggie Stiefvater (@mstiefvater), and John Green (@johngreen). Take a minute to look at what personal things they share and work towards sharing similar things about yourself.raspberries, Rachel Thompson
  3. Don’t thank everyone for everything they do. Thanks is VERY important, but if you thank every person for every retweet, like, comment, or favorite, your words of thanks will lose their meaning. Find a balance between saying “thank you” and showing it. For example, if someone follows you on Twitter, instead of thanking them for the follow with an annoying autoDM, take a moment to check out their profile and see if they are someone you want to connect with. If they are in your target market (aka a reader) or in your field (a fellow writer, or publishing professional), consider following them as well, and retweeting a tweet of theirs you like. Those actions will go much further than an unfelt “thank you.”
  4. Engage in conversation for the sake of connecting, not selling. Join in on Twitter chats, add your thoughts in a conversation thread of Facebook, or tune into a Google+ hangout. Just remember your goal is to be social and make friends and connections, not to hand sell your book. Those connections you earn are more than capable of finding the link to your website in your bio and discovering your book.
  5. Start small and don’t over share. Not ready to share a ton of selfies or pictures of your dinner every night? Good. Being genuine doesn’t mean your focus is on you, you, you. Start with sharing one thing a day. Try a picture of your writing space for the day, or a quote from a book you are currently reading. Share things about your day-to-day that you know you enjoy seeing from other people. If you are a cat fan who loves seeing other author’s cats, why not share a picture of your own kitty?

Sharing your interests will help readers find things in common with you so they can connect. And that, dear author, is priceless.

Talk back: What makes a person seem genuine online? What makes a person seem fake?



Images courtesy of pixabay
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  1. Brant Forseng (@BrantForseng) on May 17, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Excellent advice, Kate. I need to move on the tweeting fewer links and more of other types of content.

  2. elysesalpeter on May 18, 2015 at 4:09 am

    Nice post. I think there’s also a fine line between too much information and not enough. I try to talk to people about my experiences as if we were having coffee. A little humor, a little compassion and a whole lot of “yep, we’re all in the same boat.” You reminded me I didn’t put any link in my blog this week – I do try for at least one. Well, there you go! Less links!

    • Kate Tilton on May 19, 2015 at 8:09 pm

      Yes, excellent point! There is a fine line between sharing too much and too little, although in my experience most authors tend to fall on the sharing too little side of things. Your example is great, thinking of social media as sharing coffee with a friend is a helpful way to think of it. You don’t want to share anything too personal (as in a coffee shop you might be overheard) but your conversation can’t be just you resharing information. There has to be a dialogue and it does need to have a personal, genuine factor to it.

  3. Lisa on May 18, 2015 at 11:28 am

    It is good advice. On a related subject, someone just offered me signed copies of their work. It’s a little creepy from someone I really don’t know and it makes me wonder “What do they want from me?” I’d rather just talk to people on social media. If I want to buy your book, I will.

    • Kate Tilton on May 19, 2015 at 8:03 pm

      Yep, when offering copies of a book the author has to be aware of who they are asking. Is that person a reviewer? Did you read their review policy? Are you contacting them on their preferred channel? Every author should ask these questions first.

      I’ve gotten books occasionally from friends online, but they certainly knew I was interested and took the time to make the connection with me first. It is important authors really focus on building connections before sending off books to any person they find.

  4. Judy Nichols on May 18, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    I know I hate seeing a twitter feed full of things like “Five Stars for My Latest Cheesy Romance” or “She was a rebel, he was a squid. Can their interspecies romance survive?” And forget the “It’s Pride and Prejudice meets Blade Runner” promos. I try to tweet about things that interest me as opposed to clogging everyone’s screen with tweets about my books. Although I do mention that I have them from time to time. These days I’m talking about Mad Men.

    • Kate Tilton on May 19, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      Yes! Too much book promotion and not enough interaction and interesting content is a no-no. There is a fine balance authors must be aware of and too many fall into the spammy promotion trap. Sharing about current shows you are watching is a great example of how an author can be personal and engaging without being too personal. Thank you for sharing Judy!

  5. shatteredpieces2014 on May 19, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing some specific ideas here that speak directly to the struggle I am having making online connections [that ‘thanks’ was genuine, btw, not automatic!] I’ve come to realize that my content is at one extreme of the ‘sharing spectrum’ and my personal interaction at the other in an attempt to find the elusive balance. Now I understand why it isn’t working and am attempting to bridge that gap. baby steps…

    • Kate Tilton on May 19, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      Baby steps are good, any steps are good. You’ll find the more you focus on genuine connection the better your online experience will become. You can do it! 🙂

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