Your finger hovers in space as you contemplate your answer. The decision should be easy. A simple “Yes” or “No,” right? A “Yes” to a lifelong relationship of adventure or a panicked “No” followed by a spastic shake of your head as you run away screaming, hands flailing in the air.
Let me give you some advice. Your answer should be “Yes.” Yes, to the “Like” button. Yes, to the retweet. Yes, to the heart. Yes, leave a comment. And yes, become engaged on social media platforms.
Every social media platform revolves around “the algorithm.” That mysterious dance partner on every platform who constantly delights and surprises you. Always evolving. Impossible to define. But, there’s one algorithm rule that holds true for every social media platform and that revolves around engagement.
Just a short while ago, the number of followers on any given platform determined your location in your follower’s feeds. These old algorithms rewarded number of followers and number of posts per day with prime locations in feeds, thereby leading to more followers, engagement, and potential books sales. The drive for more followers led to hundreds of start-up businesses who promised to boost follower count. Some began as a free service but soon evolved into a pay-to-play approach. And if you didn’t pay, you were left wondering how someone else had more followers than you. Or you gained followers on your own by following others and crossing your fingers that they would follow you back. (I still do this by the way, and I’ll explain why later.)
But here’s the thing: every social media platform was created for people to socially interact. As a result, today’s algorithms reward high levels of engagement–and this doesn’t mean you have to have large follower counts or large numbers of posts.
For example: on Twitter, some people tweet dozens of times a day. With the old algorithms, these people littered your feed with their “Buy My Book” tweets or “me, Me, ME” tweets without any engagement from their followers. (By engagement, I mean “Likes,” “Retweets,” and “Replies.”) With the old algorithm, these tweeters probably lost followers. They certainly lost me. When the algorithm shifted to an engagement approach, the “me, Me, MEs” tweets now get buried at the bottom of your feed, and only the people you interact with or interact with you rise to the top of your feed during your initial interaction at a session.
So, it’s not the number of times you post, it’s the level of engagement you receive when you do post that helps you.
Sometimes, I only post once a day in the morning to an online twitter group called #5amwritersclub. (You’re all invited to join, by the way!) I “Like” or “Reply” to several of my friends. They do the same with me, and we’ve created this happy symmetry of high-level engagement tweets. That means I rise in the feeds of my other followers because my tweets are deemed “newsworthy,” and that remains so even if I only post once a day.
If you’d like to become more “newsworthy” on a given social media platform, there are several “Rules of Engagement” you need to follow. These rules apply to all social media platforms.
Rules of Engagement for Social Media Platforms:
- Post Videos, Gifs, and pictures. People LOVE them. These types of posts, just by including some form of multimedia, will increase your potential engagement with your followers and potential followers.
- Interact with your followers. “Like” their posts. “Retweet” with a comment. “Reply” to their post. Comment on their post. Tag them in a post. Use appropriate hashtags on sites that include them. Take a few minutes each day or every other day and pick a few followers to engage with. They will engage with you, and voila, your “newsworthiness” rises with your increased level of engagement.
- Interact with hashtags you follow. You will begin to get new followers and generate higher engagement with your posts and become more “newsworthy.”
- If someone follows you, decide if you want to follow them back. (Be prepared that if you don’t follow them back, they may unfollow you.) New followers are an opportunity to maintain/continue high levels of engagement with them and their feeds, thus maintaining or raising your overall level of engagements and “newsworthiness.”
- Be witty and friendly. All platforms reward well-thought out posts that reflect your “voice.”
When you’ve established a reputation as someone people should follow because you’re posting thought-provoking content and funny posts, and shown that you are someone who is engaged with the platform, you can throw up a “Buy My Book” post once a day–or once in a while–and people are bound to engage with it. You will sell books this way.
The same holds true for Facebook Groups. Don’t post “Buy My Book” asks if you’ve never interacted with that group before. Don’t beg for help, then disappear. Be present in whatever group or platform you decide to engage with. High levels of engagement will reward you with book sales. When you develop positive relationships with people, they will be more likely to share your books to their followers. Boom! Another source of book sales.
CAUTIONARY TALE: By no means am I suggesting you should be actively engaged on every social media platform. Figure out what platforms are right for you. (I will be discussing the different social platforms on my new site, FindtheWriteBalance.com. You can sign up here: FindtheWriteBalance.)
Your profile links can change based on what you’re looking to achieve, but make sure they are viable and up to date. Most social media platforms provide insight on the number of visits your profile or post receives. My profile visits on Instagram skyrocket when I engage with my followers and other followers of a hashtag.
Good luck! And if you want to pick my brain, contact me via one of the social media platforms I’ve included below.