Author Toolbox: Building Your Social Media Platform

Recently I was approached by the fabulous Raimey Gallant about a Blog Hop idea she had to help build up other authors. Since I had so much fun participating in her 2016 Nano Blog Hop, I jumped at the opportunity to join in!

So, from now until the end of the year, I will be working alongside a roster of other rocking authors to help provide content centering on building a strong author platform. Each month I’ll be adding another ‘tool’ for you to add to your own personal Author Kit, using things I’ve learned from building my own platform. I’m excited to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way, and to see what the other authors have to share as well! (For a full roster of #AuthorToolboxBlogHop participants click HERE)

Are you ready? Let’s go!

Ok, so for MY personal toolbox, there is no doubt in my mind that when building my personal Author Platform, that the most important tool I have on hand is Social Media.

Unfortunately, a strong social media presence isn’t like a hammer that you can just pick up and start banging away. It doesn’t quite work like that. It takes a little finesse.

So, for those of you who are building up a fledgling Social Media account or who are trying to fine-tune a previously existing platform, here are 5 Simple Rules for a Strong Social Media Platform.

  1. Be SOCIAL. I know this may seem basic, but hear me out. We’re talking SOCIAL media. I hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t matter whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Litsy, Tumblr (I could go on, but I think you get my point), unless you’re interacting with people socially, it’s just not going to work. BUT there’s good news (I know you introverts all just had minor panic attacks–trust me I was right there with you)! The BEST thing about Social Media is that it connects you with people all from the safety of your own home (Introverts UNITE!). There are so many different platforms that you can pick and choose the ones that work best for you. You can’t handle the thought of being on film? No problem, don’t make a YouTube. Twitter or Litsy are great. Maybe you can’t be limited by 140 characters. Ok, give Facebook or Instagram a go. But, until you’ve actually made that account and started actively trying to connect with people, your Social Media presence will be DOA.                                                                                                                                            .
  2. Be PRESENT. Ok. So you’ve created your account. You put in your bio, your best profile image, and maybe even some charming cat videos (cause come on, who doesn’t love a good cat video?). Now you’re finished and you can log off and not think about it for a week and a half and come back with 1,000 followers, or likes, or views, right? WRONG. One of the easiest ways to sabotage your Social Media Presence is by not being present. People who follow you on Social Media are doing it because they want to interact with you. They see you as an interesting person they want to connect with. But, if you just disappear of the face of the inter webs and they don’t hear from you, unless they’re a die hard fan (and lets face it, not all of us have too many of those–no your mother doesn’t count), eventually they’re going to lose interest. Now, I’m not saying you have to be online 24 hours a day 7 days a week, but you do need to be there. At the very least, I recommend you start checking in once a day on each of your different accounts. If it’s one you really want to build up, be there more frequently. Think of it like making friends. If you want people to like you, first they need to know you exist. There’s really no way to get around it; your presence is important. The more you show up, the more visible you are, and ultimately, the bigger your platform will be.                                                                                                                 .
  3. Be HELPFUL. If you haven’t caught it by now, your Social Media Platform is all about building relationships. Even though it is mostly virtual, they follow similar dynamics to real-life relationships: you gotta give more than you take. And I’ll give you a hint: If you’re using your Social Media ONLY to promote your hustle, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONGWhether it’s a favorite recipe, a life-hack, funny videos, or just a daily dose of positivity, people are following you because they see you as a good investment of their time. Because you are giving them something of value. Make sure your presence on Social Media is valuable by sharing. Now, I’m not saying do prize giveaways every week, or even every month. Heck, some authors don’t even do giveaways! But they are giving something. Find a few of your favorite profiles to follow. See what they’re giving. It could be something small, but I’m be willing to bet that with the most successful platforms, you’ll easily recognize the value they give.                                                                                                                                     .
  4. Be KIND. I’ve said this about Social Media before and I’ll say it again. They call it the Golden Rule for a reason: it’s good stuff. And while it may seem like such a simple concept, TRUST ME, there are people on the interwebs that haven’t quite figured this out yet. Do yourself a favor and just take it to heart:  if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I know, I know, I said be to present and to be social, but here’s the thing:  It doesn’t do you any favors to have a huge presence on Social Media if all anyone ever thinks when you post is how big of a jerk you are. I mean, seriously. We deal with nasty people all the time. It’s exhausting. No one, I REPEAT, no one spends their time following people that make them miserable. So, if your Social Media habits are a bit off-putting, you may want to re-evaluate. I’m not saying you need to put on a show or even pretend like life is sunshine and rainbows, but check yourself. If everything you’re putting into the world is negative, chances are, that’s what you’ll be getting back.                                                                                                                                 .
  5. Be YOU. Last, but not least, be yourself! I touched on this a little already, but I want to make it a clear point. DO NOT CHANGE WHO YOU ARE TO BUILD A SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE. Your readers want to connect with you, not the authors you admire or the person you want to be; YOU. For one thing, it’s not going to benefit you to model your platform after someone else; they already have followers for that reason. You need to be different. Good news is: you already are! Figure out your strengths and sell them. It could be something you don’t even realize at first. No lie. I was talking to my friend the other day and I realized at least 75% of my Social Media platform is solely positivity. I’m all about sparkles and glitter and coffee and building up other people (Check #AuthorConfession, #SparkleOn, and #HappyWriting on Twitter and you’ll see what I mean). That works for me. It might not work for you. That’s fine! You do you, that’s who we want to see! 🙂

There you have it. 5 Simple Rules for Building Your Social Media Platform. While these are definitely not the end all be all tricks to building a solid Social Media presence, they are five pillars that if you build a solid base in, you’ll have a strong leg to stand on.

Now it’s your turn: Go hop on your favorite Social Media Site and get started! Build that platform (then find me so I can see how beautiful your architecture is)!

Best wishes, and until next month,

Happy Building!


JM Sullivan - small.jpg

J.M. Sullivan is a Science Teacher by day, and an author by night. Her debut novel, Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles releases May 16 through PenName Publishing.  If you would like to connect for a healthy dose of sparkle, positivity, and a touch of crazy, you can find her on Twitter or Instagram @_JM_Sullivan or on her YouTube Channel, AuthorConfession.

See you There!

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Want to Know More About the #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop ? View the Introductory Post from its amazing host, Miss Raimey Gallant, HERE!

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40 thoughts on “Author Toolbox: Building Your Social Media Platform

  1. All five points are so valid and I really need to actively pursue utilizing the advice. Unfortunately, in my case, the fifth point incessantly wars with the second. I have episodes of cameo appearances followed by long periods of MIAs, with only my auto-sync on the blog letting people know I’m still alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful advice and guidance! Funny and motivating — and I’d add that the more social media that you do, the more fun it really is. Have sat in on writer association
    Facebook parties that were hilarious, raucous, incredible fun — all in the comfort of my home office.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I agree that people often forget that social media is meant to be…well…social 🙂 You’ve touched on one of my pet peeves when it comes to social media, and that’s constantly marketing what you with no back-and-forth interaction with others. Getting impressions on Twitter can only go so far; you have to also get them to click. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nothing makes me unfollow people faster than spam promotion. If you bombard me with “read my book” messages, I respond by unfollowing, and I’m pretty unforgiving about it.
    But I do give a few authors a pass on promotional posts. Why? Because I have some interaction with them. We’ve had conversations over Twitter, etc. I’ll even retweet them.
    The takeaway: I’m on social media to be social. If the first thing you say to me is ‘buy my book,’ you are guaranteed I won’t.

    Great tips! Thanks for posting

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree! It’s something I’m struggling with right now since I am NOT a fan of self promotion, and with my debut coming up I’m so worried I’m going to scare people away. Maybe I’ll find a good balance and write a post about it… but probably not. It scares me lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe you could write a post about the publishing process. How you found your publisher? What made you pick them? Something related to the book, but also has a takeaway for the reader too? I find blog posts way less annoying than auto dm on Twitter, so I think you will probably be fine. And your blog followers will want to know about your release date!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I love point number 4! My version of this is I try to do something for another writer every day. This can be attending a facebook launch, writing a review, retweeting, liking a FB page etc. It’s fun, feels great, and usually motivates me to keep working hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I hear differing points of view on whether or not to do multiple social media accounts. An article by a successful Patreon artist said that going everywhere worked for her, but Chuck Sambuchino said to go where your biggest following is. For now I’ve settled into Facebook and Twitter, wondering if I should do Instagram or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have several accounts, but my strongest is Twitter. Right now I’m working to build my Facebook and I’d like to buff up my blog a bit. I can see how spreading yourself thin can be difficult, so I’m taking the ladder approach, or as Bob says ‘baby steps!’ LOL

      Like

    1. I’m not opposed to automating posts. I’ve done it before and I will probably again at some point. With automated posts I still try and follow the same rules and make sure that they don’t come off as generic. Just because I put it on a time table doesn’t mean it’s any less a representation of me. 🙂 That’s my thought, at least. 😉

      Like

  7. Social Media is about 50% of my writing career. I no longer consider it as a chore, but as an opportunity to connect with other people who hear voices, and to share what I’ve learned. Eighteen years ago, when I started writing, there were not a lot of resources. If I can stop someone from bumbling through the basics and help them, I’m very, very pleased at the end of the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. *Googles Litsy* Please do a post to explain this mystery to me. Um, there was an unsociable character today on social media actually. I find it draining, dealing with people who engage with me in a negative way. I don’t think he realized how negative he was being, so I hope that he stumbles upon this post someday. I was actually thinking, hmmm, maybe I should dedicate a post to positive social media interactions, so I’m glad that you’ve done it for me! More people do need to take your fourth point to heart. I also love how you’ve completed the “building your author platform” metaphor with a reference to architecture. I like thinking about it that way. Because that is what this whole process is: adding a block or a layer of social media at a time, and working to increase each block or layer’s value as we go. Thank you for your excellent contribution to the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. Scheduling pins and Facebook posts for this next!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! 😀 I’m so glad you found this helpful, and again THANK YOU for orchestrating this incredible blog hop and for inviting me to join! 😀

      Like

  9. So simple when someone else says it, so difficult to figure out when you’re sitting at a desk wondering why no one loves you!

    In all seriousness, though, this is a really succinct, helpful way of breaking down the basics of social media fu. I’ve always struggled with being present – I can manage well enough, sort of, with twitter, but no matter how hard I try I always seem to vanish from my blog for weeks at a time. Ah well, baby steps!

    Like

  10. Great post! Ive been scary about opening up a social media site but i know its a great way to promote yourself. Great tips!

    Like

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