These days its hard to avoid the internet. If we're not browsing through social media in our spare time, we're using it to try to succeed as authors. Getting the word out about your book has become a new game within a virtual space and most of us are left scratching our heads trying to learn the rules.
If you struggle to gain followers on social media, you're not alone! Thousands of writers who have joined the online market are in exactly the same boat. Statistically speaking, we know that we need at least one hundred clicks in order to sell just one copy of our book. But when you aren't gaining enough visibility to get anywhere close to those one hundred clicks, what do you do?
Short of a miracle, there are realistic ways to solve this problem, I promise. But in order to fix things you have to understand what's going wrong first. Here are 10 truths about why you're not gaining followers on social media and their solutions.
1. Readers don't know you're online
When you're new to social media, this is especially the case. We all like to think that the second we put ourselves out into the world that there will be a ripple effect. That everyone's metaphorical head will turn and suddenly we'll go viral. But sadly, that's very rarely the case. The reality is that when you join social media nobody notices. *Shocker* You'll be lucky if you can get ten strangers to like your post. While it sounds like a bad thing, it can actually give you the time you need to settle in, plan your strategy, and try new things.
But what happens when you've been online for a while and nothing is happening? Or you've hit your first goal but now you're stalling? If you're inconsistent with your posting schedule, this is particularly true. The best way to solve this issue is to be transparent about when you plan to make posts and to stick with it. If something changes, make sure you make an announcement. This allows your followers to know when to check back/look forward to new content, something that will help you expand in the future. When they know they can count on you, the more you'll people stick around.
2. Your posts are spammy
No one likes spam accounts, and many social media platforms actually have moderators who screen for things they think are spam so they can sanction it.
If you're not sure if your accounts are spammy, consider the following:
Low quality photos or videos
Same message is posted repeatedly
You're always trying to sell people something
Hashtags are your only caption
You use aggressive sales tactics (repeatedly direct messaging posts to inboxes for likes)
Your account has a lot of ads
What you should be posting instead:
High quality photos and videos
Various messages and posting techniques
Use the 80/20 sales rule- 80% valuable content, 20% sales pitch
Use captions that are personal/witty along with hashtags
Soften your sales tactics (cool it on the DM's and instead engage with other people on their homepages)
Lessen the number of ads on your page and instead opt for affiliate links
3. You post too often or not enough
Posting is a fine balance. If you post too often you run the risk of taking over your reader's entire feed, if you post too little you'll be buried under everyone else's content. So where's the middle ground? The answer is you have to try new things and see what works for you. Personally I post new content every day, usually in the mornings or late afternoon with the exception of Sundays (my day off), though I do still put things in my stories on Instagram and Facebook. Not everyone has the time or energy to do that though and that's okay! Realistically you can post new content twice a week and still gain followers, the rate would just be slower. It all depends on what your goals are and how quickly you want to accomplish them.
Need followers faster? Post more often. Considering a long-term plan? Post less often. The key is to stay consistent with your schedule (no matter which approach you use). Whatever you promise people is what you should give them. You can always increase your posting rates or decrease them if you find your strategy isn't working. Just make sure you let your followers know before you start mixing things up.
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4. Your timing is off
Relating to your posting schedule, the time you choose to post your content matters. Think about when you're posting now. Is it first thing in the morning? After lunch? Late at night? If you're not seeing any progress in gaining followers it might be because your timing is off. Chances are if you're posting after ten a.m., late afternoon, or late at night you're missing key posting times.
It's important to consider who your ideal audience is when choosing your posting times and consider what their day is like. If you're targeting adults, keep in mind that people work. So between the hours of 10am and 6pm most people are sitting in an office somewhere not on their phones. If you're looking to appeal to teenagers, they have school during the day but will be up later than adults, so evening times may be more fruitful. Busy housewives usually check their phones over coffee in the morning, so that may be your ideal time if that's the audience you're trying to reach. Also consider time zones. Where in the world is your audience located? If it's overseas take the hours ahead or behind you into account.
5. You aren't engaging with others
Another common mistake made all the time on social media is that people expect consideration without giving any in return. If you have to force-feed your posts down someone's DM's just for a like, chances are you're doing it wrong. People have a choice whether to engage with your content or not. Engagement doesn't come from visibility it comes from your ability to connect with people.
The best way to gain followers is to go out there and find people who your content best suits. Do some research. Look at hashtags, groups, and who other people in your niche are interacting with. Start reaching out to these people. Comment, share, and like their content. Ask them questions, be interested. Once people get to know you and start seeing how friendly you are they'll automatically want to return the favor by giving your posts the same consideration.
6. No personality/voice/branding
Something to consider is how you're currently representing yourself. Do your social media accounts accurately reflect your personality? Do you have a consistent voice that you use for all your captions? Is your color scheme, logo, and atmosphere present throughout? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may have a marketing problem.
Learn How To Build Your Author Brand in 10 Easy Steps here.
Marketing is how you present whatever you want people to pay attention to. In the case of social media, usually this represents you as an individual or you as a brand. In the case of authors, you're representing your author brand, which means that whatever image you use to represent yourself should be something that accurately advertises your books as well as yourself as a writer.
If you're not sure how to strengthen your brand, take some time to think about what best represents you and your goals. Consider the following:
Your ideal audience (and their preferences)
What you can do to stand out within your niche
A color scheme
Types of posts you like
7. Your visual aids are weak
In the digital world, images matter. Whether you're on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest these sites all rely heavily on pictures and videos. That means that the quality of your work needs to be top shelf. If your photos are out of focus or pixelated, your videos are blurry or have poor sound quality then this is an easy fix. Simply upgrade your equipment, invest in better editing software, play around with the many apps that assist with filters, editing, and image management, and take the time to plan and stage your photos. Don't forget to utilize the unique features offered by each of the different platforms to help make your content more interesting. All of these little things can add up big when it comes to your follower numbers. It's not about being super wealthy. It's about the time you put into making your photos look good. Viewers can always tell if you spent five minutes versus fifteen.
8. You haven't defined a strategy or goals
This is an image of my personal planner and editorial calendar. Note that yours may wind up looking different than mine (depending on what you're trying to do).
When you don't have a planned and aren't organized it shows. While choosing photos and captions can be a fun "in the moment" activity, it's not a fruitful long-term plan. On the days you're feeling tired or uninspired, your creativity will wane and this is when it's most beneficial to have a plan to fall back on. Organization also ensures that you don't forget anything, which helps your overall consistency.
An easy way to solve this one is to sit down at the beginning of each month and map out your social media goals. I typically start by listing every topic I want to cover or what content I'd like to share. This is a mix of blog posts, announcements, poetry, short stories, personal anecdotes, quotes, writing prompts, and snippets from my work in progress. I'll write these down on my editorial calendar and in my planner, batch them in automation sites like Planoly and Later, and simply follow the schedule throughout the month. While you do have to spend time planning in the beginning it saves time overall because I'm not stressing to come up with an idea and make the materials to post all on the spot the day they're due to go out.
9. You're too self-oriented
I like a good selfie as much as the next person, but one thing you have to be aware of as an author is that your readership isn't there to see YOU. They're there because they appreciate the way you write, love your characters, are engaged in the plotline, and ultimately want to see more. While personal anecdotes and sharing your life are perfectly fine, you should ensure that those posts always relate back to writing in some way. Your goal isn't to be the next Kim Kardashian. It's to be respected as a writer within the writing community. Always remember why you're on social media to begin with.
10. Not enough value
Another common mistake is choosing quantity over quality. Posting cheap and poorly thought out content multiple times a day will not earn you the long-term growth you desire. Rather well-thought out, valuable, quality content is what your readers desire. The great news is that you can give people this type of content by making good choices. Use infographics, lots of beautiful images, things that bring strong happy emotions, humor, sharing useful information, making your followers feel good by reposting their content, hosting contests, offering discounts, etc. Keeping your readers in mind and thinking about what will enrich their lives will ultimately help you meet your goals.
Social media followers aren't the end-all-be-all of online success, but they do help in regards to visibility. The more followers you have, the more doors open for potential sales and for future opportunities. With these 10 tips you'll be able to learn the secret to increasing your following and what might be stunting your growth.
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