Marketing 101: Loving & Taking Care of Our Readers. Overall, the post resonated with most people. We all appreciate genuine and kind relationships on social media sites, as opposed to feeling “used” by others to promote themselves and their books.
However, the post did generate a few responses like, “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea in theory—to love and take care of your readers—but how in the world can you do that on a practical level?”
Betsy of @SevenEagles asked, “Just curious...how does one generously support over 1,200 followers? Are you able to personally connect with each one? Read all their blogs? Do you have a schedule you follow for when you pay them visits?"
Kristie Jackson asked, “Love the idea of connecting genuinely with readers and potential readers online. I just would love to know how people who do this well, do it without letting the social media part take over their life?”
The bottom line is that it IS hard to keep up with social media. It’s difficult no matter how many followers we have. But it gets more difficult as our web presence grows. If I were to even try to visit over 1200 blogs or chat with all my twitter followers, I’d have a new full time job. And I certainly wouldn’t have time for my writing—which is the most important aspect of my writing career (go figure!).
Here are a few things I’m learning about juggling social media relationships as my web presence grows:
1. As our presence grows, we won’t be able to keep up. And that’s normal.
When we first start blogging, we usually build our followings through reciprocal visiting and commenting on other blogs. That’s often the best way to meet people and find community. And we can do the same thing on Twitter. Get involved in writing communities. Meet and follow other writers.
However, as our followings grow, we won’t have the time to actively visit other blogs the same way. We won’t be able to read every tweet or comment when a friend says something on Facebook.
It’s normal (and even healthy) for writers to grow beyond their capacity. Agents and publishers like when writers are growing their followings. It tells them that the writer is doing something right.
2. Since building a brand is important, we shouldn’t limit our followings.
If we’re growing as we should be, we’ll likely reach a phase where we start to feel overwhelmed, like we can’t keep up with everyone. If we put the pressure on ourselves to keep doing what we did at first, we’ll get stressed.
Some writers take the approach of paring back their followers, limiting not only who they follow, even withdrawing from social media. But since numbers do matter (see this post: Why Are We So Obsessed With Our Numbers), we won’t be helping our efforts to pull back.
As we grow in our writing careers and build our readerships, we’ll always have more readers to meet. We won’t turn readers away simply because we have more than we can personally know or reach out to.
We can’t shut down because we’re overwhelmed. Instead, we need to get used to relating to new people in manageable ways.
3. We’ll have to look for ways to adjust our way of relating to others.
So, once we reach that place of being overwhelmed and unable to keep up the way we once did, what do we do (besides give up!)? How can we still genuinely care and connect with the followers we have? Is it even possible?
I believe it IS still possible to love and care for our readers and followers no matter how many we have. But we’ll need to do so on different levels:
Personal level: This is the level that takes the most time and will likely need the most adjusting. Maybe we won’t be able to respond to each blog comment anymore or reciprocate blog visits. But we can work to answer questions within blog posts or on twitter and respond to personal emails and messages. In other words, we can still be approachable and available.
Impersonal level: As we grow, we may have to address followers in a group effort. For example, I often answer individual questions in blog posts. That allows me to share my thoughts with everyone who may have a similar question. We can also support other bloggers when we retweet their links, shout out their good news, and help draw attention to their accomplishments. It might not be personal, but it’s supportive.
Professional level: Through our blogs and other articles, we can look for ways to give encouragement, support, knowledge, inspiration, and all of the things our readers need and appreciate. We can look for ways to bless our readers. Because ultimately it’s about them, not us.
What about you? Have you reached a point where you’ve been overwhelmed with trying to keep up with social media? Have you had to adjust your way of relating to others and if so, how?
Patience over the Long, Long Haul
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