Let’s be honest. All of us want to increase our numbers to one degree or another. When our followings go up, we gain satisfaction in knowing we’re connecting with others, that people are reading what we’re saying, and that we’re potentially growing our platforms (which is becoming increasingly important for modern authors).
But how do we grow our followings on various social media sites?
Gina Conroy, founder of Writer...Interrupted, recently sent me this email: How did you build your online presence, and did it grow after your book was published? It seems all my efforts don't generate enough traffic and follows. I took a blogging hiatus . . . and now I'm trying to build my web presence again. I don't want to keep trying and fail. What things were most successful for you?
Gina asked a lot of great questions. I’m going to break them down into bite-size portions:
Does a writer’s following grow after a book is published?
From time to time I hear people say that one of the reasons I’ve been able to develop large followings is because I landed a popular agent and got a three book deal with a major publisher.
And while having an agent and published book may give credibility to my writing advice, it’s a MYTH to think that it’s helped increase my numbers. If getting a great agent and book deal make any difference, then logically you’d expect all of Rachelle Gardner’s clients to have large blog followings, which is not the case. And logically, you’d expect all published authors with multi-book deals to have popular blogs, which is also not the case.
Sure, there may be a tiny spike in followers any time we make a big announcement, especially with an agent like Rachelle who does a great job promoting her clients on Twitter and Facebook. But . . . if we’re sitting back and waiting for an agent or book deal to give us a boost, we’ll end up disappointed.
In this business, we can’t ride coattails or expect an easy way to success. If we want to grow our followings, we just have to buckle down and do the hard work to make it happen.
What if all your efforts to grow your traffic aren’t paying off?
At first we may see our followings steadily increase. But at some point we may reach a plateau, where we don’t feel like we’re going anywhere anymore. We’re continuing to put forth the effort, but we’re not seeing the growth we’d like.
How do we push past that flat line and continue to climb?
Well, first, anytime we come back from an extended blogging hiatus, we’ll likely need to start rebuilding our following from the ground up. A faithful few friends may return, but we’ll have to work hard to regain most of our followers.
Second, if we hit a plateau, then it’s time to re-evaluate our strategies. We’ve obviously reached our potential with the audience we have, and we need to look for ways to move out of our comfort zones, shake things up a bit, think outside of the box, and be innovative.
What are some of the most successful strategies I’ve used to steadily increase my followings?
1. Provide quality content. Make each post relevant and interesting.
2. Meet reader needs. Put readers’ needs above our own.
3. Be real and open. Share personally. Be vulnerable.
4. Value followers. Interact. Answer questions. Be available.
5. Reach out. Don’t be shy. Make new friends. Follow & support others generously.
6. Be consistent. Post regularly. Be reliable.
7. Interweave all social media sites. Link to posts on Twitter and Facebook. But support others generously (and yes I mention this particular point again because it's SO important!).
8. Give it time. Don’t expect overnight success. It takes months, even years to grow followings.
9. Persevere. Keep at it regularly. Work even through dry spells.
10. Work hard. Realize it’s not easy. It won’t ever be. It’ll always be hard work.
There you have it—the secrets of my success. The bottom line is that there really aren’t any secret formulas to success. Growing our followings is a combination of a lot of factors, the most important being slow, steady, hard work.
Just like anything in this business, from getting an agent to book contract to making a best seller list, nothing comes easy.
Have you been looking for an easy way to grow your followings? Or are you willing to do the hard work that’s needed? And if so, what are some other things you’ve found helpful in gaining more followers?