One of the biggest mistakes authors make when embarking on the journey of social media is publishing too many posts about themselves. I can’t count the number of times when clients have expressed discomfort in sharing an article, quote, picture, or insight from someone else on their social media accounts. “Why would I promote the work of a competitor?” they say. Or “I’m trying to sell books. Shouldn’t I post content about my book?”
I get it. In the hyper-competitive world of social media, it seems counter intuitive to use one’s precious bandwidth to promote something other than your own work. But it works, and here’s why:
- Social media users hate self-promotion. These days, our tolerance for being “advertised to” is at an all-time low. Nobody wants their social media feed to be filled with too much stuff about you: “buy this” or “read my article” or “learn more about my service.” More and more brands, businesses, and individuals have turned to “content marketing” to build buzz for their products and services. In this type of marketing, you are creating “content” that is inherently interesting and useful to people. And that content is usually quite indirectly associated with what you’re selling. Social media is perfect for this. Share quotes, pictures, articles, ideas that are appealing to your target audience so they’ll start to see you as a trusted source. You’re building affinity with people who share your view on the world.
- Become an authority. When you share things that are inherently interesting to the types of people who might want to read your book, they’ll start to see you as an authority on the subject or subjects of your work. If your book is about parenting, for instance, sharing a lot of useful facts, perspectives, and content for parents will start to establish you as an trusted expert among the types of people you want to sell your book to: parents.
- Sharing begets sharing. I’ve been told by many of my clients that they’re okay with sharing things from others on social media, as long as they’re not competitors. I disagree. It’s a good idea to post about the competition. Maybe I’m too idealistic, but in my experience, there is a lot more goodwill in the world than we tend to think. When you share something from someone else, competitor or not (and make sure to tag them!), they’ll tend to share something back. . . or at the very least share your post with their network. Sharing the work of others is a great way to reach the networks and followers of others!
- Authenticity is attractive. Many social media marketers (much more adept at this than I) have talked about the importance of authenticity on social media. Just think about your own experience: what kinds of social media content do you find most attractive? The authentic stuff, the posts that reflect the genuine interests and insights of those who post them. You’re sharing what you care about, what moves you to tears or laughter, what sparks your intellectual curiosity, and when you share those things, you touch the authentic part of someone else. And that builds trust. On the other hand, when you’re always talking about yourself or worried about promoting only your work, you become one-dimensional, and your authenticity level goes down . . . people can feel it and they stop paying attention.
- When the sea rises, all ships rise. For all of the reasons I’ve mentioned so far, sharing posts from sources other than yourself will help you to more quickly and successfully build a social media fan base. Then, when you do decide to post something about yourself or your book, you’ll have a lot more followers or friends or fans to share it with!
And now, in the spirit of putting my money where my mouth is, here are a few other articles on the subject that are worth reading!
- Great Fast Company article from a few years ago outlining the right “ratios” of how much to promote yourself on social media.
- Good article on Forbes outlining some useful tools for finding relevant content to post on your social media accounts.
- Some good advice from the Content Marketing Institute about how to develop a strategy for “content curation,” which is essentially sharing other people’s stuff!