When businesses are new to social media, I always recommend that they spend time lurking around the social media networks they plan to use.
The advice isn’t as unsavory as it may sound. After all, I’m not talking about spying around street corners but instead observing the competition on social media.
For example, how do other authors engage with readers? Who do they follow? Who follows them? How often do they post?
You get the idea.
One way to learn is through imitation. For example, more than one author has learned to write well by arduously typing the manuscript of an acclaimed author.
What can you possibly learn? Well first, you’ll get a lot faster at typing. You’ll also be able to examine how the plot develops, how the author constructs scenes, and how writers develop their characters and dialogue.
So what exactly will your competition teach you about social media?
10 Things to Discover About Your Competition’s Social Media Use
- Do the authors you’re watching thank their followers as a group or do they thank them individually?
- How many writers converse on social media, answering questions and asking questions? Or do they merely post information?
- Are the authors you’re watching post images and videos? Hopefully, every tweet and Facebook post has an image.
- Do you get the sense that they’re having fun on social media, or do their posts and interactions seem forced? Do they have a relaxed style? Do they use emoticons or emojis?
- Examine their hashtag use. Which ones are the observed writers using?
- Is engagement high on their posts?
- Are the writers taking time to create branded images that carry their website link or Twitter handle?
- Who are they following?
- Take a look at who follows them.
- What is their posting schedule? Do they break from posting for days at a time or are they consistent?
7 Social Media Best Practices
Once you spend time lurking about, try to develop some of these best practices:
- Upload a picture of yourself for your avatar. Don’t be an egghead or use an photo of your cat, dog, book cover or favorite lake as your avatar. Your avatar needs to appear professionally. If you don’t want to hire a photographer, ask a friend to take a picture of you. Don’t wear sunglasses or a hat.
- Use Canva.com or PicMonkey to create a banner. Find and use copyright-free pictures at LibreStock.com to create visuals for your social media posts.
- Don’t waste the space for your bio. Your avatars and bios are searchable on the Internet, and you want to use your bios to advance your author brand and your professional appearance.
- Adhere to all character lengths.
- Interact with your colleagues. Although I used the term competition in the headline for this post, you really don’t have competition on social media. Authors who write in your genre are your colleagues. So reach out to them for co-promotion opportunities.
- Never spam your followers, friends or fans with messages to buy your book or sign up for a giveaway.
Pay attention to the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time you’ll need to post Not interacting socially with other writers. It’s important to be friendly on Twitter and promote the blogs of other companies in your niche.
Frances Caballo is a social media strategist and manager and the author of six books on social media. Click here to schedule an appointment with her.