As I proceed on writing my debut novel, and as I put out my short stories, my obvious goal is for people to read them. For people to read my writing, I need to build an audience base. And the best way to build an audience base nowadays is through social media. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr have been the cores of my social media presence.
The thing is, social media is tough.
Between changing rules on the platforms and trying to figure out where I fit best, social media has been challenging at times for me. And I know that many people have similar struggles. What makes it tricky though? Why is social media a challenge for writers?
Part of the issue lies in my natural introversion. I think that can apply to many other writers as well: we seem to be introverts. As a result, it can feel almost out of place to put ourselves out there. It seems daunting to see people who have thousands, millions of followers! How do you get to that point?
The unfortunate answer to that question is that there are few solid answers. It’s not a process that can be followed for guaranteed results. By the platforms’ very nature, whenever someone finds something that attracts attention on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube, no one else can do that same thing and expect a similar amount of success. Even following the “rules”, like having regular content and playing the long game, does not always attract followers.
I’ve struggled with social media for a long time, precisely because I tried to follow “the rules.” When I started, I looked at some of the biggest accounts out there and thought, “If I post like them and talk like them, then people will also follow me!” It didn’t work out though, not just because it sounded unnatural – which it did. It didn’t work out because I couldn’t enjoy it. I could not communicate myself. Instead I wore a mask that felt alien on me. I spoke in a way that I did not want to speak. Meanwhile, my follower count crawled up. My biggest jump was a group of obvious bots that decided to take pity on me and follow me.
But then something changed.
I began reaching out more on Twitter to actual people. Increasingly, I involved myself in the writing community. I just chatted with people on their posts. Less of my content ended up being “perfect”, and more of it turned into jokes or congratulations or comforting messages. I actually have fun now. And the greatest bonus of all? It only reinforces my desire to write and create even more.
That’s when I began to develop an audience as well. My follower count kicked off when I stopped using Twitter out of a grudging obligation, but began to actually enjoy the platform. I now enjoy checking my feed. I’ve curated a group around me that posts positive things. My actions are not done out of obligation anymore.
That is my key to social media success. There’s a saying that I’m sure you’ve heard before: “If you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life.” If you want to build a social media platform, that’s even more important. If you don’t enjoy posting or interacting with people, others will sense that.
So curate your circle of friends, find people that you want to share things with. Posting and interacting shouldn’t be a chore. You should WANT to share updates with the people you engage with. If you are sincere and honest, then the likes and followers will come.