3 ways to be excellent on social media

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Whether you’re a publisher, indie author or editor, it’s likely that using social media will be part of your engagement strategy. Perhaps you want to connect with potential clients or build a network. Maybe you’re looking for content or even funding.

Here are my top tips for achieving your goals.

1) LinkedIn: Don’t even say hello before you ask me for money

Follow the example of a writer who recently asked me to connect with him on LinkedIn. He saw my profile, hit the Connect button and the usual generic invitation ended up in my inbox.

Well, he’s a writer, I’m a fiction editor and proofreader, so that seemed like a good match. I duly pressed the Accept button.

His speed impressed me – only minutes later I received a link to his crowdfunding platform. Just the link.

His no-nonsense attitude impressed me more – no messing around with getting to know me or helping me get to know him. Not even a ‘Hi, Louise!’ Just straight in there with a funding request.

I was chuffed to bits. I’ve got loads of spare money, and I love giving it to strangers (friends have to sing for it). And I’m time-poor so I don’t have the space for conversations or engagement. For me, LinkedIn is all about funnelling my hard-earned cash into someone else’s bank account as quickly as possible.

Now, some grumpy people might have just deleted the message and rescinded the connection. Not me – I offered him a free line edit, copy-edit and proofread, and signed up for the crowdfunder to boot.

2) Twitter: Send me stuff I haven’t asked for

I love getting freebies as much as the next person. The stuff I’ve asked for, content that’s relevant and useful to my business, created by people who’ve showed an interest in me? Well, that’s okayish.

But the stuff I haven’t asked for, that’s the best! I was sad when I stopped getting as much junk mail through my letter box. So was my cat. He took pleasure in shredding it when I didn’t get there first. And then things went digital and the pile of paper ceased to be. So did my cat, alas.

But, hey, life moves on. I got a dog. And I’m a digital gal, so I was delighted when some people started using Twitter to send me stuff I hadn’t asked for – automatically too! Those auto DMs always bring a smile to my face.

It’s like some people just know that because I’ve connected with them on Twitter I simply must want to receive a link to their report or book or tool without even being asked.

And they’re right. I feel lonely if my DM box isn’t chock full of messages that are meant to look personal but are, in reality, automatic (I can always tell). Some people call it spam, but I think of it as efficiency. All this talk of ‘social’ media is ridiculous, no? Why mess around actually having a conversation to see if you’re a good fit for each other when you can just automate the entire process?

3) Facebook: Create long, shouty articles and videos that clog up my timeline … even though I don’t know you

These are my current favourite. When I see posts in this category, I’m compelled to sign up for whatever’s on offer.

Here’s how to get the text right: Include lots of words in capital LETTERS so I know what to FOCUS on. I’m a bit stupid and need all the help I can get to TRIPLE the growth of my EMAIL LIST or quadruple my client BASE … as long as I sign up to your mailing list or white paper.

Here’s how to get the video right: Energy is not enough. You need to sound almost hysterically enthusiastic. That way I’ll know you’re telling the truth, that you’re authentic.

In both the text and the video, try to scare me a little, too. The best way to do this is by telling me you’re not trying to scare me … that you’re just trying to help me, and that by the time I’ve finished watching your live webinar I’ll be able to make money in my sleep.

And the best way to let me know you’re authentic is by telling me that, too. Tell me you’re REAL, that you CARE (don’t forget that all-important caps lock). After all, caring is just scaring without the S.

Honestly, that’s all it takes because I need to make money in my sleep – that guy from LinkedIn has another book in production and I’m funding it.

Social is hard, but it is social

So, now that I’ve tied a rope around my tongue and hauled it out of my cheek, I’ll admit that social media spaces are tricky to navigate. And the more connections we have, the harder it becomes to engage meaningfully.

I don’t claim to have nailed it by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve set up Twitter lists, created a Feedly account, joined specialist Facebook groups, and subscribed to newsletters and mailing lists that I consider valuable. There’s a ton more I could do – should do – to get better at it, and to streamline it.

However, there are some basic rules I won’t break. I never send stuff to people who haven’t asked for it, I never ask for something from someone unless I’ve established some sort of relationship with them, and I use the caps-lock button with care.

I try to have conversations with people as often as time allows, and in a way that doesn’t require disappearing into a time-sucking rabbit hole that threatens to vapourize the space–time continuum of my business and personal life.

Because social is wonderful. Our community – publishers, writers, editors, indexers, marketers, distributors, designers and more – is amazing. It’s full of mostly helpful, skilful people who want to talk, share, help and support. And without that, our businesses wouldn’t be what they are.

So there it is. And if anyone wants to send me money, even though we’ve never MET, here’s my Kickstarter page. I don’t want to SCARE YOU, and I am real … honest.

Louise Harnby is a professional fiction proofreader and copyeditor. She specializes in helping independent, self-publishing authors prepare their novels for market. Louise worked in-house for two international publishers for 13 years before setting up her editorial business. She has also self-published several books on the business of editing and proofreading. You can find out more about her at www.louiseharnbyproofreader.com.

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  1. I must be sleepy. Took me a full two sentences to realise you were being sarcastic! 🙂

    Good stuff – absolutely agrees.

  2. I’m a book reviewer in my spare time, and my review policy is loooonnnngggg, and has been built up over the years and is based on things I’ve been asked to review over the years. It’s aggravating when people think that, with no effort on their part, you’re going to make an exception *just for them*. It’s put me off reviewing Self-Pubs because of a few selfish individuals. Things I’ve been asked include:

    “Please review my book….here’s a link where you can buy it on Amazon” (at full price)
    “I knew your review policy says you’re not accepting books to review right now, but could you read mine?”
    “Here’s a link to my book” “I cant download from Amazon.com due to territory rights so it’s a no”. A week goes by. “Will you review my book, here’s a link to Amazon.com”.
    My Out of Office and Review policy clearly states “if you dont hear from me within 48 hours, it’s a no.” I got “will you review my book now?” 5 times over the course of 8 months before he got the hint.

    1. And that’s the problem – they’re not even taking the time to read your policy. Which is incredibly lazy given that they want something in return from you – a review!

      I think one of the problems is that social was less noisy some years back, and perhaps some things were easier to get away with. But things have changed, and the way we use social, and engage on it, has to adapt in ways that respect the changes.

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