Engaging Readers with Social Media

Margaret Miller and Reetta Raitanen asked me to write a post on the “Microblogging and Macroblogging” workshop from Ravencon. Microblogging is Twitter, and Macroblogging is a blog like this.  With indie publishing exploding and forcing change on the publishing industry, writers of all flavors are having to learn how to do social media to sell their books.  The old marketing methods like “repeat the message” not only don’t work with social media but can instead disengage readers.   Who wants to receive a constant stream of “buy my book”?  I’ve found it a frustrating process because there’s a lot of information on what not to do, but what to do to be successful is a little vague.

These were the ‘don’ts’ discussed by the panel:

  • Don’t send “Buy My Book” tweets.
  • Don’t blog about your writing.

The latter of those strikes me as a curious tip.  I think the first thing every writer gravitates straight to is doing a blog of how-to tips.  Obviously, those are going to appeal only to other writers, and not to future potential readers.  Austin S. Comacho noted that we’re writers, so we have a wide variety of interests that we can talk about.  But a little later, he also said he hadn’t had much success with blogs and was participating in reading groups on Facebook.  And he is also blogging about — guess what?  Writing!

It all keeps coming back to writing.  Even ones who are well known like Bob Mayer, Kristen Lamb, and M.J. Rose have all gravitated to blogging about writing in some form or another.  We do write every day, and some write all day, so it’s hard to ignore talking about it entirely since it’s so much a part of our lives.  Maybe it’s not discussing how-tos, which tend to have an “article” flavor and only draw writers, but maybe something that would fit in with the writing but that readers would enjoy.

I’d like say there was some enlightening point in the workshop, but the above was the most exciting part.  They wandered off on a tangent about Live Journal, and there were two writers who only used Twitter to send blog links to.  No one answered what to tweet about or what to blog about, and it makes me think that maybe no one really totally knows.  I was glad I wasn’t the only one who was clueless!

But it prompted a question:  Are there writing topics that would appeal to both readers and writers?  The how-tos are obviously very writer-focused, and reviews are time consuming because reading the book is involved.  Post your opinion in the comments.

Meanwhile, here’s an info graphic from Copy Blogger on coming up with topics.  Since this is being linked from another site, I’ve included a screen reader version below.

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

For screen readers:

The infographic contains 22 tips:

  1. Curation: Compile a list of 10 favorite blog posts from other blogs
  2. Group brainstorming: Ask some friends for ideas
  3. Ask your readers: Get some help from your readers by asking what they would like to read about
  4. Interview someone: Writing a few questions for someone else to answer is easier than turning out a whole post
  5. Let a guest write: Guest posts add content effortlessly to your blog.
  6. Best case studies – company, product or website to do a best case study on
  7. Worst case studies – company, product or website that you don’t like
  8. Review something: Pick a product or service and write what you like and dislike about it
  9. Share your success: Show people step by step how you got there.
  10. Share your failures: Write about your biggest challenges
  11. Relive the memories: Pick some of your most useful older posts and share them for new readers

Use name recognition: This method requires mashing two unrelated subjects into one post i.e., what Batman can teach you about blogging

  1. Movies: Popular movies are a great place to get ideas
  2. Television: Chose television shows your audience would be likely to watch
  3. Books: Use the author’s name or book title, but aim for fiction or poetry for more impact.
  4. Comics: Superheroes make great blog post themes.
  5. Top trends: Click Google trends to see what’s hot now.
  6. Celebrities: Any celebrity will do.

Find your muse.  Sometimes it takes a little jump start to get your creativity flowing again.

  1. Take a walk: Breaking up the routine can help restart your brain.
  2. Watch a play: The atmosphere of a theatre can be very stimulating.
  3. Expand your cultural horizons: Visit an ethnic restaurant.
  4. Get personal.  Tell a personal story on your blog.
  5. Recycle

16 thoughts on “Engaging Readers with Social Media

  1. No one answered what to tweet about or what to blog about, and it makes me think that maybe no one really totally knows.

    That’s the impression I get, too. Some books take off, while others–seemingly as good–languish in obscurity. Same with blogs. I think that authors should blog only if they enjoy it and do it long enough to find their own voice. Otherwise, work on your next book. Some of my favorite authors–the ones whose books are on my auto-buy list–either don’t blog at all or only post book-related news and updates (“here’s the cover for my next book” or “I’ll be at FancyCon in May”). And some of my favorite author-bloggers write books that aren’t my cup of tea (so they really get nothing from my reading their blogs because I don’t buy their books!).


  2. For those bloggers like Kristen Lamb who primarily write about writing/blogging it makes sense. That’s their job. I choose not to blog about writing because there are so many people doing it so much better than I can. I like to blog about a variety of topics because I feel like it exercises my brain and the blog gives me a place to try out different styles or voices or topics for longer pieces.

    There’s nothing wrong with having occasional writing-based topics, but to talk about your writing all the time is a bit solipsistic (speaking the editorial “your”). Even a writer needs to draw readers in through revealing some of him/herself online. That’s why people read most blogs, I think. To learn about other people. People will be more inclined to buy a book if they like the person writing it. That doesn’t always come through on blog posts about writing (unless you are publishing a book about writing — then it’s all about expertise).

    And thanks heaps for the CopyBlogger graphic. I don’t know how I missed this one.


    1. I’m not sure that people go to blogs to learn about people. It may be a component of it, but I’m having a hard time believe that it’s a primary reason. I look at the popular blogs, and they’re about something people need, but with the personal component.

      Admittedly, I’m also bothered by revealing oneself online. I’ve seen some blogs where the person was sharing too much information, as if the person doesn’t realize that the entire world can see what they’re saying.


  3. livrancourt

    For what it’s worth, three of the top six most popular posts on my blog in the last month were writing-related. The other three were guest posts by my fabulous WANA112 friends. Now, I’m still growing the blog, but I’m pleased with its progress so far. I have no idea if it translates into book sales. That’s okay, because it’s fun and becoming an end in itself.


    1. Could that be because you’re attracting an audience of largely writers? I know I am. I’d like to reach “readers who will like my fiction” more, though I have no idea how one goes about finding them (and lassoing them and bringing them back to my blog 😉 ).


      1. So true! All I seem to need to say is I’m a writer, and I get writers like a moth to a light. Even on Twitter, I get mostly writers as followers, and sometimes, it seems like everyone there is a writer or wants to be one!


  4. This topic is one that’s been noodling around my mind for a while as a result of my becoming bored with some sites that never really say anything of interest for me, and sites that continuously have other people interviewing them all over the place, saying the same things. Boring. I had decided to blog about this topic this week when I clicked into your site today. I will reference your excellent post.

    By the way, I love the simplicity that you have chosen for your backdrop and your log line is perfect. I think you’ve finally found the right combination that suits you.


    1. I have to agree with Cora – I don’t follow any of the big name bloggers anymore (except Kristen) particularly those blogging about writing. It is all the same over and over – and way too many words in the post. I’m better off using my craft books or doing a search if I’m after a particular bit of advice. I really am interested in the person – not the intimate stuff – but just their thoughts on this and that – as if we’ve met up for a coffee somewhere.


      1. That’s interesting because I’m the opposite. I don’t have a lot of time, so I’m following people I’m going to get information from, rather reading about only personal stories. Granted, I don’t follow a lot of writing blogs because most of them are the same old, same old (Follow this rule, follow that rule). The ones I do follow stand out because they are talking about writing in a different way than everyone else, and even then, I unfollow blogs because they stop being different. I also follow a few different social media blogs, one news blog, and several science fiction ones (which are often quite enjoyable!). My “Just for Fun” blogs tend to be photo blogs.


  5. Reetta Raitanen

    Yay, thanks for posting about the Con panel, Linda. Too bad that the insight wasn’t really, well, insightful and one of the panelists even went against his own advice. Like Julie said, blogging about writing ok for someone who writes non-fiction about writing or offers writing courses like Kristen Lamb and Bob Mayer. But the rest of us who write fiction should cut back on that.

    But it is difficult because right now pretty much all my readers are writers and they comment the writing mashup posts the most. It feels silly to write more diverse posts that interest far fewer people.

    Like you, I’m finding most writing blogs to be the same old. I’ve read so many writing guides that rare blog posts manage to give me any new information. Usually those are niche posts that focus on a very particular aspect of writing (like nailing your character’s voice) and offer hands on advice. Maybe even an excercise I can try out.

    I rarely connect with personal posts of someone I don’t know in some way. I read blogs to learn something new, maybe something random I didn’t even know existed. And preferably be entertained at the same time. That’s why I follow blogs of folks who have a great voice and talent for humor, like Kristen Lamb, Jenny Hansen and K.B. Owen.

    Btw, I’d love to hear which blogs you’re following, Linda. Maybe you could do a mashup about that, like your favourite posts from your regular reads.


  6. Pingback: Link Feast For Writers vol. 9 | Reetta Raitanen's Blog

  7. Pingback: What Writing Blogs Do You Subscribe To? « Linda Adams

  8. Pingback: Top 10 Blog Posts for May « Linda Adams

  9. Pingback: Why Don’t Writers’ Blogs Work? « Linda Adams

Comments are closed.