[Podcast] 5 Social Media Insights to Boost Engagement

5 promoting your writing media May 07, 2021


By Melissa Parks and Dave Goetz

If you want to write, you'll need a way to promote your book. Social media is one way to do that.

I hear some virtual groans as I write this. And that's okay. Not everyone will build a following through social media. Some people have robust email lists. Others have partnerships with organizations. These are all valid followings--and avenues for promoting your book.

But if you have nothing, developing your social media presence is one way to extend your reach, so when you launch your book it doesn't get sucked into a dark void.

Of course, growing a social media following is hard work. You must submit to this annoyingly hard truth.  Farmers don't expect a harvest if they haven't tended the fields. You can't grow a following without tending to it.

I realize it's hard work. I grew a social media following from 0 to 25k over the course of 6 years. And there were days when the growing was slow. I often thought, "Why do this? It's so hard!" That question most often burbled up when my posts tanked and people weren't  sharing my posts or hitting the follow button--even when I was posting most every day.

Something was wrong with my social media strategy.

My son, a data enthusiast, took a look at my metrics and helped me identify the trends that lead to increased engagement, and thus followers.

Here are five surprising things I learned from the data about tending to my social media. If you're interested in growing your social media following, these principles will help you, too:

  1. Posts and pictures of myself do really well!  And it's not because I am the most beautiful or interesting person on social media. But when I share a picture of myself, I often share something personal. A funny story. A struggle. Fun facts. Simply, the human side of my brand. People connect with the person behind the account. I post a picture of myself about once every two weeks. And, yep, they always do well.
  2. Hashtags matter. I hate hashtags. Loathe them. When I've written a thoughtful post, and also created a beautiful picture to accompany it, they feel tiresome and trite. So grabby. And finding the "right" ones takes time! But that data showed me that new followers came by way of hashtags. 
  3. Time of day matters. I'm not a planner. And when I have a great post, I want to share it immediately. But if I post it at 11:30 on a Wednesday, nobody will see it. My tribe is on the platform 9 in the morning and 5:30 at night. I sometimes still post willy-nilly. But when I do, I risk my post not being seen by the masses. You have to mindful of posting time if you want to engage people.
  4. Longer captions are better than shorter ones. My son found that 10 lines of captions is the optimal length for a post. Not too long. Not too short. When you write a slightly longer post, typically you're saying something of value. This usually leads to engagement. Too long, however, bores people. You have to be intentional with every single word you choose. I can’t tell you how many posts I bail on because the writing is so bad. Make your caption as good as your pic.
  5. Use the Stories function. Stories and all the other rising features available, like IGTV and Reels,  are an important component of your engagement strategy. There are days when it feels like too much to scroll through my feed, so instead I scroll through Stories. That's just how it is. People consume social media in different ways, especially as the number of ways people can consume increases. Stories are a great way to personalize engagement by showing up as the real, unfiltered you. The beauty of Stories is they don't have to be polished. They don't have to be lengthy or well thought out. But they are quick ways to stay in touch with your audience. Also, when people engage your Stories, they may stop by your gallery and engage with your posts there as well.




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