[Podcast] How to Grow Your Social Media Following

“Why do I need a social media following?”

The simple answer: Because agents and publishers want you to have an established following. They want to know how you will reach your audience when it’s time to promote your book.

We recently spoke with Natalie Papier, owner of Home Ec.-Op and soon-to-be author, about how she grew her Instagram following from a few thousand to over 130,000 in a few short years.

Natalie shared four tips on how to grow your social media following that you can immediately start using to grow your own following today. 

Establish Your Content

To grow your social media following, find your tribe—and understand the content they’ll gobble up.

Snoop around Natalie’s IG account, and you’ll see that she serves up exactly what her audience wants: delicious images with plenty of behind-the-scenes details and tips on how to design from the heart.

Not to mention she seasons all her posts with a dash of authenticity—making her approachablesomeone with whom you’d want to have a coffee date with. (We all know that social media is called “social” for a reason.)

Your expertise may not be design, like it is for Natalie, but you can learn from her strategy.

First, determine what your audience wants and lean into your experiences and hard-earned wisdom. Provide some inspiration, along with some how-tos, and maybe even a thought-provoking question to engage your audience.

Natalie speaks about what she knows best and shares her triumphs while also not being afraid to share her failures. This is where the magic happens on social media: when you show your humanity. It gives followers something to connect with on an emotional level. And connection is the key to getting people to share your content and come back for more.

Post Regularly

Natalie built her following by posting regularly, posting to her IG Stories daily and her account a few times a week. Of course, “regular” is different for each person. The important thing to remember is that if you’re not posting regularly, your content is buried by those nasty algorithms.

Content is prioritized that is liked and shared. And the only way to get likes and shares is to post engaging content regularly. It’s a virtuous circle.

It can be scary committing to regular posting (we recommend three to five times a week at the least). You might wonder if you have enough to say. Some people tackle this problem by creating an editorial calendar. Plan ahead (even write the posts in advance) if you fear you won’t be able to come up with the content in the moment, like Natalie does.

There are plenty of online resources (such as Hootsuite) that provide calendars with prompts on what to share. That way you’re never stumped.
 

Get the Conversation Going 

Natalie’s great strength is her ability to connect with her audience. One of the primary ways she does this is by asking questions at the...

[Podcast] Prenup Book Author Emily Bouchard on Landing Media Interviews

By Dave Goetz and Melissa Parks

Tenacity. It's what you need most when landing media interviews after your book is published.

You simply can't be passive about book promotion. 

Emily Bouchard, author of Estate Planning for the Blended Family and Beginners Guide to Purposeful Prenups, has unlocked this not-so-secret code to landing spots on TV shows like the Today Show and getting published in publications like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.  

And guess what? You don't need a fancy-pants (and often expensive!) PR agency for landing media interviews.

Here is Emily's three-step approach to going after the PR you want:

1. Identify your niche. There's nothing revolutionary about this. But too many people believe being general will make their idea more appealing. The opposite is true. Reporters aren't looking for generalists. They are looking for specialists.

When Emily started her consulting practice as a family dynamics coach, she built her website content around specific categories in her space, specifically blended family estate planning. Emily recalls a story that shaped her thinking about niche marketing.

When a plumber named his business "Just Toilets," someone asked, "Why Just Toilets?"  

"When I was just one of the plumbers, I didn't get any calls," he said.  "Now I get tons. All of my equipment and supplies are equipped for just toilets. I'm an expert in just toilets. When people have just a toilet problem, guess who they call?"

What topic do you want to be known for that people will call just you for?

"Going niche" is the best way to reach the audience (and the reporters) who will benefit the most from your expertise. Lean into your expertise. Create content specific to that expertise. When publishing digital content, use key words that people researching the topic would use.

Emily's first big-time exposure came about this way. When Rudy Guliani was running for mayor and his stepson wouldn't support him, New York Times reporters were looking for insight into the complications of blended families. Emily's site popped up, and they contacted her for an interview.

That one interview put her on the map and led to more interviews.

2. Nurture relationships with reporters and writers. You have to have a long view of media relations, if you want to establish yourself as a thought leader.  This means you have to cultivate relationships long before you ask for anything--and even when your initial ideas are rejected.

Emily researched reporters and writers who specifically wrote on her areas of expertise: blended family and wealth; women and wealth; and, family success family. She created a master list and began connecting with each of them, introducing herself as an expert on the topics. Her goal was to make the job easier for reporters by providing insight they didn't have to dig for.

Often times, the connection was just an...

[Podcast] Book Publicity Expert Andrea Martin on Arresting the Attention of the Media for Your Book

By Dave Goetz and Melissa Parks

Arresting the attention of the media for your book has to happen within three months of its launch.

After that, your book becomes old news. Your publisher moves on. So does the media. That is when the long slog to promote your book begins.

In this episode, we interview Tyndale Publishers author relations director Andrea Martin on how to host launch events and how to stay focused when then book doesn't take off as planned. 

Here are 5 helpful ideas:

1. Take advantage of our culture's newly-formed acceptance of live online events. The Covid 19 pandemic created a familiarity (maybe too much familiarity!) with Zoom and other digital forums. Andrea recalls how authors releasing books last March and April were forced to shift to online release events. Something rarely done before the pandemic.

While there's something special about an in-person book signing at a bookstore, it is limited by location. Online events (Facebook Live, Zoom Launch Party, IG Live) actually have a wider scope. Anyone from anywhere can join.

Andrea says even as the world starts opening up post-pandemic, she'll continue to urge authors to do online events (in addition to in person launches) to broaden their book's reach.

2. Research what type of live events engage you. If you've never done a live event before, you'll need to attend a few to see what works. What keeps you engaged. Is it content? Is it a giveaway? Is it a special guest?  Is it an activity? There are a variety of ways to structure a live event. Do your research to figure out what has worked for other authors.

3. Keep your launch events short--and fun! Your launch is a celebration. Celebrations are joyful. And they should be fun. Whatever the meat of your content is, make sure that fun is laced throughout. Confetti. Music. Anything that super-charges the environment. And then, keep the event short. You want people wanting more rather than wondering, "When will this event be over?"

4. Don't be discouraged if your book doesn't come out blazing. Not everyone gets the press hype hey hoped for within the first six weeks. Sometimes the timing simply isn't right. That doesn't mean your book is dead. Promotion should continue even after the six weeks of your book's launch.

Andrea says look for opportunities to tie you book idea to current events. That's a hook to engage podcasters, writers and magazines and digital publications, and even tv shows.

Andrea recalls an author writing a book on ambiguous loss. It didn't take off immediately. But a year later, they tapped into the ambiguous loss the pandemic created, and pitched the book as an interview angle.

Always look for hooks. They're there. Sometimes you just have to be creative.

5. Extend your reach. There are multiple ways to do this, but the idea is to partner with people who have unique audiences--different than, but similar to, yours.  You might consider partnering with other...

[Podcast] Growing Your Social Media Following through Hashtags

By Melissa Parks

I've been growing my social media following for over seven years. I have nearly 25k followers.  I'd like to say it has been easy. But it hasn't.

Growing a social media following is exciting as you connect with people from your tribe. But it's also exhausting, when days go by and nobody clicks "Follow." You might wonder, "Where is my tribe? How do I reach them? How do I get them to follow me?"

Ultimately, you have to provide valuable content for your tribe to stick around. But getting them to even see your content is the first step. Using hashtags  is one of the best ways to gain exposure among your tribe.

Let me be clear. I hate using hashtags. They are a hassle. It's hard enough to write a thoughtful post and create an arresting image.  Hashtags feel like taking out the trash. It has to be done. But nobody wants to do it.

But, did you know that posts with hashtags have 12.6% increased exposure? It's true. When I strategically include hashtags at the end of my posts, I inevitably increase my visibility. And often I increase my followers. Sometimes by one. Sometime by many.

Here are three insights to help you understand hashtags a bit better:

1. A tribe-specific hashtag makes a great hashtag. Building a following isn't about attracting the masses. You want to attract people who need what you've got, whether it's information or inspiration. Your hashtags should use language your tribe would use to search for content.

You might look at peer accounts to see what  hashtags they use; there likely will be some you can use on your posts as well. 

2. Use long-tail hashtags. Short-tail hashtags are comprised of no more than two words, often only one word. For instance, if I'm posting a vintage collection of McCoy pottery, short-tail hashtags would be #vintage, #collection, and #pottery. When you use hashtags like these, your posts are lost in the archive of the thousands of other posts who use similarly general hashtags. 

To reach your tribe, it's important to be more specific, without being obtuse. Better longtail hashtags would be #mccoypottery. Even better #mccoypotterycollection. Or even #vintagepotterycollector. 

3. Mix up your hashtags. One strategy for not having to generate new hashtags for every post is to create a notepad of hashtag lists that you can copy and paste at the end of posts. Of course, each post is unique, so you'll need to add specific hashtags to each post. But you'll at least have a baseline to work from.

Be cautious, however, of using the exact same group of hashtags post after post. When you do this, social media platforms identify it as spam, and will hide your posts from people whom don't follow you. This is called shadow banning. Create multiple groups of hashtags to choose from.

For more insights on how to successfully incorporate a hashtag strategy, tune into our latest podcast episode.

[Podcast] 5 Social Media Insights to Boost Engagement

 

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...