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women holding hands 9001316_sThis is the fifth article in the series. For the other four, follow these links:

Article 1 (Introduction),
article 2 (Why Some People Think SoMe Doesn’t Work),
article 3 (Funneling SoMe to Your Site) and
article 4 (Social Media Goals).

The series is focused on getting lots of traffic through judicious use of social media, but that’s not the most important part of the strategy. The most important part is building a relationship with people in your niche and making more sales than you’re making right now. You have to keep your eye on the prize: more sales, which equals more fame, and furthermore, more fortune. If you put in effort over the long term—consistently providing value to your fans—you’ll see much better results.

As mentioned in a previous article, it’s far better to have 100 targeted visitors than it is to have several thousand untargeted visitors. It’s not all about getting great traffic on SoMe, it’s also about knowing what to do with it. The two can’t be separated—if they could, buying leads and hits to your website would work like gangbusters. (We’ve all gotten that spam on Twitter: “10,000 followers for just $3.99!”) Those things don’t work. So let’s talk about relationships.

Understanding the Needs and Wants of Your Market

You need to think about what people need and want before you start to drive traffic.

Consider the people and businesses you follow on SoMe. You follow people because you are interested in what they have to say, or you already have a relationship with them, like colleagues and sports teams. You follow businesses because they are sharing things with you, giving you advice, entertaining you, or are intriguing to you in some other way. Maybe you just like what they stand for or the cute pictures of kittens they share.

For the most part, you don’t follow companies just because they sell things. (Well, maybe if they sell shoes.) Generally, it’s not worth your limited time to waste energy that way. It’s about give and take. You are getting something (either tangible or not) in exchange for following them.

What Makes You Worth Following?

Why should people follow you? You’re a little bit biased, but try to put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Try this test. Set your timer to ten minutes. Start typing out all the benefits a fan might get for following you. Are the results surprising? Maybe you’ll learn that you could be offering more value to your fans, or more value than your competition. We’re a community, yes, but readers only have so many dollars to spend, so in many ways, it’s a competition, too.

People will follow you because you share information, give them something, are entertaining, or are interesting in some way—the same reasons you follow the companies you follow!

Building relationships means saying more than “buy my book.” It involves giving something away, sometimes, making yourself a little more accessible and more real to your fans, offering value that they can’t get somewhere else. Your SoMe needs to reflect this or it won’t be worth the effort.

(By the way, I’m still working on all of this. The class was eye-opening, but you really have to sit down and think through your goals and process carefully.)

Next Wednesday, I’ll share some information on how to set up your social media (not the bare bones, click this button and fill out this form stuff) and the importance of “value-added” offers.


  1. I’ve tried to hold the pitch posts down to a minimum–they usually spring forth when I release a book or get good reviews. But on my blog I’ve actually stopped even having excerpts for the time being. Trying to find content that my followers will like. I wish I could do book reviews, but I just haven’t been reading as much as I used to. Perhaps I should go back and review all the books I did read when I had time. They might not be new, but people might like that. This series has given me so many great ideas, Trish! You’ve been a fantastic help! Tweeted.

    • It’s a great idea to share new releases or particularly great reviews. Reviewing others’ work is a courtesy, but you shouldn’t make it a chore. At least, that’s what I think. It’s a different matter if you’re doing a review-swap. Thanks for tweeting!

  2. My blog is my major marketing tool so what I always want to do is give people a reason to want to go there. The way to do that is to make the blog interesting to your fans. How do you do that? By providing interesting content and updating it frequently. I use stories and illustrations, content that my readers really like. Go to my blog any day of the week, there is an illustrated story, a book review with content, or an article of interest. I don’t need to plug my own books. They are all right there in the right side panel. I steer folks there by posting permalinks to stories on my blog on FB sites that seem to want stories dedicated to my interests. Does it work? I’m not sure about book sales but my blog traffic is 1500-2000 hits a day. That’s not Chross or DJ Black, but it’s pretty darn respectable.

    • You have to keep moving, offering new things, reaching out to your readers all the time with whatever you think they’ll like. You get feedback in comments and hits. My hits aren’t as high as yours most days, but I still feel a connection with readers and aspire to do more with every post or free short story. I think your success is fantastic, Rollin. You did good. 🙂

    • Your blog traffic is amazing, Rollin. You must be doing it right!

  3. Definitely means more than just repeating “buy my books” all the time. Hate when authors do *nothing* but that. Sometimes, sure. We all do it. But jeez, don’t do that *all* the time, eh? Zzzz. When authors over-do that, it reminds me of that scene in “Real Genius,” if you know that movie. The boring professor sees some of his students start leaving tape recorders at their desks to capture his BORING lectures (they don’t have to be present at all) Then, as the semester progresses, more and more students start skipping the class and just placing recorders to capture the guy’s lecture on tape for later. The last scene, the camera slowly pans the classroom, and there’s *nothing* but recording devices on ALL the student desks … AND, the professor’s podium is also a recorder (reel-to-reel, old style!), giving the “lecture” to all the student recorders. No live people in the room at all anymore. Heh. Twitter etc. feel like that to me a lot with the buy buy buy canned stuff.

    • There’s a place and a time for a sales pitch, but no one wants to become a hard-sell used car salesman in the eyes of a potential reader. Sometimes, despite the fact that we’re creators, some of us seem to have nothing new to say.

      • So true. Never thought of it that way, but yeah.

        Ugh, I HATE sales BS myself, IRL, online, in any form. I mute commercials, I mute Twitter streams and other SoMe streams that are nothing but sales pitches for books or whatever. “Your call [or book-buying dollars] is/are very important to me, please enjoy my canned sales-pitches …”

  4. I tend to buy books more if the author responds to me even just acknowledging that I liked their status

  5. Very good post. I have followers and I don’t know why. I follow my favorite authors and people I’ve met at hops, etc. your post gave me more insight.

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