Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Social Media: First Impressions

No one can argue that social media plays a high profile role in today's world. From family videos to political diatribes to marketing strategies, social media ignites a flame, sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the bad. 

But let's focus on the good social media can do in regard to marketing. As a professional writer, I am consistently on the lookout for strategies that help get the word out about my books and articles. The work I believe God has gifted me to accomplish and deliver to readers. 

In a recent webinar with Christian author, Karen Kingsbury, she reminded participants that "marketing is ministry."

I like that, because for the Christian, all of life is ministry, a sacrifice of worship (Romans 12:1). Perhaps no one feels this any greater than the Christian writer who offers her words in worship to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

With this confidence fueling her writing, she moves forward to proclaim the message God has placed on her heart to the world. At times, it feels like business, but wasn't it Jesus at age 12 who said He must be about His Father's business?

Call it what you will--ministry or business. For the Christian, it amounts to the same thing . . .

An offering to the Lord for His use in readers' lives. 

So, enter social media and first impressions. Regardless of your choice of media--Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. etc. etc.--you reach potential readers. Folks who may just be getting to know you as a person, let alone your writing. 

The way you communicate in a tweet, post, or pic speaks volumes about the writer/person you are. What do you hope to communicate about your character, your style, your message in those brief interactions?

There are many, but may I suggest five possibilities?

Communicate with care. 

Be mindful of what you type. Once your fingers hit enter, your message is in cyberspace and difficult to retrieve. You either communicate care for the reader on the other end or you don't. Virtual relationships are difficult to sustain given the lack of real face time. Physical presence affords a glimpse of body language, facial expression, voice inflection. Not so in the virtual community. Words on the page carry it all. So think before you write. Don't allow emotion, especially negative emotion, to drive your writing. Pray first, write second. The care you show toward social media readers will leave a lasting impression about who you are that may lead to further reading of your books/articles.

Show concern for the individual.

Few Christian writers do this as well as Kingsbury. In spite of her rigorous schedule, she responds to every reader who communicates with her. Her mother assists with this. She sends a personal message and prays with readers about their personal concerns. That's encouraging! Not only to the reader but to me as a writer. It affirms my heart for marketing. I want God to be glorified and readers to be blessed by His touch in their lives. If I can play a small part in that through a personal word of encouragement and/or prayer, wonderful! To God be the glory!

Be aware of your writing style. 

If you want to draw in new readers and sustain current readership, take care with not only the content of your posts, but also your mechanics. Proof your posts before hitting enter, just as you would with your manuscripts. We may not like it, but readers expect more from professional writers. We can't afford to get sloppy. What we do, we do first of all for our King, not just for the reader on the other end. Work on your craft as you design e-newsletters, blog or FB posts, or tweets. They all add to your writing portfolio. 

Focus on the message that's on your heart.

Social media is another way to get your message to the reader. Posts, videos, and links that contribute to the message God has given you may interest your readers in picking up your book/article. For example, two overriding themes fuel my work: 1) healing words for hurting hearts and 2) building awareness and moving to action. Thus, in the context of story and through nonfiction, I've written about issues such as marriage, abortion, empty nest, homosexuality, infertility, grief/loss, miscarriage, volunteering, inner city ministry, homeschooling, special needs children, death of a spouse/child, sex trafficking, and foster care. My prayer is that readers will come away with increased faith in God, renewed hope, and ever increasing love for Him that extends to others. 

Give more than you ask.  

When book sales are abysmal, it's easy to panic or get discouraged, which sometimes leads to over-promoting a book. Posting an ad every other day or more! What you're communicating is buy, buy, buy! I've been guilty of this at times. However, what I've learned is that gifting readers with my words does more to "promote" my work than asking them to buy my book. In the long run, it works in both the reader's and writer's favor. Kingsbury's rule of thumb is give three things before you ask for one thing. When you gift a book, be sure to deliver in a timely fashion with a personal message attached. You can also gift "free" words by posting an article you've written. And don't forget the gift of prayer. Huge! Your heart will be blessed as you bless others. 

If you are a writer or reader, what tip might you add concerning Social Media: First Impressions?



Terra said...

I am co-author of two books, and one suggestion I have is to gather many friends on Facebook (I have 3,000) and then to join appropriate groups there where you can mention your books. Right now I am mentioning my "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday" wherever I can, including here :)

chappydebbie said...

Great suggestions. You do a lot of these, Eileen, and quite well. I can't think of anything to add right now, but I shared the post....hoping others will stop by and contribute.

Eileen Rife said...

Thanks for sharing your idea, Terra! Garnering a following is a great help. Your Christmas book sounds interesting and timely! Which, by the way, provokes another tip: marketing seasonal books during the appropriate season! :)

Eileen Rife said...

Thanks for stopping by, Debbie! And for sharing the post. :)

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