As much as we are lovers of words, authors are number-watchers. How many followers do I have? How many books have I sold? How many people have voted on this poll? Did someone just unlike my page?
In other words….
Do they love me?
What happens if you take the numbers out of social media. What would happen if Facebook suddenly stopped showing you how many people were following you? Or liking your posts?
What would happen if Twitter stopped telling you how many people were retweeting your tweets?
Take a deep breath and repeat after me:
The numbers don't matter.
I know, this goes against every fiber of any marketer's being. Any quick search on Google will show you dozens and dozens of sites that disagree with me — each of them promising to teach you just how you can increase the number of followers across social media in 7, 14, 30, or 90 days.
But they really don't matter. At least, they aren't all that matter. You see, a lot of authors get caught up in the follower trap. Logically speaking, a higher number of followers should mean they are reaching more people, which should then translate into more sales… right?
No. Not really. Especially if those numbers aren't an actual reflection of your audience.
How can your followers not be in your audience?
That doesn't really seem possible, right? I mean, why would people be following your page if they didn't want to be part of your audience? Well, there are plenty of reasons.
First, authors make one major mistake when they decide to build that profile on Twitter or that new author page on Facebook or some other social media channel — they use it to connect with other authors.
Now, I'm not saying that networking isn't important. Obviously knowing and befriending other authors is a huge benefit. The writing community is amazing — filled with tips, encouragement, book release partners, accountability partners. You need something?
The writing community is there for you, but it is not your target audience.
And no one gets more excited about you releasing a new book than they do. I mean it — you will never hear a louder cheer than a group of authors when one announces a new book being released. It's almost like a shared accomplishment — like they helped get you through the hair-pulling writing and editing phases and now the reward is that you're published.
But being excited for you and sharing in your writing experience does not make those authors your target audience. And just think of how many people are following you on Facebook right now who aren't your audience? How many Like Ladders have you joined? How many of those other authors, most of whom you don't even really know, signed up to like your page in exchange for you liking their page?
And how many of them do you think are still following you? How many of them do you think are truly interested in your book, and how many were only interested in getting a new like on their own page?
Connecting with other authors is not the same thing as connecting with your target audience. So if roughly half of your followers on Facebook are other authors, are you really reaching readers?
Engagement is what counts.
Engagement happens when your audience interacts with your post in some positive way, such as by liking, commenting, or sharing it. And this drives your visibility much more than the number of followers you have. And it's your overall reach that will tell the Facebook bots “hey, people really want to see this page's stuff. It should be at the top of the newsfeeds.”
So, give your readers a reason to engage with you.
If all you do is share other people's content, or post links to your book on Amazon, there really isn't much reason for anyone to engage with your page all that often. How many times can one person really like that link? And liking someone else's post that you shared to your page? That helps their numbers far more than it helps your numbers (and yes, sharing posts from other pages is good and should be done; just not exclusively). Post original content: jokes, memes, small glimpses into your daily life, just how did you make it through the week on decaf coffee? You can even run a giveaway or two.
Take the numbers out of social media for a while. Stop following your followers and instead start focusing on whether or not your followers are connecting with you. Are you making it easy for them to connect with you? It won't take long for you to see a real difference in your overall engagement and reach once you do.