Keys for Effective Social Media Use

Okay, I don’t pretend to be a pro on social media use. Honestly, I use it because I enjoy it. (Yeah, off-the-scale extrovert here.) But I’ve done some research lately for this blog, and found that the following tips I wanted to share were also mentioned in several of the “How To” sites I read. So here are a few collectively suggested “keys” to making sure your social media involvement is as effective as it can be.

First, in answer to the “How do I get started on social media?” question, the consensus seems to be:

  1. Have a quality website. That means a website that looks and acts professional. Which generally means don’t do it yourself unless you really and truly know what you’re doing on every front, including design SEO, and other things about which yours truly knows very little.
  2. Choose one or two social media sites to engage your readers. Base that choice on researching where your specific audience seems to show up most often.
  3. Learn how to use that/those site/s well, and be consistent in using it/them.

And here are three keys to being effective on whatever social media you choose:

Be Authentic. It’s a good thing to keep in mind: God knows your heart. He’s given a task to write, yes, but odds are very good that He’s done so to use you to minister to and help others. If your only reason for using social media is to sell something, don’t bother. You need to care about your audience, to remember that these are real people with real lives and real feelings. And trust me on this, they can tell if you’re there because you care–or if you’re just being a salesman.

Get Engaged! As exciting as it is when something you’ve put out there goes viral, virality (no, I didn’t say virility…sheesh!) doesn’t last. Trying to go viral is, basically, impossible. I hear it over and over when someone has a post or blog or whatever go viral: “I had no idea people would react the way they did.” So a far better focus is on actively engaging your audience. In other words, make your communications about them, not about you. About helping them. About getting to know them and helping them get to know you. Post pictures you think they’ll enjoy. Share what you’re doing and ask them what they’re up to. Invite their participation. Create a place where they feel welcome and part of a community. Where they care about each other.

Be Appealing! Yes, it’s about caring, but you need to know what you’re doing if you’re going to serve your audience well. So are you posting/pinning/tweeting in a way that is appealing to your chosen audience? I learned this principle I the early Christmases of my marriage. Don and I gave each other gifts based on what we thought were cool gifts: I gave him pens, he gave me tools. But friends, my husband couldn’t care less about writing utensils. As for the tools? Um…no. After several less than successful Christmases, we realized what we were doing wrong and changed the focus of our gift giving from ourselves to the other person. And let me tell you, that made all the difference. So make your communication about your audience. If you’re geared to a younger audience, have you refined your skill in using emojis? If your audience is primarily seniors, have you learned what appeals to them most and on which platform? Know your audience, and know which social media best appeals to them.

Stay Mobile! Whatever social media you use, keep in mind that you want it to be mobile friendly, meaning it needs to work well not just on a computer, but on mobile devices as well. That impacts how you build a website, the way you post, even the length of your posts, and so much more.

So there are a few things to keep in mind as you jump in. Now take a deep breath…and get out there and be social!

21 Responses to Keys for Effective Social Media Use

  1. Stephen Schwambach July 20, 2016 at 5:25 am #

    Thank you so much, Karen! You’re 100% right – few of us can create something on social media that we know in advance will go viral. The task before each of us is to move as fully into Jesus and His boundless creativity as He enables us to do, beg Him for miraculous results…then step back and watch the Master work. “All that we have accomplished you have done for us.” (Isaiah 26:12)

  2. Loretta Eidson July 20, 2016 at 6:14 am #

    Thank you, Karen. Moment of truth: Now I must decide if what I’m doing on my website is what people want to hear or if it’s what I want to “tell” them. Yikes!

    • Karen Ball July 20, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

      Ooo, good times ahead as you sort it all out!

  3. Nicola July 20, 2016 at 7:06 am #

    Thank you for your gentle prodding. My blog on WordPress consists of excerpts from my manuscript and me talking about the themes in the story, what prompts me to write, the challenges of writing and the rewards.
    My question to you is: how much of the manuscript can go up on the web before potential agents and publishers get nervous? Is the material up there considered ‘previously published’?

    • Karen Ball July 20, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

      Generally, publishers don’t want to see more than 2500 words already out there.

      But I encourage you to think beyond excerpts and the themes in the story. That seems a fairly limited focus. Reach out to see what your readers want to hear from you.

  4. Carol Ashby July 20, 2016 at 7:17 am #

    This is a very timely reminder, Karen. I’m feverishly writing short articles on aspects of Roman history for my author website that I want up when Ben Hur opens August 19. I’m going to use WordPress for my CMS, and I’m about to launch myself into the morass of WordPress themes to find one that’s suitable.

    Obviously the site has to be responsive (adapt to the screen size of the reader’s device), but you just made me realize I might need to make two versions of the site: regular, where a several- page article can be scrolled though without repeatedly clicking to the next screen (I HATE being forced to do that), and mobile friendly, where I split each article into several small html files, one for each section heading, that will open individually and quickly on a phone. I’ll also need quicker-loading low-res versions of the images.

    Thanks for this post that made me think to do that!

    For all the chefs here, I’m going to have original Roman recipes from an AD 100 cookbook. I’ll be asking for folks who are kitchen artists to make something vague into a true recipe. I’ll post them for the kitchen technicians like me who always measure out the tbsps and cups. (I have 3 sets of measuring spoons because a chemist can never put the same spoon into different ingredients without washing in between. Cross-contamination issues, you know.)

    • Karen Ball July 20, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

      Sounds great, Carol! You’ll have to let us know what the response is.

  5. Jackie Layton July 20, 2016 at 7:23 am #

    Hi Karen,
    Thanks for these great tips. I tried to create a website on my own, and it was terrible. I’ve been thinking of paying somebody, and your post may be the push I need. Thanks.

    I have noticed when I tweet about certain groups, I get lots of likes and retweets. What I mean is if I complement our veterans and tweet something positive, other veterans like it. I know they are not my target audience, but I love to show my support. It sounds like I need a way to show support for my target audience.

    You’ve given me a lot to consider. Thanks!

    • Karen Ball July 20, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

      Yes, I tried that too. And I was, for awhile, an art major in college! But designing websites is an intricate and complex job, so I’m all for hiring a pro. You’re investing in your future career, so don’t cut corners.

  6. Chris Storm July 20, 2016 at 7:37 am #

    Thanks for the tips! I admit I dragged my feet but am now active in social media and loving it! Extreme extrovert I am connected to everyone I have ever known and interacting with new people every day!
    If anyone needs a website, the author Robin Lee Hatcher did mine and I loved working with her!

    • Karen Ball July 20, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

      Totally agree about Robin’s web designs. She’s very talented and reasonably priced.

  7. Sheri Dean Parmelee July 20, 2016 at 10:53 am #

    Thanks for your posting, Karen. I especially liked your comments about focusing on others. When we make it about them, instead of solely focusing on ourselves, we can communicate in ways that touch their hearts (and, hopefully, their souls!).
    Best,
    Sheri

  8. Rick Barry July 20, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

    Good stuff, Karen. If I could offer one small addition, it might be “Be brief.”

    When I’m in the mood for a long read, I’ll reach for a book. But if I click on an interesting header in a Facebook post only to discover it waxes on… and on… and on… Nope. Sorry. Not going to set aside an hour to wade through it all. Even a blog post that runs over 400 words will discourage busy folks from reading it all.

    Thanks again. Always enjoy your thoughts!

  9. deb palmer July 20, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    Thanks Karen. I’m a slow learner in the social media arena. I’m here… there… everywhere… but not really anywhere. The next hurdle on my list is to find my niche. Your post is a good place. Thank you.

  10. Beverly Brooks July 21, 2016 at 7:52 am #

    Thank you Karen for a “plain language” lesson on social media. The biggest takeaway for me was to be about others – genuinely.

    Love never fails.

  11. Jessica Maliepaard July 25, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    I might have queried your agency before… Please pray for my website… I have a face book also for my books, however, you are right: it’s so hard for me to not want to be “popular” I need to be here to help people!

    Thanks again,
    Jessica
    http://www.Bibleversebooks.com
    “Into every Heart and every Home”

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    […] of a writers’ marketing happens online. Karen Ball has keys for effective social media use, Kirsten Oliphant shows us how to grow our email list, and Barbara Morgenroth gives us Facebook ads […]

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