Three Tips for Smart Social Networking

Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. The social networking tools are out there. Now how do you make the most of them as an author? In panel discussions and breakout sessions at last week’s BookExpo of America in New York City, the following wisdom prevailed.

Don’t Advertise, Add Value

Sure, you want to highlight events you’re attending, milestones you’ve reached, and awards and achievements you’ve earned, but if that’s all you put in your social-networking posts, people will learn to tune you out quickly. What is your domain of expertise? Zero in on the areas where you can generate interesting discussions, and create some buzz that way. Ask thought-provoking questions, share controversial news, and post interesting links. People will follow you if you offer them real information relevant to their needs and interests.

Share Your Personality

Words on a computer screen don’t have to be boring. In fact, in today’s world of electronic and information overload, words have to have some dimension to get and hold readers’ attention. How will you make your words come alive on the page? In the social-networking sphere, you have to go beyond content. Messages need to be crafted in a way that entertains, moves, or inspires readers. The most effective tweets and posts showcase an individual’s style or personality. How can you funnel your personality into the micro-blogosphere? In what order should you say something and what words should you use to say it? All posts are not created equally. Some are better at making us smile, or think, or click a link than others.

Post When Your Audience Is Listening

The virtual world of micro-blogging moves at lightning speed. If you want your followers to read your stuff, post it when they tend to be at their computers. Unless your audience is insomniacs or midnight ritualists, plan to post during typical business hours or in the after-dinner time slot. One industry expert at BookExpo suggests that the start of the workday may be an ideal time, when people are settling into their desks and catching up on email. You can also test out different time slots to see which tend to yield the most replies.

It’s true that successful social networking goes beyond these simple tips, but these three can get you started. When you’re ready for more, look outward. One of the best ways to learn more is to follow others who are already successful on the social-networking circuit. In the mean time, apply these simple guidelines to engage your audience, build followers, and maybe even inspire real loyalty or desired action.

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