When I coach authors on social media I get this question a lot: “If I’m not supposed to talk about my book all the time, what else can I say?” At which point I think about that scene in Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life” where the middle-age couple sits down in a restaurant and are handed conversation menus…
Oh, I get it, I do. I’m the original shrinking violet at large gatherings, the one who prefers to find a family pet to chat with, or maybe a healthy plant in the corner. But if we can push past our discomfort, ask a few questions of the other folks at the party who are probably also a bit uncomfortable, then what will ensue is a conversation…
Same goes for social media. Think of Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Google+ as parties you’ll be stopping by each day, with a goal of connecting briefly with the folks you know, and meeting a new friend or two (and no need to get dressed up or bring a dish to pass).
Need a conversation starter at your social media gathering? Here are five tried and true ways to get that party started:
1. Ask a question. This takes the focus off you for a second, and folks love to answer questions about themselves. You’d be amazed how long the threads get on asking simple questions of your new likes and followers. It can be as simple as, “What’s the best self-help book you ever read?” or “Who’s your favorite hero/villain?” or “What’s the funniest book title you’ve seen?” Once you get the conversation going, you can introduce your own villain or hero, self-help book or hilarious title, too.
2. Share a photo. It can be beautiful, hilarious, poignant, tragic. The point is, there’s some truth to that “picture’s worth a thousand words” saying, and a brief caption can get the ball rolling. Or, ask your tribe how they’d caption the photo and award points for creative answers.
3. Take an informal (or formal) poll. “So, I’m taking a poll today: How many out there have gone down the rabbit hole and spent an entire evening on Pinterest?” Facebook has a poll feature on groups, where you can click “Ask a Question” and then select poll options (as shown here).
4. Show and Tell! If you write thrillers and you hear of a deal on another thriller, share it with fans that like thrillers. If you write about dogs and there’s a dog show coming up, tell the dog lovers out there. If you come upon a great deal, share that too. You’ll quickly become known as the author who’s “in the know” and folks may even come to depend on you for the inside scoop on upcoming events, nifty deals, or whatever you can share on a regular basis.
5. Invite others to share and tell. Suppose your book shows a sunset or a cool car on the cover; invite others to share their best sunset or cool car photos. You can even award a book to the coolest shared pic. Or share your main character’s favorite recipe for chocolate covered bacon or racoon chili and ask others to share their own favorite quirky recipes.
Whatever you choose, keep it at least loosely aligned with what you write, so when you do want to make a mention of your book, the message won’t come out of left field. If you write children’s books, for example, great martini cocktails probably isn’t a great fit (unless of course you’re appealing to the parents, in which case a buy-one-children’s-book/get a free martini may be just the ticket).See, you’re already the life of the party!Have a cool way you’ve engaged virtual crowds? Share it with us in your comments below!
Creator of Where Writers Win, Shari Stauch has been involved in publishing, marketing and PR for 30 years. She is also the principal author of the WWW blog, and speaks at conferences around the country. The Where Writers Win team’s newest collaboration is The Winner Circle – vetted book review directories, book clubs and other cultivated resources for emerging authors. (Graphic courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net)