Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Build a Strong Platform by Protecting Your Audience By Edie Melson

As writers, we're expected to develop a platform for selling our books. Among other things, that means building a strong social media presence. Today, author Edie Melson gives her tips on protecting our audience--our readers. -- Sandy

Edie: Did you know it’s your job to protect your social media audience?

I’m not talking about guarding them physically and/or from harmful (and often questionable) content. I’m referring to the job you have of guarding their time.

Your loyal followers have given you a precious gift. They are investing their precious time in reading your blog, your Facebook updates and your tweets.

Do not take this gift lightly.
Just this week I’ve received eleven requests from friends to help them promote their work and/or ministry. As a writer I understand the requests. We all have to market our work. And the best place to start that process is with the people we know. The hard part comes when we have to tell our friends no.

But the truth is this, in these circumstances my first loyalty must always be to my audience.

They have given me their trust. I cannot, in good conscience, betray that trust by promoting every thing I’m exposed to. EVEN if those things are good ones.

So how do I evaluate what I share with my audience? First, by knowing who my audience is and their preferences.

I do this by:

·         Paying attention to the comments and analytics on my blog.
·         Watching my social media and seeing which updates are being shared and which ones create conversations. 

Once I know what my audience wants and expects I use three things as a filter for anything I promote:

1.     Will this information irritate my audience? In other words is it, to them, nothing more than a commercial to be ignored?
2.     Will my audience be interested in this thing/person/ministry I’m introducing them to? I don’t mind broadening my audience’s perspective, but it does have to have at least a small bit of relevance that I can highlight in my promotion.
3.     Will the lives of those who follow me be enriched by the information I’m sharing?

There are times when I share things that don’t pass all three of these filters. I share some personal things on social media, like when I signed with an agent or got a new book contract. I even pass on things that just tickle my funny bone.

The important thing is to make sure these are the EXCEPTIONS in your regular updates, never the rule.

Truthfully I can’t promote everything I’d like to because I’d end up driving away my audience. I always try to explain, and most of the time I’m met with understanding.

I truly don’t mind being asked to share information through my social media channels. Heck it’s a great way for me to be valuable with my audience. But I still have to know when to say no. It’s a ticklish line to walk, but it’s a boundary all of us need to establish if we want to keep the respect of those who follow us.

What do you do to protect those who follow you? What bothers you, as the audience, when it comes to social media posts from others? What have you learned from experience not to do?


Edie Melson is an author, freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the
Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, and the Senior Editor for Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.