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.


  1. Edie, You've not only acknowledged the elephant in the room, you've talked about it and given good advice. I've periodically polled the followers of my blog and they are consistent in saying they don't want to read interviews and book reviews. Apparently what they want to read is my take on the writing life and stuff in general, so that's what they get. But it's not easy to turn down friends and fellow authors who want me to interview them or review their book. However, as you point out, our first loyalty has to be to our own readers. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Richard, it is the elephant in the room. None of us likes to turn down friends, but we're not doing anyone any favors when our audience won't read what we're offering. Thanks so much for chiming in! Blessings, E

  2. I do watch the stats. I've been surprised what connects with readers. I write a brillian piece on the state of the universe and it gets 10 hits. But my top ten lists every Friday get over 100. Just go with it, says I. I've also stopped promoting books just to get my free copy. No one reads those reviews, so I have to ask myself if it's worth lost readers just to get some free books.

    1. Ron, it's amazing what the stats show us. And just for the record, I love your Top Ten Lists! Blessings, E

  3. Edie, as someone who just recently jumped on the social media train this is very interesting and helpful. Thanks!

    1. Terri, I'm glad you found it helpful! Blessings, E

  4. Love this post, Edie! And you're right, it is a gift and you can only do so much. We've been given a responsibility to use our gifts in the best way possible. You have to do what's best for your ministry, not necessarily someone else's.

    1. Angie, you're so right - it truly is a gift. I've loved hanging out on Seriously Write today! Blessings, E

    2. Glad to have you, Edie. You always provide such useful information. :)


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