• SJ Paquette

Welcome to the listening tour

Many years ago I had the unique pleasure of working on a project to develop a social media strategy for a company I worked for. Not to age myself, but at the time social media wasn't as widely used in Corporate America as it is today. And the strategy I was helping to develop would become the first-ever social strategy that the company would employ. It was a cool project!

When I started that project I knew very little about social media and the true power it possesses. I don't even think I had my own Facebook account at the time! To help educate myself, I attended a social media conference and was lucky enough to meet MC Hammer! Who knew he was a social guru!!

One of the first things I learned was to kick off any brand-building social media strategy, you first need to listen. And when it comes to social media, listening means the same thing as reading and learning. So that's just what I did.

For me specifically it meant I needed to listen to my target audience, which is fictional readers. What are they saying about other people's books that are similar to mine? What hashtags are trending so I can get on those conversational bandwagons? Who can I follow? I also joined readers groups like the Goodreads community. (Great way to listen to what readers are saying about the books they read)

I also needed to listen to industry experts and understand the publishing world, (I'm still learning this part). I started following various authors, publishing gurus and I attended webinars to learn more. And finally, I wanted to listen to other authors and understand their struggles. What obstacles were they overcoming and what could I learn from them.

So when does the listening tour end? Well, you should always be in listening mode, but when you start commenting on other people's content, when you start tagging strangers and they tag you, and when you are pulling readers to your content who are then commenting and interacting with your content, that's when you have officially started engaging, which is the next step to social media success.

In today's digitally connected world, its extremely difficult to build a brand without social media. And depending on your product, not having a social media presence could be a strike against you. As an Indie Author, social media is critical to my success. The goal for any author employing social media is to build a social media community around you and your stories.

To learn more about social media engagement, here's a great article by Kallen Media titled: Social Media Engagement: 7 Steps to Better Media.

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