As a part of Getcovers marketing team, Michael helps indie creatives master their craft. In his free time, Michael likes playing his electric guitar, losing hours in video games, and reading unhealthy amounts of SF&F (and trying to move his body at least a little bit to not transform into a plant).
In days past, authors didn’t have many opportunities to engage with their readers. Writers were limited to letters and occasional meetups. Today though, you have an unprecedented opportunity to connect with your readers via social media and grow your audience. It’s amazing!
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as writing several posts a week and hoping for the best. You need to get creative and clever with your social media posts to provoke reader engagement. To help you out, we prepared the top 10 creative ways to engage with your readers on social media. But first.
What makes an engaging social media post?
There’s a difference between a social media post and a social media post that engages the audience (besides the interesting content). The latter one should have a call to action (CTA).
People are a lazy bunch and even more so on the Internet. Only a tiny minority will engage or do something atypical without a nudge or two from you.
So, we suggest including CTAs in every social media post created for audience engagement.
Now, what kind of CTAs can you use? Well, it depends on the context and type of the post.
Let’s divide all CTAs into two categories: explicit CTAs and implicit CTAs.
Explicit CTAs are very obvious and include:
- Questions directed at the audience. For example, “What’s your favorite 2022 book?”
- Asking for a favor. Asking to share/comment/like the post, go buy the book, leave a review, etc.
- Links to other resources. Links often don’t need additional CTAs as people are so used to them. Your readers will click on the link if the post itself is engaging.
Usually, the best place for explicit CTAs is either at the end of the post, near the most engaging part of the post, or at the top of the post. Either way, you need to emphasize the CTA with text formatting and/or emoji use so it attracts attention.
Implicit CTAs are hidden behind the text and include
- Controversial or hot-topic content that will likely cause a reaction without any apparent CTAs.
- Deeply personal content that provokes an emotional reaction or urges people to share their stories that resonate with the post.
- Something very important or pleasant to your audience
Such posts are CTA’s in and of themselves, and you don’t need another nudge to provoke a response from the audience. However, you can still include an additional CTA. They work best only when you’re sincere.
Keeping in mind the importance of CTAs, let’s take a look at the top 10 ways to engage with your readers on social media.
Best ways to engage with readers on social media
Here is how you can drive more people to your social media and boost the author brand.
Host an AMA (ask me anything) event
Curiosity is a powerful force, so use it and host an AMA event. During this event, your followers can ask you any personal or work-related questions, which is an amazing opportunity for viral social media content.
For example, on Reddit, AMA posts are ubiquitous and often gather hundreds of curious people willing to learn more about the creator.
For the best effect, you should inform your followers about the upcoming AMA event across all your channels at least a few times. Also, pick a time and date that will be the most convenient for the majority of your followers.
Share your book excerpts
Many authors share their upcoming book excerpts on social media. The excerpts interest the readers in an upcoming book and engage the audience. So, feel free to post the most intriguing or immersive parts of your stories on your social media.
Don’t forget to ask the readers how they feel about the excerpt, what they like the most, or did they experience something similar in their life. In other words, include some form of a CTA in your book excerpts.
Run social media takeover with another author
A social media takeover is when you grant posting privileges to a person of interest, like an influencer, expert, or professional. SM takeover allows you to share audiences and interest new people in your content.
There are many ways to run a takeover, but perhaps the best one is to allow the other person to be themselves and post as if your page has always been theirs. For the general strategy of SM takeover, check out this article.
Host a creative challenge
Creative challenges are great: Not only do they boost your social media engagement, but they also give your audience the chance to flex their skills, which the majority of people love to do.
For example, you can organize a fanart or fanfic challenge, but make it interesting — provide concrete rules and limitations, so people are forced to push their creativity. Besides, it will make it easier to judge the works and award winners.
It’s important, though, to prove to your audience that the challenge is worth their effort. The best way is to provide a good price, such as a unique edition of the book, memorabilia that holds special sentimental value, a virtual meeting with you, super discount, author merch, etc.
As people start posting their works, engage with, comment, and praise them. Show that each and every work won’t go unnoticed.
Conduct A/B testing of the book cover
It’s simple: design two book covers with minor or major differences and ask your social media followers which one they like better. You can either organize the A/B testing of a book cover as a poll or ask the audience to leave comments.
As a result, you will kill two birds with a single stone: Engage your audience and determine which book cover works best.
Book cover design by Getcovers
Ask your readers for advice
People love giving advice (unsolicited or not), so why not use it to your benefit?
For example, you can post early drafts of your book cover design and ask what your followers would change or improve. You can also ask about book plotting, character development, and design. Questions about their ways of overcoming writer’s block, relaxing after a tough week, or finding inspiration in mundane things can be effective too. All in all, the only limit is your imagination
Afterward, you can go a step further and use their advice (after asking them, of course) to create social media posts. For example, you can write the post “top advice on writer’s block from my readers” or create a little article, “How my readers helped me finish my book.”
Your readers will feel proud, and you will have more engaging posts.
Share your personal top lists
There’s something infectious about top lists we can’t resist. Years go by, and such lists still rate first in Google and Youtube.
Top lists are shareable, easy to write, easy to read, and fun to engage with and discuss. Also, you can use top lists to post links to your books and blog.
Create your own top lists about your books, writing career, or thematically relevant things, and ask your readers to write their tops. Then you can engage with their top lists and further boost your social media engagement.
Share your readers’ posts
Share and comment on readers’ reviews, laugh at their book memes, complement their fanart, and answer their questions. Show that you pay attention to your readers and care about their thoughts and art, and, in the future, they will be more likely to engage with your posts. And other people will see that you care and pay attention to your fans and will be more willing to post about your work as well.
You can search social media using your tags or keywords from your books to find and engage with a new audience. A single comment from you can mean the world for your reader.
Polls are a somewhat underrated SMM tool: Not many authors realize their benefits and use polls to their full extent.
- Boost your Facebook page’s engagement
- Help you beat the newsfeed algorithm without ads
- Foster a strong sense of community around your brand
- Help you determine the problems of your audience, what you should create next, and their true sentiments about your brand
And besides, people are more likely to engage with a poll as it’s quick and easy action — a single click and a user can see the distribution of other people’s opinions.
When it comes to polls, you, as an indie author, have a lot of options. You can organize polls concerning
- Favorite book characters
- Most unexpected plot twists of your books,
- Most-hated literature tropes
- Topics of future posts
- Writing and book cover design
- Preferred book formats
Then, you can use the poll results to create posts that discuss the results of the poll or simply invest your time and money in things your readers will like more.
Create series of posts
If, throughout your experiments with social media posts, you’ll notice a particular content gaining traction, turn it into recurring series. Create a plan of how you can examine and discuss the theme more and start posting on a monthly or weekly basis.
Another benefit of the post series is that people will get accustomed to them and will start waiting for the posts and engaging with them more actively.
Don’t forget to create a hashtag and consistent visual branding for your recurring post to improve their visibility.
Social media engagement is a tricky thing as people are slow to act online. But, by writing content that is interesting to your audience and including effective CTAs, you’ll be able to breach the wall of inaction and cultivate the audience that is happy to engage and spread the word about your books across social media.
How do you engage with your readers? Leave a comment below and share your tips!