Writing: How To Build A Targeted Audience Using Social Media

15 Tips To Expand Your Content’s Audience Cost Effectively

Social media provides writers, including book authors, journalists, bloggers and others, with an opportunity to build a targeted audience for their content.

With the increased use of content marketing, don’t underestimate the usefulness of these methods for connecting with prospects for business oriented lead generation and other forms of revenue.

Here are five ways writers can build a targeted audience for their content using social media. (Here’s a full list of what book publishers are doing on social media platforms with links included!) To enhance the impact of each of these recommendations, don’t forget to include a contextually relevant call-to-action and easy-to-use social sharing buttons.

Tease potential readers with an excerpt. Publishers have done this for years by including the first chapter of the author’s next novel in the current book. Here’s how writers use social media to accomplish this.

  1. Offer one chapter or excerpt for free download. This approach isn’t limited to novelists. Expensive research reports also allow potential buyers to get a taste before they pay.
  2. Create a standalone excerpt. Authors and writers have done this for years. They take a portion of their book and create an article for publication either online or offline.
  3. Publish shorter pieces in the form of blog posts. Many bloggers use short posts to get their audience excited about a paid content product. Problogger has a series of articles that are part of a paid product. Remember some portion of your audience will pay for the convenience of a ready-to-go product.
  4. Pay as you go. Authors let prospective readers get their first chapter for a low price, generally $0.99. Some bloggers let followers buy what they want. Gala Darling’s eight chapter book can be purchased in whole or by the chapter.
  5. Write guest blog posts. Guest posts are a great way to build your audience by exposing a related blog’s readers to your content. Don’t forget to stick around to engage in the conversation via comments for at least the day of publication.

Offer your content for free for a limited period of time. Nothing beats free especially on social media platforms. It’s useful for building an audience.

  1. Give away a free version of the full book or report for a short time period. While free builds readership, it isn’t an approach everyone will want to use. Notable for doing this are Chris Anderson and Seth Godin.
  2. Test your content product with a free version. Many knitters who self-publish on Ravelry, a social media knitting community, will give away their pattern for free to build an audience and check desirability. Once they’ve test marketed the pattern, they’ll enhance the free version and charge a fee for it.
  3. Create a special free ebook to engage your audience. This option differs because the ebook remains free. Bloggers and B2B marketers offer these content products to generate leads for other paid products.

Introduce potential readers to the writer. This option is the classic author interview series. It’s useful for attracting media notice and plug your writing to a broader media audience. Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert engage with a variety of authors looking to reach their market.

  1. Interview the writer via text. This can be transcribed from a conversation or can be handled entirely by email.
  2. Engage the author in real time via video. Use video to conduct your interview. It can be edited and posted for easy sharing and time shifting.

Share your knowledge with a broader audience. Offer bite size chunks of content related to your book or content product on one or more social media platforms. Give away tidbits of useful content your audience wants and can forward to their colleagues.

  1. Slice and dice your content into chunks to distribute it via social media platforms. Here’s where creativity counts when it comes to determining what to share. It can be paragraphs on Facebook, tidbits on Twitter such as quotes, or short how-tos.
  2. Write blog posts related to your book or other content product. Writers and businesses can use this approach to test information and broaden their reach.
  3. Share content on relevant social media platforms. This works well for content that’s instructional and has a visual component. Think Tumblr, Pinterest and Flickr.

Engage with your potential audience. Think of this as the social media version of a book reading, the classic way to entice prospects to test your written product while getting to experience the writer behind the book.

  1. Participate in a Twitter chat. This is becoming a more common approach to engaging with readymade audiences. Erik Qualman did this for his new book.
  2. Hold an AMA (aka Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. If you’re willing to talk about anything, then give this specialized social media engagement a whirl. BUT understand the rules or you’ll find yourself in trouble like Woody Harrelson did with his movie, Ramparts.

Whether you use one or all of these tips to cost effectively build the audience for your content, you must be willing to engage with your readers on social media platforms and be transparent in your actions.

Are there any other suggestions you have for promoting your content using social media? If so, what do you suggest?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marfis75/2459533929/

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