3 Keys for Producing Engaging Social Media Content

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

social media, authors, contentThe goal of good social media content is interaction that leads to loyalty and trust. And the keys to good content are not a mystery. Marketing studies have been conducted on how people buy, what kinds of social media content they respond to, and why.

To sell books on social media, you need to make a connection to your reader. There are three important keys that will help.

Key 1: Be a Good Listener

The first key to creating content that engages your fans is being a good listener. Do you know what your fans want to talk about? What interests them? What are they following, posting about, commenting on?

There are two basic parts of being a good listener: knowing your audience and knowing what they are talking about. Keep up to date on your target group’s lifestyle trends. Are the bulk of your readers under 25 years old? Over 50? What are the issues and trends that age group is talking about? Be aware of their hot button issues, what they’re passionate about, what angers them, and how they spend their money. Pinpoint topics of conversation that dominate groups they’re in. What are their favorite TV shows and movies? Every generation has its stories. Know them.

The Content Code

The best social media content is a blend of what you are interested in and what your readers are interested in. It looks like this:

authors, social media, content

The sweet spot of content starts in the intersection of those two circles. It’s not about you; it’s about you giving your fans what they want. The more you give them what they crave, the more they will interact. Social media content is not a stream of consciousness; it is strategic communication framed in friendliness and based on good listening. Yes, there are formulaic nuts and bolts, but there needs to be a human element or else the whole thing will go nowhere. Social media thrives in a culture of generosity, sharing and positivity. It’s about help, not hype. A good conversationalist listens first, talks second.

Key 2: Know the Psychology of Social Media – What Drives Connection?

Companies spend millions of dollars annually trying to find out exactly what motivates people to connect and buy. Fortunately, many of those studies are available for free in online blog posts and from organizations like Pew Internet, Marketo, Buffer, Nielsen, Statista, Social Times, and others. The following checklists will help you define the types of posts that perform well on social media. All are taken from research studies done in the last two years:

The 4 Most Popular Types of Social Media Posts: What Gets the Most Engagement?

1. Text with images. There is nothing that engages on social media like images. If done well, they are a magnet for the eye in a constant stream of fast-moving social media content. They say “stop and look” if even for a brief moment. In order to get someone to click, the image should amplify or tease the content, not just a cute picture of a baby or a cat.

2. Posts designed to get comments. There are a number of ways to get people talking. The first is to give them something interesting to talk about. Start a conversation. Leave the door open for a conclusion, post your opinion on something in a way that will make them want to add theirs. Ask a question.

3. Posts that have secondary promotion. A secondary promotion is one that refers to a book but doesn’t come right out and say, “Buy this book.” This could be a picture of you at a book signing or your book in the window of a bookstore. Or it could be a picture of a box of giveaways getting ready to be mailed after a big contest. Maybe a picture of a glass of champagne that you are using to toast the end of a book draft. You get the picture. It keeps you and your books “top of mind,” as we say in marketing, but isn’t asking for a direct sale.

4. Posts with links. Hook your fans into the story, include a good image, and then give them a link to click on. Links are necessary in a selling post, but when you are posting an interesting article you find online, include the link as well. It usually populates a nice image that will catch the eyeballs as well.

6 Things Your Fans Want from You on Social Media

What do your fans want from pages they follow on social media?

1. Giveaways/Discounts. Not everyone is searching for freebies all the time, but people like to be rewarded occasionally. They like a chance to win something, and they like discounts. You don’t need to overdo this, but your interactions need to occasionally include generosity.

2. Advice. People want to be advised. What’s the best kind of diaper to use? How do you break up with somebody? Social media has become the new encyclopedia and advice column rolled into one. People like answers, and they crave the input of trusted voices.

3. Warning. A sign of caring is to help people understand the dangers around them. This isn’t telling them which presidential candidate to vote for; it’s letting them know about scams and common dangers. I know—for some of you this is telling people who to vote for, but resist the urge to go there on social media. Save that for private conversations, unless you only want readers with your same political views.

4. Amusement. Laughing is good for your heart, your health and your soul. If you can make people smile, giggle and guffaw, they will be more likely to engage with your next piece of content. Just watch appropriateness here. You don’t want to make fun of people, unless it’s yourself.

5. Inspiration. We all love to hear stories of people who beat the odds, who overcame a difficult situation, or people who did something wonderful for someone else. The triumph of the human spirit is inspiring. This includes inspirational quotes.

6. Amazement. People, animals and nature can do some pretty surprising things. What makes you say “wow?” Is something so astonishing that you have to watch or look or read? Is it something we’ve never seen before? I find many of these types of articles on BuzzFeed and similar news sites.

6 Emotions to Connect With

This category answers the question about the emotional appeal of social media. What emotional connection makes people keep coming back? People want to feel:

1. Happy. Again, people love to laugh, smile, feel good about themselves, others, and their world.

2. Inspired. Inspiration is a key to perseverance. Let’s face it—the world can be a cruel place. Inspiration gives us confidence and courage.

3. Compassionate. Compassion is the capacity to care about people and things outside ourselves.

4. Informed. It’s not just FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that drives people to want information. Help people stay on top of news, cultural trends, what’s going on with your books, and much more.

5. Supported. People want to feel that they’re ok and that others identify with their lot in life. Be a friend to everyone, and look for posts to share that celebrate diversity and hope.

6. Connected. We humans have a driving need to connect with others. No man (or woman) wants to be an island.

Key 3: Every Post Needs a Call to Action

The last key has to do with the nuts and bolts of marketing: every post needs a call to action, whether implied or stated. The actions that followers take on social media are weighted by a platform’s algorithm. For instance, in Facebook’s algorithm a share is worth more than a comment is worth more than a like.

Your job in every post is to get your fans to take an action on a post so the algorithm will open the doors and let more fans see the post. That defines your engagement rate: the number of fans who take an action on a post against the number of fans you have. We want fans to like, click, comment or share. The higher the engagement rate means the more fans will see the post.

The three key elements to social media content will help you craft posts that connect with followers, build loyalty, and ultimately help sell your books without having to constantly post “Buy my book.”


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