Friday, September 5, 2014

The Do’s and Don’ts of Creating Authentic Online Relationships

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We’ve all been approached by that one person (or really that one person over and over in the form of another person). The one that is suddenly finding themselves with a book contract and no platform and no understanding of how to create one. And in creating one they often turn people off from wanting to help them.

In today’s world, authenticity is what we all want to see, especially as more and more relationships are first developed online. So I have a few do’s and don’ts that you will want to follow—or at least take into consideration as you start to venture into social media and build relationships.

DO start early. Don’t wait until the last minute to get in Twitter. Facebook. Pinterest. Blogging. All of these platforms take time to learn and take time to build an audience. You aren’t going to join one day and the next have a hundred subscribers. Sometimes that takes years. So start building it now. My philosophy has always been to start something now, because now is the time to learn it, but you’ll also have more fun at it, which makes you more authentic. Less spammy. And while you are learning, you are also building an audience.

Example: I’ve been blogging 5 years: audience of well over 800 followers. 300+ subscribers.
On Twitter for two years: 1,200+ followers.
On Pinterest for one year: 500+ followers.
On Goodreads for four years: 500+ friends.
On Facebook for four years: 450 personal friends, 120 page fans.
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This might seem like discouraging numbers for the amount of time I’ve put into them, but the point is, I have a platform I am building. Where as if I started to learn all five social forums at once I’d stink at all of them and turn a bunch of people off from being interested in what I am saying. Social media takes times to gain credibility. It doesn’t just happen.

So in the same vein: DON’T wait until the last minute. Now is the time to take advantage of no deadlines and slowly learn the platforms you want.

DO authenticity really, really well. Be genuine. Be kind. Be humble. Don’t tweet only your own blog. Share the good news from your favorite author. Reply to the blogger who just commented on your blog. Talk about life—but don’t use it as your therapy. Be funny. Share joy. Share struggles. Share spiritual observations. Start a dialogue. Learn what someone likes and doesn’t like. Don’t dominate the conversation with only you. You’re devoloping friendships.

DON’T go into social media looking to market OR only making friendships to someday ask for something in return. All of my social media friendships are friends I would jump at the chance to hang out with at the coffee shop talking about nothing and everything. Be you. This isn’t about how many books they can sell for you or whether they can give you a good book review. This is where the whole humble and authentic thing comes back around.

DO offer to do things for others—without the expectation of return. ‘Nuff said.

DON’T spam people you don’t know or barely have a relationship with to have them do something for you. Make contacts with people you already have relationships with. These people are more likely to jump in and give 100% to your request because they know you. Consider you a friend. You would do the same for them. That is the #1 important reason to start this social media stuff now because you don’t have the pressure of anything else, but being you and being authentic.

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It’s not complicated being who you are. A couple tips: social media is not the place to inundate people and clog their feed. Social media is the place to go above and beyond for other people, putting yourself second to all else. It’s the place to encourage. Support. Promote.

I have always loved social media. Why? Because I lived in a small town, didn’t know that many people and it was a platform I could be kind, encourage and be friends with people all across the nation—and in some cases, the world!

Don’t look at social media as something to be conquered. Look at it as something to be enjoyed. Just by being you. That takes all the pressure out of it.

What tips do you have for creating authentic social media relationships?

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She is a total country girl, now living in a metropolis of Denver, Colorado. 


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Casey, you are the perfect person to write this post. You are a great example of how to be real and generous, and I know your platform will only grow bigger because of it. (((hugs)))

Edie Melson said...

Casey, great tips! I'd add one to the list: Return the Favor. If someone mentions you, try to find a time to reciprocate, if someone follows you on Twitter or FB, unless there's a reason not to, follow them back. Thanks for this concise list!

Casey said...

Oh, thank you Sherrinda! That is very kind of you to say. I feel that because of I have started marketing myself now, I can create authentic relationships, instead of asking for favors right out of the gate. I love just being me online! :)

Casey said...

Thanks, Edie! That means a lot to me, coming from the social media guru herself! :) I would definitely agree with returning the favor. Always good to spread the love and cheer a bit further amongst those who have gone the extra mile for you!

Emily Ann Putzke said...

Theses are awesome tips, Casey!! I love this- "Don’t look at social media as something to be conquered. Look at it as something to be enjoyed. Just by being you. That takes all the pressure out of it." Thank you for sharing!!

Casey said...

Glad you were able to glean something from my post today, Emily! Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

Sarah Forgrave said...

This is an excellent post, Casey! Seriously excellent. And I agree with everyone else -- You are the queen of encouraging others!

I have to admit that just the thought of having to put myself out there (and *gulp* market a book someday) has me breaking out in hives. It's so much more fun when I can just hang out with friends on social media, y'know? But I love your reminder that with the right foundation, the next stage doesn't have to be such a big leap because I've paved the path with genuine friendships.

(By the way, can I just say I'm loving my Writers Alley email subscription? I love getting your posts right in my Inbox every morning. Perfect for a frazzled work-at-home mama who can't keep anything straight anymore!) :)

Casey said...

Oh, Sarah, tell me about it. I read a tweet last night that said if we worked 8 hours a day, 5 days a week on marketing alone, we would never run out of things to do. GULP. That is enough right there to keep me away from publication. LOL! It is incredibly daunting, but with the right foundation and friends to come alongside, it makes it much easier and more manageable.

So good to see you here today! LOVE your new headshots. Save a hug for me at ACFW. :)

Rachelle O'Neil said...

I needed this post, Casey. I've been putting more effort into developing my social media platform lately, but it's hard to find the right balance of focus and being personal and genuine. This reminds me to be real first, though. Thanks, Casey!

Courtney Ballinger said...

Great tips here! Being authentic is definitely number one. I'm trying to always be real. You're awesome at it, Casey! I enjoy your blog.

Casey said...

Hello Rachelle, I am so glad it was helpful to you! I truly believe that when you step back from the force that social media feels like and start enjoying it for just being yourself, it is SO much easier to conquer. Be encouraged!

Casey said...

Hello Courtney! Thank you for your kind comment. :) It is so much easier to just be yourself than anyone else. No one can do "you" better. :)

Krista Phillips said...

LOVE this!!! I'm OH SO THANKFUL I spent my unpublished years working on social media building!!!! It was seriously invaluable when my first book came out, and now!

I'll confess, my twitter feed is mostly me. Mostly because I don't get on often and my blog auto posts there in the mornings. I used to post there a LOT.... but I spend most of my time/efforts on Facebook now.

I also have 2 FB presences... my personal and my author page. I'm REALLY careful about my author profile, trying to make posts valuable and engaging and not spammy.

My personal profile is, well, personal, so I treat it a little differently (such as my occasional rants about Annabelle's... ahem... digestive issues....) :-) :-)

And oh goodness, I know those people you are talking about. I fear daily of becoming one... so even have to give myself lectures about asking favors of even my close friends! It's SO hard to know the line between asking for help and being annoying!!!!

Casey said...

Krista, you are spot on! I should have worked with you on this post. ;) I with you--it's hard to know when to ask and when not to, but the thing is, when you ARE good friends with people, we want to be asked if we can help. If we can't, we will say no. Which is why I always phrase things as: "I believe it never hurts to ask, so if you can't, there will be no hard feelings." Always makes me feel better when I make a request. :)

Chloe said...

Super motivating and helpful post, thanks Casey!! Pinned!

Kelly Blackwell @ Heres My Take On It said...

This was so encouraging and needed! Thank you for really underlining the importance of being authentic. Great tips. Thank you so much. I will be keeping this one!