7 Ways Christian Writers Can Get Noticed on Social Media
“What viral marketing strategy can I use to promote my Christian book?” That’s the question a reader recently asked me.
My answer was simple. Any experienced writer knows that the idea of a “viral marketing strategy” is a complete myth. People who believe it exists are doomed to failure.
Think about it. If there were a “viral marketing strategy,” everyone would be doing it, and everyone would be rich.
“Viral” means something is circulated rapidly and widely. You cannot plan that. It is a random, spontaneous event, and no one can control the phenomena. You can only plant seeds and hope they grow rapidly.
But whether something goes viral is not dependent on the marketer—it is dependent on unknown thousands in a network who share the seed you planted.
As a book author or blogger, you are invisible. Your goal is to become visible to a particular group of people. Some say you only need to find 1,000 core followers. After that, they spread the news about your work to their own networks.
How can you get those 1,000 loyal followers? Social media is the most cost-effect way to do it. Here are ways Christian writers can develop a following who will read their books or regularly visit their blog.
Best Social Media Practices
1. Pick three different social media platforms. They can be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever you like. Don’t try to post everywhere. “Focus on three and let it be.”
2. Post to each platform each day. With advanced planning, you will only need to invest about 15 minutes per day to gain visibility.
If there is any magic in the process, it is consistency. Comic Woody Allen said, “80% of success in life is just showing up.” Consistency is the key. Jesus talked about excuse-makers in Luke 14:15-24, and he disapproved of them.
3. Maintain focus on your goal. When you post on social media, remember that your single-minded purpose is to drive traffic back to your book sales page or blog post. You never want to drive your site visitors to social media unless people will “Share” your content with their network.
Getting “Likes” is vanity (Ecclesiastes 6:2) that helps the social media platform sell advertising. Thus, “stranger” gets the benefit of your hard work when you drive traffic to social media sites.
4. Gain a reputation on social media for being a resource person. That is, your goal is to help others achieve their goals. You have written books or blog posts to inform or entertain. Regardless of your topic, you want to project your area of expertise into your social media exchanges. Be helpful. Become known as the “go-to” person on your topic area.
As Proverbs 22 (CEV) says:
A good reputation and respect
are worth much more
than silver and gold.
5. Don’t beg or boast. Many people beg for followers or beg them to take action of one kind or another. That ultimately drives people away. Yes, it is acceptable to ask them to sign-up for your newsletter or buy your book, but be professional about it.
Also, don’t boast on social media. I once knew a Christian newsman who seemed committed to self-promotion. He never missed an opportunity to tell readers how great he was. I thought it self-approbation lust (a character flaw) and considered it distasteful. Sure, let people know your credentials. There is nothing wrong with that in the proper context. But don’t abuse readers with boastfulness.
6. Don’t fear criticism. Today, everyone has an opinion about what you say. In our highly-stressed times, most people have two or three opinions on the same topic. We need to adopt a 2 Timothy 1:7 attitude. God gives us a sound mind so that we can operate within the confines of his love and power.
Does that mean we should ignore criticism? No, we should consider it (Proverbs 15:31-33). But we are under no obligation to accept it. Weigh the criticism. Adopt what is helpful and reject what is unhelpful. And always reject the words of mean-spirited or contentious people whether or not they claim to be Christians. A mean-spirited critic is not from God.
7. Don’t be self-righteous. Unfortunately, many Christians on social media think they are licensed by God to be rude in defense of the faith. Nothing is more demonic than getting into a public debate about doctrine. And there is nothing spiritual about getting into arguments with bigoted unbelievers.
Be kind. Too many Christians on social media have a reputation for being acerbic. No one likes a sharp-tongued person. The Bible teaches we should have a healing tongue, not a harsh one (Proverbs 12:18). The world needs more kindness, and you can be God’s agent for reconciliation amid our polarized society.
Put the Focus on Others
Should you try to “go viral” with your social media posts? No. There is no way you can predict what will be popular. However, if you do identify a certain type of post that gets more attention than others, you want to repeat success with similar posts.
Realize that most of your posts will not get much attention. Your goal is to build your good reputation, and traffic to your book or blog, over the long haul. Gaining a following takes time and effort. Don’t expect overnight success.
There is no point in seeking (or paying for) some magical strategy on social media. You gain visibility, book sales, and traffic to your site when you offer consistent, thoughtful information to people.
Don’t fall into the trap of sharing daily activities or your life story. Offer tidbits of substance. Place your focus on the needs of others. Help them to become better humans, better Christians, or better at the work they do or the tasks they enjoy.