Do You Know Where Your Readers Hang Out?

 

When I was a teenager, before cell phones and “Find Friends” apps, I knew I could find my friends at one of two places in town. I’d go there, connect, probably eat something as both places had great food, and we’d hang out, talk, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company.

As an author, do you know where your readers hang out?

It’s a virtual world so I’m guessing most of your readers hang out online somewhere. Do you know what sites, blogs, and social networks they prefer? What hashtags do they use to create a community of like-minded readers?

Becky Carroll in her book, The Hidden Power of Your Customers, writes, “I advocate that you spend time on a regular basis listening to your customers [for authors that translates to readers] at the locations where they ‘hang out.’ In many cases, that could be in online forums or chat rooms, on social networks, or elsewhere in the digital universe. . . If we can develop an understanding of where customer [aka reader] conversations are already taking place, we can gain valuable insight into critical locations to set up customer listening posts.”[1]

She makes some good points. As authors, we need to regularly be involved with our readers. One benefit is the discovery of new content ideas—we can discover what’s on their minds and write to their needs. Another benefit is a relationship. While we can’t go to their hang out locations and only sell our books with every post or Blog comment, we can develop relationships by adding value to their lives. We can give away our expertise, our vision, and our concern. And, if we can direct them to our social media locations (website, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), where we hang out, it gives us the opportunity of gathering email addresses for future, more specific, targeted “conversations.”

Another point to consider is that of “listening posts.” Our social media and reader connectivity starts with finding those important listening posts. As mentioned, they can be blogs, social media postings, hashtags, or websites where they can gather and post.

I’d like to challenge you to take a ½ hour a day for the next ninety days and find listening posts where your readers congregate. Once you’ve found them, get to know people by speaking into their posts. Encourage them, politely disagree, or simply affirm (by a comment, not by just pressing “Like” buttons) their post. With blog articles take the time to write comments. When it feels right, leave your website URL (some blogs ask for it automatically and post it along with your comments).

Second, as you find more listening posts and begin commenting think what you could offer free from your website in exchange for their email address. Download the Constant Comment or MailChimp apps and begin building an email list.

Third, begin regularly emailing those people who sign up. Remember to give them something of value and focus on their needs (what you’ve discovered as you’ve listened).

Let me know how it goes.

 

[1]Becky Carroll, The Hidden Power of Your Customers: 4 Keys to Growing Your Business Through Existing Customers, (New York, Wiley, 2011). E-Book edition

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