I love social media. It has tremendous power to connect you to potential readers, other writers, and people in the publishing industry. A successful platform can jumpstart your writing career. However, so many writers ARE DOING IT WRONG.

In my title, I said “The Top Ten Ways.” Why? Because everyone is doing Top Ten or Top Twenty-Five lists, and I want to feel like I’m part of the IN crowd. Also, I’ve heard blog posts with numbered titles get more readers, so I’m experimenting.

But I lied. Really, there’s just ONE RULE, at least as far as I’m concerned.

1. STOP TRYING TO SELL ME YOUR CRAP

Yes, I know that’s what you’re there to do. But I don’t care.

I’m currently a member of three Facebook groups for writers. Rarely do I see a post that has any real content. Most posts are, “READ MY BLOG,” “BUY MY BOOK,” or some variant on those themes. I’ve completely given up on these groups because there is nothing but promotional posts clogging up the news feed.  (In fact, I’m about to leave those groups right now.)

Remember, just like the characters in our books, if the readers can’t connect to our characters, they won’t care what happens to him/her. Likewise, if I don’t know you as a writer, I won’t care about your stuff.

However, if you engage me as a person, I might care. Ask a question about the industry, about managing to write with a busy schedule, or the best book I read last year. Engage me as a reader, just like you should be doing in your writing. Then I’ll be happy to check out your blog, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll check out your book.

That’s how you sell your work.

On Twitter and Google+, I follow a few people who spam me every day with their book promotion. Usually I immediately unfollow, but these few folks provide other content I like, so I stick around. However, every time I see another tweet about their stupid book I seriously consider unfollowing them. If you want to keep your followers long term, STOP TRYING TO SELL ME YOUR CRAP. I don’t want to hear about it anymore. Just. Stop.

Again, engage me as a person with your witty comments or interesting links and I’ll stick around. Don’t give me a reason to unfollow you.

Social media is your friend, writers. Treat it like one.