Platform Building for Beginners: Where to Start?

Photo credit: the tartanpodcast on Flickr
So someone asked me recently if I had a post on platform building in general for beginners, and I sort of have a couple specific platform posts, but not a general one, so here we go. Platform building.

While I still consider myself someone who is learning and growing my platform as a debut author, I have learned quite a bit about growing your social media sites over the last many years, and so here are my top five tips.

  1. The earlier you start, the better. Ultimately, building a platform takes time—and a lot of it. No matter what platform you use, getting noticed, making connections and getting followers/subscribers is a long game. I requires a slow build up of steadily shared content and reaching out to other people.

    I started my Twitter and blog—which is where I have the biggest following—over four years ago. To give you an idea:

    May 2011: 447 monthly page views
    May 2012: 13,292 monthly page views
    May 2013: 31,544 monthly page views
    May 2014: 29,727 monthly page views (stats rise and fall!)
    May 2015: 33,536 monthly page views

    Biggest traffic month ever: October 2014 (43,347 page views in a month)

    So as you can see, it took two years to really get steady traffic going. It’s totally fine, of course, if you don’t have two years to get engagement going, but just don’t expect your follower count to explode overnight.

  2. Stick with platforms you actually enjoy. I’m all over the internet—this blog, Twitter, tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. But! You definitely don’t need to use all of those platforms if you don’t want to. Instead, I recommend you stick with platforms you actually enjoy using (though if you’re like me and you enjoy using all of them…more power to you)—your interactions will feel more natural and your followers will notice. Plus, keeping them updated won’t feel like such a chore.

  3. Connect with other people. Ultimately, the whole point of having a platform is getting to know other people and making connections. The more you reach out and engage, the more connected your followers will feel. Be yourself and show them you’re a person—not a sales robot.

  4. Consistency is everything. No matter what platform you use, the key is always always consistency. The only way to develop a steady buildup of followers is to continue creating and sharing content. Depending on what platform you use, “consistent” doesn’t necessarily have to mean every day—but the more you share and create, the more engagement you’ll get. That said…

  5. Don’t become a spambot. This is the biggest turnoff for readers and followers of every kind, on every platform. No one wants to see a feed where the only thing shared is about the person’s book. You want to market your books, obviously, but that should never be the bulk of the content you share. Share other people’s stuff, talk to people, create content about something other than your book that your followers enjoy, that way when you do talk about your book it won’t feel forced or overdone.

  6. BONUS: Cross-post! Assuming you have more than one social media account, the best way to take full advantage of your many social media sites is to cross-post the things you share. Granted, you want to do this carefully—and you don't want to cross-post everything. But if you have a blog post, share it on your Twitter and tumblr! Have a vlog? Put it on your blog and Facebook! Have an Instagram account? Share your photos on Twitter! This not only helps boost your output on all sites and get what you share out to more people, but it also helps people who follow you on one channel reach out to you on another. Win-win! 

What tips do you have for platform building?

Twitter-sized bite:
Not sure how to start building your social media platform? @Ava_Jae shares her top tips. (Click to tweet)

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