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Monday, June 06, 2011

Managing the Personal Connection with Readers

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Sometimes writers feel overwhelmed as we try to respond to every comment on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, our Blogs, and other social media. In addition to these "public" forums we have private messages flowing through these platforms as well as emails from our websites and blogs. We don't want to neglect anyone or appear unapproachable, but we have to find a way to manage it at a level that is realistic without raising our stress levels.

Here are a few tips I've learned that might be helpful to you:

1) When responding to comments, group people together who may have left a similar comment where the same response would be appropriate to all of them. List their names if you want and then answer their question or thank them for what they've taken the time to say.

2) Reserve a more personal direct response for those questions or comments that may be more unique. 

3) It's okay to thank everyone on a thread with one comment. There have been times I've had as many as 30-40 comments on Facebook. I couldn't personally respond to all of them and when my birthday rolled around I had over 250 birthday wishes. I appreciate each and everyone, but it is impossible for me to respond on a personal level, and I think readers and friends realize that. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to do this. 

4) Feel free to use the "Like" button on FB. It's a wonderful feature! That way people know you saw their comment, took note of it, and you like it. You don't have to stop and comment back on every comment unless you want to and have time to do this.

5) If you want to take your time and really respond to an email on a personal level, send them a quick email letting them know you got their email, but you want to respond in-depth when you have more time. That way they aren't left wondering if you got it or it went into spam, if you're going to respond, etc. I do this with prayer requests in particular. Sometimes I need time to think about the prayer request and pray about it before I respond. I want to make sure I get direction from God on what I'm going to say or what Scripture He might want me to share. 

Personal Book Signings, Workshops and Conferences
If you'd really like to connect with an author whether you're a reader or a fellow author, if that individual is making an effort to be anywhere near your town, this is the perfect opportunity to connect with them on a personal level. There is still value in face-to-face relationships. It may take a little extra time out of both your schedules, and some gas money in driving, but you never know what God might have in store for you both. I've made some awesome friends with readers and other authors that I would have never felt that same connection through online Social Media. You can't put a price tag on those friendships.

What are some ways you're managing you're growing online platform? And please, share some of your personal face-to-face connections as well.


Thanks for sharing this post. I, too am feeling this way at times. One of the ways I am trying to cut down on double work is to limit the messages that actually come to my email address and answer them on the individual sites daily. I want to make new friends and would love to meet some other authors that are in my area or that come to my area. I'm from SC.

All good ideas! I occasionally drown in the social media sea - feeling a strong obligation to respond, post, comment, respond and on and on. I think just doing minimal but effective contacts is helpful.

Blogging truly is an artform. Good to have some wisdom ...

Good ideas, Jennifer--and a good dose of anti-guilt therapy. =) The "like" feature is one of my faves already and I can only imagine how much more so when my number of fb friends increases. Hope you are having a great day!

Deborah, We aren't far from each other. I live in NC and often come to SC to give workshops, book signings, and attend writer's conferences.

One thing that has helped with email is to subscribe to email loops using the digest version.

Jan and Sassay Granny, It's hard to strike a good balance, but we have to for our health. Also, I think the balance will be at different levels for people at various phases of their life.

Michelle, We all need some anti-guilt therapy every once in a while. Yes, the "Like" button is a wonderful feature.