I try not to dwell too much on some of the behavior I see on social media. The chances are that I don’t know the whole story or I’m being cynical about human behavior or both or neither. But one facet of social media I keep thinking about is engagement, specifically on Twitter. I think about how to improve social media interaction. And when I mention social media I mainly mean Twitter because that’s my preferred platform.
Lately I keep seeing tweets from others who feel like they aren’t receiving the amount of engagement they’d like to have. This perceived or factual low engagement may come as no surprise considering all of the changes occurring on Twitter. The algorithm, not to mention the platform itself, constantly seems to be in a state of flux. But I didn’t write this post to complain about the changes on Twitter, including how it often hides replies.
Regardless of the mess that is Twitter, there are other factors at play that affect engagement. And all of these elements I discuss below are things that one can control to some degree. Though I have the book reviewer community in mind for this discussion, these tips are broadly applicable outside of the book review sphere. Last year I mentioned some of these action items when I posted about how to make book blog friends and grow your audience. I expand upon them in this discussion about how to improve social media interaction. Although the title of this post implies a focus on social media, I also share tips on how to improve blog interaction.
Interact on Twitter
It may seem obvious that one should interact on Twitter. But it’s not something everyone does. One of the first things I do when I see someone tweet about the lack of interaction they have is check whether they interact with others. Most of the time I find that they’re not responding to others’ tweets or sharing others’ posts.
I feel that most people join social media to generally find their community for whatever topic. If you want to feel like you’re a part of that community, then you have to interject yourself into it. If you sit on the sidelines, you won’t get noticed.
Additionally, because it takes time and effort to interact, people will often interact with those who do the same. In the business world it’s called a “return on investment.” If someone takes the time to respond to or share your tweets, but over time they see that you don’t reciprocate those actions, then don’t be surprised if they stop making an effort to engage with you. In other words, people like to interact with others who will interact with them. When you reciprocate an interaction, it’s a return on the other person’s time investment on you.
Plainly, start responding to people’s tweets. If you show an interest in what they have to say, there’s a good chance they’ll pay more attention to what you have to say as well.
Moreover, the more you interact with someone, the more often they’ll show up in your “For You” feed on Twitter. At least, this is something I’ve consistently noticed. (Pro tip: you can also make a public or private list of people whose posts you don’t want to miss.)
Share Others’ Posts
Another great way to interact is to share others’ posts. A simple retweet could be the first step to a long-term engagement “dialogue” with a fellow book reviewer. But don’t stop at just one retweet. If you like their content, continue to retweet whenever they have a new blog post to share. Again, if you respond to someone’s tweets and retweet their content, then they’ll probably reciprocate the time and interest you invested in them. You can also share a blogger’s post directly from their website in a tweet of your own. Just make sure to tag them in the tweet so they know you like that particular post!
However, don’t expect a 100% reciprocity rate. That’s unrealistic. The book review community is pretty good at understanding that everyone has lives outside of Twitter. They understand that we can’t spend every waking moment boosting others. Just do what you can in the time you set aside for this bookish hobby.
If you also want to improve blog engagement, or would rather focus on bettering your blog statistics rather than Twitter interactions, then start blog hopping. I will be the first to admit that I was skeptical that blog hopping could improve blog engagement. However, I started to make more of an effort to blog hop at the beginning of 2023. To my surprise I started to see an increase in the number of likes and comments I received. Thinking back on it, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. This goes back to that “return on investment” notion. That is, because reading and replying to others’ posts takes time, bloggers will likely focus their own energy on those who reciprocate blog interaction.
In a perfect world this wouldn’t matter. But I’m certainly guilty of it. I appreciate when someone consistently takes the time to read my posts and comment on them. So I’ll try to consistently return the favor. I still try to interact as much as I can with others, but I’m only one person. I can’t be everywhere all at once and neither can your fellow bloggers, most of whom work full time, whether it’s paid or unpaid (e.g., managing a household) labor.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO), as defined by John at Tales from Absurdia, “is the practice of optimising your content to make it easier for search engines to index your blog in their search results.” To learn more about it, read John’s post as well as Jo Linsdell’s post.
Much like blog hopping, I didn’t make much of an effort with SEO until the last quarter of 2022. However, once I did I started to see more views on posts that I didn’t share much or at all on Twitter. While I found that SEO doesn’t typically generate visual engagement (i.e., likes or comments), it does improve blog viewership, which is visible in your blog statistics. If you don’t care as much about likes and comments, but want to improve visibility, then SEO is a must. It is slow to start because search engines have to start indexing your posts. But once it does, especially for books that aren’t discussed as much, you’ll see a difference in where your viewership comes from (i.e., social media vs. search engines).
There is definitely some overlap between each of these action items. You can do one or you can do them all. While the amount of time and effort put into these suggestions likely won’t return an equal amount of engagement, remember that many of us start out in the book community not knowing anyone. It will take time to build up a niche within the bookish community who you jive with and will happily interact with your content. Progress isn’t always linear. Some days you’ll receive more engagement with others. But if you’re consistent with the above tips, then I’m confident you’ll see an improvement in the amount of interaction you receive.
These are all things I did and continue to do. The amount of engagement I see now didn’t ratchet up over night. It took time and effort and consistency interacting with other bloggers whose content I appreciate and who I felt I could connect with.
However, I don’t know everything. So if anyone has other tips on how to improve social media engagement, leave me a comment so I and others can learn.