How to Build Lasting Social Media Relationships and Avoid Spamming

As Writers we need to be wary of how we ‘share’ our work

Robert Turner
Feb 10, 2020 · 9 min read

As authors, we face huge pressure to promote ourselves online. Social media is the route of choice, but it’s filled with pitfalls for the uninitiated.

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by social media or if you’ve overstepped the mark, possibly been banned, and need to recover your social media street cred, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure your acceptance into the group.

I’m going to examine each of the following in a little more detail and if you’re able to tick all the boxes below, then you’ll soon be tweeting and posting like a social media superstar. A superstar everyone likes.

  • Adopting an altruistic approach
  • Personal interaction
  • Building relationships
  • Helping and adding value
  • When does something become spam?
  • Separating your business and personal life

Let’s start with relationships.


On building Relationships

Whilst many still think of the internet is an impersonal space that you can occupy and benefit from without the need for personal interaction, nothing could be further from the truth.

For many people, this online world offers comfort, support and friendship they’re unable to find in the real world. You’re dealing with anonymous entities, but entities that are still people.

They love, laugh, hurt and feel just like you do. Many are seeking friendship or simply someone to chat to and interact with. It’s human nature, our desire to be a part of something and not to feel isolated.

Ignore this and you’re asking for trouble. This is true across any social media platform. People want to interact with you, say hello, shoot the breeze, argue about random nonsense and swap pictures of their cats.

If you’re not going to play ball, you’re not going to become a part of the community and although you may have grasped the media end, clearly the social bit has eluded you. Here’s how you can change that.

Start socialising today. It’s as simple as posting a question, ask your group how their days been. Send a supportive comment to someone whose in need of it, share a personal event and ask others to comment.

Thank them for the responses and find individuals within your group you feel comfortable chatting to. You may even discover you enjoy it.

It’s all about reciprocity. The act of responding to you because you’ve responded. You’ve reached out across the ether and started the beginnings of a new friendship. You’ve connected on a human level. That’s what the group wants and that’s what the group demands. Be caring, be sharing, and be genuine.

This takes time. That goes without saying but consider this. If you’re using social media, although I prefer the term ‘asking’ social media to spread your work, then it’s time well spent. In the real world, you meet with people for a coffee, waste two hours socialising, and don’t spare it a second thought.

I have developed wonderful working relationships with people I have met on Twitter, Facebook, Quora, Substack, and many other platforms. Some I now consider really good friends and our discussions mostly revolve around personal matters, not writing. There’s a time and a place.


Being interactive

Do respond and respond frequently. Click the like button and repost things you find of interest or that match with your future advertising agenda. This is very important. When your turn comes around to promote your work, the shoe is going to be on the other foot and nothing is more demoralizing than sitting watching your posts accrue zero likes and no shares.

When you retweet or repost, leave a friendly and supportive comment. Not only does it mean a lot to the person who posted, but it also makes your profile more memorable. You’re not just a little number next to the heart but an actual face. Again, interaction based on building relationships.

It’s fine to adopt a stance on certain things. If you’re a Democrat, don’t run around supporting the Republicans, simply for the sake of an ‘in’ with a group. Find like-minded individuals. The internet is huge and diverse and there are people just like you out there.

Ensure your interactions are both genuine and thoughtful which leads us onto the most important aspect of social media.

Help first, ask later

Have you ever accepted a new friend on Facebook, only to have a request pop up a few minutes later asking you to like a page? Nothing annoys me more and my immediate reaction is to unfriend this person. That request sends a clear message.

I’ve reached out to you to use you. Click here to condone my behaviour. Simply say no. Social media is full of these individuals who possibly, out of either ignorance or simple selfishness, ignore the number one rule. To get, you need to first give. Help, and help freely.

If someone has just followed you, thank them with a personal note if you can. Keep it brief. If you already have a large following, offer to share material for them if they ever need it.

On Facebook check to see if the person has a ‘page’ and like and follow it. Do send a birthday wish when the reminders pop up. It’s simple to do and takes you a second.

If you come across work somewhere that has resonated with you, message the author and ask if they would mind if you share it with your followers. Obviously they don’t and will be thrilled. Your request, although unnecessary, is simply an extension of the comment principle. It’s no longer just a retweet or repost. It’s now about personal contact. The other person ‘sees’ you and will often return the favour and almost always follows you.

If groups reach out for help for administrative tasks, if you have the time, offer your services. Yes, it will take up a part of your busy day, but the sacrifice will be appreciated by the group and go a long way to boosting your trust rating and credibility within the group.

In short, try and add value to the community you’re engaging with in any way you can. By proving your worth to others and showing your willingness to help, they, in turn, will bend over backwards to help you.

Despite what people may think of the internet, as a whole, people remain altruistic and helpful by nature. It makes us feel better about ourselves and that will rub off on you. Give it a go.


Self Promotion and Spam

There’s a simple test you can apply here. If it’s information you’re sharing that is helpful to your group, go right ahead with certain caveats.

  • Does it feel spammy? If it does, it almost always is.
  • Have you already posted the same link in the last 12–24 hours? (Dealt with below)
  • If something about your post makes you cringe even slightly, don’t post it. Rewrite, redraft and reconsider.
  • Does it breach any rules the group may have? If yes, don’t post. Obviously, if you don’t know, find out.
  • Clear your posts beforehand with the head honcho(ess) if you have any doubts. It’s simply polite and shows consideration.

If your posts are purely self-promotional be clear about that. Don’t apologise, you have a right to spread your work, but be clear about it. Again, on the help principle, ask your group for a little support by reading and sharing the article or work you’ve posted. You’ll be amazed at the response.

Especially from those you’ve helped. See how it works.

How frequently should I post?

I have friends on Twitter who use automated services such as Pen Signal, popular with writers. My normal response is to mute their feed. That means I no longer see their tweets. Why?

It’s simply this. My feeds are filled with information and I don’t want to see the same automated tweet every day or second day on the same thing. That’s spam in my books.

Additionally, I can see the feed is automated. I have no desire to interact with a bot. It’s like the automated welcome messages I receive as a new follower. Spare me the effort, really. Do it personally or don’t bother. If I want automated I can chat to Siri.

The moral is beware of automated services that promise to save you time. Physical users engaging directly with a platform dislike them. They will mute or unfollow your posts and your account. Remember, it’s about personal interaction and building relationships.

The simple answer to how many times a day you should post is this. It doesn’t matter. On really busy platforms like Twitter, you can post the same tweet four times in 24 hours. I tend to rework and reword these before sending them out.

If an earlier tweet has gained traction, then I don’t repeat the topic but focus rather on promoting that tweet even more by interacting on the comments thread. Thank people who’ve retweeted. Thank those who’ve liked the tweet, they may then go ahead and share it.

On Quora and platforms like Reddit, the situation is slightly different and you can choose different spaces and subreddits to post into. Do this judiciously.

Only pick places that will welcome your contribution and check the rules before you post. Again, once only into a specific group. I’ve just shared a piece on Amber Heard into an entertainment space on Quora.

The result of that post has been 80 reads in three hours, but sometimes the posts will generate no traffic. You cannot control what the public like and dislike.

Your posts need to strike a chord with readers to gain traction. Posting a non-performing tweet or post over and over isn’t going to change the outcome.

Proceed with finesse in all your self-promotion. Don’t barge around dropping links like a bull in a china shop or you will be asked to remove your persona and it’s baggage from the group. Keep to the guidelines above and remember. Your goal is to help and add value. Can you do that? I’m certain you can.

Keeping it personal

If you already have a personal account on Facebook, open another page for your writing. On Twitter, create a second account. Do the same with all your social media.

Keep your business and personal life separate online. There’s an excellent reason for this and it relates again to spam.

Aunt Mildred, bless her soul, loves seeing pictures of the kids. She isn’t however, interested in your articles describing your sexual exploits as a teenager. In much the same way, your business acquaintances would rather not see photos of Aunt Mildred sans her teeth. See where I’m going with this?

Keep the two things separated. It’s far more professional and ensures that neither group feels spammed by irrelevant posts. Feel free to share the cat photos on both groups. Not sure what’s up with that, but you’ll get likes and shares from everyone.

I hope these tips have been helpful and insightful and make your life online that little bit more enjoyable. Reach out and engage. You won’t be sorry.

Here’s an additional resource for you if you’re starting out on Twitter. Simple steps and a list of Medium writers to follow on Twitter.

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