Three Ways to Increase Your Likability Quotient on Social Media

by Kristen Lamb

March 2014

The world is drowning in choices, and discoverability is nothing short of a nightmare, especially when it comes to books. Cheap and FREE! no longer hold the same influence and, in the face of limitless options, consumers (code for readers) will often purchase based off feelings. This is why likability is key for using social media effectively. Writers are no longer selling information or stories—we’re selling ourselves, which just confirms for me that writing really is the oldest profession in the world.

But that's another topic entirely.

Often, we judge a book by its cover author. If interacting with the author is a pleasant experience, we feel better about purchasing her books and even promoting the author/books to our own networks. Conversely, if an author is self-centered, self-promotes non-stop, spams everyone in sight, takes without giving and acts like an equine derriere, we’d sooner suck nails through a straw than part with $.99 that would benefit the jerk writer. I know of very gifted, genius authors who I will never buy from simply because I don’t like them. I don’t care for their inflated egos or the demeaning way they treat others. I’ll buy from a nicer, less “talented” writer any day, and likely I’m not alone.

But how can we be “liked”? No need to panic. I’m here to help.

Connecting with others is so simple we frequently make it harder than it needs to be. Being likable doesn't mean we need to be phony. But when building our social media platform, the ever-present question should always be:

Do people like me?

Likability is crucial. Why? We hang out with people we like. We promote them. We go out of our way for them. We want them to succeed. We pay retail.

Writing used to be a very private profession, but that’s no longer the case. The publishing industry is increasingly merging with the entertainment industry, and if entertainers hire image coaches to maintain a positive public perception, that’s a clue that public perception should be important to us as well.

We’ve all had that actor or sports figure we loved…until we met them or heard a story of them behaving badly. Back in my college years, I barely had any money, but there was a comedian I’d loved since I was a kid. I spent every penny I had for front-row seats and stood in line for two hours to meet him…and he was a complete jerk.

I never spent another dime on any of his stuff and no longer cared how funny he was. I didn’t like him anymore.

3 Ways to Instantly Increase Your Likability

Tip #1—Strive to Be Positive

Being positive doesn’t mean we have to be weird Stepford Pollyannas, but we need to make certain that we aren’t being a Debbie or Darryl Downer. People who rant, name-call, trash other people’s beliefs or complain non-stop are more likely to be unfriended than to sell a book.

We can have a faith, a belief, and even a political view without bashing others. We live in a wonderful world rich with variety, and if we only want to hang out with clones of ourselves, we’ll miss out on fantastic friendships.

This tip should be a no-brainer, but it is shocking to me how many writers I’ve had to hide from my feed or unfriend—even people who shared the same views—because if I wanted indigestion, I’d watch the news.

Most of us never mind if someone is having a bad day. Just make sure they aren’t all bad days. If life feels like it’s running you through a Vita-Mix, maybe call friends. I had one author I finally had to hide because it was non-stop grousing about being rejected, complaining about agents, about life and enough already!

Tip #2—Praise or Remain Silent

We all have people who’ve hurt us or offended us. It’s even human to get jealous, but that doesn’t mean it belongs on the Internet. Recently a Huffington blogger ended up in mad hot water for bashing the success of J.K. Rowling. Sure, most of us would love to be mega-authors, but slamming another’s success is not only unprofessional, it’s childish. Writing is a profession, not a playground.

This is one of the reasons I only review books I truly love. My brand is “social media expert for writers” and “author,” not “acclaimed critic” or “book reviewer.” Author and Reviewer are two different brands, and it’s a challenge to make them work together. If we dig in and do what a hard-core reviewer does (and should do) we risk alienating our peers. Writers catch enough flack from the world without throwing darts at one another, so if you really hate a book, don’t recommend it. Publicly tossing out one- and two-star flaming reviews is certainly an option, but it’s risky and can come with tough consequences.

Tip #3—Make Social Media About Others

When we rely on automation, we’re essentially telling people, “I have better things to do than interact with you on social media. You, however, have plenty of time to be on Twitter and Facebook, so click my link to hand me money and attention even though I can’t bother to say ‘hello.’”

When on Twitter or Facebook (or any social media platform), make it about others first. Like their baby pictures or share their funny memes or inspirational quotes. We do notice. Those names we see over and over, and when we see them? We feel good.

Getting on social media and blasting out non-stop ads, promotion and self-aggrandizing posts? Snoozeville. Besides, since when has talking about ourselves non-stop ever been a formula for relationship success anywhere? Wow, I just love hanging out with Joe who talks about himself all the time. Not.

Likability isn’t about flattering others or being witty and interesting every moment. In fact, social media is a lot less about being interesting and far more about being interested. Not only will you have far more success with social media, you’ll have to do far less of it because your interactions will be meaningful.

People won’t remember our book promotion, but they will remember if we made them smile, helped them laugh, or offered encouragement. Be the light we seek and we’ll find you. Better? We’ll enjoy telling others about you.

o look out for one another. Twitter is a great way to connect, make friends, cultivate fans, find experts, or have fun. But, we have a responsibility to be vested, authentic and responsible.


Kristen is the author of the new best-selling book, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World in addition to the #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media and Are You There Blog? It's Me, Writer. Kristen is the founder of the WANA movement, the CEO of WANA International and creator of WANATribe, the social network for creative professionals. She's a contributing humor blogger for SocialIn, a blog that reaches 2.5 million. She also blogs for The Huffington Post. Feel free to follow her on Twitter at @KristenLambTX and on Facebook.

Kristen LambComment