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A guest post by Julio Ricardo Varela of LatinoLit.

Most marketers get it wrong. The moment they create an online social media presence, they are quick to think that an audience has been eagerly waiting for their arrival. Post a few links, send a few invites, make a few friends, and their brand will grow instantly. No more work is needed, no more effort is required.

The problem is this: With so many people using social media each day, unless you can employ a unique way to gain attention online, no one will really care about your profile. After your family and friends join, the attraction stops, and you are left to wonder: How can I get a stronger and more authentic following?

This is where the hard work begins. I am convinced that the “niche community”---a small yet loyal network of followers that anticipate your every post, tweet, or blog post---is the more effective way to nurture your network, one person at a time.

When I started to post parts of Franky Benítez, my online novel, I had two central questions in mind:



  • How do I get people to follow it?


  • But more importantly, how do I get the right people to follow the novel?


That is when I decided to start tweeting about #LatinoLit and made a simple request: If you are a Latino author, writer, poet, agent, publisher, or book marketer, drop me a line on Twitter, and I will add you to a new #LatinoLit directory on my blog. The directory would be shouted out to others on Twitter (and eventually on Facebook), and our goal would be to share and promote the literary talents of so many online Latinos.

Within two weeks, we had grown the list to 50+, and it included award-winning authors, such as Esmeralda Santiago, Cristina García, and Luis Alberto Urrea. Each day, I make it a point to share these and several other authors with my social networks, but I also actively look for links related to the members of #LatinoLit.

I know what you are thinking: 50 isn’t a big number. You think that it’s all about numbers. I will argue the opposite: When you are online and actively participating on social media, quality always trumps quantity. Being an authentic and real profile that tries to share its network to others will lead to more cross-links and sharing of content.

So I ask you, who are the 50 most influential people in your industry or interest area? What would you to make sure they follow you? Would you just talk about yourself? No, because (and I don’t mean to be harsh) the online world doesn’t care if you are just streaming noise and not engaging other profiles.

Start small. Create a “niche community” and work that community with passion and consistency. That is the “secret” to social media and it surprises me that the majority of social media profiles don’t practice this very simple (although time-consuming) approach.

Go create your “niche community.” You won’t be disappointed.

A graduate of Harvard, Julio Ricardo Varela is an editorial director at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Company. When he isn’t busy developing content for schools, Julio blogs about social media and writes his novel at JulioRVarela.com.

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