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Writer and games critic. As seen at the Daily Dot, Waypoint, Kill Screen, Bitch Media, and ZEAL.

You can write without a following, but you can't thrive without one. That's just common knowledge on the Internet. Your online presence on Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, and other social media sites can make your articles soar. So if you want to become a popular writer, then you need to make sure you have a network to engage with.

Don't have one and want to know how to get one? No worries. Here's our five-step plan to go from a new social media user to a fan-favorite.

Step One -- Choose Two Platforms to Focus On

Before you get started, choose two sites that you'd like to work with. These will be your main social networking hubs. To make things simple, we recommend choosing from the following list:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

Why only two? Social media management takes some hard work. With three, four, or five accounts dedicated to your writing, it's easy to spread yourself thin and have a limited online presence on each account.

Which is bad. If you want a following online, it's important to actively focus on maintaining an active presence on social media. Remember: it's better to start slow and ramp up than start six accounts and only touch three of them.

Step Two -- Tell Your Friends and Family

The best way to get a head start on your social media following is to announce that you've started one for your writing. Go to your personal social media accounts (i.e. Facebook) and start sharing your new pages. If you have friends or family that are interested in your writing, they'll start following.

These early followers are important for a wide variety of reasons. First off, they're going to be your main exposure base for awhile: friends and family are likely to share your work to their own followings. More importantly, growing your follower count builds momentum. Newcomers are more likely to follow an account with 35 followers over 10. Having a niche, but active, presence can make a huge difference between growing that count or stagnating it.

Step Three -- Post Articles That Your Followers Will Like

It's the most obvious step -- post your work! Your followers are there to check out your writing, which means you should share the articles that you create.

However, there's a catch to this one. It's important to post articles at appropriate times. There's a much wider chance that you'll catch readers towards afternoon hours than morning or late night hours; more readers are on during the day, and more people are likely to read and respond to your posts after school or work.

So as a general rule of thumb, 1PM through 5PM local time are great target times for getting the most exposure for your work. And don't share the same article more than twice -- and if you do share an article multiple times, space out your posts significantly. Otherwise, your followers will feel like they're being spammed

Step Four -- Engage With Your Followers and the Community

Now that you've got a social media rhythm going, it's time to start becoming an active community member.

Why? Well, you can't build a following by just dumping your articles on Twitter. The best way to grow your social media network is to engage with people in the broader community around you. That means replying to followers' comments, chatting with people you follow, or getting involved in online discussions about gaming.

The more active you are in the gaming community, the more likely you are to maintain and grow your social media network. And as a rule of thumb, users want to follow someone funny, insightful, or interesting: if you're good at being one of those three, then use it!

Step Five -- Let It Grow

No writer becomes an overnight sensation. Like tending a garden, online followings grow gradually over time. That means you have to pour in the hard work and effort to consistently engage with your following. As long as you keep on logging in, sharing your work, and remain an active member of the community, people will notice.

So don't expect to balloon up to 1,000 followers in a week. But give yourself the time and space you need, and you'll surely grow with some patience.

What's Next: [Jay to add here!]

Exercise: Find 5 social media accounts that post content you enjoy, and follow those accounts. Check out their page. How does the creator or brand engage with their followers? Are they witty or friendly? What makes their page pop out? Make a list of things you enjoy about these users' pages, and think about ways you can bring their social media strategies over to your own accounts.

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