As authors trying to use social media effectively, one of the biggest factors you strive for is engagement. You want the people who view your social media posts to respond in some way. That might be:

  • liking and commenting
  • sharing your posts
  • visiting your website
  • signing up for your mailing list and downloading your freebie
  • buying your books

And while much of the above is measurable, there’s an awful lot of hidden responses going on that you won’t be aware of. In fact, there are three types of social media users who value your content – maybe even love your books – but who don’t make themselves known to you online. There’s very little chance that you’ll be able to measure their responses, but that doesn’t mean that their actions don’t matter.

Here are the three hidden social media users who are on your side:

The Lurker

The word ‘lurker’ has rather a negative connotation; it paints a picture of some dastardly fiend watching us from the shadows. Blimey.

But most lurkers are perfectly nice people who don’t comment or like because:

  • they’ve got into the habit of just scrolling and reading, scrolling and reading
  • they have busy lives and only dip into social media on a speedy and irregular basis
  • they feel that they don’t have anything to add
  • they aren’t confident enough to express an opinion

They may absolutely adore your content, squealing (offline) in excitement when they see you have a new book out, and racing to get their copy. They may take the advice you offer on-board and find it incredibly useful. They may see you as a star, an influencer, or even a friend.

They just do all of that in the background, without a comment or like, because that’s how they use social media.

The Sharer

The sharer may share your social media posts on LinkedIn or Instagram, but they’re more likely to share your content in places where you can’t see the share or in ways that aren’t traceable by you.


We all like a good retweet and what’s more, you can tell when someone has retweeted one of your posts. Similarly, you can tell when someone directly shares your posts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and so on.

But when someone shares a link to your blog post, landing page, website, book, or social media account and doesn’t tag you in that share, you’ll probably never find out what they’ve done.

Alternatively, they may share your content on a social media channel that you don’t use. You’ll have no idea if anyone’s talking about you on that other social media channel, unless they tell you directly.

By message or email

Whether it’s:

  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Discord

or something similar, people are increasingly communicating with friends, family, and work colleagues by messaging app. What that means for you as an author is that your name, your book, and links to your content could easily be shared there without your knowledge.

Equally, Great Aunt Winifred could email the link to your book or blog post to her friend Maud, and you’d never be any the wiser.

Neither of these communication channels can be measured by you unless you’re copied in or tagged.


What about the person who read your Tweet or Instagram post and thought, “This is such good stuff, I have to tell Doug. He’ll really appreciate a book like that/laugh at that meme/be inspired by this post to finish writing that space opera family saga he started when he was 12 years old”.

Honestly, this really does happen. Someone somewhere will actually, in-person, with words and their voice, tell another human being, or two, how good your book/social media post/expertise really is.

The Too-Scared-To-Review-er

You might think that it’s easy to leave a book review and regularly ask your social media audience to do so. But not everyone who reads your book – love it or the other – will tell you what they thought of it on Amazon, Goodreads, a blog post, or on social media. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t enjoy reading it and that they haven’t told people how good it is in other ways.

These readers may lack the confidence to post a review, or maybe they bought their copy in a real-life bookshop and aren’t familiar with Amazon. However, they may also be the readers who will keep buying your books, following you on social media, and opening your emails. They just don’t do reviews.


Staying active on social media as an author can sometimes feel like shouting into a crowded, noisy street where your voice seems to go unheard and you are jostled about by the passers-by who refuse to meet your eye or, worse still, don’t even notice you. That’s why measuring the responses you receive – whether comments, mailing list sign-ups, or website traffic – is so important. But not every response is measurable.

If you begin to doubt the usefulness of your author online presence, remember that not everyone is as confident, well-practiced, or savvy on social media as you are. For some readers, messaging apps or email will be their preferred method of sharing. Or they’d rather talk to a real person to share their enthusiasm for your writing.

The value of consistently posting on social media is to reach as many relevant readers as possible, build a relationship with them, and give them a reason to keep coming back.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash.

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