The Long GameIf you are working towards being a writer or author then you have to look at it as a long road to success. Chances of being one of the lucky ones who strike it big on your first effort are about as good as winning the Powerball Lottery. Most of the authors I have spoken to and are making enough money to support themselves without any other income are marketing geniuses who also have a ton of books out. The vast majority of them did not reach the point where they were making enough money to support themselves until they had 6 or 7 or maybe even 15+ novels out. Think of how long it takes to write, edit, and put together everything else it takes to build a quality novel. It could be years before you will see a significant financial return for your work.
I know that doesn't have anything to do with social media, but it is important to follow those who have done this before you. You can learn a lot from them. They have been there, done that, and have a T-shirt so old that it has holes in it. I can't tell you how much I have learned from other authors on Twitter, Facebook, G+, etc.. People like Lindsay Buroker, Hugh Howey, Joanna Penn, and so on... or anyone else willing to share information is someone you should attach yourself to. I particularly like Lindsay Buroker and Hugh Howey. Lindsay routinely will share information on what she is doing from a marketing standpoint and if it works for her. That doesn't guarantee it will work for you, but it is a starting point. Hugh Howey along with another author known as "The Data Guy" started the Author Earnings project that has all kinds of good information.
Just remember that following these people doesn't mean they will interact with you. They have thousands upon thousands of followers who are constantly sending them messages. That doesn't mean they won't interact with you, but it is not likely to happen. One of my friends that I used to speak with regularly on twitter, Cara Brookins, had 8,000 followers when I first met her on Twitter. Now she has over 250,000. Another, Rachel Thompson, had 1,500 when I met her on Twitter and now has over 150,000. Neither of them got there overnight. I watched their social footprint grow over the past couple of years. I don't speak with either as often as I used to, but that doesn't mean I don't still root for their continued success.
Gaining TractionThe absolute best way to gain loyal followers and grow your social footprint is to get a genetically enhanced virus injected into your body to make you super irresistible. If that doesn't work then reaching out to people and interacting with them works too. One of the traits I see that works very well for people who have a large following on social media is that they reach out to people and interact with them. Unless they are super famous celebrities, then it's just because they are famous for something. They are constantly meeting new people and generally being helpful or funny.
Having that outgoing personality is so much easier on social media than in person for introverts like myself. I can have the confidence that I am saying the right thing because I have time to read it and edit as needed. I am not nearly as good when put on the spot. Still I can do much better. To be honest with you all, I haven't really tried. I tend to follow a method of following people and if they follow me back and are interacting with people then I add them to a list that I pay attention to. This is the wrong way! Bad me. Very bad me! Go sit in a corner me! *faces wall and cries*
On Twitter the best way to meet other writers or better yet people who read a lot is to use hashtags! Google writing hashtags or reading hashtags. You will find tons of them! #reading, #amwriting, #writing, #books, #bookworm, #Godzilla and on and on. Finding people talking about reading and writing is not hard. You just have to look. It's also very important to organize your contacts into lists on Twitter. It is impossible to keep up with a Twitter feed of 2,000 let alone 10,000 or 100,000. Don't try, it will only make you insane. *waves maniacally* With lists you can separate the people you follow into different categories like My Little Pony Fans, Authors Who Chat, Insane People, and Possible Loch Ness Monsters. That way if you want to discuss writing topics then you can scroll through your Authors Who Chat feed and see what they are talking about.
Writer GroupsEventually you are going to be invited into a good writers group. I have been in a few and there was a time that I hosted one of my own. The bad news about these groups is that they tend to fizzle out. Writing is so time intensive and many authors are working a day job or they have kids to look after on top of it all. I have found that good writer groups stick together for as long as the person running them can keep them alive. It becomes a recruitment race. If they can keep fresh blood flowing into the group then the activity continues to flow. The good writer groups are genuinely helpful and have thoughtful conversations. The bad writer groups have authors spamming BUY MY BOOK over and over without any real discussion, so it's easy to tell the difference.
That doesn't mean I suggest you don't join up. I suggest that you do join these groups and make as many lasting connections as you can. When it comes time to put together a blog tour or when you need help with something, these are the people most likely to do so. You WILL need help at some point, so cultivating these relationships is important to expanding your circle of influence and strengthening your social footprint.