How does Jack Carr connect so effectively with readers?
Social media can be an incredibly useful way for authors to connect with their readers, but it’s an intimidating prospect for many self-published writers to even know where to get started. Many authors use social as an afterthought, simply as an (often unproductive) way to promote their latest project. Others, like Jack Carr, use social far more effectively, building an empire of loyal fans that are more than willing to happily buy whatever it is he promotes.
How does Carr use social media to connect with hundreds of thousands of eager readers, and how has he quickly become one of the most impactful men’s fiction author of his generation? That’s exactly what Ginger is looking at in today’s blog, as he attempts to break it all down in a way that makes it easy for the rest of us to learn and improve on our own social game.
Former Navy SEAL Jack Carr exploded onto the bookshelves in 2018 with The Terminal List – his Goodreads Choice Award-winning debut novel of conspiracy and revenge.
Since then, Carr has gone on to write five more novels in his thrilling series, sold millions of books, and his fictional protagonist James Reece has been brought to our television screens by actor Chris Pratt. Carr is nothing short of a literary phenomenon; and we’ve already written about many of the things aspiring authors can learn by studying his writing.
But there’s more to Jack Carr’s stratospheric success than just writing an “intoxicating thriller” (as Bookreporter.com put it) or “one of the best books I’ve ever read!” (That was Brent Gleeson, author of Taking Point.) Jack Carr has also created one of the most engaged, enthusiastic reader fanbases of any modern author. He has 130,000 subscribers on YouTube, 149,500 followers on Twitter, and 405,000 followers on Instagram – making him perhaps the most influential author of male fiction of the modern age.
(He has forty-five times more Instagram followers than Lee Child, for example.)
Most importantly, his audience are engaged – his stories and reels generate tens of thousands of likes and hundreds of comments; all from fans of his work who feel a real connection to him.
It’s that connection with readers that made Jack Carr the successful author he is today. His readers love him. They’re eager for a connection with him whether it comes in the form of a James Reece adventure, an episode of Carr’s successful Danger Close podcast, or an appearance or interview he’s promoting from a different site or channel. Jack Carr makes content that gets people excited for whatever new book, episode, or item of merchandise he’s about to drop – and, as a result, people buy it.
So, what’s Jack Carr’s secret to his incredibly effective presence on social media? And how can aspiring authors follow in his footsteps? I’ve narrowed down five elements that I believe elevate Jack Carr’s content and make him stand out even in an increasingly oversaturated and algorithm-driven digital marketplace.
#1 – He’s ruthlessly authentic
In my humble opinion, Jack Carr ruined the thriller genre for the rest of us aspiring authors. When The Terminal List first hit the bookshelves, it stood out amongst military adventures by authors like Lee Child and David Baldacci because of the raw, honest authenticity that Carr was able to bring to the story. As a former Navy SEAL officer with twenty years of experience, he could write about the battlefield with an honesty and authenticity that Child (a British television writer) and Baldacci (a Washington DC lawyer) simply weren’t able to. As a result, readers have been looking for other authors who are the real deal ever since (and those of us without that experience are left a little adrift.)
On his social media channels, Jack Carr leads with this same authenticity. He demonstrates time and again that he’s the real deal by posting pictures and anecdotes from his time in uniform. He’s one of the few writers who’s lived a life just as colorful as that of his protagonist; and by sharing snippets of that life with his followers, he sells us on the unspoken promise of weaving stories and scenarios that will truly read like you’re living them. His presence on social media is the living embodiment of that timeless quote from Hemingway: “In order to write about life first you must live it.”
#2 – He engages with his followers
I have a lot of friends who are fans of Jack Carr and follow him on Instagram or Twitter. The remarkable thing? Most of them have also had digital interactions with him. Just yesterday, I shared a story he’d posted on Instagram – and within a few hours, he’d shared it right back at me! Jack Carr is incredibly diligent about responding to comments, mentions, and shares from his legions of fans and that has the incredible effect of making complete strangers like me feel like we “know” him.
A quick engagement from Jack Carr – even just liking a post or sharing something – can create a connection with a reader that really lasts; and turn them from a casual fan into a die-hard one. Making a reader feel like they have a connection with you is really the special sauce for getting them to buy your book, and because Jack Carr takes the time and makes the effort to individually connect with everybody who comments or shares his content, he’s nurturing an audience of those fans and helping ensure that every new project he launches makes a big impact.
#3 – He does cool things and goes to cool places!
Jack Carr had plenty of exciting experiences during his 20 years as a Navy SEAL officer, but he’s far from done. If you follow him on social media, you’ll see Carr visiting exciting places and having incredible experiences all the time; and part of the fun of following him is to live vicariously through his experiences.
For example, he recently spent time at the Goldeneye estate, home of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, to write the seventh (or 007th) book of his James Reece series. Before that, he had front row seats at UFC 291. Prior to that, he accompanied a group of World War II veterans to the beaches of Normandy. He’s always doing something interesting, and exciting – and that’s not even including the hours he spends outdoors hunting and hiking.
Jack Carr lives an interesting, adventurous life – and that makes his social media accounts incredibly fun to follow! So don’t be afraid of sharing your own adventures with your readers. Many of them will love the glimpse into your life!
#4 – He’s not afraid to nerd out
To the casual observer, Jack Carr is cool. I mean, he’s a bestselling author, a former Navy SEAL, and he has one of the coolest beards on the Internet. However, beneath the tough exterior of a trained killer beats the heart of an unrepentant nerd; and Jack Carr isn’t afraid to share that with his followers on social media.
From revealing that each of his books contains a hidden reference to Magnum PI, to geeking out about James Bond, Toyota Land Cruisers, military history, and more, Jack Carr is unashamed to be incredibly geeky about certain niche subjects; and they’re subjects that engage and fascinate his fans.
What makes this work so well is that Jack Carr posts about stuff he’s genuinely interested in (see that first point, about authenticity.) He’s not trying to be an influencer or shill other people’s products. He just loves the stuff he loves, and by sharing this love on the Internet, people who share those interests get another opportunity to feel like they “know” him.
So don’t be afraid to do the same thing – even if it’s not related to your books! If you love history, or art, or music, or baking – tell people about it! Because if you do so, it creates another invaluable connection with your readers; and makes them even more passionate about supporting you.
#5 – He’s not always there to sell things
Perhaps the most powerful thing about the way Jack Carr uses his social media accounts is that he doesn’t try to sell things all the time.
I mean, he certainly does sell things – promoting his new books, the Amazon Prime series, his podcast, and a list of products he endorses. However, because all of these promotional messages are mixed in with his interesting and exciting content, it doesn’t really feel like he’s selling anything. It’s more like he’s just letting his followers know that, yes, he also sells books (and if you like the rest of his content, you’ll probably like reading them.)
There’s something very authentic, unpressured, and real about the way Jack Carr uses his social media accounts – and when he promotes things, it’s more like a friend telling you about something you might be interested in; rather than trying to “sell” you on a product. Ironically, that approach makes people more open to actually buying it!
So, follow Carr’s example and don’t make selling things the priority of your social media presence. Create posts about yourself, your interests, and your life, and you’ll find the selling part takes care of itself.
Jack Carr invests a lot of time and thought into his presence on social media, but it pays off. He’s developing a growing community of fans and many of us feel like we “know” him even if we were barely interested in Carr before.
How he uses social media could almost serve as a blueprint for how other authors should leverage platforms like Instagram and Twitter. It’s the perfect blend of authenticity and engagement, and the hundreds of thousands of engaged followers he’s earned prove that.
If you’re wondering where to get started, take a look at Jack Carr’s accounts to see if they give you any inspiration. It’s not really what he posts so much (if you’re not a former SEAL, or into hunting, they might not be your cup of tea) but it’s why he chooses to share things that helps make the difference. If you’re being real, being yourself, and engaging with your followers, who knows how impactful your social media could become!