Three Questions That Can Change Your Love-Hate Relationship with Social Media
I'm delighted to welcome Beth Jusino to MB4. Beth is the book marketing guru over at The Editorial Department. Her new book, The Author’s Guide to Marketing: Make a Plan That Attracts More Readers and Sells More Books (You May Even Enjoy It), is a must read for any author trying to promote a book in today's changing environment. Today she talks about Social Media and the writer. Can it really help to promote your book?
“I signed up for Twitter because everyone says I have to do it to market my book. But I hate it.”
Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. As a marketing consultant, I spend more time talking with writers about social media than any other channel. Too often, Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest has become nothing but a black hole of dread that seems to suck time away from their writing, without giving anything back.It doesn’t have to be that way.
Social media works only when it’s social—when there’s a comfortable give-and-take between real people. Think of it like a very big cocktail party—if you hover silently in a corner and don’t talk to anyone, you probably won’t get much out of the experience. It’s a waste of time. And if you stand in the doorway and accost every person who passes you with a sales pitch, you’ll do more harm for your cause than good.But if you walk into the room with a smile and the attitude that people here are worth engaging with, and if you’re prepared with a few conversation topics to break the ice, you might make a new friend or two. You might even enjoy yourself.
Changing your perspective on social media starts with asking three questions:
1. Who do I WANT to meet?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the depth of the social media pools. There are millions of people here, usually talking about every conceivable silliness. So let go of the idea that you will talk to everyone—and get proactive about finding people who share your interests and passions.
That means your existing readers, of course, but also those people who should read your books.
Don’t wait for those people to find you; go looking for them. Start by identifying three or four general interests that you might share with your audience. For instance, if you write thrillers about a former rodeo cowboy who now solves crimes in Montana, search for people who are already talking about reading* thrillers, OR about rodeos, OR about Wyoming. These are your people. Follow them. Comment on what they share. Be friendly. (But don’t be pushy. Don’t try to sell anything to a stranger.)
* Look for readers rather than writers. I see a lot of authors who use social media to follow and chat with other authors—their coworkers, essentially—instead of their readers and fans.
2. What can I offer?
No one remembers the wallflower at the cocktail party. For Twitter or Vine or whatever to work as a platform-building tool, you need to say something that others want to hear. Don’t approach social media asking “how can I sell more books?” Ask:What can I do to help my audience right now?
Think about the way you engage acquaintances and readers in real life, and spin that into your online persona. What do people respond to? (Follow the links for Twitter examples)
· Information. If your brand is based on knowledge (you’re an expert of some kind), share tips, facts, and links to relevant articles on your blog.
· Humor. If there’s humor in your writing, bring it to your social presence. If we’ve learned anything from all of those cat videos on YouTube, it’s that people love to laugh.
· Encouragement. Break through the noise of social media with a quote, a verse, a thought, or a wish that will brighten someone’s day.
· Links. Become a curator of relevant, interesting content. If you write historical fiction, share photos and stories about the era. If your work has an environmental angle, link to the latest research. If you write romance, share happily-ever-after stories (or pictures of hot men, connecting both humor and links).
· News about yourself. Providing value also means sharing what’s happening with your books and your writing. Share links to interviews on other sites, sales, major milestones (did you finish a manuscript, or even a chapter?). This isn’t a channel for hard sales pitches or “buy my book” messages.
And remind yourself to engage. Social media isn’t a one-way communication channel. It won’t work if you broadcast what you have to say and then disappear. Treat social media as a conversation, and the people who are there as individuals who are worth your time and energy. Ask questions, and engage when people answer you. Follow and comment (or share, or like) what other people are posting. This is the chance for you to listen to your readers, and learn more about them—which in turn can help you write better books for them.
3. What do I want to get?
There’s a lot more to Instagram or Tumblr than people selling books. Venture out and look around; social media might meet some of your needs, too.
Whether it’s sustainable gardening or spiritual development, encouragement as a parent or research about the Tudors, it’s there. If you’re researching Yosemite National Park for your Work in Progress (or for the next family vacation), you can find people who are curating information about the park. Or if you need to know what the traffic is like at midnight in a particular Seattle neighborhood, there’s someone online who can tell you.
Piece by piece, social media will start to feel less like a chore and more like an extension of a conversation with people you know and care about—your readers.
About Beth Jusino:
Beth Jusino talks more about social media and all kinds of author marketing techniques in her new book The Author’s Guide to Marketing: Make a Plan That Attracts More Readers and Sells More Books (You May Even Enjoy It). A former literary agent, Beth is now a freelance consultant and the Director of Book and Author Marketing for The Editorial Department, guiding traditionally- and self-publishing authors through the modern maze of opportunities. She teaches a Guide to Getting Published class every quarter in Seattle. Visit her at http://bethjusino.com or on Twitter @bethjusino.
About Dora MachadoDora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She is one only a few Hispanic women writing fantasy in the United States today. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.
When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for the award-winning blog Murder By Four and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.
To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit her at www.doramachado.com , email her at Dora@doramachado.com, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.