Our last few posts have simply been an overview of social media and ways you, as an author, can begin to use it as a marketing tool. Scads of eBooks have already been written about social media, and it seems a new one is coming out weekly. The thing is, the mediums change so quickly that as soon as you buy a book, it’s probably obsolete. It takes effort and energy to stay on top of them all, but you’ll do that if social media is important to you.
The new SM darling of the moment seems to be Pinterest – a pinboard-style social photo sharing site that allows users to create and manage theme-based collections of images. The site’s mission statement is “to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.” But that’s just what the high tide brought in last week. Watch for the next wave; it’s coming up behind you quickly, even if you can’t see it yet.
We touched briefly on this in the last SM post, but it bears repeating again. Although many of us have profiles and are active, to varying degrees, on many SM sites, each site has a different audience and purpose. Not every medium is for every author. Find the ones that work for you. Start by finding one you seem to enjoy, and experiment with it. If you find yourself creating high-quality relationships there, think about branching out to other sites as they make sense and your schedule can adapt to allow regular participation.
Personally, I find the Facebook writing and author groups much friendlier and more interactive than those on LinkedIn – but some might prefer the “professionalism” of those on LinkedIn. For me, Twitter is more of a resource for information on marketing and the publishing industry and a great way to connect with my contemporaries. Then, as Chuck Wendig writes on the Terrible Minds blog, “the blog is the central tentpole to the whole goddamn circus.”
Facebook has become so ubiquitous across the Web that it’s easy to link to it from almost any site or platform. If you’re on Facebook, make sure you link your blog, your website, and all your other SM profiles to your Facebook author page. (If you don’t have a Facebook author page, we need to talk! And we’ll be discussing it in an upcoming post.) And where possible, link your other social media accounts to each other.
Building relationships – the primary goal of SOCIAL media – takes an active exchange of thoughts and ideas. This is why I discourage automation. Posting by bot is anything but personal. To quote Wendig again, “Ensure that you do more than share links. Contribute original thoughts. Add conversation. Say something.” It’s easy to post and sit back and wait for the readers/followers/friends to come to you – but that’s not an exchange; it’s a monologue. Interactivity is how you build relationships.
When it comes to interacting, “Like” and “Share” things that genuinely appeal to you – not because someone asked you to like or share them. And, in the converse – this is just my opinion, now – don’t go around asking other people to like/share your stuff. If it’s genuinely good, people will pass it on. It’s hard to deliberately manufacture viral, especially by trying to copy a clever concept someone else has already used with success. (For example, how been-there-done-that are all those “Got whatever?” signs, t-shirts, and bumper stickers?) I’ll admit, The Oatmeal was quite inspirational in my decision to create this blog. But my blog is educational and instructional; The Oatmeal is often viral, funny, and very, very clever. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t love for Marcie to go viral. We’re nowhere near that yet, although we are poised to top 10,000 views by the end of our first year, thanks to you SBM* readers!
Social media works if you use it. Social media works if you share authentically. Social media works if you show up regularly and interact on a personal level. Social media works if you don’t spam people with too many sales pitches. Most of all, social media works if you enjoy it. If you see it as a chore, just another thing on your to-do list, you probably aren’t going to see rave results. As with just about everything in life, you get out what you put into it.
Next week, we’ll start exploring some of the more popular social media platforms in some detail. In the meantime, happy connecting!
*Savvy Book Marketer
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