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Posts Tagged ‘relationship marketing’

Traditional Labor Day celebrations offer tips for Savvy Book Marketers

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This post originally ran on September 5, 2011. I’ve updated it for 2012.

Labor Day is an annual celebration of workers and their achievements that originated during the late 1800s at the height of the Industrial Revolution. At the time, the average American worked 12-hour days,  seven days a week, in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 worked in mills, factories, and mines, earning a fraction of adult wages. Workers of all ages faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities, and breaks. Congress legalized Labor Day as a national holiday in 1894.

The Labor Day holiday is still marked across the country with celebrations like parades, picnics, barbecues, and fireworks. What can a new author trying to market her book take away from these simple celebrations? Lots! Focus especially on the simple part! Book marketing doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate to be successful. We’ve talked at great length about the importance of relationship marketing, particularly for a personal product created by ONE person: your book!

COMMUNITY EVENTS. A simple celebration like a parade, picnic, or barbecue is the perfect backdrop for a book signing, but you needn’t wait for a holiday like Labor Day to come around. Why not stage your own event – and tailor it to your book? Say you’ve written a book of chicken recipes. How about staging a cook-off or a parade with a “best chicken costume” contest? If you wrote a book of ghost stories, perhaps you could host a bonfire reading as your book launch.

ART DISPLAYS. A second traditional Labor Day celebration involves public art displays. The sky’s the limit when it comes to art events surrounding a book launch, signing, or reading. Every Labor Day weekend, the many artists who live and work in Toledo, Oregon, open their doors to the public for the annual Toledo Art Walk. Several galleries and studios hold special receptions and events throughout the weekend. There’s no reason you couldn’t get some artists and authors together to do something similar in your community!

NICHE MARKETING. The traditional idea of celebrating Labor Day with workers and their families is a reminder to target your marketing to the proper niche and/or industry. Look  for ways to tailor your marketing to specific employees, companies, workplaces, or industry groups,  if appropriate. And remember to work your family into your marketing plan, whenever possible.

SPEECH-MAKING. The last of the traditional ways to celebrate Labor Day includes speeches by prominent people. What better way for an author to get the word out than by speaking in public? First, get comfortable with public speaking; sign up with a Toastmasters club near you if you’re not practiced or comfortable with public speaking. Then, get busy. Community, church, and industry groups are always in need of speakers. Reach out and offer to speak. Plan to give a talk anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes in length that contains informative content on your niche topic. Ask ahead of time if you can bring copies of your book for sale, and offer to sign them at the end of your presentation.

Take a tip or two from traditional Labor Day holiday celebrations and take your book to the people!

MARCIE

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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Like all tools, social media can backfire

Social media is indeed a fantastic tool for authors, but as with all tools, there are dangers. I am sure that as SBMs* you are way too smart to ever make any of these errors. Nevertheless, anytime I find myself thinkng, “It should go without saying,” I know the lesson most certainly bears repeating. Remember the first rule of social media? The SOCIAL part. Well, some folks seem to forget: errors are made by big companies, individuals, publications – almost all types of users have had their challenges. Read on and learn these lessons well.

USE YOUR COMMON SENSE. First off is a host of errors compiled from 2011. The headline on this should say “Twitter Fails,” as all are incidents in some way related to the microblogging site, but they are good reminders of what NOT to do. From extremely high-profile incidents like Anthony Weiner’s sex scandal to an F-bomb insult that cost New Media Strategies their contract with Chrysler, these are some of the higher-profile incidents from last year.

GET INVOLVED BEFORE THE DAMAGE IS DONE. From smaller companies like Paperchase to behemoths like BP, another mistake participants have made in the social media realm is waiting too long to get involved. Says SocialMediaInfluence.com about a plagiarism incident involving the upscale greeting card retailer: “Paperchase is learning a hard lesson: brands ignore Twitter at their peril. Paperchase is engaging with this community only now, just as a crisis arises.” BP suffered a far worse fate when a wise guy co-opted the Twitter handle @BPGlobalPR. Tongue-in-cheek commentary still rains from this microblogger – truly the last kind of “PR” the oil company could hope for.

OWN UP TO YOUR MISTAKES. In other plagiarism news, TampaBaySocialMedia.com details the wicked response from Cooks Source, a free advertising-supported publication distributed in New England, when they were accused of stealing content from a blogger:

A series of events came to a head concerning Monica Gaudio, a blogger and writer, discovering that an article she had written had been copied wholesale and reprinted in an edition of Cooks Source without her permission. During email conversation with the editor, Judith Griggs, she requested compensation for the copyright violation in the form of an apology (printed and via Facebook) and a $130 donation to the Columbia School of Journalism (roughly $.10/word). Ms. Gaudio, astonished at the reply she received to this request, printed Ms. Griggs’ response on her livejournal:

But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free! (excerpted)

Needless to say, DON’T steal other people’s stuff. Secondarily, if you screw up, own it. Trust me, I know how difficult this can be – and it’s only made more so on a ginormous public forum like the World Wide Web. But digging in and justifying your bad behavior is never, ever the answer.

LET BAD REVIEWS LIE. A couple years ago, there was the case of the Scottsdale pizza proprietress and her online war of words with a diner who wrote a less-than-flattering review of her establishment. From a MyFoxPhoenix.com story about the incident:

Among the comments from Joel T’s review about Amy’s pizza: “I took a bite and was immediately underwhelmed.” … “After two small pieces I decided I was wasting my calories and just gave up on it.”

“These people are internet bullies they have nothing to do but sit behind their computer and lie and try to hurt people,” says Amy.

“It was really strange that they chose to lash out at me,” says Joel.

And lash out, Amy did. Writing in response as Amy B. on Yelp she said, “Dear Joel T. it is blatantly obvious to me why you were alone on a Saturday night” and “the pizza was fresh and amazing.”

“If he has freedom of speech so do I!” Amy defends.

“I was just kind of shocked that someone would attack me personally,” says Joel.

The fusillade of internet crossfire between the two triggered a Yelp war from those supporting Amy – and those backing Joel.

It went on for months.

I’m not sure whether the episode harmed Amy’s Baking Company, but it sure did make her look like an idiot. This is just my opinion – but reviewers are entitled to theirs. She might have thought the pizza was amazing, but for whatever reason, Joel did not agree. It’s unreasonable to believe that everyone’s going to like her pizza – just as it is unlikely that everyone will like your book. Even the best books receive 1-star reviews on Amazon. Some are from cranks, of course, and others are from those who simply hold another point of view. If most of your reviews are positive, let the negative ones go. If the majority of your reviews are negative, it could seriously indicate some room for improvement.

DON’T WRITE/POST FAKE REVIEWS. Evidently, bad reviews don’t originate only with dissatisfied customers. This incident is a bit older (five years ago – eons in the lifetime of social media). MediaPost.com details the story of the CEO of Whole Foods who was discovered anonymously posting fake bad reviews of his competition. Really, John Mackey? Need we say more? Don’t write fake reviews! In a related move, the FCC passed a law several years ago requiring those who use online testimonials (a form of review) to notify site visitors when reviewers had been in any way compensated for the review. This means that if you give a free book to a reviewer – they must mention that fact in the review.

DON’T INSINUATE YOURSELF INTO A MEDIUM THAT’S NOT FOR YOU. The University of Orgeon’s Strategic Social Media shares the story of retail magnate Walmart’s attempt to crash the Facebook party back in 2007. Part of the reason for their failure had to do with poor planning. Other problems included trying to be something they weren’t (mimicking their rival, Target) and trying to force themselves onto a platform that didn’t suit them. This could be a valuable lesson for you. Just because one author sees significant success with a particular social media channel does not ensure that you will see the same results. As we’ve mentioned previously, find the one(s) that work for you. Don’t try to be all things to all people.

GIVE YOUR FOLLOWERS WHAT THEY WANT. I’ll wind up with another catchall story by HypeBot.com about five social media fails by musicians. Though I don’t necessarily agree across the board, I do like their opening remarks:

Artists have myriad possibilities when it comes to social networking. The way these are utilized is often woefully misguided, and as a result artists become their own worst enemy.

Musicians often fail to realize that potential fans are not interested in what your music means to you; they are only interested in what your music means to them. Similarly this approach should be taken with you status updates. You need to ask yourself, “Why would anyone care about what I am about to say?” Just because you want the world to know doesn’t mean the world actually wants to know.

HypeBot’s list of musicians’ social media fails:

  1. Putting too much focus on Twitter
  2. The lame question
  3. ME, ME, ME
  4. The overly positive 
  5. Posting quotes from famous people

Social media can and will work for you, provided you are smart, creative, interactive, and avoid the obvious and not-so-obvious landmines. Use your best instincts and you will likely do well.

MARCIE

*Savvy Book Marketer

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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Wednesday, February 22 – 25 social media success tips for authors
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A few general last words on social media for authors – for now

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!

MARCIE


*Savvy Book Marketer

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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Wednesday, February 22 – 25 social media success tips for authors
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25 social media success tips for authors

http://www.blogwebdesigner.com/hand-drawn-social-media-icons-145

We’ve been discussing ways for authors to use social media for a few posts now. First we discussed the fact that social media is one tool you can apply to the many strategies in your book marketing campaign. Next, we looked at an overview of some of the most popular social media sites. Today, we’ve got 25 tips that will help make your social media process a successful part of marketing your book.

  1. Be visible. As with good old-fashioned face-to-face networking, you must be seen and heard to create relationships, which is the key to successful social networking.
  2. Be a real person. Use your real name – not your company name – unless you’re building a company page (or channel on YouTube). Your readers want to create a relationship with you, the author, not your books or publishing company. While it’s important to show up, it’s even more important that you be yourself. Authenticity goes a long way in the social networking realm.
  3. Brand yourself. Use the same headshot and screen name, if possible, across all your social media sites. This will help make you easily recognizable to your readers/friends/followers.
  4. Be personal. If you’re a stickler for privacy, social media probably is not for you, because it’s impossible to build authentic relationships without revealing something of yourself. This is not to say you should share your every move or reveal information that could jeopardize your safety. And no, your Twitter followers don’t really care what you had for lunch. But giving your friends and followers – your READERS – a glimpse into some aspect of your life will help them feel like they know you. As a result, they’ll want to check in regularly, eagerly anticipate your book when it comes out, and perhaps most importantly, tell other people about you.
  5. Engage with your readers/friends/followers. People are reading your blog, liking your page, or following your Tweets to hear what you have to say, so make sure it’s interesting. Share your writing, publishing, or marketing process. Interview other writers, bloggers, or book marketers. Stay ahead of the trends in your niche or industry.
  6. Be responsive. Yes, you may get tired of hearing it, but you’re going to need to remember it: the first word in social media is SOCIAL. If your visitors/readers/friends/fans take the time to like, share, or comment on your posts or Tweets, acknowledge them!
  7. Niche yourself and stay focused. You’re ahead of the game when it comes to niching, because you’ve already written a book with a specific audience. While a cornucopia of offerings can be interesting on your social media sites, the more you limit your posts to the specifics related to your book topic, the better you will likely do, particularly in terms standing out from other authors. Readers and followers who love what you offer will easily recognize your site as one that interests them. As a result, they’ll want to check in regularly, eagerly anticipate your book when it comes out, and perhaps most importantly, tell other people about you.
  8. Use images generously. Some of the most popular folks on social media sites are those who post a lot of inspirational content – specifically posts that utilize appropriate imagery. Credit pictures you borrow, or purchase inexpensive images from 123rf.com or istockphoto.com.
  9. Toot your own horn. If your book wins an award, let your readers/friends/followers know. Don’t hesitate to share your successes with your readers. Talk about client wins, new speaking engagements, and any book signings and events you schedule. In all likelihood, your readers/friends/followers will want to support you and share your good news, particularly if you discuss it in an interesting way that gives them value.
  10. Be a giver first. No one likes to have someone come at them with their hand out. It’s a bit of a dated phrase, but one still worth mentioning: go for the win-win. Rather than always pushing your book or asking people to like your page or posts, figure out how you can help others.
  11. Be positive. Even though we all have a bad day now and then, no one really wants to read about your whining or complaints. The caveat to this is if you have a problem you’d like others’ input to solve, or you have resolved a challenge and want to share your process. Make it educational, not pessimistic.
  12. Forget the naysayers. Some people still insist that social media doesn’t work. Ignore them.
  13. Put some time into it. One of the coolest things about social media is that you can connect with hundreds (or thousands) of people all over the world. It would take you decades to meet people in those numbers on a face-to-face basis. Social media speeds up the process, but it still takes time. Be willing to invest some real time in the process, and don’t expect miracles overnight.
  14. Be willing to take risks. That old aphorism, “Don’t try to be all things to all people,” was never truer than in the world of social media. The reality is that not everybody (even all of your friends or subscribers) is going to like everything you post. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post it. Depending on your personality, your tolerance for conflict, and the subject matter of your book, you may or may not want to post controversial materials. If you’ve written a political or religious book, you can garner a lot of followers via social media – but just remember, it’s a public forum and those who disagree with you can see and comment (depending on your privacy settings).
  15. Take your arguments offline. Controversy notwithstanding, take any serious disagreements offline. Refrain from making someone wrong, belittling, or otherwise creating disharmony on your blog or social media sites.
  16. Be the expert. Within your industry or area of expertise, you must have an opinion and be willing to take a stand on one side of an important issue. Use your social media sites to share your knowledge and establish yourself as an expert. Others will soon start to notice. Before long you may be invited to share that knowledge on sites other than your own.
  17. Be a connecter. One of the easiest ways to help is by making connections between others. Every post doesn’t have to be about your book or related to your niche topic. If you know one reader/friend/follower would benefit by knowing another reader/friend/follower, give graciously by introducing them.
  18. Hold contests. Put on your SBM* hat and come up with creative contests to promote book saes. Ask readers to tell you the last word on a particular page. Ask readers to post photos of themselves holding your book on your social media site. Have them write an alternate ending. Reward those who have the most friends purchase copies. The ideas are endless.
  19. Publicize your events. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and EventBrite are great tools for publicizing your events. Use YouTube to create a short promo. Whatever you do, use your social media to let people know where to come and see you in person!
  20. Ask questions. Polling is a great tool available on certain social media sites. This is a great way to find out what readers think about topics in your niche. Perhaps you can even get ideas for your next book.
  21. Answer questions. While asking questions allows you take the pulse of your readers/friends/followers, answering them is another great way to demonstrate your expertise.
  22. Have a plan. This is probably one of the biggest failings when it comes to authors’ use of social media. First, create a book marketing plan; then figure out where you can use social media within that plan. Don’t leave it up to chance.
  23. Be respectful. Self-promotion is a good thing, but it’s essential to understand where, when, and how to do it. Toot your horn and advertise your events on your wall, site, or blog (within reason). DO NOT post ads for your book or services on other people’s blogs or sites. I’m fairly forgiving, but if someone posts an ad on my Facebook wall, I block them. No explanations and no second chances. It’s taken me two years to build the following I have and I am unwilling to let others co-opt my effort without at least asking. Certain group pages do allow self-promotion – but be careful to read, understand, and follow each group’s guidelines.
  24. Be consistent. One of the biggest keys to success with social media is showing up regularly. You cannot check in once every couple weeks and expect to build a following. Neither do you need to post a dozen times a day. Find a reasonable schedule that works for you – probably at least every couple of days.
  25. Have fun!!!! I love networking and meeting people. I love having conversations with strangers and exchanging interesting ideas. Remember the social aspect of social media. Don’t let this idea of selling a book or landing a client drive your every move. If you’re not enjoying yourself, your posts will probably feel forced and be boring. Trust me, your readers/friends/followers will see through you, and you probably aren’t going to have a lot of success.

Happy connecting!

MARCIE


*Savvy Book Marketer

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RESOURCES:

http://www.wsidesignermarketplace.com/content/designer/design_pulse/design_blog/top_10_tips_for_socialmediasuccess.html

http://www.startupnation.com/series/132/9333/social-media-6-success-tips.htm

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

__________________

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A broad overview of social sites authors can use to amplify their book marketing campaigns

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The simplest explanation of social media is that it’s media created by the users. Whether it’s copy, graphics, music, video, or anything in between, the users create and share the content. This varies from traditional media (e.g., The New York Times, NBC, and NPR), wherein media companies shouldered the responsibility of aggregating and disseminating information to the public. If you’d like a more technical explanation, HeidiCohen.com offers a list of 30 different definitions of social media.

People tend to use the terms “social media” and “social networking” interchangeably, but there is a distinction between the two. While Social Media Today has a
post about the allegedly vast differences between social media and social networking, I think the differences are quite simple: social media is the channel or mechanism you use to share information, and social networking is the process of connecting.

There are dozens of kinds of social media platforms, from broad general sites like Facebook to incredibly specific sites on myriad topics like the arts, cars, health and medicine, finance, pets, and real estate, to touch just the tip of the iceberg. Today we’re going to examine brief explanations of the most popular ones. Some of these may not fall under the literal social media umbrella (podcasting, for example), but they are all ways of connecting or sharing information that begin online, so I am including them because they might prove useful in your book marketing campaigns. [Take a look at traffikd.com for a comprehensive – but by no means up-to-the-minute or complete – list of social media sites.]

One thing that connects all of these sites is that they either require or offer the option to create an online profile. Most of these profiles include a field for a link to a website (or blog). If you are active on any of these sites, you’re missing out if you have not included a link to your site. Brand yourself well by using the same picture and, if possible, the same screen name (your book title or publishing company?) across all the platforms. Remember – this is social media, so a picture of you is preferred over an image of your book cover or logo.

Saddle up, ‘cause here we go!

ANSWERING QUESTIONS. Sites like YahooAnswers, Answers.com, and Quora enable users to ask questions and receive answers from those who allegedly know something about the topic. According to techie-buzz.com, “Quora is a simple site where you can ask a question and expect an answer from other community members. It is similar to Yahoo Answers … in that sense. However, Quora goes much further than this. Quora basically documents knowledge through questions and answers and provides users with an easy way to find it.

AUCTIONS. While eBay is the first name in online auction sites, others now proliferate as well. According to an article by Billings Farnsworth, “The History of the Online Auction,” eBay was the first online auction site. It began in 1995, when Pierre Omidyar sold his first item, a broken laser pointer, which “sold for $14.83 to a man who collected such objects.

BLOGGING. We’ll talk in-depth about blogging in future posts. For now, it’s important to understand that blogging was one of the first forms of social media on the Web. It predates podcasting, Facebook, YouTube, and all the others. And blogging works, as long as you show up regularly, offer good content, use images with your posts, and interact with your readers and other bloggers.

BOOKMARKING. Social bookmarking is a way for Internet users to organize, store, manage, and search for favorite sites and resources online. Tagging, a significant feature of social bookmarking systems, enables users to organize their bookmarks in flexible ways and to develop shared vocabularies. Though one of the most popular social bookmarking sites is Delicious, StumbleUpon is my favorite. They provide similar functions, but through very different mechanisms.

BOOKS. As you may have gathered by now, each of these types of social sites has dozens of options from which to choose. Book networks are no different. Two I happen to like are BookCrossing and GoodReads. BookCrossing allows you to track a found book with a code (or leave a book in a public site and then see where it goes). GoodReads is one of innumerable sites that allow you to share your literary tastes, reading habits, quotes, and other reading-related information.

CLASSIFIED ADS. Certainly the mother of all classified ad sites, Craigslist began in San Francisco in 1995 as an email distribution channel for its founder, Craig Newmark, to share local events with friends. The site now has a presence in cities and countries around the world. If you doubt its utility as a social medium, let me just say that my husband and I met through a Craigslist post. You can use it (and other similar sites) to announce your events, hire people for your team, and follow conversation threads on your topic.

CONSUMER REVIEWS. In my experience, the most prolific of these sites are Yelp and Angie’s List – but there are tons of others around. Review sites have changed the way restaurants and other service providers do business, in that the consumer reviews often are posted instantly. The downside is that backlash can be harsh and difficult to overcome if someone posts a negative review. The best advice is to ignore the review, rather than engaging with the reviewer – which can escalate matters and never tends to show the review recipient in his or her best light.

DATING. Besides the online dating sites like Match and eHarmony, there are social networking sites where dating is the ultimate goal, but profiles and interactivity like quizzes and ratings proliferate. My only experience in these was with OKCupid – and it was fun enough, but geared for a much younger audience. Dating site or not, quizzes are a great way to interact with readers on thr subject of your book and potentially generate interest among new folks.

ENCYCLOPEDIA. Billing itself as “the free encyclopedia,” Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, encyclopedia project based on an openly editable model. Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous Internet contributors who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles (except in certain cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism). Users can contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or with their real identity, if they choose. Information in Wikipedia articles must be verifiable via third-party sources, but once you make a name for yourself beyond your own website, you want to make sure to create a page here.

FACE-TO-FACE. The ingenious Meetup site is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for a person to organize a local group or find one of thousands of already existing groups. More than 2,000 Meetup groups meet daily in local communities. Co-founder Scott Heiferman has said that the way people in New York came together in the aftermath of 9/11 inspired him to use the Internet to make it easier for people to connect with strangers in their communities. One caveat for authors: you cannot create a Meetup group to promote or discuss your own book. Get a friend or group of rabid fans to do it for you.

GENERAL. The social networking timeline is more or less: Friendster, MySpace, Facebook – which is poised to reach 1 BILLION users in August 2012. Though Google Plus is nipping around Facebook’s heels, it looks like “The Social Network” has a healthy enough head start to ward off any serious threats, at least for the time being. These general social network sites allow users to personalize their presence and share updates, written content, videos, images, music – pretty much anything that’s sharable. The average Facebook user has 120 friends and, depending on how each has set his privacy preferences, is able to interact with friends of friends – potentially expanding his or her network exponentially.

GOAL SHARING. Something of a subset of other social media platforms, goal-sharing sites like 43 Things allow you to set goals, see and support others’ goals, receive support for your own goals, and share how you accomplished them once you achieve your goals. Understandably, this site prohibits any postings that can be construed as promoting a business or service. “Write my book” is a common goal. You can even include a goal like “have my book reach best-seller status.” But you cannot directly promote sales of your book to other members.

INFORMATION AGGREGATION. Beyond simply sharing links, sites like Alltop and Squidoo (and dozens of others like them) allow the systematic sharing of information on particular topics. Alltop collects the headlines of the latest stories from the best sites and blogs on a particular topic, grouping the collections, or “aggregations,” into individual web pages. Squidoo is a popular free site that enables users to create single webpages (known as lenses) about their interests and recommendations. Users can even earn money for charity or themselves.

LOCATION REVELATION. I’ll probably never be accused of being a privacy junky, yet of all the social networks in the world, foursquare is the one I understand least. Users of this site “check in” at various locations with a mobile device and are able to find out (track?) where their friends are. Location is based on GPS hardware in the mobile device or a network location provided by the app itself. Many members use foursquare and its competitors (e.g., Loopt and Gowalla) for the discounts. Or perhaps you want people to know which bookstore you’re in for your signing or event – but use your common sense. If you live alone, don’t announce you’re leaving the bar to go home at 2 a.m.

MICROBLOGGING. With its 140-character limit, Twitter took blogging to a microscience. Smashing Magazine refers to Tumblr as “microblogging on steroids. Whereas Twitter and similar services limit posts to 140 characters or less, Tumblr lets you post updates of any length, although it’s best suited to short-format posts. Tumblr bridges the gap between full-blown blog and micro-blog.” Over the last few years, Twitter has emerged as a medium used in large part by the traditional media. It’s a great place to get quick glances into people you admire, want to meet, or who have shared interests. We’ll talk about it more in a future post, but suffice it to say for now that you won’t understand its power and potential until you try it.

MOVIES. If you’re a movie buff like me, you’re probably already familiar with RottenTomatoes and other movie review sites. Like many of the other sites mentioned in this post, RT allows you to log in via Facebook and share your posts directly on your Facebook wall. Such interconnectivity will make Facebook hard for any competing social network to overcome.

PHOTO SHARING. Some of the photo sharing mainstays include Flickr, Photobucket, and Picasa. These sites allow you to create public albums, copyright your images, or share your pictures privately, if you prefer. Related but different is the newest wave washing across the Web, Pinterest. Pinterest is a pinboard application that allows you to organize and share all the cool things you find on the web. People are using Pinterest boards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes, among a zillion other uses.

PODCASTING. Paul Dunay makes the excellent point for Marketing Profs that podcasting, while a social enough means of sharing information, is not technically social media, because “it is only when you get involved in the conversation that it becomes social. … Take it from me, I have personally recorded and hand-edited over 100 podcasts … and I can safely say they don’t get the level of interactivity (read, comments) like my regular old blog posts do.” For a comprehensive list of podcast directories, hit up podcastingnews.com.

PROFESSIONAL. While LinkedIn cornered the market for online business networking, Ecademy is doing a similar job on a much more international level. LinkedIn has great groups, resume boards, job boards, and other features of interests to professionals and job seekers. Even if you’re an entrepreneur, writer, or someone who has not held a “job” in many years, it would behoove you to create a complete LinkedIn profile, if only for the added exposure. Not to mention that its database ranks well in the search engines, and you never know who you might meet with an interest in your book, your topic, or you personally.

RETAIL. No one would question that Amazon has become a behemoth in online retail – not just books, but almost any product imaginable. However, there are other retail outlets geared at creative types. Zazzle, CafePress, and Etsy are among the myriad sites that allow artists to create and sell their own products. While Etsy has a much more juried fine arts and crafts-show essence, Zazzle and CafePress have a mechanism for creating basic things like T-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, and greeting cards. If you can keep your fee to just $5, you’ll want to check out Fiverr, a site that will allow you sell anything in the world (songs, eBooks, instruction manuals, personalized golf balls, jewelry – literally, you name it) for five buckaroos.

SOCIAL ACTION. Sites like VolunteerMatch enable visitors to find volunteer opportunities and organizations to recruit helpers. Care2, on the other hand, puts users in touch with all sorts of social causes. Paired with more traditional social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, these sites are revolutionizing social action in America and around the world.

TRAVEL. Sites like TripAdvisor enable travelers to plan and experience great trips. Offering advice from real travelers and planning features with links to booking tools, TripAdvisor sites are said to make up the largest travel community in the world. Similar – but with a focus on study-abroad programs – is StudyAbroad101, which promotes global citizenship by fostering the most meaningful study-abroad experiences for students and offering recruiting mechanisms for study-abroad program administrators.

VIDEO SHARING. If you’re not doing it, start. As the second largest search engine, YouTube is a place you want to have a presence. Additionally, AMD Web Services reports that video results appear in about 70% of the top 100 listings, the type of content most often displayed in universal or blended search results. (Marketingweek, 2011.) According to Rossiter & Co., People who view a web video are 64% more likely to purchase than other site visitors. (Comscore.) The best option is to host your own video so that every other video with similar tags (and audiences) doesn’t show up when people watch yours – but any video is better than no video at all.

WRITING. There are probably thousands of places to share your writing online, but here are a few sites I like quite a lot: Figment, an online community where you can create, discover, and share new reading and writing, follow your literary obsessions, and find fans for your work; 10 Day Book Club, an interactive manuscript development process that shares writers’ voices through a unique virtual book club format; Helium, a citizen journalism outlet offering a platform for writers to submit articles on topics about which they are knowledgeable; and Ficly, a place to play with storytelling in a collaborative environment where anyone can pick up a narrative thread and weave a prequel or sequel.

If you have a special interest, haven’t found the perfect social site yet, and have a lot of time on your hands, Ning offers you a means by which to create your own social network. I would be the last person to discourage you from trying – but if you do it, be prepared to put your heart and soul into. Remember that your readers are being drawn in a thousand different directions, so your site has to be active, dynamic, and interesting – with something unique that gives visitors a reason to keep coming back, and inviting others to join.

Lastly, it takes a lot of time to manage and maintain memberships in just a handful of these sites. One site offers an easy way to automate your posts. Ping.fm is a simple, free service that allows you update your status across many social networks with one click. Personally, I choose not to employ it because I understand that the users of each social site are different, and one-size-fits all posts generally don’t work. Would using Ping be easier? Of course. But as it stands, even if I don’t know each friend or follower on my social sites personally, I have qualified them – and when I post content or interact with them, they are getting it from me because I want that content on that site. If your choice is between using Ping and not doing it at all, I say use Ping. But where you are able, be present in real time.

Happy connecting!

MARCIE

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Social media is a tool that can help you build your book business

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It seems that recently I’ve been seeing a number of authors and publishing consultants advocating AGAINST social media as a marketing tool for authors. It may go without saying that I believe this advice is just plain goofy. Some of it comes under the umbrella of general complaints that marketing takes up so much time, it leaves little time for writing. While it’s true that successful self-publishing does require an author to wear many hats or spend a lot of time/money, the fact that successful self-published authors exist means it’s doable.

And unless you’re writing for the sheer love of writing, you won’t sell any books unless you:

  • HIRE SOMEONE to do your marketing for you

OR

  • MAKE TIME for marketing.

If you think of your book as a business, you may achieve the paradigm shift required to get out of the “not enough time in a day” stage and move into the “ready to plan for success” stage. In his best-selling book, The eMyth Revisited, Michael Gerber explains the reality that a most business owners wear three hats: (1) visionary, (2) manager, and (3) technician. The problem is that many get stuck in the technician role – the doing of the everyday work of the business (or in the case of an author, writing). In order to succeed, however, the business owner (aka, author) must spend time in the visionary and manager roles. The visionary comes up with the ideas for the book – and the marketing. The manager oversees the implementation of the book building and marketing ideas the visionary has created. The technician is the doer of the stuff – the writer, the social media expert, the public speaker. It is crucial to your success that you find time for all three – or hire someone to take the pieces you can delegate.

Without singling out anyone in particular, my guess is that authors (and others) who advise fellow authors against using social media do so because they aren’t seeing any return on it themselves. More than likely, the reason for this is: (a) they’re doing it wrong, (b) they’re not spending enough time on it, (c) they’re not very good at marketing in general, (d) they’ve hired the wrong people to manage their SM, (e) they’re poor prioritizers, or (f) some combination of the above.

There are some caveats to an author’s successful use of social media. Marketing Tips for Authors has an excellent post by Sue Collier on why authors should not use social media. I agree whole-heartedly with these reasons. Do NOT use social media if:

  1. You are looking for instant results. Social media is a tool, presumably one of many in your marketing toolkit. It is not a silver bullet and it will not provide instant results. Remember: the most important word in the term “social media” is social, and building relationships takes time.
  2. You expect to see a direct impact on book sales. I will admit I’ve certainly bought a handful of books as a result of a tweet, Facebook post, or response to this very blog. However, my purchases are a fraction of a fraction of those I’ve read touting various authors’ books and eBooks. Remember: the most important word in the term “social media” is social, and social media is first and foremost about building relationships.
  3. You have no marketing plan. Social media is one tool to be applied within an overall marketing plan. If you don’t have a plan to market your book – fully sketched out, with goal dates and anticipated results – how can you expect your social media presence to really make a difference?
  4. You have no time for social media. Social media may be a “free” tool, but it’s only free in that most of it doesn’t cost money. Where you pay is with your time. And trust me, it takes quite a bit of time to build a significant social media presence. Yes, there are those who advocate for automation, but I personally chafe at the idea. Automating your social media is probably better than having no presence at all. But remember: the most important word in the term “social media” is social, and those are real people on the other end of your tweets and posts. They want to talk to you, not to a machine.
  5. You don’t believe in giving away free content. Social media is all about content. Posts, quotes, shared links, stories, photos, videos. You’ve really got to give in order to become – and remain – interesting enough to create a following.
  6. You don’t want to write content. Not only do you have to give away content, if you expect to establish yourself as the expert that you are, you must create a good portion of that content yourself. Sure – you can hire someone to help, but don’t even think about doing so unless that someone knows you, your book, and your business inside out.
  7. You’re afraid of change. The Internet seems to change and grow by the minute, and with it, the world of social media. Social media will not work for you if you’re not ready to welcome the change and stay abreast of it.

Social media can be a phenomenal tool to help build your author platform. With the right planning, strategy, implementation, and prioritization, you can use it to establish yourself in a crowded field. But it takes time, energy, commitment, and willingness to put the relationships you are creating first.

Check back next time for an explanation of the many social media platforms out there. Soon after that, we’ll give you some success tips. And then we’ll get into some detail about a few of the more popular platforms.

Happy connecting!

MARCIE

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If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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Traditional Labor Day celebrations offer tips for Savvy Book Marketers

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Labor Day is an annual celebration of workers and their achievements that originated during the late 1800s at the height of the Industrial Revolution. At the time, the average American worked 12-hour days,  seven days a week, in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 worked in mills, factories, and mines, earning a fraction of adult wages. Workers of all ages faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities, and breaks. Congress legalized Labor Day as a national holiday in 1894.

The Labor Day holiday is still celebrated across the country with things like parades, picnics, barbecues, and fireworks. What can a new author trying to market her book take away from these simple celebrations? Lots! Focus especially on the simple part! Book marketing doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate to be successful. We’ve talked at great length about the importance of relationship marketing, particularly for a product as personal as a book written by ONE person: you!

A simple celebration like a parade, picnic, or barbecue is the perfect backdrop for a book signing, but you needn’t wait for a holiday like Labor Day to come around. Why not stage your own event – and tailor it to your book? Say you’ve written a book of chicken recipes. How about staging a cook-off or a parade with a “best chicken costume” contest? If you wrote a book of ghost stories, perhaps you could host a bonfire reading as your book launch.

A second traditional Labor Day celebration involves public art displays. The sky’s the limit when it comes to art events surrounding a book launch, signing, or reading! Nova Hall is the grandson of Donald A. Hall, the engineer who built the Spirit of St. Louis airplane flown by Charles Lindbergh. Nova wrote a book about his grandfather, Spirit and Creator: The Mysterious Man Behind Lindbergh’s Flight to Paris and is is right now planning a public art event that will display his visual art, as well as pictures and artifacts from his book. “Flying Over Time: The Spirit of St. Louis Experience” will be on display October 21 and 22, at Arizona State University West in the La Sala ballroom in the University Center Building.

The traditional idea of celebrating Labor Day with workers and their families is a reminder to target your marketing to the proper niche and/or industry. Look  for ways to tailor your marketing to specific employees, companies, workplaces, or industry groups,  if appropriate. And remember to work your family into your marketing plan, whenever possible.

The last of the traditional ways to celebrate Labor Day includes speeches by prominent people. What better way for an author to get the word out than by speaking in public? First, get comfortable with public speaking; sign up with a Toastmasters club near you if you’re not practiced or comfortable with public speaking. Then, get busy. Community, church, and industry groups are always in need of speakers. Reach out and offer to speak. Plan to give a talk anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes in length that contains informative content on your niche topic. Ask ahead of time if you can bring copies of your book for sale, and offer to sign them at the end of your presentation.

Take a tip or two from traditional Labor Day holiday celebrations and take your book to the people!

See you Thursday, when we’ll talk about how to put together a professional media kit that will attract attention.

MARCIE

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Please contact us if you’d like help putting together your media kit, media releases, or book proposal. Free 30-minute consultation when you mention this post ($99 value).

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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PREVIOUS POSTS

Thursday, August 25 – Create a MiniBük: Fifth of 5 easy ways to give away samples of your writing

Monday, August 22 – Put Your Book on a CD: Fourth of 5 easy ways to give away samples of your writing

Thursday, September 1 – A noteworthy statistic, a question, or both can be the hook that lures a reporter’s attention

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