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january tip of day

January 23 Book Marketing Tip: Pick the social networking vehicle your reader is driving!

If your social marketing is to be useful, it needs to be two things. Who wants to guess what the first one is? OK – I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but you seriously should not need this reminder. Social marketing needs to be SOCIAL. But all the social marketing in the world could be a waste of time (and money if you’re hiring out any aspect of it) if it’s not aimed at your target readers.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, every author needs to answer 1 question before they begin their marketing: Who is my reader?  However, if your social marketing is to do you any good, you need to take that question a step further and answer the next question: Which social network does my reader use most?

There was a funny meme that made the rounds on the social networks 12 to 18 months ago. It involved bodily fluids and how each network would report on release of said fluid. We posted a version in a blog titled How are you incorporating social media into your book marketing strategy?

Last night at the Phoenix Social Media Marketing Meetup, I heard a more useful analogy, which I want to share with you here. Thanks to Giselle Aguilar, the Meetup coordinator, for this analogy. Definitely track her down if you need help with your social media strategy.

Social Network Users Are Like Drivers

 

  car sport Twitter users are quick. They like the fast-paced nature of a busy Twitter feed, and prefer easy-to-digest short bursts of info, links, quotes, and images. They are very social themselves, the most adept sharing the tweets they like.For me, Twitter is a huge information resource. My Twitter feed keeps me up to date on marketing, publishing, and social media trends in a way no other social network can.

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 car luxury Due to its nature as a site for businesspeople, LinkedIn draws the highest net worth users of any of the social networks. Like luxury vehicle drivers, these people prefer clean, elegant, useful information. Frills are OK, as long as they have a purpose. You won’t catch LinkedIn users sharing pictures of cats or zombies or kids.

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 car mini Attracting the second-highest net worth users, Pinterest users are like minivan drivers. Pinterest is the place for women – specifically moms.Interestingly, though, photos with people are repined much less frequently than those without. Images that are longer than they are wide are more often shared.

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 car convertible Convertible drivers want to be seen – and YouTube is the social network for users who appreciate the visual. With more than a billion unique visitors each month, YouTube is the #2 search engine on the web. As much as 80 percent of YouTube’s traffic comes from outside the US, so if you’re looking for international readers, this may be the place for you. According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more American adults ages between 18 and 34 than any cable network, which is worth noting if your readers are younger. (This one is mine – not from Giselle.)

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 car suv I love this comparison: Facebook is multipurpose, like an SUV. Facebook users are inherently social, posting everything from pictures of cats, zombies, and their kids to quotes, links, political messages, music, videos, and event listings.Facebook’s reach is vast, to be sure, but don’t assume it’s your reader’s number one online hangout. Do your research and find out for sure before you pour endless hours into it that don’t do much to boost your visibility as an author.

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 car pickup Here’s another great comparison. Like pickup drivers, Google+ users just want to get it done. Google+ has circles and hangouts and authorship. It’s got the versatility of an SUV, but its more workmanlike in its approach.With more than 540 million users in less than three years, Google+ is catching on in a huge way, because it’s so versatile – and proper integration can be an enormous boost to your blog/website traffic.

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Does this mean that you should use only one social network? Of course not! Many people/families have more than one car – or dream of having a second vehicle. Their taste is diverse. Likewise, your reader probably uses more than one social network. But if you want to see a return on your social marketing ROI, you must dedicate your time/energy/money to the networks where your reader is hanging out. If they have a Twitter account but send one tweet a year, and you’re doing lots of Tweet Chats and employing a big Click to Tweet campaign, you are probably missing each other – like two cars passing on the highway.
Have a presence on all the social networks, but focus on the one or two that will connect you with the most readers.
Here’s to identifying your readers’ favorite social networks!

Laura

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For rapidly changing topics, a blog might be more useful than a book

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about my blogging: I’m better at it (more consistent) when I have a theme and something of a schedule. This sporadic, find-a-suitable-topic stuff doesn’t really work for me, especially when I’m super-busy with client work or preoccupied with getting my website updated or building a new offering or promotion. That said, I’m working up a series of topics around the idea of integrating your social media. I’ll post the topics here as soon as I’ve got them in something of a final form.

In the meantime, a friend of mine asked a great question today about which social media book I recommend. He’d recently come across a less-than-flattering review I wrote of the 2010 “updated” version of The Social Media Bible.

These authors have a lot of nerve putting a 2010 publication date on this book and then, on p. 27, writing:

“MySpace is currently the biggest and most popular social network on the Internet and has more than 185 million members.”

By certain figures, Facebook hit 500 million users in Sept. 2010.

Yes, there’s good info in here … but I’m wary of ANY of the statistics.

As I was looking through the reviews today, I discovered that my comments were mild in comparison to those of several other disappointed readers who complained of irrelevance, too much self-serving promotion, “tools” that didn’t include any how-to information, and the offering for “free” gifts that was just a sales page designed to get you to buy a $200 program.

I think part of the danger lies in setting oneself up to write a “bible” (or Dummy’s book or Idiot’s Guide) on any subject that’s constantly changing, like social media. New information, platforms, and ways to use social media are emerging DAILY  so virtually any book on the subject is obsolete by the time it’s printed or even hits distribution as an eBook.  Likewise with almost any aspect of technology and many medical topics.

What’s the lesson for you, our dear SBMs? Make sure you double and triple-check your facts, links, and resources. If you’ve got a data-filled book with lots of changeable information, this probably means hiring a team of proofreaders and fact-checkers.

As I suggested to my friend, when it comes to social media, rather than looking for a “social media bible,” you might be better off following some of the smart, content-rich blogs:

SocialMediaExaminer.com

copyblogger.com

SocialMouths.com/blog

blog.Hubspot.com

SethGodin.com

Here’s to accuracy in reporting!

Laura

* Savvy Book Marketer

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit our website to view/download our Timeline of a Book, where you’ll note that marketing your book should start as soon as you begin writing it. If you’d like help setting up YOUR book marketing strategy, call us today for your complimentary 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

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Should you start an author blog?

Knowing there are upwards of 150 million blogs in the world, “Should I start one?” is a fair question. Of course, I’d point you to the library and Amazon and other favorite book shops to note the millions of books out there, too. Did that keep you from writing a book? Of course not! So the numbers alone should not dissuade you from starting an author blog. A much more valid question is not should you, but do you want to?

As Cameron Chapman writes for the Web Designer Depot blog, “The good news is that there’s always going to be plenty of room out there for new high-quality blogs. The bad news is that there are a lot more challenges facing bloggers now than there were a few years ago.”

In order to determine whether you want to jump in, let’s explore some of questions you might want to ask yourself.

WHY ARE YOU WRITING? Exposure. Demonstrate expertise. Get speaking gigs. Sell books. All of the above are good reasons. You’ll notice making money is not one of the reasons listed, because it’s pretty challenging to make money from blogging. A blog is a great way, though, to get exposure for yourself as an author and for your subject matter – even if you write fiction. Regular posting certainly helps you demonstrate your expertise, both as a writer and within your specific area of specialization. This expertise can lead to speaking gigs. And you might also sell a few books.

DO YOU HAVE THE TIME TO DEVOTE TO A BLOG? To get your blog going, you’ll need to do a lot of posts in quick succession. You can certainly write these ahead of time, spitting out as many as a half-dozen posts in one writing session, depending on your writing speed and skill. But they have to be well written, quality posts. Ideally they will vary in length. If your topic lends itself to research, you’ll have to build that time in, too. And the best blogs incorporate images, so you’ll have to factor that into your time frame, as well. As we noted in our recent post of interesting facts about blogging, 40 percent of bloggers spend 3 or more hours a week on their blogs, and the higher ranked bloggers post nearly 300 times more often than lower ranked bloggers.

HOW PATIENT ARE YOU? Building a following takes patience; it’s not an overnight process. You may pour your heart and soul into writing the most amazing posts, only to have your motivation dashed when you gape at the statistics: only 3 people read it. It’s not uncommon when you’re starting out to have days where you receive only a handful of visitors, but even those are better than the days when no one at all drops by to read your masterful posts. Through those days of lean readership, you must remain vigilant and dedicated and continue posting regularly. Look on it as a challenge, even, by posting inverse to the number of readers you have. The fewer readers, the more you post!

HOW MUCH WILL YOU ENJOY IT? Different perhaps from commercial blogs or blogs written by experts in other industries, this is probably the most important question for an author to consider before starting a blog. Authors who sell lots of books create personal bonds with their readers, which means your readers will be able to tell whether you’re enjoying your blogging process, or just churning out obligatory posts. Inevitably, enjoyment on the part of the blogger leads them to spend more time at it. The more time they spend, the more and better posts they write. More and better posts mean increased traffic. Increased traffic leads to validation for the blogger … which likely translates to greater enjoyment. Who says circular logic doesn’t work?

When we began this blog, we were posting twice a week, like clockwork. Then, we started finding more things to write about, so we started posting more often. We took a lengthy hiatus over the holidays and came back in full swing in January, and have been more dedicated since our absence. And guess what – as we’ve increased our number of posts, our traffic has shot up along with them. At this point, though we do pay attention to our statistics, we do it because we love it.

Here’s the thing. If you’re still undecided about whether you should start an author blog, there’s no harm in trying. You can use a free platform like WordPress or Blogger and have your blog up and running within minutes. The next step: start posting. You may find you’re hesitant at first, but grow to love it. You may find you don’t like it anywhere as much as you thought you would. You may find it difficult to schedule time to write. You may find that it’s the best work you’ve ever done. But you won’t know any of those things until you try.

Come back on Thursday when we explore some specific benefits of blogging. Next week, we’ll move on to tips for successful blogging.

In the meantime, go read some blogs!

MARCIE

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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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The majority of book bloggers are female … and other interesting blogging stats

At long last, we’re moving on from our general conversation about social media to more specifics about some of the more popular platforms. Because it is perhaps the oldest and, in my opinion, one of the most powerful social mediums, we’re going to start with blogging.

Just for clarification, a blog (short for Web log) is “kind of a continual tour, with a human guide who you get to know. There are many guides to choose from [and] each develops an audience. [T]here’s also camaraderie and politics between the people who run weblogs; they point to each other, in all kinds of structures, graphs, loops, etc.” Definition by userland.com.

The first blogs began in the early 90s, but the Web and blogs really took off in 1996. Today there are between 152 million and 175 million blogs on the Internet. Companies that blog receive as much as 55 percent more web traffic than non-blogging companies.

The following are some blogging statistics, broken into three categories:

(1) Blog Reader Stats, (2) Blogger Stats, and (3) Book Blogger Stats.

NOTE: While I typically follow many AP style rules for my blog posts, I am breaking a central one today in the interest of clarity: I will start sentences with Arabic numerals, simply because it’s easier.

BLOG READER STATS

  • American Internet users spend three times as many minutes on blogs and social networks as they do on e-mail.
  • Most people read between five and 10 blogs.
  • More people read blogs in the morning, with 10 a.m. being the peak time for reading.
  • Blog posts influence consumer purchasing, affecting things such as: helping consumers discover products and services; refining choices; providing support and answers; offering reassurance; helping consumers decide on a purchase; inspiring purchases; and executing purchases.
  • Consumer trust in blogs is growing, with people almost as likely to look to blogs for information as they do to magazines and newspapers.
  • Consumers are nearly as likely to share info they find on a blog as from a newspaper or magazine, and more likely to share blog info than info from a social media site.

BLOGGER STATS

  • Bloggers tend to be young (typically between 25 and 44) and highly educated (75 percent have a college degree and another 40 percent have started or completed a graduate degree). Two-thirds are male. More than half are married; more than half are parents.
  • 86 percent have been blogging at least a year.
  • Each maintains an average of 3 blogs.
  • 40 percent spend 3+ hours a week on their blogs.
  • 65 percent follow brands on social media and most regularly blog about the brands they follow.
  • Bloggers spend an average of 10 to 12 hours a week on social media sites.
  • 90+ percent of bloggers use Facebook to promote their blogs; 80+ percent use Twitter.
  • 70 percent say that personal satisfaction is one way they measure their blog’s success.
  • 72 percent say they blog in order to share their expertise.
  • 63 percent say that blogging has led them to become more involved with things they’re passionate about.
  • 42 percent have become friends with someone they’ve met in person through their blog.
  • 35 percent plan to one day publish a book.
  • Higher ranked bloggers post nearly 300 times more often than lower ranked bloggers.
  • 59 percent use a free third-party hosting service.
  • 20 percent report having updated their blog or added content from their mobile device.
  • 70 percent talk about brands on their blog organically.

BOOK BLOGGER STATS

The following statistics come from a survey of 300 book bloggers conducted by the Biblio blog. The results were originally posted May 17, 2010.

  • 83 percent of book bloggers are female.
  • 40 percent have literature/writing-related degrees; 43 percent took college courses but did not have writing/literature-related degrees; 16 percent have only studied literature at the elementary, middle, or high school level.
  • 41 percent have jobs related to literature and/or writing.
  • 86 percent have no affiliation to a publisher, bookseller, or other literary entity.
  • 73 percent view their blog as a “review blog,” with 14 percent explicitly pointing out that their blog does NOT post reviews.
  • 31 percent of book blogs are genre specific.
  • 51 percent of book bloggers post reviews 6 or more times per month.
  • 61 percent do not participate in book tours; the other 39 percent participate to varying degrees.
  • Only 31 percent of book bloggers belong to book clubs.
  • 34 percent never do book giveaways; the remaining 66 percent do, to varying degrees. 35 percent give away ARCs (advance reading copies) and 49 percent give away personal copies of books.
  • 71 percent do not own any kind of eReader. [Of all the statistics, this one surprised me the most.]

Here is someone’s list of the Top 50 book blogs. I do not endorse the blogs on the list, nor can I be certain all links work.

Happy posting!

MARCIE

RESOURCES:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/7-reasons-to-rethink-your-blogging-strategy-new-research/

http://thefuturebuzz.com/2009/12/10/blogging-stats-facts-data/

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/14416/100-Awesome-Marketing-Stats-Charts-Graphs-Data.aspx

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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 authorsr

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Interesting marketing (read, social media) stats authors might find useful

If you’re a metrics junkie, you love numbers and stats. If you’re a book marketer, though you might find statistics boring, they are immensely useful in understanding where your market is and how they want to be touched. The following are some of the more interesting (OK, interesting to me) statistics from a couple recent publications.

NOTE: The following statistics are borrowed from two sources:

HubSpot’s 100 Awesome Marketing Stats, Charts, & Graphs and AdAge’s Book of Tens: Stats That Mattered for Media and Marketing in 2011.  Each cited its own sources in the original material — I have not reproduced those original citations in the following images.

http://adage.com/article/adagestat/stats-mattered-media-marketing-2011/231534/
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http://adage.com/article/adagestat/stats-mattered-media-marketing-2011/231534/
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http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/14416/100-Awesome-Marketing-Stats-Charts-Graphs-Data.aspx
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http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/14416/100-Awesome-Marketing-Stats-Charts-Graphs-Data.aspx
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http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/14416/100-Awesome-Marketing-Stats-Charts-Graphs-Data.aspx
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http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/14416/100-Awesome-Marketing-Stats-Charts-Graphs-Data.aspx
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http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/14416/100-Awesome-Marketing-Stats-Charts-Graphs-Data.aspx
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http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/14416/100-Awesome-Marketing-Stats-Charts-Graphs-Data.aspx
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http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/14416/100-Awesome-Marketing-Stats-Charts-Graphs-Data.aspx
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http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/14416/100-Awesome-Marketing-Stats-Charts-Graphs-Data.aspx
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http://adage.com/article/adagestat/stats-mattered-media-marketing-2011/231534/
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http://adage.com/article/adagestat/stats-mattered-media-marketing-2011/231534/
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OK, that last one is probably more voyeuristic than useful, but you know who you are!

Even if none of these specific statistics speaks to you or your audience, you might want to think about going out to find stats that do apply in your situation. Who are your readers? Where are they? How much have they integrated social media into their lives? Where should you be if you want to connect with them?

Happy researching!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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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.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Wednesday, February 22 – 25 social media success tips for authors
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Beware those who call themselves “social media EXPERTS”

With all this talk of social media, I was reminded of an episode that occurred a year or so ago. I was invited to a “luncheon” that turned out to be nothing more than a thinly disguised sales presentation with a little serving of Vienna sausages. I am NOT exaggerating. More problematic than the food or the surprise sales pitch was the fact that the pitcher wasn’t very good at his service. Want to guess what his service was? Yeppers – social media.

This fledgling company was promising viral Internet penetration through the use of social media. But when I looked at the company’s own social media presence, I could hear crickets chirping. The only company on Twitter with a name even similar to theirs was in Australia; we’re in Phoenix. Nothing on YouTube. But they did have a Facebook page – with 10 “Likes.”

For a moderate fee, they were promising to not only manage my social media for me, but to also to help take me viral on the Web. As we noted the other day, it’s really difficult to manufacture viral.

The story gets better, though. When the presenter (and, I presume, head of the company) asked me if I was ready to sign up, I had to tell him honestly that I had some doubts. I’d checked his stats on three of the most visible SM platforms at the time, and the results were insignificant, at best. First, he insisted that I was looking at the wrong numbers. This was about viral influence, not just their statistics. “Really? But how can you influence anyone if you have only 10 followers?” No real answer for that one except to keep repeating that I just didn’t understand – and maybe they didn’t want me as a client anyway. “It’s by exclusive invitation, you know.” Next, he went home and unfriended me on Facebook. OK, then.

Here’s the thing. Would you use a dentist with bad teeth? Visit a hairdresser with terrible hair? Invest with a financial advisor who drove a beat-up jalopy? Probably not. We generally expect our experts to actually embody the product or service they’re selling. It’s one reason politicians who champion public schools and then send their kids for private education so often meet resistance. The message is incongruous with the messenger! In the same way, shouldn’t a social media company have proven a bit of savvy with the tools before offering their services to other people?

For a while there, it seemed every other person I met was adding “social media expert” to their list of skills and services. One guy on Twitter remarked, “That’s like saying you’re an expert at using the phone or sending an e-mail.” While that’s not exactly true – social media is still in its infancy and is morphing and growing daily – he does make a fair point. I think there are a rare few who can really call themselves social media experts. These are the people who are monitoring and measuring the trends, the ones who can tell us what’s coming up next while we’re still trying to master the last SM wave. They’re writing the blog posts I use as source material. And you know what else? They’re really in it – with lots of friends/followers/connections.

I honestly believe the thing that makes social media work is that it’s personal. Can you hire someone to be personal for you? Maybe. But they’ve got to know you and your book business really, really well. And then you’ve got to trust them. To speak for you. To write for you. To comment for you. To connect for you. To enhance and preserve your reputation for you. That’s a lot of trust.

Social media is a great way to shorten the sales cycle, take the temperature of your readers and followers, get to know new people, and generally make a name for yourself. I would think long and hard before deciding to outsource it, and then hire only someone with stellar references who’s been doing it well for a while.

Happy connecting!

Laura

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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