Spam Toad vs. Author Brand
Social media is different for writers. Yes, we really are special unique snowflakes. I have repeatedly claimed that I am not a social media expert. Rather, I am THE social media expert for writers. There is a HUGE difference. I am a writer first, and the book is always the most important asset we have. There isn’t any point to all this blogging and tweeting and Face-booking (yes, I made up a word) unless we have a finished product to sell.
So which social media platform is the best for writers?
My answer? The one you like and will do well. If the thought of being on Facebook makes you want to drink cooking wine until you black out, then by all means sign up for G+. If you love Facebook and hate Twitter, then at least read my Twitter Tuesday series. You might just hate Twitter because you don’t understand it. BUT, if you totally GET Twitter and it makes you break out in hives and want to punch puppies??? Don’t hang there.
If we hang out places we enjoy, people can feel and respond to the positive energy. The largest benefit we can gain from social media is a vested community of support. We do not need a “presence” on all social platforms. We can have one, but it will likely have little impact on sales. Why? There are a number of reasons, but today we are only going to discuss one.
Name Recognition is Not a Brand
Writers are not Starbuck’s.
Some people believe that if we spew our names across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Flikr, Goodreads…okay, I’m tired…Four Square, Technorati, Digg….that THIS is effective marketing. My opinion? This is a formula to land a writer on a roof with a margarita machine and a shotgun.
Too many writers are trying to have a “presence” on a gajillion social sites. Name recognition alone is not a brand, and it certainly isn’t an author brand. It also doesn’t leave time to write more books. There are a lot of writers getting in trouble with their agents and publishers because they are dedicating too much time to social media. Why? Because this scattergun approach is a massive time suck (and does nothing to brand us anyway).
What is an author brand? My formula:
Name + Fantastic Content + POSITIVE FEELINGS = Brand
If a writer just spams people on 10 different social sites:
Look at ME!
Here’s my blog!
Free download of my book!
Read my reviews!
It really just means that this writer has ten places people hate him and cringe when they see his name. There are certain social sites I no longer visit. I found it too hard to enjoy myself when I was being harassed non-stop by self-published authors.
This goes for sending people form letters on Facebook too. If I “friend” a writer, and within 30 seconds receive a nice long letter that is trying to “look” personalized, that ticks me off, especially when the writer wants something from me.
This person hasn’t so much as said “boo” to me, but they want my time, effort, money and referral. And not only that, but this person is treating me like I am so stupid that I don’t know a form letter when I see one.
NOT a good way to make friends.
Also, please do not start a Why I Am So Awesome Club on Facebook and then sign us up without asking first. I hate it when I open my e-mail’s In Box to notifications for a discussion in a group I have never heard of, yet I am, somehow, a member.
You have 10 e-mails from Friends of Author Buffy Fluffernutter—The Chiropractor’s Assistant—A Tale of Love, Hate and Orthotics.
Huh? What? Did someone rufie my Facebook and she ended up at a party she doesn’t remember?
Back to our formula:
Name + Great Content +POSITIVE FEELINGS= Brand
When someone spams me, I get annoyed. When they send me form letters where they have inserted my name and a couple of inane details that anyone could get by looking at my bio? I get REALLY annoyed, because now I am not only being treated as if I am stupid, I am being manipulated.
Name + Unsolicited Content+ Seriously ticked off feelings = Spam Toad
I have yet to ever buy anything from writers on Twitter who DMed, “Thanks for the follow. For more of my terribly interesting thoughts buy my book here.”
Yeah, I am right on that. Right after I pick up my Facebook page from victim’s counseling. On the bright side, she has given up digital daiquiris for good.
In fairness, I actually don’t report these writers as spam. Though I find the approach annoying, I know that there is some “marketing genius” who is telling writers that this is the way to be professional and to sell a lot of books.
We cannot take what works for Bubba’s Car Wash and cross-apply it to selling books. Traditional marketing DOES NOT SELL BOOKS. It never has, and likely never will. We are going to talk about why next week.
Back to our topic…
Name recognition alone doesn’t sell books, namely because that is a traditional marketing tactic. Brands, especially when talking about author brands, are a product of interaction. I like to say that authors are the new reality stars. We now have the power to become a personality. People like US…so they buy our books.
Spending hours a day blitzing ten different social sites is a waste of time. Spend that time writing more books and blogging. Blogs offer readers a chance to know us, like us, and love our writing voice. If we can get them addicted to 1500 words a week, think when we offer 80,000.
For instance, I started reading Tawna Fenkse’s blog a YEAR before her book was ready for purchase. Let me tell you, the second that puppy was for sale? I was on it like a chicken on a June bug. And I was RIGHT. Her fiction is even better than the blog. I was hooked by her blog and couldn’t WAIT for her book. Buy Making Waves the first chance you get.
Blogs are very useful for creating reader loyalty. If we write a killer blog, we don’t need to be on every last social site. Why? Our following will be sharing our stuff where THEY hang out….which is the purpose of social media. We don’t have to do this alone.
If you don’t want to blog, no problem, just be authentic and likable. If we focus on doing one or two sites well, we start becoming a brand because people can start associating those pink fluffy feelings with our names (the NAME that will be printed on your books–ditch the cutesy moniker if you have one).
Even corporations appreciate the power of emotions. Look at the picture above. We have all laughed at “Peggy.” Capitol One appreciated how we have been treated by other card companies, and they sought to make us feel appreciated…so they poked fun. And it works. We connect emotionally.
Name recognition alone is not enough. To prove my point:
Arne Duncan Vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Which name do you recognize? Perhaps both. Duncan is the current U.S. Secretary of Education. You might have heard his name in passing on CNN, but though you recognize it, it holds little mental real estate and his name is not highly emotive (for most people). Schwarzenegger, by contrast, is a name that practically explodes with images, concepts and emotions for people all over the world.
This is the idea behind becoming a brand. Name recognition alone is not enough. We must use our blogs and social platforms to drive the power of emotion behind our names. This is one of the reasons NYTBSAs can get away with some traditional marketing. Why? Because they have 20+ books supplying the emotional component to their names.
When we don’t yet have a book out, or only one or two books? Our social platform can step in and fill the emotional vacuum until we have more titles under our belt.
We can use our blogs to connect with READERS on common emotional ground. We craft an experience that is so positive that people not only want to buy our books, but they also want to badger friends and family to buy our books as well. Why? Because they feel they know us. They connected with us and so they are vested in our success; so vested, in fact, that they are willing to mobilize their platforms to help us.
THAT is the real power of becoming a brand. Historically, the only way an author could emotionally connect (in a positive way) was through her novels. Now? Social media can act as a meantime supplement between books.
In the end, just understand that name recognition is not a brand.
Seeing a name a bazillion times means next to nothing. Unless that name connects personally and emotively in a positive way, it is very difficult to compel the sale (which is the end goal anyway). People have a lot going on in their lives. Emotion is the best way to power past people’s natural inertia and make them act (purchase a book). It is next to impossible to connect emotively scattered across 8 social sites. Then people might be seeing our name, but since we don’t have time to be vested, we can easily fall into that Spam Toad mental file, and that is BAD.
So what do you guys think? What makes you connect with an author enough to buy her books (aside from pervious good books)? What are some tactics that make you want to scream? Do you feel better knowing you don’t have to be EVERYWHERE? Or do you disagree and think writers need to be on 10 social sites?
I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of August, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of August I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.
In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.
Mash Up of Awesomeness
Bob Mayer’s Thriving in the Chaos of Publishing
Why Twister is a Dangerous Game for Dads by Brian Klems
Ellie Soderstrom’s My Three Favorite Weight Loss Tips I Ever Made Up (Caution: Do not eat or beverages while reading this post. Could cause choking.)
Need even more laughter? Prepare to bust a gut. A Time to Receipt by Bayard and Holmes. Yes, the face of Jesus on a Wal Mart receipt. I won’t ruin it for you.
Cosmo Headlines–A Critical Analysis by Tyler Tarver (guest blogger for Clay Morgan). And YES I did funny stuff. I love to laugh.
Why are so many writers plagued with insecurities? by Jody Hedlund
Play it Again–The Top 20 Most Rewatchable Movies by Sonia Medieros
Well isn’t this Smurfy? What cartoons have influenced you? by Kristal Lee
Where God Put the Moon by Jennifer Hale. Awesome, inspirational post.
Camping with Snookie and the Art of Hovering by Lori Dyan