Standing Out in an a World of Invisible—Does Advertising and Marketing Still Work?
Author Piper Bayard and I are “WINNING!” Foxy with Moxie at DFW Con 2012
Last week we talked about some changes with Facebook. Can they now hold our fan pages hostage? Now that the giant is a publicly traded company, we just should expect that they are going to look for ways to generate profits for shareholders. This doesn’t make Facebook evil. It isn’t personal. It’s just business.
I am very careful to not be too indignant, because what did I expect for free?
Last week, I mentioned how fan page holders could expect to show up in the feeds of only about 10-15% of their fans. But, Facebook is now offering a promotion service to make sure your posts show up in all our fans’ feeds. And, the price per post, from what I have seen, ain’t cheap. Some fan page owners were looking at $300 or even $500 per post.
Remember, Facebook is only sharing posts with fans who repeatedly return to your page, post on your page, comment on your page, or otherwise engage on your fan page.
I am hesitant to charge Facebook with doing anything nefarious. I watch how many fan page holders use their pages, and a 10-15% ROI is actually not bad. I know we would all love to believe that when people “Like” our page, that they are hanging off every word, every announcement, and every post. But, the sad truth is they likely aren’t.
A World of Invisible
We have created a world where mass marketing is powerless and most products are invisible. Technology has fragmented the marketplace, which means that modern consumers are inundated with choices.. We no longer live in a world with three major television networks who control the lion’s share of content.
We have hundreds of channels and Internet and blogs and You Tube and dozens of additional social sites to tickle our collective fancies. These days consumers can focus on what they want and then ignore the rest.
Exposure Doesn’t Mean What It Used To
I’m always seeing these marketing companies offering ways for authors to have some “exposure,” but in a world where most ads are invisible, what real use is this? I’m not saying exposure is worthless, but it certainly doesn’t have the impact it did in the Golden Age of Advertising.
The TV-industrial complex is hemorrhaging, and most marketers don’t have a clue what to do about it. Every day companies spend millions to recreate the glory days of the TV-industrial complex, and every day they fail.
Exposure used to be all we needed to catapult over the competition. We just needed the right ad in the right magazine. The right commercial at the right time on the right network.
Of course this was before the day of DVRs, The Power of the Four Arrows, and Sirius radio.
A Quick Survey
How many of you have ever clicked on an ad on Facebook or some other social site? Now, of those ads you clicked on, how many of those translated into a sale? When you look at your purchasing habits as a whole, what percentage has been influenced by interruption marketing? How many books have you bought from authors who tweet:
Title of MY Book. Rated best book of the year by ME and fans you’ve never heard of. Buy NOW! Only 99 cents #fiction #freebooks #Iamseriouslyannoying #Ilovespam #sales #memememememememememe #lookatme #allaboutme #buymystuff
Yeah, me neither.
Facebook is Feeding the Delusion
Facebook is charging to make sure our posts come up in the feeds of all of our followers. Okay. All this means is that Facebook, for a fee, will guarantee that all our fans will see what we post…not just the vested ones. But, in a world where most advertising is invisible, does this do us any good?
I think it might do some good for the large companies/brands like Coca Cola or Colgate. I mean, we need to give them a break. Newspapers are going under and most of us throw away our mailers before we ever take a look. We use the Power of the Four Arrows to zoom by their television ads.
Let’s face it, they are running out of places where they can tell us about their products. Yet, here is the deal, most of those products or companies who would find the new FB service helpful?
They are already brands. They aren’t going anywhere. They are using advertising merely to maintain their market supremacy, and they have multimillion dollar budgets to fuel this.
Millions of Americans are going to buy Tide and Kleenex whether we see an ad or not. Proctor and Gamble is not going anywhere. These guys entrenched themselves back in the Golden Age of Advertising, and start-ups would be INSANE to try and go against them on their own terms. When was the last time you saw a T.V. ad for a detergent that was totally new and NOT part of an established mega-brand like P&G?
The big guys have the ground and they have the budget to use Facebook in ways the new and upcoming competition cannot. Facebook is a way of maintaining what they have in the market.
In fact, want a real dose of reality?
Interbrand values the top 100 brands in the world every year. When we look at the 2011 report of the top 100 global brands, most of them are brands that were relevant 30 years ago back when heavy TV ads and magazine campaigns worked. Of the top 100, maybe 25% were built by harnessing word of mouth and generating a grassroots campaign. (I learned about Interbrand via Seth Godin’s Purple Cow. Great book that I HIGHLY recommend).
Writers would be wise to pay attention.
Artists are Entrepreneurs
Here is the deal. Artists are entrepreneurs. Writers, especially self-published and indie published authors are small businesses. We can’t use the same tactics as Phillip Morris and have success. Frankly, we never could.
When we rely on paid advertising, we are hoping for an easy way out that takes away accountability for failure. It is easier to throw a couple thousand dollars at buying Facebook advertising than it is to get in the trenches and create relationships.
Is Facebook Really Up to No Good?
I don’t believe Facebook is hiding anyone’s feeds, but since I don’t work there, I can’t be sure. I know that some authors have been complaining that their posts seemed to be disappearing into the ether and that fans were having a hard time finding them. This very well could be the case.
Facebook could be manipulating the data and hoping we pay money to get back in front of our fans. Thing is, Facebook is free and they can do what they want, so it is difficult to complain. Even if they aren’t doing this now, we should anticipate and plan for a day that they will juke the stats to make a buck.
***Note: I might recommend that you sign up for WANATribe, the new social site for creative professionals. No ads, bots, spammers or friend limits. Also, you can customize your page to be as unique as you. We aren’t trying to be Facebook. We’re very niche. We want a fun place for creative people to hang out, network, make friends and build a community of like-minded professionals. We are not alone!
Tactics that Work in the Modern Age
My goal has always been to help creative professionals, primarily writers, understand that they cannot use the same tools as Proctor & Gamble. Mass advertising and relying on fan page ads works for Target, but not for us. There are many ways that we can build a thriving, vested community to support our goals and careers, but here are five of my favorites.
1. Be Remarkable with Your Product
This is one of the reasons I blog about craft. Good books generate buzz that can’t be bought. These days everyone can be published, so we need to be better than the competition.
At WANA International, we bring the top teachers in the industry to help you take your writing from good to outstanding. Invest in yourself, your business and your future. NY Times Best-Selling Author Shirley Jump is teaching The Basics of Scene & Sequel and Plotting with Paper Bags this month for WANA. The author of the Digital Age has to write better, cleaner and faster. We offer classes to help you up your game.
2. Reach for Everyone and We Reach No One
Mass marketing doesn’t work, but these days it doesn’t have to. We don’t need to reach all the people, just the right people. A dedicated group of hardcore fans are worth more than all the advertising dollars in the world. In fact Kevin Kelly asserted that all an artist needed to make a good living was 1,000 True Fans.
WANA methods and a blog are the best ways to locate and nurture that critical 1000. In fact, this is one of the reasons I push authors learning how to blog. We have the power to create that base of 1,000 True Fans before our book is even ready for purchase.
3. Use a blog to build/fuel a grassroots movement for you as an author brand.
WANA methods have been responsible for launching authors from total obscurity to success. A fan page is powerful, but paired with a great blog? You won’t need to pay Facebook to put your posts in your fans’ feeds because your fans will be vested. They will come to you. And, if Facebook goes crazy and implodes? Your blog is yours and your fan base will remain in tact. Your 1,000 True Fans will follow wherever you go.
4. Be genuinely interested in service.
Serve first. Talk to people. Interact. Stop marketing and STOP SELLING. I love the #MyWANA group on Twitter. I love it when I see true WANAs talking and helping one another. I know those people will have all the help they need when it comes time to promote their books. The same goes for Facebook. Comment on other people’s pages. Be interested in other people.
I take regular breaks throughout the day and I scan down the home feed on Facebook and look for ways that I can interact, serve, compliment or encourage. Genuine kindness is so rare, and people are so hungry for it, that they remember it and look for ways to repay in kind.
5. Be different.
If everyone else is doing something, then it has already become invisible. One thing I teach in my classes is how to use our artist imagination to be remarkable even in our social media. My Blogging for Author Brand class will be starting tomorrow, so I hope to see you in class. You can sign up here.
If you want to know a little more before making a decision on what class is right for you, I am giving a free webinar tonight at 7:00 p.m. CST. Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World. Sign up asap because slots are limited. I look forward to seeing you guys tonight.
Facebook has almost a billion members. They are valuable, but Facebook advertising (like all advertising) is virtually invisible to the modern consumer. When we understand that hard truth and focus, instead, on people, we have more impact and are far more resilient to change.
What are your thoughts? Is Facebook too big? What are your favorite parts of social media? What are your pet peeves?
I love hearing from you!