Breaking Facebook Dependence—How to Create an Enduring Author Brand
Friday I wrote a post Is Facebook Dying? What’s Killing It? to relay what I strongly will be the next evolution of the Digital Age, a Web 3.0 if you will. Judging from the early success of augmented reality games (referencing Pokemon Go), I think we can expect to see more games and more variations.
And this is not necessarily a bad thing.
FB has been like a spoiled child garnering all the attention for far too long. Perhaps that is at least in part responsible for all the poor behavior. Thus, the new ARGs really are like that younger sibling that comes along.
Suddenly FB is no longer an “only” child and is going to have to learn to share attention. Does it mean we will never again pay attention to FB? No. But it certainly won’t have the monopoly on our affection it’s previously enjoyed.
What does this mean for writers creating a brand?
For any author who wants a stable brand, the focus must always be on people not on any particular social site. This was why I wrote my social media book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World the way that I did. I have been around long enough to watch what seemed like impenetrable giants topple…taking years of work and platform with them.
Thus, I wanted a way to trend-proof the author platform as much as I could because most of us are here for the long haul so we want our focus to be in the right place. A place that will be stable and has the ability to grow deep roots that are resilient to change, that can grow with us and is as dynamic as the Internet and the humans powering it.
We needed to grow roots where we would enjoy the most returns for our efforts. In short, authors must break their dependence on social media sites.
Sites like Facebook should always be servants of the greater brand…NEVER its master.
Some Things Never Change
Why is Shakespeare still relevant centuries later? Because as much as we’d like to believe we change, we really don’t. Humans don’t change. Humans still struggle with selfishness, greed, pride, ego, etc. We still crave love, attention, consideration, belonging, meaning and likely always will.
This means groups are also defined by the core realities of its component members. Any group of people will either evolve or devolve for the same reasons they have for thousands of years.
This means that all social sites are vulnerable. No matter how big a social site gets, it has critical nodes (areas of weakness) and it CAN go away. Our job is to understand this reality…then work around it.
I know I get groans every time I mention the blog. Sure the name alone conjures images of some oozing, alien creature that ingests then liquifies teenagers dumb enough to skinny dip late at night. But, in reality, the blog is actually a writer’s best friend.
Because first of all, the blog plays to a writer’s strengths.
Writers write. It makes us leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner at what we do. Writing. So it is never a waste of time.
Additionally, a blog capitalizes on the constants. People will always want stories and information, regardless the form—from interpretational dance to digital.
Humans still crave advice, opinions, information, stories and community.
For years I’ve chastised writers for using their best content on Facebook. The writer would refuse to have a blog and would wail, But it takes too much time!
Problem was, they were spending the time anyway. They were posting content that would have been fantastic as a blog…but then it was squandered in a place with limited reach and where that content would no longer be a seed for something greater (and also a seed the writer no longer owned 😉 ).
Search Engine Blindness
Sure we get the immediate feel-good of all our “friends” liking the content we post places like FB, but no search engine ever is going to direct new people who don’t yet know us to our clever observation. We are feeding all this great “bait” to “fish” we’ve already caught. Sure, good content on Facebook will lead to more people “liking” our page, but the shelf life is incredibly short.
On a blog?
It is forever.
Well it is for at least as long as we have an internet and if the internet goes away we have way bigger problems than book sales.
Daily I get new followers who randomly googled something and who happened across this blog. Initially they like the blog (YAY!) but then they also see I have archives, that I am still posting and posting consistently. BAM! New subscriber. Recently I garnered two passionate new fans from a post I wrote eight years ago.
That is never going to happen on Facebook ever.
Search engines can also be our friends. Why? Because search engines use human behavior as a constant.
What do humans like? Okay. Send them there.
Blogs are Benevolent Dictatorships
I have a degree in Political Science which means I did a lot of studying on governments. The word democracy might conjure up fluffy feelings of patriotism, but it’s a word misused. Pure democracy is actually a living nightmare and doesn’t work once a group becomes larger than like five people. It inevitably devolves into mob rule. The majority wins.
This means if trolls are in the majority? They win.
Bizarrely enough the worst form of government is a dictatorship with the wrong person in power but ironically the best form of government is a dictatorship with the right person in power—aka the benevolent dictatorship. Of course the dictatorship can so easily go bad that it’s really no longer a preferred system of governing…unless we are talking blogs.
This blog is not a democracy. It has rules. MY rules.
Follow them and life is lovely. Fail to follow them and I trash the comment. I have no problem with commenters disagreeing with me or a fellow commenter, but we are to always be kind and respectful.
Lest the smiting commence.
I rule with an iron
fist delete button and there is peace, happiness and prosperity in the land.
Our ability to give others a fun and safe place to socialize should not be underestimated, especially when the other choices are a cesspool of bickering and bullying. The only way a blog can be overrun by trolls is if the blogger fails to maintain the peace.
Blogs Grow as WE Grow
I started following Chuck Wendig years ago when both of us were relatively new writers (he even blurbed my first book). Both of us have kept blogging and our voice and ability has evolved with us. I was unpublished when I started and now have three successful books under my belt. Chuck was traditionally published…but only just recently earned the coveted title New York Times Best Selling Author.
So we’ve grown in our profession and our voice, but we have also grown in our reach. Chuck, a liberal hipster, probably wasn’t looking for fans among the military and yet on Saturday I saw his post, An Open Letter to Tiny House Hunters being shared among my special forces friends…who were dying laughing and sharing his content everywhere they could.
A big reason writers like Chuck and I have managed to keep growing and have this kind of reach is we’ve fad-proofed our brands with our blogs. We’ve both weathered MySpace, G+ and all the ups and downs of Twitter and FB not because we didn’t use those sites, rather…
We never made them our master.
We didn’t have to keep starting from Ground Zero the second the siren’s song of some new shiny came along. Even a Pokemon Shiny. Thing is people can’t play Pokemon 24/7. They do have jobs and…
Pokemon Go is to a degree reliant on good weather and we are about to see much less of that. When the snow comes, reading blogs is probably going to be preferable to wandering in subzero temps or trying to drive through a blizzard to find a Pokemon Stop. Additionally, people still have jobs and it is easier to check in on a favorite blog than to risk getting fired for wandering around catching virtual creatures.
Anyone who says “the blog” is dead is either is a technophile or doesn’t know people. I’ve heard all the gurus claiming the blog is dead. Have heard it for almost nine years now and most of those “gurus” are gone but guess who’s still here? 😉
Blogs offer an intimacy with authors second only to the books they write.
Thing is a blog done badly IS a veritable hell, so to shorten your learning curve, I’m offering a couple classes this coming month to get you started. Hey, the school supplies are for sale! Ya’ll know you can’t resist buying new pens and a notebook. Put them to use!
Blogging for Authors (August 26th) will teach you all you need to know to start an author blog good for going the distance. Additionally I would also recommend the class offered earlier that same week (August 22nd) Branding for Authors to help you with the BIG picture. These classes will benefit you greatly because most blogs will fail because writers waste a lot of time with stuff that won’t work and never will and that wastes a lot of time.
I am here to help with that 😉 .
What are your thoughts? Are you getting tired of all the new social media fads? Does it feel like you are a leaf in a river sometimes? Have you put down some good roots and are happy you did? Are you addicted to new school supplies and secretly want a new lunch kit and backpack?
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of JULY, 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. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
Check out the other NEW classes below!
All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.
We are doing ANOTHER round of Battle of the First Pages!!! August 5th
The first time we did this we had some tech issues doing this new format and we’ve since worked those out, but for now I am still keeping the price low ($25) until we get this streamlined to my tastes.
LIMITED SEATS. This is an open workshop where each person will submit his or her first page of the manuscript for critique. I will read the page aloud and “gong” where I would have stopped reading and explain why. This is an interactive workshop designed to see what works or what doesn’t. Are you ready to test your page in the fire?
Hooking the Reader—Your First Five Pages August 12th
The first five pages are the most essential part of the novel, your single most powerful selling tool. It’s how you will hook agents, editors and readers. This class will cover the most common blunders and also teach you how to hook hard and hook early. This class is 90 minutes long, 60 minutes of instruction and 30 minutes for Q&A.
Your First Five Pages Gold Level
This includes the webinar and a detailed critique your first five pages.
Your First Five Pages Platinum Level
This includes the webinar and a detailed critique of your first twenty pages.
Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist August 19th
All fiction must have a core antagonist. The antagonist is the reason for the story problem, but the term “antagonist” can be highly confusing. Without a proper grasp of how to use antagonists, the plot can become a wandering nightmare for the author and the reader.
This class will help you understand how to create solid story problems (even those writing literary fiction) and then give you the skills to layer conflict internally and externally.
Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist Gold
This is a personal workshop to make sure you have a clear story problem. And, if you don’t? I’ll help you create one and tell the story you want to tell. This is done by phone/virtual classroom and by appointment. Expect to block off at least a couple hours.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.