Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: marketing

Today we are going to talk about platform. Platform, next to the actual writing, is simply THE most valuable asset we possess. Platform and content are the two things we control, and they are the largest determining factors as to whether or not we will have a successful writing career. Platforms offer us career stability and a foundation for a future.

What exactly IS platform?

So what is a platform? There are two sides to platform. First is the definition of our platform. What is unique about us or our writing that can be a determining factor in our content?

In Hollywood, the mantra is, “Give me the same…but different.” This should be our mantra in defining our platform. We need SOMETHING that defines us as a writer…but at the same time makes us stand out from all the others. Same but different.

Our platform definition is basically our image, and affects the way we will approach others. Think of it like how we dress. Do we approach people as the three-piece suit Power Point guy? All business and professional? Are we the D&D T-shirt video game guy, and we quote Blazing Saddles far more than is socially acceptable? Are we the seductive yet snarky diva who teaches about bringing out the inner muse? Defining platform goes a lot to adding to voice.

Just go read Bob Mayer’s blog…then pop over the Chuck Wendig. Both have amazing blogs, but very different voices and presentation. Both authors use their strong suits, and their personalities come screaming off the screen (in a good way).

I liken myself to Erma Bombeck meets technology. I strive to add a heavy dose of humor and common sense to all of my social media endeavors. I am using something unique to me; the ability to be funny…honed over 18 schools and countless Mean Girls whose sole mission in life was to make my life hell. Years of always being the new target kid developed in me a strong defense mechanism. I learned to be funny. Kind of like peeing on yourself so no one eats you.

In my Blogging to Build Your Author Brand on-line classes, I run participants through a series of exercises to help them define their unique platform. We peel back the layers of fear and the defense mechanisms to reveal the best of what each writer has to offer. Why be a bad copy when you can be an awesome and original YOU?

Defining our platform is like putting together blueprints for a building. Are we a Frank Lloyd Wright writer? A Tuscan villa writer? A post-modern industrial writer? A ranch-style writer? We need to know what we are constructing first.

Anyway, once we have defined our platform, then we go about building our platform. This can be a simple presence in a blog or on FB…or, if you read my book WANA, it is a complex layering of all the major sites worked into an intricate lattice that is designed to grow with your career and withstand upsets in the industry or on social media. The WANA Method maximizes time on social media.

Good Platforms are Solid and Can Withstand Major Shifts in Technology and Trends

All platforms are comprised of content and exposure. How much content are you putting out there? What kind of materials (content) are you using? Are you cheaping out? Cutting corners? Or are you constructing something built to last? Are you showing up daily on the job site? Or, are you adding to your structure only when the mood strikes?

One blog every quarter and tweets about the weather is not a lot of useful content. Content makes up the beams to construct the platform. If we are putting out 2-5 quality blogs a week, that is like laying down solid beams of hardwood. If we don’t blog and only play with farm animals on FB, think of that like building our platform with leftover Popsicle sticks. Yeah, there is something “wooden-ish” there, but it sure as heck ain’t load-bearing.

This is the point of all that we are doing when on social media. We are creating a load-bearing structure using content and relationships. This is the platform that will hold our reputations, our public images and our futures. Do we want that made out of beams of African Teak or cheap particle board? The better a platform is constructed, the better chance it can withstand a major change.

Case in point…

MySpace is dead. It decided to commit digital suicide two weeks after WANA released (feel free to ignore all ten pages that talk about MySpace). But this illustrates a good point about how my approach to social media is different. WANA methods focus on people, not gizmos.

At the time We Are Not Alone came out, I already had a HUGE presence on MySpace. But, because I had built my platform the way I teach you guys, I was able to keep most of my followers as tastes changed in favor of FB and Twitter. How? My platform was solid and founded on people, not technology. Technology changes, but people are timeless.

When MySpace went crazy, my platform remained intact. Members of my MySpace platform could easily find me on FB as they abandoned ship transitioned. And, the even better part was that I made enough of an impression that they WANTED to find me. That is awesome no matter how you look at it :D.

I teach you guys how to do the same. There is no guarantee that Facebook will be here next year. Twitter could turn cannibalistic and devour itself one tweep at a time. We don’t know where the technology goes or how it will change, but we DO know that people are awesome and they long to connect and be part of a community. This is the key reason that platforms created on technology are so high-maintenance and vulnerable to change (implosion). They are founded on shifting sands of gizmos, not the timeless nature of humans.

So now that you agree that platforms need to be built on relationships, let’s look a little closer. Platform gives us a number of advantages.

The Six Degrees of Separation

As society advances, we have more and more choices and are inundated with information. People tend to pull in to what and who they know. Actively participating on social media is like rolling dice. The more times you roll, the greater chances you have for being successful and opening that ONE door that changes your career forever.

Platform Gives Us Options

Too many writers are out there betting on that ONE thing to come through…an agent will represent them then NY will offer them a deal. Nothing wrong with that, but it can make us crazy in the meantime. To be blunt, an author with no social media presence and only a manuscript has limited options.

Yet, if we have a large platform, our options improve. We can indie publish or self-publish other works until an agent bites. We can take an unconventional path to publication. Four years ago, no agent would rep me. There was no market for a social media book. So, because I had a platform, I could indie publish with WDW Publishing. WANA (and probably divine intervention) landed me one of the top agents in the world.

Platforms Make Us Desirable

A strong platform gives us the luxury of being picky. Platform makes us the pretty girl that every guy wants to marry. We can stay single and break all their hearts if we want to, or we can settle down. But the best news is that we don’t have to settle for the first offer that comes our way.

Amanda Hocking, H.P. Mallory, and John Locke didn’t have to chase the first agent that smiled at them. They had a lot to offer any agent/publisher, so they were able to use their platforms (books and sales eventually are part of our platforms) to broker sweeter deals. Platforms can be viewed as a time suck, or they can be viewed as a way to improve our marketability. Writers have more power and control over their careers than ever before. Opportunity often comes wearing overalls; it’s why most people miss it.

What are some tactics you guys use to grow your platform? Any suggestions? Thoughts? What are your biggest challenges? Share!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of November, 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 November I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also 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 to write great books!

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

DeKloutifying by John Scalzi. HILARIOUS and YES!!!!

What NOT to Blog About by Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner

Learn to Fail Aggressively by Nationally Best-Selling Author James Scott Bell

Cool interview. Author Kait Nolan talks Werewolves

Enough Already! Self-Promotion Madness by Roni Loren

Why You Need Extra Eyes by Tawna Fenske

Make sure you check out Porter Anderson’s Writing on the Ether to keep up with the latest and greatest trends in publishing.

Also, Jane Friedman is an EXCELLENT resource for all writers, but especially the digital author.

Excellent article in the Wall Street Journal. Penguin Publishing launches a self-publishing division

In my “free time” I am running for Vice President of the Free World. Piper Bayard and I launch our blog tour over at More Cowbell because, seriously…the White House needs more cowbell.

I know we are supposed to be talking about the third person you need to know to be successful on social media–the Salesman. But, over the weekend my Great Aunt Iris (who might as well have been my grandmother we were so close) slipped into a coma and then passed away on Sunday morning. She had just turned 98, so yes it is sad, but it is amazing that she lived such a full and long life. Anyway, I have not had time to finish the Salesman post, so rather than rushing and slapping up a less-than-stellar blog, I decided to post a lesson from early this year.

Most of us have slept since Spring, so a refresher is always refreshing. *drum roll, snare*  Yes, I’ll be here all week. Drinks are half-price.

I have been doing social media for a number of years, and it has been wonderful to see how writers have embraced technology. I remember back in 2006 I had a hard enough time getting many writers to learn to use e-mail, let alone join Facebook.  Yet, it was really only in 2009 that I started thinking of myself as an expert. Namely I watched a lot of social media people teach tactics that were more likely to give writers permanent hair loss than anything. They were trying to overlay a Corporate America template on to a writer’s career. Not a good fit.

Kind of like watching me try to put on size zero skinny jeans…lots of grunting and pain and the end result ain’t pretty.

Anyway, writers finally did perk up to the fact that they needed to be on social media, yet we had an information vacuum. Many writers took off doing the best they could, and, in the process, made a lot of errors. Hey, I was one of them. Need I remind you of texaswriterchik?

*slaps forehead*

The thing is, I am teaching writers how to do this social media platform thing the correct way. This is all great and wonderful if you are new and haven’t started building. For others? I see the digital blood drain from your face when I give the bad news:

I’m sorry, but your platform needs major reconstructive surgery. I need to put your brand in a temporary coma so it doesn’t die while we do the transplants. Do you have insurance?

Some people suck it up, bite on some leather and resolve to get it over with. Others? Denial is more than a river in Africa.

I hear a lot of, “Writers just need to do what works for them.”

Yes….but, um, no.

 

I will use an example to illustrate. Say I want to make chocolate cake. My end goal is a chocolate cake. So I set out cooking, but I don’t want to use butter, and I don’t like eggs, and definitely no flour and I just can’t bring myself to use chocolate. Instead, I want to use vanilla pudding, and slices of bananas and top it off with vanilla wafer cookies and LOTS of whipped cream.

So you say, “Wait, but you aren’t making chocolate cake.”

And I say, “Well this is how I make chocolate cake.”

And you say, “But, you just made banana pudding. That’s NOT chocolate cake.”

And I get huffy and reply, “Stop judging me. Maybe YOU make chocolate cake differently, but everyone needs to do what works for them.”

You would think I was a lunatic. Yes, I made a dessert….but I didn’t make a chocolate cake.

If our end goal is to brand our name, which it should be…then there are right and wrong ways to go about this. My lessons are to make our name alone a bankable asset. Our NAME will have the power to drive book sales so we have more time to write, or prank call or even make origami monkeys.

There is a HUGE difference between having a social media presence and becoming a brand. And I know I am about to do some sacred cow-tipping, but it needs to be done.

My second book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me Writer is a great book to teach you all you ever wanted to know about blogging to build an author brand. There is little point to contributing content to the Internet if it doesn’t build our brand.

Tweeting under a cutesy moniker. We have discussed this one before, but some people are new (here is the post). Every time we tweet, that is an “advertisement” that contributes to building our brand. The only acceptable Twitter handle is the name that will be on the front of our books. Period. If we are tweeting under @FairyGirl, we are contributing great content—blogs, articles, conversation—but we have the WRONG name top-of-mind.  Readers cannot buy a book by Fairy Girl, so all that tweeting is wasted effort.

Writing on Group Blogs at the Expense of Our Author Blog I have run into writers who were very prolific, contributing to multiple group blogs. Group blogs are wonderful. They can help us learn to blog better and can offer accountability. Yet, if we are writing for three different group blogs, but then not blogging on our own site? That is BAD. Group blogs will not brand an individual author. Yes, we will have a social media presence…but that isn’t a brand.

I read a lot of WONDERFUL group blogs, but the name of the group is what will be top of mind. Writers in the Storm, Adventures in Children’s Publishing, and Writer Unboxed are three of the best group blogs, but I would be hard-pressed to give the names of the contributors. And, the ones I can name have their own separate blogs that buttress their brand.

I care very much about you guys, and I want all of you to be successful. But part of caring is giving the truth. When we decide to go from hobbyist to professional, we sometimes have to make the tough choices. We have to say no to friends, family, kids and pets. We have to spend time working when we would rather play. If we are contributing to a bunch of group blogs, but our own blog is infested with dust bunnies and spam bots? We might need to make a choice. Hang out with friends? Or build our career?

Our own brand is paramount. The more bankable our name, the more books we sell. The more books we sell, the more successful (and enjoyable) our writing career will be.

There are right ways and wrong ways and smart ways to build a brand. Can we brand ourselves by only blogging on group blogs? Sure. Anything is possible. I could theoretically take I-35 south from Texas and get to Canada. It involves a very tedious journey through South America over Antarctica, up the other side of the globe and over the North Pole. The Earth IS round. I will get to Canada eventually, BUT the odds of me giving up and going home are far more likely than me reaching Canada.

Is my taking I-35 South WRONG? Technically, no. But it is a formula to give up.

Many writers find social media to be a huge time suck, namely because they either have no plan or they have a flawed plan. I used to think it was a time-suck, too. But I wasn’t approaching social media correctly. I have made all the dumb mistakes so you don’t have to :D.

My two books have hit the top of multiple best-seller lists using the methods I am teaching. And I am not the only one who has experienced this kind of dramatic success. I have a stack of testimonials. Yes, we are free to do social media any way we please. No Facebook police will drag us to digital jail. But I think most of us would rather spend more time writing and less time trying to Bond-O a faulty platform.

What are some tough choices you guys have had to make for your writing? What are some tough choices you face, but maybe don’t know what to do? Have any advice or suggestions? Put them in the comments!

I do want to hear from you guys!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of October, 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.

NOTE: For those of you who haven’t yet gotten your pages back, please resend to my assistant (if you haven’t already). I get about 500 e-mails a day, so I am redoing things so submissions don’t get lost in the ether. Thanks for your patience.

Gigi at gigi dot salem dot ea at g mail dot com. Gigi will make sure I get your pages.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of October I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also 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.

 

There are a number of approaches to being successful on social media, but I have a confession to make. I am lazy. Really. If I gave into my nature, I am so lazy I could easily slip into a coma. Don’t let anyone sell you lies. Worker bees didn’t create the wonders of modern society, so don’t go thank the industrious. Go thank the lazy and impatient.

See, the lazy man didn’t want to get up out of his chair to turn the channel, so he invented the remote control. The lazy woman didn’t want to spend each and every moment entertaining her child, so she invented toys that whistle, sing and dance. It was lazy and impatient people who envisioned a world where we could drive a car—FAST— instead of having to bounce around in a carriage and hop several trains to go on vacation. The lazy and impatient invented cell phones so they didn’t have to wait on return phone calls and concocted drive-thru burger joints so they didn’t have to cook.

Okay, so maybe this is a little bit of tongue-and-cheek.

The Big Lie–Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

Here’s the thing, society—especially American society—sells us a lie. We are basically told that the people who work 90 hours a week are more productive and valuable. Thus, what happens is many of us take this lie hook, line and sinker and then drag it into our writing lives. We believe that if we aren’t spending hours and hours on social media, that we aren’t being productive. We need to be good little worker bees and everything will turn out dandy if we put in enough time.

Wrong.

Working until we are half dead doesn’t mean we are productive. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. It means our approach is grossly inefficient. Lazy Kristen actually helps me be more efficient, crazy as that might sound. More on that in a moment.

Three Main Approaches to Social Media for Writers

The Water Cooler Writer—Many writers fall into the Water Cooler Writer category, especially when first starting out. This writer is on social media, but with no defined purpose and no real activity that will create a meaningful author platform. This writer often tweets using a cutesy moniker like @FairyWriter. She might blog about the writing experience or her daily struggles to be taken seriously, but her actual name is hard to find unless you work for Homeland Security.

None of the Water Cooler Writer’s activities are focused or involve strategy. She is waiting until she has a finished book and an agent to worry about building an author platform.

This is an okay place for any writer to start (though not ideal). This is basically the social media training wheels stage. But, if your goal is to race the Tour de France–*cough* be a professional published author that sells books—then the training wheels need to go.

The Automated Writer—This writer takes efficiency seriously…too seriously. He automates everything he can. He has a web page and a social media account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Goodreads, Technorati…..

He is EVERYWHERE…or is he?

No one has ever actually talked to this writer, so he never connects. This is a viable way to do social media, but the ROI (return on investment) is dismal.

Every time I hear someone whine that Twitter doesn’t sell books, I already know what their twitter stream will look like…a perfect row of Spam. This method will sell books eventually, sort of like if we spam 100,000 people with news of their inheritance from a relative they never knew they had living in Ghana some sucker person will eventually click the link and send cash. This is a game of mass numbers.

A lot of writers are wearing themselves out on social media because they are the Water Cooler Writer—they are chatting with friends and don’t have strategic content to build a brand OR because they are the Automated Writer relying on a tactic that takes MASSIVE volume for any return. This is worker bee behavior. Sure, do enough of this and it might pay off…but it sure is a lot of WORK and TIME, time we need to write more great books.

So today, I am going to tell you guys the secret to being a WANA Writer. WANA Writers are smart, charming and known for being strangely good-looking.

Wait…okay, yeah that’s true but not part of what we are talking about today.

WANA Writers work as a team and create communities. WANA writers work smarter, not harder. WANA Writers know that the only way to sell books is to 1) write a good book and 2) word-of –mouth. Thus, the WANA Writer, when she isn’t absorbing every lesson she can about craft and writing an awesome novel, knows that she needs to work on spreading word of mouth. WANA Writers know that being a worker bee is great, but knowing a social butterfly is better.

Last week I introduced you to the three people you MUST know to start a word of mouth epidemic—the Connector, the Maven and the Salesman (per Gladwell’s The Tipping Point). These are the Social Media Social Butterflies.

The Law of the Few

Why do we need to find a Social Media Social Butterfly? Because of what economist Malcolm Gladwell calls The Law of the Few:

People pass on all kinds of information to each other all the time. But it’s only in the rare instance that such an exchange ignites a word-of-mouth epidemic…..the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular set of social gifts.

(page 32-33 of The Tipping Point)

See, the Worker Bees aren’t who change the world (well, not quickly at least). It’s really up to the Social Butterflies. These are the people who pollinate the world with an idea. Without them, there is no genesis of new thought.

Three Kinds of Social Media Social Butterflies

There are three kinds of Social Butterflies—the Connector, the Maven and the Salesman. These are the people with the social gifts required to spread a message around the globe. Some people are only one type of Social Butterfly, but some are two and some even rarer people are actually all THREE.

Meet the Connector

Today we are going to introduce the first of our Social Butterflies—the Connector. The Connector is that person who seems to know everyone.

Remember we talked about the importance of getting sticky in order to market books. As a WANA Writer, we understand that we might not be a Maven a Connector or a Salesman, but we can get to know people who ARE. WANA Writers know to get sticky by association. WANA Writers don’t waste time trying to change their personality. WANA Writers focus on working smarter, not harder so WANA Writers learn to pay attention for signs of a Social Media Social Butterfly. Today, we will talk about the first one…The Connector Butterfly.

Signs of a Connector:

Connectors are authentically active on social media. Just like real butterflies love flowers, social butterflies LOVE people, and this includes Connector Butterflies. They can’t help themselves.

If you click on a profile and someone has nothing but automated messages, this is not a good sign this person LOVES people. In fact, this connection is almost worthless for the purposes of spreading word-of-mouth. These people might be good to learn from, or a good source of information, but they aren’t going to help us much when it comes to expanding our platform.

Connectors know a lot of people, because they talk to a lot of different kinds of people. Connectors seem to know all kinds of people from all walks of life, professions, backgrounds, etc. They have a foot in all kinds of subcultures and niches, so we don’t have to go through many degrees of separation to all get to this person. Connectors collect friends like a child might collect pretty rocks.

Connectors like…connecting.  This seems a little obvious, but it’s true. The Connector is the person at the cocktail party who is guaranteed to introduce you around and plug you into a group of people with like minds and interests. The Connector is a social media Match Maker. She pollinates flowers (people) and creates the seeds of friendship. People thrive with a Connector in their midst.

Connectors are multi-dimensional. Connectors might be fellow writers, but they are passionate in other areas as well. They aren’t the All Writing All the Time Channel. They have friends in other walks of life and interests beyond craft and publishing.

Many Bloggers are Connectors. Bloggers are the new way of spreading the word. People who blog and are good at blogging are the movers and shakers of the Digital Age. Get to know the good bloggers. Read their blogs, RT for them, comment on their posts. Connectors remember names and faces, so are they seeing yours?

Missing Out on Connectors

One of the reasons that it can handicap us so much by keeping our writing life totally and utterly separate is that we miss a lot of opportunities to meet Connectors. If we have a Facebook page for only writers and only blog about writing and tweet only with people in the publishing industry, then we miss opportunities to fold other worlds into ours. We miss out on possibly connecting with a Connector, because our focus is too exclusive—Writers Only. All Others Keep Out

Spotting a Connector

Probably the best Connector I have witnessed on social media is @PiperBayard. Follow her and watch how she handles Twitter. Read her blog. Piper is friends with all kinds of writers, but she literally knows EVERYONE. Piper was an attorney and she writes humor and post-apocalyptic fiction, and even though Piper is a writer first, this Connector Extraordinaire has a foot in more worlds than I can keep straight. She is kind, authentic and generous to everyone she meets. Watch Piper for a day or two and you will know exactly who to look for when it comes to making friends with Connectors.

@AmyShojai and @GeneLempp are two more prime examples of this rare Connector species. #MyWANA has been a prime watering hole where it is easy to spot Connectors stopping by for a sip of social time. In the coming weeks we will talk more about the Maven and Salesman and I’ll even offer more ways to find and connect with these movers and shakers of social media.

So what are your thoughts? Does this make you feel better? What advice would you add? I love hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of September, 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 September 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: GRAND PRIZE WILL BE PICKED THIS MONTH. I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced at the end of September) 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, if you want to learn more about how to spread word-of-mouth and build your platform, sign-ups are open for my Blogging To Build Your Author Brand on-line workshop. It’s two months long–one month of lessons and one month of launch and it is ONLY $40.

I also 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.

Dr. Twuth–Because social media shouldn’t make you want to drink heavily.

Today we are going to switch the format just a little. Tuesdays are now simply, Dr. Twuth Tuesday. Why? Well, I am sure you guys have all kinds of social media questions and conundrums beyond the world of just Twitter, so my alter ego, Dr. Twuth can be counted on to give you the best information on social media. And, since a spoon full of sugar humor, makes the I’d rather be punched in the face than read about social media marketing medicine go down, fun is always a guarantee here with me, Dr. Twuth, Text Therapist. The tips offered here are all based off my #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media  and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach ALL social media differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule social media–regardless of platform–without devolving into a spam bot. If social media makes you want to slam your head in a door, then you are in the right place. Just call on Dr. Twuth, because the Twuth will set you free.

On to our peeps in need….

Dear. Dr. Twuth,

Ok, so I have a Twitter question that’s been bugging me for several days now.  I’ve read WANA and I’m sure I’ve seen it in a post before that it’s polite to follow people back when they follow you.  But what if you’re being followed by people just hoping to spam you with their business?  It seems pretty easy to tell when you look at their tweets that all they do is spam.  I’ve even come across some Twitter names and profiles that look like real people, only to find they’re masking their company so they can spam unsuspecting me after I follow them back.

I don’t want to be rude, but is it polite to follow back these people, or just torture for myself?  If we’re supposed to take care with who we follow by looking to see if they’re people interested in conversation, shouldn’t we also take that care in following back?

Thanks a bunch.

Bonkers with Bots

Dear Bonkers,

Part of creating any social platform is, of course, being social. The answer to this question seems cut and dry, but it isn’t. Some people might be saying, Well, of course you wouldn’t follow back a bot! Yet, this can get tricky, especially when we have a lot of fellow writers acting like bots. This is one of the reasons we really should avoid automation as much as humanly possible.

I have attended conferences where social media experts spent an hour presenting ten different gizmos to make social media so easy the writer didn’t have to even participate. Just go to Hoot Suite and program in tweets and go back to writing. You never have to do anything! Your social platform will grow itself like a genetically enhanced Chia Pet!!!

Caveat emptor.

The danger in these approaches is that we are basically bots, so when others click on our profiles we can end up with a case of mistaken identity. Looks like a bot, acts like a bot, posts like a bot…probably a bot.

Due to Lady Gaga’s poor wardrobe choice, she was not allowed to go deer hunting ever again for safety considerations.

Thus, my first bit of advice is to make sure we are not behaving like bots because my advice is…IGNORE ALL BOTS, including Author Bots. This approach is lazy and selfish and there is no need to repay that approach or encourage it. Plenty of authors find time to be authentic. If James Rollins, Bob Mayer, and Jane Friedman can do their own tweeting, so can we. People may not hear from us 53 times a day, but do they really need to? Or even want to? Just tweeting or posting a status update 1-3 times a day is more than sufficient to remain top of mind.

I will go so far as to even recommend that, when a bot follows you, report them as spam and block them. Spammers should be discouraged as often as possible. Nobody gets a free ride in life, and, if we have to work hard for what we want, then the spammers should too.

As a caveat, though. I use a zero tolerance approach with obvious bots. @FreePorn is now following you. If a fellow writer acts like a bot, it is up to us to watch out for our creative brethren who’ve been led astray by misguided gurus. I would recommend following back just long enough to send a polite “Um, you have your digital skirt tucked in your digital pantyhose” message. Feel free to send them links to my blogs. Dr. Twuth is skilled at deprogramming bad social media cult influences.

Some writers are working hard to be “responsible little marketers,” and they really don’t know any better. We all make mistakes and we would all want to be treated with love and grace. Give it a day or two, and, if the offending behavior doesn’t stop, then feel free to wish them well and DM that you are unfollowing to “make room for real people.”

All the best,

Dr. Twuth

See how easy this is? Do you have a social media dilemma? Is someone making you crazy? Do you feel alone, afraid or unsexy? Leave your question in the comments or if you would like to maintain anonymity, e-mail Dr. Twuth at kristen at kristen lamb dot org. Just put GIVE ME THE TWUTH in the subject line.

I am about love and offering a human touch to this digital world. My Dr. Twuth identity is #MyWANA certified, or certifiable, I can’t recall which. But, hey, it’s free so if you don’t like my advice, I promise to give you 100% refund (There will be a $15.99 processing fee for said refund).

Let me, Dr. Twuth, help you out. Remember, the Twuth will set you free.

Tweet ya later!

Yes this is really me with Sandra Brown (before the restraining order kicked in :P). And I look like a ghost who’s haunting her. Cell phone cameras. Ptth!

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been talking about the unique nature of marketing books and the equally unique challenges this can present to writers…who need to market yet still need time to write great books. I can always tell when there has been a major conference, namely because the Twitterverse comes alive with writers (usually the agented ones) in a total panic trying to barter a kidney for anyone who can find them a cloning machine. What has happened?

They likely attended a social media class, or worse…their publisher did.

The inherent problem in this is that much of the social media being taught (even at writers’ conferences) not only won’t sell books, but it is a formula for a writer to end up with a nervous breakdown. I have made it my life’s work to create a social media approach that is not only more effective than my competitors’ approaches, but my methods are designed to harnesses the creativity of an author and also leave time to write.

Last week we talked about getting sticky, and why you need to run out at the very first opportunity and buy Malcom Gladwell’s Book The Tipping Point after you get a copy of my book, of course :D.

Gladwell’s book affirms much of what I have been teaching for years about social media.

I am not happy writing blogs or a book that simply tells you guys what to do. Here is a checklist and have fun. That approach is only minimally helpful. I want you guys to understand WHY you are or aren’t doing certain things. This way, if Twitter blows up and G+ devours Facebook, you won’t have to wait for me, your social media expert to tell you what to do next. You will be empowered to think for yourselves and adjust accordingly in ways that will keep your platform intact and expanding.

I want you guys powerful, not paralyzed.

Anyway, back to our marketing…

We all need to strive for what I call The Sticky Author Triumvirate. It doesn’t matter if our message reaches a hundred million people. If our message doesn’t translate into action, it is wasted time. Stickiness makes the difference and we need to be Sticky Authors, Sticky with Social Media, and Write Sticky Books. If we master one but not the other two, we will do well. If we master 2 out of 3? Even better. But the real key to success is mastery of all three.

This is one of the reasons it is so critical to write great books. Great books, by nature are sticky, but alone, they are not enough. Now that everyone can be published, relying on a great book alone is playing craps with our career. We have ALWAYS been in control of writing great books and we had a 93% failure rate to show for it (per BEA statistics). Now in the Digital Age, we finally can get sticky on ALL sides so there is NO getting rid of us. We are gonna be triple-sided duct-tape (yes, I invented a new duct tape dimension—we will be STICKY DEFINED).

Ah….but here is where the panic set in last week.

What???? *twitching eye* I need hobbies and friends outside of writers? How do I get one of those? Are they on eBay?

Yes, we need all the friends we can get, but don’t get lured in by sites promising to get you a bazillion followers/”friends.” Also, more is not actually, well, more. Just because someone has 22,000 people following them on Twitter doesn’t mean this person is effective. In fact, in my experience, this kind of person is generally less effective because the network is not comprised of the right kind of people.

Quality trumps quantity. Not all connections have the same weight. So the cool news today is that you don’t have to go make a bazillion friends. You just need a handful of the “right” friends. It’s the old adage, It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know. That is truer now than ever in human history.

Who are the right kinds of friends? There are three kinds of people that can make the difference between life and death for our message (book, idea, fashion trend, product, etc.) especially in the Digital Age, and we will talk about them more in a moment.

One of the reasons that the traditional blast out an automated message on social media approach doesn’t work is that it separates the writer from the social media experience. To get connected to the right people, we need to be present so we can pay attention.

Say I am new to Twitter. My name is Suzy Newgirl and I have 10 followers and at least half of them are bots. The other five are members of my writing group and they are in the same situation. Our networks are almost insignificant.

For example, even though the very first fax machine cost $2000, it was pretty much worthless. Why? Who was the owner going to fax? There were no other fax machines. The machine only began to grow in value as more people bought fax machines capable of recieving, repackaging and then resending messages.

Same with a social media network. A person with 5 followers doesn’t yet have a lot of value to her network. How can Suzy Newgirl increase the value of her network? She needs to connect to one of three kinds of people (per Gladwell):

A Connector

A Maven

A Salesman

These three people have ALWAYS been responsible for word of mouth epidemics; we just didn’t have the unprecedented access to meeting them that we now have. The awesome part about social media is it is like a giant honey trap for these types of people. The Connector, the Maven, and the Salesman are generally intensely social people and they are drawn to social sites like a mosquito to a bug light.

ZZZZZZZAPPPP! Ouch!

If we pay attention on social media long enough, it is almost a guarantee we will meet these sorts of people. And, if we can fold them into our network, we significantly increase the odds our message will become an epidemic . Suzy Newgirl might only have ten people in her network, but if her Friend Number 11 is one of these three types of people? She just took her social power to an entirely new level.

Now I hope you are seeing where numbers lie when it comes to social media. There are publishers giving their writers a hard time because, Author Such and Such has 30,000 followers. Why don’t you? You need to get on Twitter and follow more people!

This is part of what is making writers lose their hair.

But the numbers alone are not enough. If we have thousands of Suzy Newgirls in our network, then that is akin to being able to fax 1000 other broken fax machines. They might be able to receive messages, but the message dies there.

This is part of the working smarter, not harder. We don’t need to make ten thousand friends to reach ten thousand people. I actually have the potential to reach 10,000 people with just four friends (psst…they hang out on #MyWANA a lot cuz they are social butterflies). So, today’s tip is that we need to actually spend time on social media. Not a lot of time, but meaningful time. Pay attention. Who is active? Who is social? These are the people that make the best friends to have in life and on-line.

If we disappear off Facebook for days and weeks or only tweet when we need something, we miss out on meeting these generous and wonderful people that can make the critical difference in our careers. We don’t need to take our career to the next level…we just need to meet the person who knows the person who gives us the opportunity.

A quick example. I am not particularly a fan of Facebook. I like it, but it isn’t fast enough for my ADD nature. Yet, I still post regularly on Facebook. Three times a day I scroll down the News Feed and look for at least TWO people I can congratulate, encourage, make smile, repost, SOMETHING. At the end of the day it isn’t a lot of time invested. BUT, an enthusiastic romance writer DeeDee Scott happens to be a Maven.

DeeDee not only is highly connected, she has this intense desire to serve and help..and she totally DIGS Facebook. I had reposted stuff for her and been social simply to serve and be kind. Thus, early in 2011, when a friend of hers asked for suggestions to speak on a panel at the Romantic Times Conference in Los Angeles, she immediately recommended me…even though we had only chit-chatted on FB.

That opportunity was a massive turning point in my career. I went to LA, ended up quoted in the LA Times, met a bunch of NY Times and LA Times best-selling authors, and my career literally leapt to  a totally new level that, on my own, I would never have had access to….without the help of a Maven.

We will talk more about those in another blog. So, what do you take away from this? Be kind. Be social. Be vested. Part of the reason DeeDee recommended me was because I was one of the only social media experts who wasn’t a spammer. I’d actually talked to her and acted authentically (this is being Sticky). She remembered that, so when the opportunity presented itself, DeeDee knew just who to recommend…and I cannot thank her enough.

Any social media expert that sells you a bill of goods about how this or that program can tweet for you or post for you really isn’t doing you a favor. That is busy work that looks good on the surface. It’s activity with no productivity.

In the coming weeks, I am going to talk more about these three kinds of message-bearers—the Connector, the Maven and the Salesman. How can you find them? Befriend them? (And NOT in a spammy self-serving way). This is also one of the reasons it pays to be kind to everyone. Kindness is always the best policy.

Again, this is one of those things that’s simple…but not exactly easy. Yet, at the end of the day, this method will help you make the most out of your time on social media. Instead of being a hamster in a wheel tweeting into the abyss and “hoping” something sticks, you will be able to increase your odds that something will not only stick…but will set fire ;).

So what are some of the challenges you face when it comes to social media? Any tips, suggestions, advice. Hey, I love hearing from you guys and learning from you.

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of September, 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 September 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: GRAND PRIZE WILL BE PICKED THIS MONTH. I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced at the end of September) 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

Eleven Deadly Sins of On-Line Promotion for Writers –YES!!! *claps hands*

Great resource for those interested in writing for children.

Who has the right to say you suck? by the brilliant and hilarious Tawna Fenske. BUY HER BOOK, Making Waves.

How a Perfectionist Learned to Bear her Warts by the wonderful Jody Hedlund. She is guest-posting for one of my all-time favorite people, Katie Ganshert. If you want great Christian Romance and can afford to lose a day glued to your couch turning pages, then buy Jody’s new book The Doctor’s Lady.

25 Things You Should Know About Queries, Synopses and Treatments by the genius Chuck Wendig. BUY ALL HIS BOOKS AND LISTEN TO HIM. He is not only insanely funny, but his advice is some of THE BEST in the industry.

What Can Writers Learn from Spam? by Jami Gold

Therese Walsh has an awesome post over on Writer Unboxed (subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already). Internal and External Inspirations

Has Rejection Turned You Into Someone You’re Not? by Jane Friedman (This is another critical blog to follow to keep your fingers on the pulse of our industry)

There are so MANY more wonderful blogs, but I have run out of time. I will make it up next week!