Are You Sending the Right Message? 3 Bad Habits that Can KILL Your Social Media Marketing


 My book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media will be in production as of tomorrow. In the meantime, I am going to address some behaviors I am seeing on social media that can actually do more harm than good. These are tactics that work for traditional marketing, but will make you a pariah with a quickness on social media. We are going to address the Top Three Bad Habits today:

  1. Form letters and auto-replies
  2. Reposting your own content over and over and over
  3. Failing to reciprocate and engage with others

I am not writing this to embarrass anyone. If you have been guilty of any of these, there is good reason. These are tactics employed in traditional marketing. They do not translate well into the realm of social media. Thus, before venturing any further, let’s look at the old ways of marketing versus the new so you will be able to see more clearly why our approach must be different for social media.

I think one huge mistake all of us make is we risk falling back into that old way of thinking about marketing. We believe we must do it all on our own, so we feel propelled to go make hundreds and thousands of friends and blitz out our information over and over to be “good, responsible little marketers.” That is a major fallacy when it comes to social media. That is conventional marketing.

In traditional marketing, a brand was passively received, thus the brand had to be controlled and one-dimensional to keep from confusing the masses receiving the image plastered on billboards, placards, magazines and broadcast on radios and TV. A brand had to be static and fixed because any deviation could confuse the consumer and dilute the message.

Just Do It.

Nowadays, branding is highly organic and always in flux, namely because we are in the Information Age. We are constantly being fed real-time images and impressions via YouTube, Twitter, FB, blogs. Not only are we being fed these impressions, but then we often take them in, filter them then recycle/repackage them when we resend them out to our community in the form of our opinions. And this is why our marketing approach must be fluid and dynamic. We want people to take in our message, like it and deliver it to their communities in a positive way.

To accomplish this, our approach must be modified.

Marketing is now in the hands of the audience. Thus, now it becomes critical what the audience thinks of us, because that will affect how they handle our message.

For instance, 20 years ago, it was far less important whether an author was a nice person or not. Who cared? Could she write? An author could have been the biggest jerk on the planet and it didn’t matter so long as she didn’t do anything that made national headlines. She could hand in her books, and then the marketing/PR people controlled what impression went out to the masses, if any. Writers could live quiet lives of obscurity, and it really didn’t affect their book sales.

Now? What a writer’s fans think of her as a person influences her marketing. Now, this author can choose to do nothing, and the PR people will keep sending out her crafted image. But what if she wants more? She needs to get in the mix. The more an author interacts with her fan base in a positive way, the more likely those fans will pass on her messages in a positive light. By continual personal and positive interaction, an author can influence groups of people to extend her marketing influence. How? She has recruited her fans and followers to be part of her team. Book sales and promotion have now become a collective endeavor.

Traditional marketing was a demographic-numbers game. We threw enough stuff (content, mailers, coupons) at a particular wall (demographic) and then hoped something stuck that generated word of mouth or “buzz” that would translate into readers and then into fans. This tactic works in traditional marketing, but often breaks down on social media. The companies who do the best on social media have a different approach for social media that appreciates the consumer’s participation and need for community.

Same with writers.

We do better focusing on authentic, positive relationships and then enlisting others to carry our message. We don’t have to have 6000 friends to reach 6000 people. We must have a good amount of authentic interactions with others who will then carry our message to their networks. Do this correctly, and eventually their network will become our network and our influence will spread exponentially. In social media, it works better to employ relationships to spread our message, not fancy software that can target customers and SPAM them.

But, trust me. This method is way more fun anyway.

This is why the three offenders I noted at the beginning are, well…so offensive. Remember, what others on social media think of you as a person will affect the end results of your marketing. So:

1.   Beware the Form Letter/Auto-Reply

Traditional marketing sought to add a quick personal touch to a static agenda. That’s why when you get form letters in the mail, a company will often insert your name. We know the people at Best Buy didn’t sit and type individual little us a letter, but the personal touch does create a tad bit of rapport. But this is a static message from a faceless company. When Best Buy sends me coupons and sales, they are not counting on me liking them, taking the mailer and copying it and then mailing it to my network of friends and family. On social media? You are definitely depending on the recipients of your message to become bearers of your message. Form letters do not work. Auto replies are impersonal and most people find them annoying. Writers are not Starbucks. For more on this, refer to my earlier blog The Most Effective Author Marketing Tool—Kindness. Even major corporations who use social media well will employ a personal approach. Comp USA and Starbucks resemble a chat with customer service. Even the big guys know that spamming people is risky and annoying.

2.    Repost Redundancy

We all get excited about our blogs that we work hard to write, but reposting over and over and over can be very counterproductive. There is a self-published writer on Twitter who constantly posts his blogs with every writer hashtag imaginable…over and over and over. His blogs are actually pretty good, but after the tenth time in one day of him tooting his own horn, I want to scream. His constant self-promotion hogs up most of the #writegoal column which I actually like to follow. So instead of me seeing other writers and their goals so I can congratulate them or interact…all I see is this guy…over….and over…and…seriously?…yeah, over again. This is the wrong way to be top of mind. And what is this making me (and others) think of him as a person? I think he genuinely wants to help and share, but that is certainly NOT what he is portraying.

3.    Attention Hogs Don’t Get the Right Attention

Platforms are tough to build, and on social media we need to help each other. This point actually is a natural segue from my previous point. We always need to be mindful to post and repost the work of others. If we don’t, others will rapidly resent us and that doesn’t help anyone. Other people have valuable information to contribute. Let them. In traditional marketing, it is all about you. In social media marketing? It is about you and your network. The more you share, the greater the reward.

In my book, I give a formula for effective interaction on social media. 1/3 Information—blogs, articles, etc. 1/3 Reciprocation—edify others. Repost their links, blogs, book signings. You want your stuff reposted? Gotta give to receive. And finally 1/3 Conversation. People are on social media for community, so interact. Congratulate people who make their deadlines. Comment of their posts. Engage. Form letters and SPAM are not effective like they can be in traditional marketing and can actually just alienate the very people we are desiring to reach.

In the end, social media should be fun. There are a lot of wonderful people out there, so go make some friends. Happy writing!

Until next time…


The Kristen Lamb Mash-Up

By the way! If you loved this blog and just want MORE? My book, “We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” is now available. Buy one today and take charge of your writing career! My book is designed specifically for writers. I want to change your habits, not your personality. Harness that same creative energy used for writing and use it to build your platform.

For author training, as always, I recommend NY Times Best-Selling author Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer Workshops.

Author Jody Hedlund has an excellent blog on how to find plot ideas.

For those interested in the vampire mythos, I highly recommend guest blog The Changing Face of the Vampire by Sean Wallace on the Feckless Goblin. 

And if you are looking for a darn good book, I highly, highly recommend Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo. I have been an editor for going on 10 years and it is always refreshing to find a story that grabs and doesn’t let go. So if you want to read about a serial killer cutting a swath of terror through Amish country, and you don’t mind being up until 2 in the morning, this is your book. Linda also employs an interesting use of POV–a mixture of first and third limited, so worth studying. Great, great book.


Skip to comment form

    • Nigel on July 7, 2010 at 11:00 pm
    • Reply

    Great advice, great rationale and a great image to connect with the subject. 🙂

  1. Thanks for the practical and immediately useful ideas.

    And about the part about writers no longer having the luxury of being jerks – I suppose we still do, but not in the public blogosphere 🙂

    1. LOL…yeah we have to keep our manners these days. Thanks for the comment. 😀 I am glad you found this useful.

  2. Very cool post. Retweeted. 🙂

    I did a 25/25/25/25 rule of social media in my post, “Twitter for Dip$hits.” —

    Er, language warning.

    — c.

I LOVE hearing your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.