Welcome to WANA Wednesday, the day I dedicate to helping you guys rock it hard when it comes to social media.
I recently participated in an open forum discussing book marketing using social media. There was a weird glitch that hindered me participating and it seemed that out of the woodwork all of these other experts swarmed in to take my place. I know they are excited and mean well, but it brought up an interesting point.
We need to always consider who is doing the selling.
Social media people love what? Social media! They know every gidget and gadget and whats-it and gizmo and they are awesome at what they do. But what do they do? They do social media. I think this can become a huge problem for a writer trying to learn social media in order to build a platform.
Think of it this way. Most social media experts are like people who do personal training for a living. They live to work out because it is what they do and how they make a living. They are tan, with six-pack abs and 6% body fat. Can we be that way too? Sure. A personal trainer would be happy to show you her lifestyle. All we have to do is get up at 4:00 every morning and hit the gym. Then after work go for a run and do some yoga. Oh and we need to pre-make all of our meals so we aren’t tempted to eat anything other than egg whites, tuna fish and broccoli. Oh and here is a list of supplements and powders and drinks and gels and….
Okay, maybe we would just like to be able to wear something other than stretchy pants.
Personal trainers are a happy energetic lot, and they will tell you all the benefits of eating algae and tofu and getting detoxed with the latest cleanse. They want us to be just as happy and healthy as they are. But there is often a huge problem. We might desire to be 6% body fat and a size -0, but we have jobs and families and need to sleep.
A person who makes her living as a personal trainer can live this way because it is already in sync with her goals and her life. For the mother of two who works as a teacher, becoming fitness model thin is a HUGE time commitment with a lot of sacrifice. Can she do it? Of course. But for most women, just being a healthy weight is already a struggle. If we shoot for fitness model fitness, we likely will give up before we ever see real benefit.
Social media experts do social media for a living. So to advise a writer that they need to be on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkdIn, Flikr, YouTube, del.ici.ous., Squidoo, Digg It, and on and on and on is natural for them. Why? Because that is their life and what they DO. They do social media because they love it and like the fitness trainer, they want us to love it that much, too.
So the host of the Q & A asked me what sites I recommended most for writers and before I could answer, an expert swooped in to do it for me. He eagerly suggested that a writer needed to blog and be on Facebook and Twitter and then eventually add LinkdIn…
I finally managed to eek in a “Why would a paranormal romance author benefit from a site dedicated to business professionals?”
It stopped him dead in his tracks.
When I suggested an author stick to two main platforms (FB and Twitter) and a blog, it was like I had committed social media sacrilege. I recommended the author profile the readers she wanted to reach and then gain a solid footing on those platforms.
Don’t get me wrong, he was very nice, but the thought hadn’t occurred to him. Why?
Is it because social media people sit up all night thinking of ways to make life difficult for writers? Of course not! These guys are great, but they are coming from the perspective of social media expert, not the perspective of a writer who needs to have time and energy left over to write more books. This really nice social media guy didn’t get why writers wouldn’t love to be on a zillion sites, because for him social media is the means and the ends.
I am a writer first. I love social media and I love teaching writers how to use it in a way that doesn’t totally disrupt their lives. I think that there are a lot of cool sites out there and if you love social media then ROCK ON! But like working out, we have to be careful. Social media works best when we forge relationships, when we create networks of people who know us, support us, and are emotionally vested in us. How can we achieve that across 9 different platforms?
So 3 Tips:
1.) Be very careful not to mistake traditional marketing with social marketing.
Having a “presence” on 20 different sites so you and your book can get “exposure” is traditional marketing. I would be careful about relying too much on that. People are gravitating to social media, in part, to escape the constant bombardment. You will, in my opinion, be better off interacting on one or two platforms consistently so others can get to know you and be vested in your future.
2.) Use logic to calculate ROI.
What’s ROI? Return on Investment. What is your time worth? Focus on what will eventually translate into sales. Don’t get on a site just to claim you are on it. If you write NF, then LinkdIn is useful, but if you write YA is it really worth time you could be spending on FB?
For example, I was asked about how I felt about Goodreads. Goodreads is a site where people share what they have read, get recommendations about what to read, etc. A cool site and, if, you have the time, sally forth. But let’s get perspective. Great. A bazillion people put you in their “To Read List.” Okay, cool. Doesn’t mean a thing until they purchase a book. Handing out a bunch of free books can work against you, and that is a blog for another day. Just take it for what it is…potential. Focus where you are likely to get results….relationships.
3.) Make small consistent deposits.
Writers are an excitable bunch. When we find out about social media, we are notorious for running out and joining every site on the web. We blog every day and tweet until we wear out our tweeter…then we crash and DIE. Hey, I’ve been there. I am a writer too, remember? I once had a Flikr account, four Twitter accounts, two MySpace pages, 2 FB pages, three blogs, a LinkdIn account, a Goodreads account…and a prescription for Zanex.
Part of why I wrote We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media was to help other writers learn from my mistakes. Practice the principle of parsimony. Less is often more.
Small, consistent deposits. Like working out. We don’t have to work out four hours a day to be healthy. If we want to do a bit more than the average bear, we can hire a personal trainer. Ah, same with social media. We can’t write great books and be on every single social media site….but we can hire these super enthusiastic social media experts to build it bigger for us ;).
I want to hear your comments, and to prove it…
Leave a comment and I will put your name in for a drawing, and you can win an autographed copy of my book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I’m going to gather all comments until Halloween and then the winner will be announced November 1st. Trackbacks count as an entry, so you can double your chances to win by leaving a comment and then linking to any of my blogs.
Until next time…
This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness
Super-awesome post about antagonists, particularly villains by Terrell Mims
Debbie Ridpath Ohi @inkyelbows has a Writer’s Guide to Twitter with a lot of useful stuff
Branding Leads to Landing by guest-blogger Karen Witemeyer
Scott Sigler on How to Be a NY Times Best-Seller. He took a rather unconventional approach. Brought to us by the Creative Penn.
Writer Unboxed is a blog all writers should follow. TONS of great information.
I am totally cheating here. Jane Friedman’s Best Tweets of the Week. Lots of links to the best resources.
Interesting blog on creating unique characters by Marvin D. Wilson
The Psychological Principal Behind Marketing Success in a Networked World by Jeff sexton. GREAT POST!
Platform, Product, Promotion: The Author’s Three Ps by Bob Mayer Another great blog and one ALL writers should read.
If you want to laugh you @$$ off, read Ghandi would have lost it with these people (Warning: some adult language and gratuitous making fun of AT&T)