The Secret to Social Media Success–Slow & Steady Wins the Race

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.

Happy writing!

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)


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  1. The biggest problem I see with social media for writers is that they don’t develop their content before they jump into the fray. I did that. I jumped onto twitter with the brilliant handle of IWhoDaresWins. Stupid. I eventually had to switch over to Bob_Mayer which is my brand. I had to revamp my blog from a sort-of post when I could, about whatever I could think of, to Write It Forward, with a post a minimum of once a week and usually more often. Both of these I learned from reading We Are Not Alone.
    Time is the most valuable asset we have. If we’re going to do it, we have to do it right, so I recommend reading Kristen’s book and saving yourself a lot of time and energy flailing away. Develop and a plan, and then go for it with a focused effort.

  2. I am reading your book right now and I am so thankful for the wealth of advice and information. I have discovered that coming up with 100 blogs about content (well the ideas), trying to twitter a few times a day and building my FB group is already time consuming. Anymore? I’d never get a word written in my current works in progress. I’ve realized that I need to get my blogs scheduled, pre-written far in advance between massive writing projects. That will help a lot. I also realized that a little does go a long way with social media. I don’t want to spread myself so thin that I end up losing the very people I had worked so hard to attract.

    And I don’t have time to workout all day either!

    Now back to reality.


  3. I will admit to knowing not a lot about social networking. Except for what works for me. I’m now on Twitter, I’ve recently discovered Facebook and I’ve dipped my toe into the blogging world too. And that’s enough for me. It’s a time drainer if I let it be and I need to focus not get caught up with email and the fun stuff that goes along with being ‘out there’.

    You’re spot on with the less is more, in my opinion. The more time I can drag my backside away from the computer the better – and less of a stranger I feel to my family 🙂

  4. I agree with this post 110%- I’ve been preaching the same to writer friends. Still, it’s hard for them not to “feel” as if they didn’t do enough to get the sales they want. To which I answer- invest your time in writing good books that’s what really works.
    Thanks for the great post. Cheers~

    • Angela Perry on October 20, 2010 at 3:10 pm
    • Reply

    I dropped in late to the bookmarket chat on Twitter, so I lurked and caught up through most of it. By the time I was done reading what you had to say, I felt so much better! I’ve been listening to social media experts who say I have to be involved in everything, especially their current favorite site (and they all have different favorites). It’s overwhelming. Now I’m going to get your book and read about how to do it from a writer’s perspective. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  5. Phew! I am so glad you said that….. now I don’t have to feel too guilty about not having a myspace page as well! 😉

    1. My advice? If you don’t have a Myspace, don’t bother building one. They launched 3.0 right after WANA launched and I thought I was going to have an aneurism I was so frustrated with them. Now, if you are like me and already have a MySpace with a following, just update it with TweetDeck so you can cater to those followers who still like MySpace. Myspace shot themselves in the foot trying to copy FB instead of keeping to what made mySpace unique in the first place….but that is a whole other story. I am glad i could make you feel better. I have to get a reality check daily too, because I never feel like I am doing enough. Then I have to stop, breathe and remember…small, consistent deposits. 😀

  6. Wonderful points here! Thanks so much for sharing. I love the idea of making small consistent deposits. I too jumped in and joined as many loops and blogs dealing with writing that I could find. It got to the point I hated to sign in and check my email. Very overwhelming. But this I can do. 🙂 Time is precious! Enjoyed your class with the Write_Workshop Group on Building a Brand too!

  7. I must say that I was fortunate enough to get a taste of the social media life when I used it to promote my blog and brand for my beauty and fashion writing. I just had twitter and a blog (haven’t had a chance to really use FAcebook to its full potential). Now that I’m handling all of the social media not only for myself but for the self publishing company I’m helping put together, I do find it a bit overwhelming because though I’m comfortable using social media, I’m handling a completely different animal. I agree that you can’t have your hands in too many social media pots because then there’s no time to write! So this was very comforting to read about being slow and steady and not have a social media breakdown!

  8. I think you’ve raised some valid points there Kristen. Probably also given the well-meaning, enthusiastic, social media guy, some ‘food for thought’ too. Would he not have understood, being a writer himself however, that being the ‘social butterfly’ on all these platforms is actually very time consuming? Not only that, but a writer who wants to embark upon a ‘serious piece of work’, would need the solitude and definitely, NOT the distraction that you can get on FB and Twitter etc? Perhaps its just me, with my goldfish capacity of focus, but even writing an absence mote for my son’s school at times, takes every ounce of….. ? Of, where was I was…? Yes. Concentration;-) Lol. (sorry, couldn’t resist).

  9. PS LOVE the photo for your post:-)

  10. Great post, and perfect timing. I was just stressing myself out because I’m not a social media hare. You’ve boosted my self-esteem as a burgeoning social media turtle. Thank you.

  11. I haven’t begun my ‘writing’ social media presence, but as I’m working on a side project while going through school, I have started a blog for that hobby and using both Facebook and a gamer social network to tie that presence all together. I’ve been blogging for two months, so I’m still excited about ten unique hits a day, but the growth in only two months is awesome in my humble opinion.

    Of course, if this hobby gives me an ROI, then I’ll have experience to build my writing brand following (And since I am likely going to write fantasy/sci-fi, that gamer community may be a place to begin that following!).

    1. Well, the earlier you begin building your brand the better. More time to grow deep roots and for people to get to know your name. Make sure you use your NAME. Monikers will totally sabotage your efforts. I can’t walk into a B&N and buy@GearsGuy ‘s fantasy book. so use your name as much as possible. One think you are definitely doing correctly is you are blogging for your demographic. Rock on and best of luck, :D.

      1. I’ve definitely taken the name thing to heart, I’ve been converting a number of forum accounts to my real name, and my blog, while titled, has my name attached. One of the first lessons I really took to heart about blogging.

        Thanks for the well wishes!

  12. This is just what I needed to hear. I’ve been trying to figure out if I need to get into Digg and StumbleUpon, in addition to Twitter and FB. Those two are exhausting me as it is and big time sucks. I love the analogy, a big aha for me. Thanks!

    1. I hate the shameless self-promo, but I do recommend my book. Since I am a writer FIRST, I developed a system to build a brand that doesn’t take a lot of time. My book walks you through step-by-step and focuses on platforms you can maintain and grow in less than 20 minutes a day (aside from time to write blogs).

  13. Agreed. Spending too much time in the internet is quite destructive for writers. I won’t have time to write if I spend a lot of time in the internet.

  14. I definitely agree with the “quality less is more” strategy. I blog five days a week, which is a huge commitment but I address different topics on different days, and my audience knows which days to visit to get the content they’re looking for. My sitemeter stats demonstrate that, too. I like Twitter because it lets me pop in and interact at regular intervals, but I don’t feel compelled to tweet daily if there’s not something that my followers would benefit from seeing. Even when there is, I try to offer no more than 2-3 general tweets (at most) in any one day – lest I seem “spammy.” Every tweet my followers read takes time from their day. If I’m going to ask them to read one of mine, it should add at least as much value as the marginal cost required to read it. @tweets are different, because they go only to the person receiving them (and anyone reading my wall…poor dears if they’re spending time on that) but again, those add value to the individual in question or they don’t go out.

    Definitely smart advice, hopefully people are listening to it. I know I’m trying to.

  15. I know I’m not physically or mentally able to sign up for and keep up with several social networks at once. By default, I practice “slow and steady” and hope for the best. So, what a relief to read your post!


    1. I second what Christi said. Now, I’m on FB and go there several times a week. I guest blog on various sites, but don’t have one of my own because it’s a huge commitment to do it well. My next challenge is Twitter, and I’ll get there…like the hare.

      Thanks for a great post.

      1. There really isn’t a need to do more than blog, and have a FB page and use Twitter to network and drive traffic to blogs (especially in the beginning). Seriously, if you want more than that, then I highly recommend hiring a good social media person. It’s kind of like home improvement. There are some projects we are capable of doing on a Saturday. There are other projects that we are asking for HUGE trouble if we don’t outsource. Thanks for the compliment and I am really happy my post could bless you 😀

  16. Thank you! Thank you! For bringing balance to the force of social media. I’m feeling a little less guilt now. As a new and unpubbed author, it’s easy to get bogged down in the ‘do this’ mentality – which will eventually steal away writing time.
    And I love being social.
    And connecting with other writers.
    But time is limited, as it is, so thanks for placing things into proper perspective.
    I’d love a chance to read the book. pepperbasham(at)yahoo(dot)com

  17. This post is a million kinds of awesome. It’s easy for writers to get bogged down by the things we feel like we have to do to promote our writing and forget we actually need to…uh, well, WRITE!

    Thanks for the reminder that it’s OK to pick a few things and do them well as opposed to spreading ourselves too thin and doing a crappy job with everything.


    • Suz on October 21, 2010 at 12:05 am
    • Reply

    So basically what your saying is I blog, tweet and facebook in just the right proportions. Good, glad I read this post of yours. Thanks to Tawna Fenske linking to you on twitter. It’s all about the networking, baby. Or do I not know what ‘networking’ actually means? And I can’t believe I said ‘baby’ for that matter. Ick

    • Pamela Toler on October 21, 2010 at 1:08 am
    • Reply

    I’m definitely getting into social media low and slow, pretty much the way I work out.

  18. The other point about the social media enthusiasts is that they very rarely teach you WHAT to do when you’re on all the sites. Sure, you’ve got everything, but what do you do while you’re there? That’s been my biggest struggle. But now I’m really getting into Twitter, and enjoying the short story hashtags.

  19. Thanks. It’s all too easy to waste the whole day with social media and stop working on the new novel. I’ve made that mistake. Now I’m reining in all the sites that are too time-consuming and concentrating on a few. And spending a lot more time working on my book.

  20. I think Goodreads was tremendously helpful to me in launching Hush Money, probably more helpful than anything I did on other social sites. I don’t spend a lot of time there, personally, but doing a review copy giveaway on Goodreads not only got attention from a number of readers who might not have looked twice at an unknown indie like me, but got the attention of a number of book bloggers, and got me a lot of good reviews early on that encouraged readers to take a risk and read me, and continue to help me sell books. I think a Goodreads giveaway will probably always be part of my launches. If you’re interested, I talk about what I did and how it worked in this post:

  21. What, no stretch pants? What’s wrong with stretch pants? I’m counting on coming back as Barbie so I can spend my time writing in this lifetime.

    Thank you, Kristin, for underscoring sanely what is important and necessary. I have been feeling so guilty, meaning those experts you talk about are doing a good job marketing their “must haves”. In light of the money most writers don’t make, spending it on unnecessary stuff is folly. Spending too much time doing social media is like hanging out for coffee with other writers instead of writing: a little is good, too much is craft/work avoidance.

    Especially in this chaotic economy, a little belt tightening not only cash-wise, but time-wise is a good thing. But I’ll let my chickens eat the tofu and the endive, thank you very much.

    • laradunning on October 21, 2010 at 2:56 pm
    • Reply

    Great post as always Kristen. When I ramped up my social media in August it was a bit of a whirlwind as I at first tried to do to much and then pared it down to just FB, Twitter and my blog. Writers want to write and overloading on social media is a serious distraction from that. I’m going to check out the Goodreads you suggests. Thanks again!

  22. This whole year has been a learning curve for me. I love to write, obviously or I wouldn’t be doing it, but I always looked at writing as a lone thing. The only time I ever engaged with others was if I was interviewing them or discussing a commissioned article. However, (and after reading We Are Not Alone) I have a FB page dedicated to my writing, have changed my twitter name and now actually converse with other writers and have added a MySpace page. On top of that I have realised just how important writing conferences can be. My life has completely changed.

  23. Oh how true. I jumped into social media and joined any site someone suggested (mostly from “social media experts”). I’m going to go back after reading this post and delete a few of those accounts. As you pointed out what need does an S&S writer need with an account at a site for business people?

    • donna on October 25, 2010 at 12:18 am
    • Reply

    Your book is on order. I was privileged to attend Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer workshop at the FL Writers conference in Orlando this weekend. He promoted “We are not Alone” and excited many of us to embrace the new world of social networking. I can’t wait to get started!

  24. I greatly enjoyed reading your post. I found it excellent and rather the opposite of the advice and methods I see many writers around me performing.

    I am a loner by nature, personality and just because I feel more comfortable that. I am a non-conformist and basic rebel as well. Yakkety-yakking is not something I have ever done, do or will do. So heavy socializing through various types of online application is not for me.

    I enjoy interacting with people but more in a one-on-one type of way, plus I like to let my writing speak for itself. Although I’ve been an editor and intake specialize for a literary magazine, only this year did I choose to submit my own work and three books have been accepted.

    I was bombarded with suggestions and advice saying to make this, this and that account. Make sure to promote my work as much as possible and keep it in the forefront of everyone’s eyes. I thought that was a way to serious annoy people and turn them off from even considering to read me. At first I felt pressure to “Yell as loudly” as everyone else seemed to be but I quickly realized that was not for me. I needed to remain true to myself and perspective on living and life in order to keep a good balance both professionally and personally.

    I concentrate on my blog and personal website with the basic core of my excerpts at an online wiki site specifically for my main genre. I let people learn about me in increments if they do so desire and moderately post on my Twitter account, and being me, I have a range of tweets not devoted solely to writing or my work. I write articles and post in certain locations and minimally purchase adverts on various sites. I don’t do a lot of chatter though I do have a Goodreads and Smashwords account but use the RSS feed to update them for the most part. Presence but not overpowering.

    It might be unoriginal but I use my name on all my accounts. Easy to search and find me.

    • Carrie on December 3, 2010 at 5:36 pm
    • Reply

    I teach marketing, and I love what you’re saying. We’re talking about efficiency here. Yes, buying an ad during the Super Bowl can help you reach hundreds of millions of people, but that’s only practical if those same hundreds of millions of people are likely to buy your products. If they aren’t, you’ve simply wasted your resources. I tell my students that marketers need to be where their customers are–physically, virtually, and mentally; that’s not the same thing as being where EVERYONE is.

    Thanks for the great post.

  1. […] The Secret to Social Media Success–Slow & Steady Wins the Race (via Kristen Lamb's Blog) Posted on October 20, 2010 by marilaglubag Kristen Lamb actually knows what she’s talking about. 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 consi … Read More […]

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