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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: MySpace

Actual photo of Kristen Lamb on the inside.

When I first saw Google + pop up on the social media radar, I tried to ignore it. But, as an expert people tend to believe we know what we’re doing. I have tried to convince you guys that I make this up as I go, but alas I some of you sent me messages like this:

So, what do you think of Google +?

Um is… Crap. Is it too early to drink? a viable answer?

I was just kind of hoping they would stop inventing stuff for a week or two so I could get caught up. Can we ever keep up with it all? Social media is not immune to evolution. Some things work, others don’t. People behind the technology are always asking if there is a way to streamline. Can we make this better? More user-friendly? Can we make it easier for people to interact? To connect? To filter out all the white noise? I can’t blame them. It keeps the programmers off the streets, even if it gives us stress hives.

It seems that Google is taking on this challenge with launching Google +. So, as your Social Media Jedi Master, I am taking this bullet for the team. Thanks to one of my blog followers I scored an invitation to be part of the beta testing for the one social network to rule them all…Google +. So I will be pressing buttons and shouting expletives at my computer so you don’t have to.

It is too early to give a good opinion. I don’t quite understand how THIS will be different, wonderful and fantastical. Maybe it will be, but time will tell.

You guys might find this shocking, but I hate anything new. I am really an 58 year old Jewish woman from Long Island, New York at heart, and all this technology makes me seriously verklempt. The fact that I have written two best-selling technology books is proof God has a sense of humor.

I get set in my ways and, like a lot of people, I don’t care for change. And sometimes, especially when it comes to technology, I want to yell ENOUGH, ALREADY!  I feel like I am caught in a digital riptide and drowning in digital daiquiri mix. I have the schmeltz.

The Downside of New and Improved

It is wonderful that the social networking sites want to always be offering something new and shiny, but sometimes? I wish they would leave things alone. For instance, I LOVE Twitter and TweetDeck, yet it seems that every other day there is a new version that I need to install. Really? I just figured out the buttons on last week’s version, and now I need to install a NEWER version? A faster version? A version that allows me to tweet straight from my brain without having to type?

Facebook is no better. Oh we know you just finally figured out version 37, but version 38 WILL BLOW YOUR MIND!

I think that this was a big reason MySpace collapsed. Yes, I mention MySpace in WANA. Feel free to ignore all 5 of those pages.  Yet, MySpace is a lesson in how “new and improved” can go tragically wrong.

MySpace was a force to be reckoned with a few years ago, but MySpace wasn’t happy with prosperity. They had to new and improve and add more and more gizmos, ads, games, apps, gadgets and flashy thingies. Eventually, people had so much crap on their profile that the page loaded slower than Eeyore on Quaaludes. No one could open a profile without risking a computer crash….which defeated why MySpace was so popular. Originally, it was a simple way to connect, hang out and make friends. MySpace “new and improved” so much that you risked a seizure every time you tried to visit a profile.

MySpace also lost sight of what it did well and kept trying to copy Facebook. The irony of this approach was that people who liked MySpace generally didn’t like Facebook. So here MySpace was copying the very place many of us were trying to avoid. In the end, all this copying of Facebook was the source of the hemorrhage of people to Facebook. If MySpace was going to be Facebook, then um, why not just go hang out on Facebook?

A couple of months ago, Facebook decided to force everyone to change the layout of their profile.Oh, they made it seem like it was optional at first (kind of like the Nazi party). Every day when I logged in, Facebook would have a pop up message touting the “new look” and ask if I was ready to change. Every day I said no. I’d finally figured out where everything was.

Then, one day I logged in and … everything was moved. I know they are trying to be nice, but that’s kind of like surprising Helen Keller with an extreme home makeover while she’s away on vacation. The intention is noble, but the result is not pretty when Helen falls into a wine cellar she didn’t have when she left to visit relatives in Florida.

Not all of us work for Facebook. We have other things to do with our time than try to figure out yet another page layout. Leave it alone. Really.

Cell phones….yeah. Don’t get me started.

Are People Wanting to Move Again?

I know that Google + is promising new and wonderful things, but it kind of reminds me of when I was young and used to move every three months. Sure moving to a new place was fun and exciting when everything I owned could be packed in less than two hours…but now? When my crap would fill two moving vans? I am just not that motivated.

I think that maybe some of the younger generations that are new to social media will probably embrace Google + far quicker.  To put it bluntly, they have less crap to move.

Many people have been building Facebook pages for years. I have 4000 followers on Twitter. Do I really want to start anew? One of the reasons I kept hoping MySpace would pull its digital head out of its digital butt was because I had a lot of hours invested in that network. I didn’t want to start all….over….again.

I am hoping Google + has learned from these issues and can make transitioning easy.

Change Can Be Good

Okay so I have whined now for a few hundred words and you see what I mean about really being an 58 year old Jewish woman from Long Island, New York. I don’t like change. Again, this is why I am proof that God digs irony. Yet, in ways I think that this is an attribute that has made me better at teaching social media to writers.

Many social media people LOVE gadgets and gizmos and the newest way of doing anything shiny. They are lovely people, but a lot of them have the attention span of a ferret with a cocaine habit. Many of them just don’t get that we still have to write books, too.

Yes, we need change. Change can be great. I hated cell phones and e-mail when they first came out, and now I am tethered permanently to both. But, change for the sake of change is a waste of time and energy. I think it is wise for us to pan back and take a minute to think. See if we really need to change, why we need to change and when we need to change.

Google + is promising to make social media a better experience. I am thinking it might be a meta-program (I think that’s a word. If not, now it is). A meta-program to act as a hub to for all other social media sites. But, I had to give a DNA sample and 32 background references to create a profile so I haven’t started digging under the hood yet.

So, I am tying off to a safety line. I have my backpack full of Red Bull and Dr. Phil books. I’ll go whack it with a hammer and see if it screams then report back. Just because there is a hot new social networking fad is no reason to tear down the tents and set off for parts unknown. But, we also want to make sure we aren’t clinging to a sinking ship.

*cough* MySpace.

Google + might be the new evolution of social media. But it could be a giant brain cramp that we can avoid. I will keep you posted. So what do you guys think? Any of you using Google +? If you are, can you come find me? I’m the series of 0s and 1s wandering around crying. I have a balloon on my arm and am wearing an orange jumper. Are you guys tired of the “new and improved”? What’s your opinion? Are you excited? Do you need a Tums? Are you also an 58 year old Jewish woman from Long Island on the inside? Are you verklempt? We can compare bunions.

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. 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 June 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: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) 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.

Last Week’s Winner of 5 page critique is Thomas Ross. Please send 1250 word Word document to kristen at kristen lamb dot org.


Mash-Up of Awesomeness

FUNNY Post by Lani Wendt Young Don’t You Dare Breathe on That Baby

The Rules of Social Media Optimization 

Self-Publish–Is It a Dirty Word?

Social Media–Protection from Facial Recognition Software

Failing Doesn’t Make You a Failure by Jen Rothman

60 Tips to Improve Your NF Writing (this is excellent for blogging, too)

Literary Agents: An Endangered Species? by the brilliant and talented Anne R. Allen

Can getting published make you happy? by Michelle Davidson Argyle

Will self-publishing hurt your chances of being traditionally published? by Agent Rachelle Gardner

What’s the difference between plot and story?

Why Understanding Conflict Will Make You a Better Writer by Bubblecow

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 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.

 

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.

So what is a platform? There are two sides to platform. First is the definition of our platform (our author brand). What is unique about us or our writing that can be a determining factor in our content? I happened to teach about social media and was an editor for years. Thus, I used my strengths to dig in and forge relationships. NYT Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer was a Green Beret and leader of an A-Team before he became a writer. Thus, Bob uses his unique perspective as a soldier to give a distinctive quality to his platform.

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…um, kid developed in me a strong defense mechanism. I learned to be funny. Kind of like peeing on yourself so no one eats you.

Writing out your tags (discussed in Blogging Part 3) will give you a good clue as to HOW to define your author image (platform).

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.

Building a platform is comprised of content and exposure. How much content are you putting out there? 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.

MySpace is hemorrhaging right now. In my book, I recommended it as an alternative for a website (a lot of writers are broke), NOT as a place to really build a presence. If you can afford the optimized website, go for it. The point is that 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.

There are still people who love MySpace. But as this major shift ripped apart social media…my platform remained intact. Members of my MySpace platform could easily find me on FB as they 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.

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.

Friday’s blog got a ton of comments. One of my regular followers, Kait Nolan, offered a lot of useful advice for self-publishing and shared how she had been very successful (based in part on her using WANA). An agent I met at a conference happened by MY blog, saw HER comments, then clicked and checked out her platform…and offered her representation.

My circle of connections overlapped with Kait and her enthusiastic participation. Because she had a very nice platform (complete with a mini-bar, BBQ grill and hot tub) she was able to impress an agent. No query required. Kait met someone who knew someone, and we wish her the best as she takes her career to a whole new level.

The more you participate and offer quality content, the better your odds of opening that door that changes everything. I am the headliner for a social media forum at the RT Booklovers Convention in LA. Know how I got the offer? Romance Author DeeDee Scott , who I talk to on FB all the time, recommended me. She knew the head of publicity for the RT Booklovers Convention, and, when Carol mentioned needing a social media expert, DeeDee jumped in and sang my praises.

But how would she have ever even KNOWN me had I not been active on social media?

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. Even still. I have an agent and she is shopping a proposal. This hasn’t stopped me from publishing WANA. I also have “Are You There, Blog? It’s Me Writer” coming out soon. AND I have a THIRD book in the pipeline with WDW Pub. Thus, I am being productive and prolific in my meantime.

I could not do this unless I had a large platform. While I am waiting on the big houses, I am making money with an indie press…and building my reputation (platform), which will increase my odds of 1) a better deal from NY and 2) a better chance of being successful when my books do finally hit the shelves. A lot of people KNOW me and support me (You Guys ROCK, btw). Heck I could get so successful at indie, I wouldn’t need NY at all. Best news is, I have OPTIONS.

I also have 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.

What are some tactics you guys use to grow your platform? Any suggestions? Thoughts? What are your biggest challenges? Share! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And, to prove it and show my love, for the month of February, 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 WANA in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel.

Also, I hope you guys check out my guest post at Writer Unboxed. Bring Back that Lovin’ Feeling–What to Do When You Feel Burned Out.

Happy writing!

Until next time…

In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.

Also, I highly recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. Learn all about plotting, how to write great characters, and even how to self-publish successfully…all from the best in the industry. I will be teaching on social media and building a brand in March. For $20 a workshop, you can change your destiny….all from the comfort of home.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Oh! No! Melodrama–Avoiding the Reader Eye Roll by Roni Loren

E-Publishing & Pricing–How Much is a Book Worth? by NYTBSA Bob Mayer

Great writing series (How We Write Wednesdays) by Jenni Holbrook-Talty and Anna DeStefano

Exploring Romantic Suspense–The Hero  some interesting thoughts by Author Jamie DeBree

How to Avoid Becoming Another Boring Writer’s Blog by my fave Jody Hedlund

Across the Twitterverse by Author Piper Bayard

5 Tips to Avoid Being a Media Moron by the ruthlessly funny Tawna Fenske

Are Romance Heroes Good Role Models? by Paranormal Author Jami Gold

Why Your Self-Published Book Might Suck a Big Bad of Dicks by the hilarious genius word pirate Chuck Wendig

 

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, chock full of tips to rock your social media experience and based off my best selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social MediaOne of the biggest complaints I hear about social media is that writers believe they have no time. I am going to share a little secret. We have plenty of time if we do it properly. The problem is that too many writers are approaching social media like traditional marketing instead of social marketing. When we try to apply traditional marketing tactics, we will be spread too thinly to be effective and, truthfully, can do more harm than good. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading last week’s blog for a clear explanation of the key difference between traditional marketing (market norms) and social marketing (social norms).

Social marketing capitalizes on networking. Embrace the great news. We don’t have to do everything alone!!! Traditional marketing will tempt you to be on every last social media site and make a bazillion “friends,” yet all those “friends” will likely not be too vested in your success. So please trust me. A smaller network of effective influencers is far more powerful than a thousand followers who add little social media value.

What is social media value?

Well, these are the members of your social grid who participate actively and add good content to the Internet community. We are going to talk about the different kinds of influencers in a moment. Find these key individuals, and there are no limits to your digital reach. These influencers are platform-building GOLD and your most valuable asset.

So how do you find the key influencers?

There are a number of ways to pinpoint your major influencers, but it is tricky. Why? Because unlike direct marketing or old-fashioned PR, the goal of social media is to influence entire groups of people. We aren’t just targeting one individual, but rather the individual and his/her surrounding community. That is one of the reasons that, unlike direct marketing, the overall effectiveness of social media is not as easy to measure. There are some SIM (Social Influence Marketing) metrics that one can run, and companies that can help you locate your referent influencers, but I don’t know that they are all that helpful for authors wanting to build a platform.

Yeah, you are going to have to do some work. Sorry. But I help you make it fun.

Writers are different than companies doing social media. That was the impetus behind me writing a book for authors. Not all tools that work well in the corporate world cross over.

Unlike Honda or Victoria’s Secret, most of us are a one-man operation. We don’t have a marketing department, and we also have a different kind of product. The CEO of Honda is not responsible for making every car that comes off the assembly line. Yet, until we become brand names and too big to handle all our own writing, we are responsible for the material that hits the bookstore shelves.

We cannot outsource our social media content (blogs, articles, excerpts, commentary, group activity, etc.) like, say, Bud Light or Geiko.

The plain fact of the matter is that the more you participate in social media, the better the results. And when I say participate, that means strategized participation (mixed with fun) with clear end goals. I talk about how to do this in my book, and I am working on a new one. Thinking of calling it, Stop Sending Me Farm Animals and Go Build Your Platform before I Send You a Digital Kick in the Butt.

But basically, you do need to have a plan. In order to have a plan, you must understand the players if you hope to identify those who can maximize your influence, thereby minimizing the time you spend on social media. Not all users are created equally. They are divided into categories that correspond with the influence they exact of their surrounding networks.

Expert Influencer—is just what it says. These are the authorities in a certain subject, and people look to these experts for information, advice, and guidance. The experts are heavyweights when it comes to influencing the decisions of those in their networks. Expert influencers usually have a picture of themselves as their icon. They also generally have huge following that number in the thousands or tens of thousands, depending on the platform. Also, a quick glance to their website (which is usually denoted in the bio) will give you a clear picture that this person is an expert in her field. Oprah. Enough said.

Referent Influencer—is in the person’s social network and exercises influence. Referent influencers are a little trickier to figure out. They generally have a fairly large following, but not always. Quality and quantity are not the same thing.

So how do you figure out the referent influencers? You have to participate so you can pay attention. For the most part the referent influencers are highly active on social media and thus usually have a larger following than the casual user, but maybe not as large as the expert. Yet, it is their level of meaningful activity that makes them essential to have in your network. They post a lot of times a day and are well-known, liked, and respected for good content. People around them trust them for good stuff. These are the people you miss when they take a day off.

In my opinion, the referent influencer is the most valuable. Why? First, it is easier to get close to them and befriend them and gain their support. If you write a blog about parenting (as part of your NF book platform), what are the odds of becoming part of Oprah’s inner circle? Referent influencers are far more approachable.

Secondly, referent influencers are genuine and personal and thus exercise tremendous authority. I think that people tend to trust these types influencers almost as much the experts, if not more. Why? Well, human nature. We like things from the proverbial mouth of the horse. We can’t really be sure Oprah picks her Books of the Month for herself. Likely she has gatekeepers who narrow the field. But, Suzy Lit-Girl, freelance writer and respected book reviewer who posts every week and has 3000 over people in her immediate network (including big authors and publishing houses) is easier to win to your side. It is a much easier feat to get Suzy Lit-Girl to repost your blog or your book’s review than it is to make it on to Oprah’s radar (let alone get a plug). Additionally, those who follow Suzy view her as an authority and listen to her much like an expert, even though, by strict definition, she isn’t.

Thirdly, there are far more referent influencers than expert influencers. A lot more. There are a lot more Suzy Lit-Girls to befriend than Oprahs.

*** Many referent influencers are considered experts in certain subject areas. Pay attention.

Positional Influencer—is often in the person’s inner circle. Friends, family, spouses are all examples of positional influencers. Yes, whether most of us admit it or not, our mothers’ opinions still influence us.

Virtually everyone on social media is a positional influencer to someone else. Positional influencers can be very valuable to a writer, especially in certain genres. For instance, I imagine that most 4-year-olds don’t drive down to Barnes & Noble, slap down a credit card and buy a stack of kid’s books. But moms do. If you happen to write for children, middle grade, teens, or any group that typically would not be the purchaser of the book, then you must target the positional influencers or risk losing a huge percentage of your potential consumers.

This goes back to what I discussed a couple months ago about profiling the reader as part of your social media campaign. One would also be wise to profile the purchaser.

Ideally, you will recruit the referent and expert influencers who hold sway over the positional influencers. Recruit SuperCarpool_Mom (referent influencer) and @ParentingMagazine to your side and the moms will listen.

*** The key to doing social media well, resides in recruiting and mobilizing the all types of influencers, particularly the referent and expert influencers.

At the end of the day, be good to anyone who is being good to you. Networks are hard to build, and we need as much help as we can get from our social community. So if others help “raise your barn,” (repost your posts) make sure you pitch in with theirs. It is just good manners.

I might qualify, I advise being kind and reciprocating because it is the right thing to do. But, we do have to deal with
reality. We only have so much time. Yes, we need to be good to as many as we can, but we need to be mindful to pay attention to those with greater reach and influence if we hope to have time left over to write great books.

Happy writing! Until next time…

Keep Scrolling for the Mash-Up of Awesomeness. My collection of the best of the best materials for writers.

But first the shameless self-promo. If you love this blog and just want MORE? My book, We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media  is available in all formats. 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.

Now the Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Best Article on Writing….Possibly EVER

Author Chuck Wendig and the Dos and Don’ts of NaNoWriMo

Best Workshops

For more ways to grow from writer to published author, I highly recommend Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer Book and Workshops, the inspiration behind this Warrior Writer blog series. Sign up today. Bob teaches all over the country, and he also runs Warrior Writer classes on-line, so don’t wait. Take charge of your destiny today. And if Bob happens to be running a novel workshop near you, take advantage. It will be the best career decision you ever make.

Author Candy Havens has a free on-line workshop. Candy brings in all the best to teach you how to be the best writer you can be. Right now I am participating in her Fast Draft Workshop where she guides you through writing a book in 16 Days.

Blogs all Writers Must Subscribe to and Read

Bob Mayer’s Write It Forward. Stay on top of industry changes and learn from a NYT best-selling author.

Genreality. The best in the business gather here three times a week to help you be even MORE awesome.

Writer Unboxed. Essential for every writer.

Book Talk LOADS of great information for writers.

Paranormal Author Jami Gold has been running an excellent series on character development.

Other fantastic author blogs and my personal faves…

Hilarious Blogging Goddess Tawna Fenske

For wonderful writing tips, Jody Hedlund

Welcome to the 100th post on the Warrior Writers blog! For over a year and a half, I have devoted this blog to the sole mission of making all of you amazingly successful authors. Monday is craft, but today is WANA Wednesday, the day I dedicate to helping you guys rock it hard with social media and based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. Today we are going to discuss marketing, because there is a lot of confusion going on out there. In fairness, writers are writers and most of us don’t work on Madison Avenue by day so there is a certain degree of confusion to be expected.

Today we are going to discuss two HUGE ways to totally transform your marketing impact. So let’s get started.

1. Understand the difference between traditional and social 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. 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.

With the shift into the Information Age, authors are no longer permitted the luxury of obscurity. Long absences between books might have been standard before the 21st century, but now the modern fan expects more interaction. We consumers are plugged in and want to hear from you. If we don’t, we will gravitate to an author who is connecting with us.

As you can see social marketing is very different from traditional marketing and yet there are many writers who treat social marketing like traditional marketing. The down side of that is this writer will find himself perceived as little better than spam. I have heard many book fans complain about Goodreads. They want to be on there for the common social experience with booklovers…if only they could escape the self-published or newly published authors who blitz them non-stop with self-promotion. We are wise to appreciate that people are gravitating to social media by the millions in part to escape the constant barrage of traditional marketing.

So how can you tell if you are employing traditional marketing tactics?

If you are an unpublished or even new author, avoid:

  • Auto-tweets that post about you, you, you. Auto-tweets are just a bad idea. They can create a lot of resentment (um, cuz it’s basically cheating and being lazy) and it can get you banned from Twitter and your account deleted.
  • Auto-DMs. Just interact. Be genuine. Auto-DMs are annoying and viewed as basically spam. I have people DM me and in the DM apologize for the auto-DM, which shows me they know on some level they are making a social media faux pas.
  • Form-letters of any kind on Facebook. We really don’t need a 1,000 word form-letter with all the links to everything you have ever written and free downloads of your e-book. Seriously.

One day we might be able to rely on some of these time-saving features, but we are going to have to do some work first. Just like Brittany Spears and Angelina Jolie don’t need reservations…ever. They can even boot people from their tables. Us mere mortals? We’d get beaten up and banned from the restaurant.

Traditional marketing is dangerous for writers to use until they are well-known authors.  Why? Well, that leads in to my next point.

2. Understand the difference between market norms and social norms.

Why can Nora Roberts send out a form-letter when we can’t? It has to do with market norms and social norms.

Market norms are the rules and social guidelines dictated by the world of business.

Social norms, by contrast, are the rules and social guidelines dictated by relationships.

For instance, if a moving company moves your stuff, they have a list of rates. They can charge by the item or even charge by the hour and they even take major credit cards for you convenience.

You don’t get offended.

But what if your brother gave you the same list? You’d be ticked. And if he told you he’d even accept major credit cards, you’d probably threaten him with bodily harm.

Wives don’t charge for washing the laundry and husbands generally don’t charge for mowing the lawn. Social norms.

There are companies who like to dance this edge between social norms and market norms. Like a great neighbor, State Farm is there. Companies, in an effort to seem more personable and concerned about customers as individuals often will tug on the ol’ social norms strings. But these companies know that while there can be a distinct advantage to being a customer’s friend, there can be a dark side, too. Screw up once, and the anger will be personal. Some businesses are finding themselves in hot water over this. You can’t just dance on the side of the fence that is convenient for the moment.

For instance, I went to a doctor’s office that openly displayed how they charged $40 for being late to an appointment. But when they left me sitting for almost three hours I was supposed to be understanding of a very overworked doctor. Uh, no. Can’t call market norms and charge me $40 for being late, but then expect me to extend the courtesy of social norms when you are the one in need of grace.

Back to writers. I have gotten many form-letters from writers hawking their book on Facebook (market norms) but then wanting me to share their link with all my friends (social norms). Uh…no. You can’t reap the benefit of social marketing by sending form-letters. Bad juju.

Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Stephenie Meyers and all the other big names can get away with sending form-letters and impersonal ads and links because they are equated to a business in our minds. I don’t think many of us are expecting a personal note from Lee Child. We know these writers are mega-huge and thus we look at the form-letters much the same way as the form-letters we get from our insurance company. We don’t attach a social norm value to it. So they are like “friending” Starbucks on Facebook.

Everyone else? Sorry. We have to make an effort and socialize and get involved. We can’t send form-letters and auto-DMs and expect people to react favorably. If Nora Roberts sends out a link for a free download of her stuff, there is a market value attached to her content. Followers actually feel as if they are being given something of value, because they are. A free download for an unpubbed unknown author? Um. Spam. Sorry. This is where the social component becomes vital. Our work may not yet have a market value, so we have to work extra hard to make sure it at least has social value…which after time and a lot of hard work and peer approval will eventually earn a market value.

So my advice. Until we are J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown, we have to get in and socialize. But, hey, that’s a lot of fun and some of the best people I know I know via social media. Come be my friend and I’ll introduce you ;).

Make sure you keep scrolling down for This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness, which is a collection of some of the best industry blogs out there. I am here to save you time by guiding you to the best of the best.

Happy writing!

Until next time…

But first, the shameless self-promo. We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media is designed to be fun and effective. I am here to change your habits, not your personality. My method will help you grow your network in a way that will translate into sales. And the coolest part? My approach leaves time to write more books. Build a platform guaranteed to impress an agent. How do I know this? My book is recommended by agents.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

My favorite blogs to follow:

Jody Hedlund can always be counted on for some of the best writing advice around. She also gives great tips about social media marketing. Hey, sounds like someone you might already know :D.

Make a mentor out of a NY Times Best-Selling Author. Hey, I did, why not? Bob Mayer’s Write It Forward is chock full of priceless industry advice.

New blogger Terrell Mims is an amazing writing teacher. I know this because he is my right-hand man and helps me run my Warrior Writer Boot Camp. Subscribe today and shorten your learning curve by YEARS.

Best New Find? Jami Gold is one of my Tweeple, but she rocks it hard with her craft blog, so check it out and be amazed.

Writers tend to take life waaaay too seriously. Hey, this is a tough job that can be even tougher on the morale. This is why you need steady doses of Blogging Goddess Tawna Fenske mixed with some spicy apocalyptic nose-thumbing at the establishment using the dark humor of a gun-owning belly dancing author. Yeah, that was a mouthful, but Author Piper Bayard is irreverently funny.

More…

12 Cool Secrets to Writing Dialogue

Tips on Agents & Querying from NYT Best-Selling Author Allison Brennan

 

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. This is the day I dedicate to help you make the most out of your social media experience. I teach, specifically, social media for writers. Writers are unique. Our social media presence is different than a business or even a casual user. We straddle both worlds, and often we feel as if we are in social limbo. We have to make sure to be friendly and personable and interact, but we also must remember that we are a business and have an image to build and a reputation to protect.

In my book We Are Not Alone, content is my primary focus. For me, walking a reader through signing up for a Twitter profile isn’t nearly as important as coaching that individual on what to do once she begins to “tweet.” What should she say? Last week I wrote a guest post for Genreality and I introduced the concept of T.H.I.N.K.ing before we post anything. Before our hot little fingers can dash across the keyboard, we need to engage our brain and T.H.I.N.K.

Ask:

Is it TRUE?

Is it HELPFUL?

Is it INFORMATIVE?

Is it NECESSARY?

Is it KIND?

Social media is, above all else, social. Yet, it is easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when we are sitting in the privacy of our homes. Our main goal as writers is to use social media in order to build a platform of individuals who know us, like us and support us. To do this, we must be personable, kind and genuinely interested in others. We must also be cognizant that everything we do is a calculated business decision. We are free to do anything we want on social media. We can gripe about other authors, agents, and publishing houses. We can grouse and get into Twitter fights. We can tweet dirty jokes and rant about the economy, the war, the state of public education. We are free to do all of these things. No Writer Police will show at our door and haul us away. But, even though we are free to do all these things, we must ask ourselves if it is wise from a business perspective.

In my book and in last week’s Genreality blog, The Power of Positive Tweeting, I recommended that writers stay away from subjects that are polarizing. Sex, politics and religion are topics guaranteed to quickly divide people and create ill will. So, unless these subjects are part of our platform, it is just a good idea to steer clear.

Gasp. Why, Kristen, we have beliefs and a faith and a viewpoint!

Okay, fair enough. So do I. But I imagine most of you are a lot like me. I like being friends with all kinds of people, not just those folk who believe the same as I do. I want all kinds of people in my corner, buying my books and wishing for my success, not just those people who believe the same things I do. As writers trying to build a platform, we are wise to think of social media like one giant social gathering, and that means we need to be great hosts. Others are a guest on our blog or in our space, so we should show them kindness by making them as comfortable as possible.

Few people are logical. We operate on emotions. Recently I had a writer ask me to evaluate his blog. It was a 1200 word ranting about a politically volatile topic. I felt sick to my stomach by the third sentence and I literally felt bludgeoned by the third paragraph. Do I believe the writer intended that response? Of course not. He was being bold and passionate and blogging about something he believed fiercely was right. But I would wager that, for at least 50% of his audience, reading that blog would likely rank up with dental surgery as in not an experience we care to repeat.

If he is a fiction author, then what did that blog just do to his platform? It split it clean down the middle by alienating half of his following. Any comments on the blog would also be split. One side would think he was a grand ideologue, and the other half would want his head…and would likely tell everyone they knew to steer clear of him and anything he wrote.

Remember our little acronym, T.H.I.N.K.? Was it true? For him, yes. Was it helpful? He certainly thought so. Was it informative? Oh, indeed! Ah, but was it necessary? For a fiction author, probably not. Thus, this author could fracture his following needlessly by blogging on a divisive subject that did nothing to support his fiction platform. For a political writer, this is great blogging. For a novelist, this is a needless travesty.

Emerson once said that good manners are made up of petty sacrifices. Am I asking writers to give up who they are and what they believe in? Not at all. But I do firmly believe in your talent as writers. Surely those of you gifted enough to create entirely new worlds are talented enough to be yourself in a way that always makes others feel welcome and included.  Yes, it takes more work and takes self-discipline. And, yes, sometimes it will be maddening to not bait to some other party’s on-line rant. But think of the goodwill we will be spreading to others! Our tweets and blogs and status updates will be a welcome refuge, a safe-haven from a world blighted with pessimism.

Humans crave positive feelings. We can’t get enough of them. Blogs that educate, encourage and inspire? Those are the blogs that gain our subscriptions our loyalty and our referrals. I recommend Tawna Fenske & Jody Hedlund every chance I get. Why? Because I KNOW their blogs are guaranteed to make me laugh, to make me think and best of all….to make me a better person.

Ben Franklin once said, “If you argue and rankle and contradict you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you never get your opponent’s good will.”

When it comes to how we will use social media, we all must make one key decision. Would we like to have an academic victory or a follower’s good will? I would endorse good will any day of the week.

So here is to making the world a brighter place one post, one blog and one tweet at a time, :D.

Happy writing!

Until next time….

The Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s In It for the Long Haul for those who want a CAREER as a writer.

Need some inspiration? What do the most highly paid authors have in common? brought to us by The Creative Penn

Mary Carroll Moore has a fantastic blog about Creating a Page-Turner

Editor of Writer’s Digest Jane Friedman, as always, has an wonderful blog, “The Future of Publishing: You Get to Decide” about all the different avenues of publication.

10 Simple ways to Become a Powerhouse Blogger, brought to us by the fountain of excellence @4KidLit on Twitter.

Want to know more about how to win friends and influence people on social media? I recommend a tried and true classic. Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People should be a staple in every writer’s library.