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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: networking

Social media is different for writers.  Yes, we really are special unique snowflakes. I have repeatedly claimed that I am not a social media expert. Rather, I am THE social media expert for writers. There is a HUGE difference. I am a writer first, and the book is always the most important asset we have. There isn’t any point to all this blogging and tweeting and Face-booking (yes, I made up a word) unless we have a finished product to sell.

So which social media platform is the best for writers?

My answer? The one you like and will do well. If the thought of being on Facebook makes you want to drink cooking wine until you black out, then by all means sign up for G+. If you love Facebook and hate Twitter, then at least read my Twitter Tuesday series. You might just hate Twitter because you don’t understand it. BUT, if you totally GET Twitter and it makes you break out in hives and want to punch puppies??? Don’t hang there.

If we hang out places we enjoy, people can feel and respond to the positive energy. The largest benefit we can gain from social media is a vested community of support. We do not need a “presence” on all social platforms. We can have one, but it will likely have little impact on sales. Why? There are a number of reasons, but today we are only going to discuss one.

Name Recognition is Not a Brand

Writers are not Starbuck’s.

Some people believe that if we spew our names across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Flikr, Goodreads…okay, I’m tired…Four Square, Technorati, Digg….that THIS is effective marketing. My opinion? This is a formula to land a writer on a roof with a margarita machine and a shotgun.

Too many writers are trying to have a “presence” on a gajillion social sites. Name recognition alone is not a brand, and it certainly isn’t an author brand. It also doesn’t leave time to write more books. There are a lot of writers getting in trouble with their agents and publishers because they are dedicating too much time to social media. Why? Because this scattergun approach is a massive time suck (and does nothing to brand us anyway).

What is an author brand? My formula:

Name + Fantastic Content + POSITIVE FEELINGS = Brand

If a writer just spams people on 10 different social sites:

Look at ME!

Here’s my blog!

Free download of my book!

Read my reviews!

It really just means that this writer has ten places people hate him and cringe when they see his name. There are certain social sites I no longer visit. I found it too hard to enjoy myself when I was being harassed non-stop by self-published authors.

This goes for sending people form letters on Facebook too. If I “friend” a writer, and within 30 seconds receive a nice long letter that is trying to “look” personalized, that ticks me off, especially when the writer wants something from me.

This person hasn’t so much as said “boo” to me, but they want my time, effort, money and referral. And not only that, but this person is treating me like I am so stupid that I don’t know a form letter when I see one.

NOT a good way to make friends.

Also, please do not start a Why I Am So Awesome Club on Facebook and then sign us up without asking first. I hate it when I open my e-mail’s In Box to notifications for a discussion in a group I have never heard of, yet I am, somehow, a member.

You have 10 e-mails from Friends of Author Buffy Fluffernutter—The Chiropractor’s Assistant—A Tale of Love, Hate and Orthotics.

Huh? What? Did someone rufie my Facebook and she ended up at a party she doesn’t remember?  

Back to our formula:

Name + Great Content +POSITIVE FEELINGS= Brand

When someone spams me, I get annoyed. When they send me form letters where they have inserted my name and a couple of inane details that anyone could get by looking at my bio? I get REALLY annoyed, because now I am not only being treated as if I am stupid, I am being manipulated.

Name + Unsolicited Content+ Seriously ticked off feelings = Spam Toad

I have yet to ever buy anything from writers on Twitter who DMed, “Thanks for the follow. For more of my terribly interesting thoughts buy my book here.”

Yeah, I am right on that. Right after I pick up my Facebook page from victim’s counseling. On the bright side, she has given up digital daiquiris for good.

In fairness, I actually don’t report these writers as spam.  Though I find the approach annoying, I know that there is some “marketing genius” who is telling writers that this is the way to be professional and to sell a lot of books.

NO.

We cannot take what works for Bubba’s Car Wash and cross-apply it to selling books. Traditional marketing DOES NOT SELL BOOKS. It never has, and likely never will. We are going to talk about why next week.

Back to our topic…

Name recognition alone doesn’t sell books, namely because that is a traditional marketing tactic. Brands, especially when talking about author brands, are a product of interaction. I like to say that authors are the new reality stars. We now have the power to become a personality. People like US…so they buy our books.

Spending hours a day blitzing ten different social sites is a waste of time. Spend that time writing more books and blogging. Blogs offer readers a chance to know us, like us, and love our writing voice. If we can get them addicted to 1500 words a week, think when we offer 80,000.

For instance, I started reading Tawna Fenkse’s blog a YEAR before her book was ready for purchase. Let me tell you, the second that puppy was for sale? I was on it like a chicken on a June bug. And I was RIGHT. Her fiction is even better than the blog. I was hooked by her blog and couldn’t WAIT for her book. Buy Making Waves the first chance you get.

Blogs are very useful for creating reader loyalty. If we write a killer blog, we don’t need to be on every last social site. Why? Our following will be sharing our stuff where THEY hang out….which is the purpose of social media. We don’t have to do this alone.

If you don’t want to blog, no problem, just be authentic and likable. If we focus on doing one or two sites well, we start becoming a brand because people can start associating those pink fluffy feelings with our names (the NAME that will be printed on your books–ditch the cutesy moniker if you have one).

Even corporations appreciate the power of emotions. Look at the picture above. We have all laughed at “Peggy.” Capitol One appreciated how we have been treated by other card companies, and they sought to make us feel appreciated…so they poked fun. And it works. We connect emotionally.

Name recognition alone is not enough. To prove my point:

Arne Duncan Vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Which name do you recognize? Perhaps both. Duncan is the current U.S. Secretary of Education. You might have heard his name in passing on CNN, but though you recognize it, it holds little mental real estate and his name is not highly emotive (for most people). Schwarzenegger, by contrast, is a name that practically explodes with images, concepts and emotions for people all over the world.

This is the idea behind becoming a brand. Name recognition alone is not enough. We must use our blogs and social platforms to drive the power of emotion behind our names.  This is one of the reasons NYTBSAs can get away with some traditional marketing. Why? Because they have 20+ books supplying the emotional component to their names.

When we don’t yet have a book out, or only one or two books? Our social platform can step in and fill the emotional vacuum until we have more titles under our belt.

We can use our blogs to connect with READERS on common emotional ground. We craft an experience that is so positive that people not only want to buy our books, but they also want to badger friends and family to buy our books as well. Why? Because they feel they know us. They connected with us and so they are vested in our success; so vested, in fact, that they are willing to mobilize their platforms to help us.

THAT is the real power of becoming a brand. Historically, the only way an author could emotionally connect (in a positive way) was through her novels. Now? Social media can act as a meantime supplement between books.

In the end, just understand that name recognition is not a brand.

Seeing a name a bazillion times means next to nothing. Unless that name connects personally and emotively in a positive way, it is very difficult to compel the sale (which is the end goal anyway). People have a lot going on in their lives. Emotion is the best way to power past people’s natural inertia and make them act (purchase a book).  It is next to impossible to connect emotively scattered across 8 social sites. Then people might be seeing our name, but since we don’t have time to be vested, we can easily fall into that Spam Toad mental file, and that is BAD.

So what do you guys think? What makes you connect with an author enough to buy her books (aside from pervious good books)? What are some tactics that make you want to scream? Do you feel better knowing you don’t have to be EVERYWHERE? Or do you disagree and think writers need to be on 10 social sites?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of August, 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 August 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.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

Mash Up of Awesomeness

Bob Mayer’s Thriving in the Chaos of Publishing

Why Twister is a Dangerous Game for Dads by Brian Klems

Ellie Soderstrom’s My Three Favorite Weight Loss Tips I Ever Made Up (Caution: Do not eat or beverages while reading this post. Could cause choking.)

Need even more laughter? Prepare to bust a gut. A Time to Receipt by Bayard and Holmes. Yes, the face of Jesus on a Wal Mart receipt. I won’t ruin it for you.

Cosmo Headlines–A Critical Analysis by Tyler Tarver (guest blogger for Clay Morgan). And YES I did funny stuff. I love to laugh.

Why are so many writers plagued with insecurities? by Jody Hedlund

Play it Again–The Top 20 Most Rewatchable Movies by Sonia Medieros

Well isn’t this Smurfy? What cartoons have influenced you? by Kristal Lee

Where God Put the Moon by Jennifer Hale. Awesome, inspirational post.

Camping with Snookie and the Art of Hovering by Lori Dyan

Welcome to Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

Today we are going to take a Twitter Time Out and let you guys share your griefs about Twitter. Heard of Dr. Ruth, Sex Therapist? Well, today I am introducing you to my alter ego Dr. Twuth, Text Therapist (Dr. Twuth is accredited by one of the best mail-order PhD universities in the Bahamas. She isn’t a real doctor, just plays one on the Internet).

Have a question about Twitter? A problem? A sticky wicket? Let Dr. Twuth help, because the Twuth will set you free.

Dr. Twuth–Putting the “smart” back in smart phones.

I figure we have had almost thirty Twitter Tuesday lessons, why not let you guys chime in? So bring it on. Give me your Twitter woes and then Dr. Twuth will pick the best ones for the Twitter Tuesday posts. For instance:

Dear Dr. Twuth,

I get so nervous on Twitter. I feel like everyone is going to think I’m crazy and will laugh at me.

Signed,

Hopeless Tweeter

Dear Hopeless Tweeter,

Just go make friends with @PiperBayard. She is the Twitter social butterfly and can introduce you to…everyone. No, seriously, like she knows everyone on the planet, even little pygmies who just got their first smart phones in the African bush. Piper can show you the ropes. Also, @DonnaNewtonUK is another must-have peep. She is amazing and brilliant and can tweet the ear off a statue.

These Twitter gals will have you laughing so hard you will forget your social insecurities. Also, one final benefit is that, next to Piper and Donna, you will likely look super normal. Hey, it’s why I hang out with them.

Twust me.

Good luck!

Dr. Twuth.

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

Tweet ya later!

Welcome to the twenty-fourth installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–The Touchy Tweeter

We all risk being a Touchy Tweeter. Why? Because Twitter is all about relationships with other people, and the laws of probability favor that we will get our feelings hurt. But, I am here to minimize the pain by giving a big picture perspective. It is easy to feel dejected when someone doesn’t retweet our posts. We feel we give so much and yet this person ignores us. Or maybe we sent them a message and they said nothing. There are all kinds of ways to get our noses bent out of shape if we aren’t careful.

What we are wise to appreciate is that some people might not be using the most efficient means of keeping up with others on Twitter. This is one of the reasons I STRONGLY advise that writers immediately download TweetDeck. We are here to build a platform, not chat with 20 of our closest friends. We must have a tool that can help us keep up with hundreds or even thousands of other people in our network. This said, not everyone is yet on board with using information management applications like TweetDeck or Hoot Suite. They may not have a computer and be tweeting from a phone or a PDA.  They could be following ME using traditional Twitter and I tweet a LOT. So my four tweets in three minutes could be pushing others out of view. The thing is…we don’t know. 99% of the time if we are being overlooked or slighted it probably was done unintentionally.

The Week’s Twitter Tip–Be a Gracious Tweeter

My advice is always assume the best. I know there are people I talk to all the time on #MyWANA. Since I talk to them all the time, it may not register in my multi-tasking brain that I am not following this person. Hey, I see them all the time, I must be following them, right? Um, maybe, maybe not. I have even #FFed people I wasn’t following. DOH! Let’s just say it is easy for tweets and tweeps to slip through the cracks. Let it go and don’t get your feelings hurt. Most of us do not sit up all night thinking of ways to make your life miserable. Often we are just trying to do too much at one time and we make oopses. Life will be far easier if we learn to be very slow to take offense, and that’s a habit that will help in life as well as Twitter.

Tweet ya later!

Photo thanks to Jason Bacues of Bacues Billiards 

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, chock full of tips to rock your social media experience and based off my best selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me Writer. One 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 my books for a clear understanding of the key differences between traditional marketing and social marketing.

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 our 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  social media books specifically for authors. Not all tools that work well in the corporate world cross over.

Unlike General Motors or Sealy, most of us are a one-man operation. We don’t have a marketing department to do all this stuff for us, and we also have a different kind of product. The CEO of John Deere is not responsible for making every tractor that comes off the assembly line. Yet, most authors are required to write their own books. We cannot outsource our social media content (blogs, articles, excerpts, commentary, group activity, etc.) like, say, All State or Heineken.

The plain fact of the matter is that the more we participate in social media, the better the results. And when I say participate, that means strategized participation (mixed with fun) with clear end goals. This has become far easier to do since I launched the #MyWANA group on Twitter. I liken #MyWANA to the writer’s water cooler. Yes, there is time to chit chat, network, share links and encourage one another, but trust me, you spend too long on there and one of your digital colleagues is guaranteed to threaten to use #thepantsofshame if you don’t get back to your word goals.

But basically, when it comes to building an author platform, we all need to have a plan. In order to have a plan, we must understand the players if we hope to identify those who can maximize our influence, thereby minimizing the time we 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.

#MyWANA has been very blessed to have a wealth of experts who participate regularly. We have quite a few agents and even NY Times best-selling authors. We also have quie a few people who have been very successful at indie publishing and self-publishing. There is a wealth of expert knowledge out there if we are willing to pay attention. The other benefit of the experts who gather at #MyWANA is these people are actually participating and interacting. The downside of following most experts is the content is often automated. We might get the benefit of their knowledge, but it will be next to impossible to actually network with these folks. Ah, but on #MyWANA @jamesrollins, @bobmayer, and @allisonbrennan are regularly there to share their awesomeness with the rest of us.

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 we figure out the referent influencers? We have to participate so we 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 our 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 overcoming substance abuse (as part of your NF book platform), what are the odds of becoming part of Dr. Phil’s inner circle? Referent influencers are far more approachable and, frankly, there are more of them. Also, they are more likely to have followers who are active on social media.

For instance, when I first started helping James Rollins, it seemed almost ridiculous. I had 4,000 followers and he had almost 15,000. What did little me have to offer? Well, many of my followers were very active and had regular blogs and their own platforms. My followers are on Twitter to influence. That is our goal. But what about Jim’s followers? Maybe some of them have influence, but a lot of his followers are on Twitter to chit-chat with family and keep tabs on their favorite author. So in ways, the playing field isn’t as disparate as one might initially think.

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.

What this means is that everyone on social media holds some value. They may not have large social networks (yet), but they hold a lot of influence when it comes to their friends, family and peers. I know last year when Jody Hedlund’s The Preacher’s Bride was released, it quickly rose to the top 20 on the best-seller list and a lot of that had to do with 1) it was a really excellent book and 2) a lot of us couldn’t quit talking about how awesome Jody is and that she had a new book. I think at least 5 of my family members bought copies of Jody’s book just because I wouldn’t shut up about it :D.

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. Yet, it really can help maximize your time and influence if you will be mindful to befriend thos who exercise greater impact on social media. If you get a chance, come join us at #MyWANA. Our sole mission is to support, encourage and promote one another.

So what are your thoughts? Do you find social media overwhelming? For those of you who’ve been on #MyWANA, has it helped?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of June, 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.

Important Announcements and Mash-Up of Awesomeness Below

I am teaching TWO workshops at Write It Forward. Sign up HERE. There is a Becoming a Brand class for $20, but if you want to blog and you need my dedicated help to helping you find your own unique brand and develop a plan for blogging, then the $40 Blogging to Build a Brand will fit that need. In this class I will run you through exercises to help find and create a brand as unique as you and then tailor it to connect with your future fans.

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.

Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Kicking out a Fast First Draft by Anne Greenwood Brown over at Writer Unboxed

Should Writers Use Excel by Jenny Hansen

7 Deadly Sins of Writing over at The Bookshelf Muse

25 Things You Should Know About Revisions by the HILARIOUS Chuck Wendig (And, yes, I am a total fan girl of Chuck which is why I always mention him. His blogs are THAT great.

Adventures in Children’s Publishing is a WONDERFUL resource for all writers, so I highly, highly recommend this treasure trove of awesomeness.

6 Benefits of Having an Agent in Today’s Publishing World by the talented and brilliant Jody Hedlund (yes, I am a fan of hers, too :P)

Chuck, Jody and then there is Tawna Fenske. If you want a place for a guaranteed good time, seriously gop check out her blog. Tawna is amazing.

Also, check out Camp Cheerful over at Piper Bayard’s blog. Can you tell I love funny blogs? Life is short! Laugh and laugh often.

Welcome to the twenty-third installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–The Cryptic Tweeter

OMG.02 Dont u h8 ppl who twt w/evrythng abbrv.? Dyhwp. @TEOTD ? & 182

Translation: Oh, my God. My two cents worth. Don’t you hate people who tweet everything in abbreviated form? Do your homework people. At the end of the day, I can’t understand what you are saying and I hate you.

I know Twitter makes us whittle down out golden nuggets of wisdom to 140 characters, but this is not a reason to go crazy with the text speak. Try removing some filler and Twitter is actually gr8…I mean, great practice for learning the beauty of brevity. Twitter trains us to be more concise in our thinking and communication, and I think most of us adore people who can quickly get to the point.

This Week’s Twitter Tip–Less is More

When tweeting something you desire to have others RT, do everything you can to only use 110-120 of the characters, or end the tweet with #s that your tweeps can easily delete or change. If we take up all 140 characters with our message, often what will happen is that others will not RT. We made it too hard! We also run the risk of turning our friends into a Cryptic Tweeter (above) because they are doing all they can to RT, yet still maintain the message.

Tweet ya later!