The Secret of Social Media Marketing

Kiev, Ukraine – October 17, 2012 – A logotype collection of well-known social media brand’s printed on paper. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, Myspace, Tumblr, Livejournal, Foursquare and more other logos.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret today. It doesn’t just apply to marketing–it’s kind of a secret to living your best life. No doubt you’ve heard it before, but maybe not applied to marketing and social media marketing.

Be Yourself.

There’s a wide range of advice out there when it comes to managing your social media as an author. Don’t post about your work so often. Engage with those who engage with your posts. Post often. Don’t post about anything political. Avoid posting anything too racy or could potentially be divisive.

While I think that advice is sound, and have definitely agreed with it in the past, I’d argue now that all of that advice does not set you apart. You will not be a memorable presence on social media if you follow all the rules.

So does that mean you should break all the rules?

No. Absolutely not. In fact, you can still follow all the rules I listed above and still be a very memorable presence on social media. How? By being yourself.

That’s very easy to say, but how exactly do you express who you really are on social media? Do you have to start letting your followers in on your deepest secrets? Do you need to share pictures of your children when you don’t feel comfortable doing so? Absolutely not.

The golden rule of Being Yourself on social media is: only post what you are comfortable posting.

But can that make you stand out? Sure it can.

Think about the things that make you unique. Even more: make a list of things that you’re nerdy about. Make a list of your hobbies. Chances are, you have a lot of knowledge in those areas. And, of course, they are important to you! So why not share your knowledge? If you like to garden vegetables, share pictures of your harvests. Recommend products that work well for you. Post videos sharing tips about how to save beets from a late spring frost.

Do you love 90s R&B? Geek out over it. Post your favorite playlist. Share pictures of your favorite groups and little bits of trivia about them. Go to their concerts and share you experience online!

Do you watch a lot of cop TV shows? Compare them. Which shows get it right? Which are inaccurate? What are some common themes and writing techniques that the writers use in those shows, and how can you apply them to your own writing? These would be fascinating topics to share.

The point is, your fans and potential fans will love to see what you’re into, especially when it’s beyond the obvious (of course you’re interested in writing, Game of Thrones, and books! We all are). Some might not know how to engage because they’re not into what you’re into, but I guarantee they will find it interesting and fun to follow you on social media anyway. They’ll love to see that you’re nerdy about other things. Not to mention all the people who ARE into what you’re into and will bond with you over TLC and Blackstreet, will thank you for your tips on how to grow juicy tomatoes, or will love putting in their two cents about the best cop show on TV right now.

You can have an interesting and fulfilling social media presence if you choose to. Just be yourself, have fun, and only post what you’re comfortable posting.

Arranging a Launch Event

I’ve gone to a number of launch events at fiction conventions like Can Con and Ad Astra. These events usually take place in either the convention suite or the publisher’s suite, and the publisher has arranged for snacks, drinks and copies of the book to buy. Typically the writer thanks everyone for coming, reads an excerpt from the book, and is available to sell and sign books for the duration of the event.

What if you’re self-published, or your publisher isn’t springing for a launch event for you? You can do your own event.

First: Venue. Some restaurants and pubs may have rooms that you can rent – or, better yet, you can reserve them for free if enough food and beverage is sold. Consider your audience. If your book is YA, you might do better holding your launch in a local book store or community center – your audience might not be allowed in a pub, or have money to buy meals at a restaurant launch. Conversely, if you hold it in a restaurant, you won’t need to worry about liquor licenses or catering.

Second: Stock. You don’t have to focus on just one book. If your current book is part of a series, you will want to bring the prior books in the series, for new readers who want to start at the beginning or who missed the previous installment. You will probably sell the most copies of the book you’re actually launching, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few other things on hand.

Third: Advertising. Consider posters and flyers. A sandwich board out front may attract passers by. Invite supportive family and friends and ask them to bring guests too. See if your local newspaper will do a write up. Let local writing groups, sci-fi clubs, etc know about your launch. Get the word out.

Another potential: Double (or triple) up. If you know someone who’s launching a book at the same time, you might want to coordinate. It’ll be easier and probably cheaper to share the work and the cost. The event will be doubly appealing if there are two or three authors there to read and sign.

When I first published short stories, I teamed up with two other local short story writers to hold an “Author Launch” where we sold copies of the anthologies we had stories in. We took turns reading excerpts from our stories. We held our launch in a pub, where our guests bought food and drink and allowed us to reserve the room at no extra charge. I sold a number of books to people who weren’t family and friends…they were local sci-fi and fantasy fans, who turned out to the event, liked what they heard, and bought books to take home.

Intro to Guerrilla Marketing

The tune here in June is all about unique or unusual ways to get your writing noticed by others. The term you hear frequently in seminars, online self-marketing videos, writing groups, and in interviews with successful authors is “guerrilla marketing.”

No, that doesn’t mean hiring Jane Goodall.

Does everyone still know who Jane Goodall is?

On second thought, hiring Jane Goodall as a guerrilla marketer might be a brilliant example of exactly what we’re talking about. Hmmm…..

And, yes, I know Jane Goodall is a chimpanzee researcher, and chimpanzees aren’t gorillas. Also gorillas aren’t guerrillas.

One thing worth doing on this opening month post is talking about some things that you definitely shouldn’t do in your attempts to get the word out. Things like:

  • Using social media to spam “buy my book!” messages to everyone on the planet.
  • Buying mailing lists and sending out “buy my book!” emails to random strangers.
  • Offering to swap reviews with other authors to get review counts up.
  • Paying for reviews (with a few exceptions, specifically Kirkus Reviews).

I’ll relate one example that I very strongly considered doing when I self-published my first book, and probably should have. At the time I was also moving to a new state halfway across the continent, and looking for a house or a lot to build on. That meant a lot of travelling back and forth between Colorado and Arkansas on interstate highways filled with lots of other drivers.

To make the move as cheaply as possible, I purchased a 6′ x 10′ trailer and walled it in to make it weather-proof so I could move stuff in rain, snow or sunshine. Well, that meant I was practically driving a billboard, or two billboards, across the country. I wish now that I had printed huge posters and plastered them on my trailer with my book cover and some clever marketing slogans.

C’est la vie. Maybe I’ll get another chance. But that’s the sort of thing we’ll be talking about this month.

Growing Our Fan Bases – Month-end Roundup

This month, the Fictorians provided a wealth of information about starting, managing, and growing our critical fan bases.

We discussed starting with what we have – friends and family – to begin building our street team and fan base. And did a deep dive into the pros and cons of running a fan forum.

We explored using Mailing lists, working our newsletters, and a reminder that we don’t write in a vacuum, nor do we have to go it alone. We explored options for collaborating with other authors and cross-promoting.

For those willing to be sociable and interact with fans and the public, we had three posts discussing using conventions and appearances, speaking engagements, and school visits.

We discussed the power of tapping the tremendous community of indie bookstores.

And we even discussed ways we get in our own way and prevent success.

So take some time and review the amazing posts from this month again. There’s meat in there for newbies and experienced authors alike.