Picture yourself on the corner of Broadway in New York City. It’s 5:15 p.m. on a Friday, and the sidewalks are packed. You have a thought: “I have a book to sell. I’ll hand out flyers advertising my book.” To your great shock, it works. You sell quite a few books, and/or receive promises that people will buy the book. You are so excited that you go and tell your friends. They are excited about your success and ask how you did it.
The next week, when you come back to your favorite spot on Broadway, there are 1,000 people standing on that same corner, and each of you has a stack of flyers. You notice that everyone on the street is carrying a bag, and those bags are full of flyers. Most of the pedestrians are now ignoring you and what you have to say. Some of these people are hostile, and say, “Don’t ever speak to me again.”
A much smaller number take your flyer, but they are immediately distracted by the busker on the sidewalk who is playing the meanest version of ’Smoke on the Water’ you’ve ever heard. Amidst all of this, a bunch of authors get together and decide to hand out not only their flyers, but the pamphlets of their friends as well.
Welcome to the world of Social Media.
Social Media Marketing: The New Junk Mail
What I see people doing: counting the number of people who take the flyers, rather than the number of people who buy the book. I don’t care if you have a thousand Twitter followers or none at all. The question is, “How many people are listening at any given time, and how many of them care?”
The answer will vary based on who your followers are, and how they came to find you. In fact, most people will find your Facebook page or your Twitter account because they are already fans of your work. They want to hear your thoughts, your opinions, and more about your characters.
They want to know when the next book is coming out.
They want a piece of you.
In the age of the Internet, it’s easy to “meet” a famous person, or have an interaction that lasts longer than a, “What’s your name? Where are you from? Oh, I love Milwaukee,” exchange at a book signing.
This is what your readers are really after. You are building loyalty for future book releases and ensuring repeat purchases. You are providing information in a format that they enjoy interacting with.
So how do I make this work? Do I just give up on everything?
No, you prioritize. You begin to take a look at whether or not you are giving your fans the ability to interact with you. If you are a very technical person who writes non-fiction, then your fans may very well be on Twitter.
For majority of authors, time is best spent on Facebook and email. Why? The perceived privacy and intimacy of the conversation.
Twitter is a text message the entire world can read, whether they know you or not.
Facebook is a message that is semi-private, depending upon your privacy settings. Sort of private, but not really.
Email is a one-to-one conversation with the most privacy available.
Twitter interactions are nice, if you’re a star with 100,000 fans, but Facebook page or email allows you to be accessible and conversational on a personal basis. Plus, Twitter is a confusing and distracting place. The constant flurry of activity makes my head swim, and I signed up for Twitter shortly after it launched.
Most of your fans will feel the same way. So prioritize: Email -> Facebook -> Twitter.
- Focus on your existing readers
- Make sure you are listening through all channels of social media.
- Communicate with them genuinely. Treasure their input and interest.
- Prioritize your communication.