Monday, July 11, 2011

MARKETING MONDAY: Authenticity + Twitter

Last week's big buzz was all about authenticity. I first noticed a post in Authonomy talking about established, best-selling YA author, John Green's, success at using Twitter to build buzz about his forthcoming book--before he's even finished writing it! Yes, it's exciting that he's able to generate that kind of buzz "just tweeting" but don't overlook the first part of the introduction.

Don't Try to Skip to the End; Enjoy Learning Along the Way

Green's previously established, he's previously a best-seller, he's specifically in the YA market, which is HUGE on twitter, more so than nearly any other age group of book readers. He could still have had no success, don't get me wrong. Those ingredients don't guarantee success, not by a long shot! He did a lot of things right but he had an enormous *ahem* leg up. We can all benefit from his lessons learned, though, even without enormous legs. (grin)
Mr. Green's runaway train started like this: On Tuesday afternoon, he posted the title of his new book on Twitter, Tumblr and the community forum YourPants.org. An hour later, he upped the stakes by promising to sign all pre-orders and the entire first-print run, while also launching a YouTube live show. Mr. Green discussed his plans for signing the book and also read a section to give viewers a sense of what "The Fault in Our Stars" would be about. (It's a story of two young cancer survivors.)

I think the key point there is that a certain amount of personality was shared. He wasn't afraid to just let everyone see him as he really is. In that way, he was authentic. Now, a word of caution on authenticity. You don't have to bleed all over the page, just share enough of your real self--as it pertains to your career as an author--so that your readers can recognize you in your writing.  What kinds of things about yourself? Among other things, try these ideas:

Your political philosophies--without being political in your posts.
Your spiritual beliefs--without preaching your religion.
Your sense of humor--without ...well, okay, go ahead and be silly.

There's a line to how far to be silly but let us look again at John Green's example. He did a victory dance on camera and posted it on YouTube. He wasn't afraid to look silly. Of course, there is the fact that he and his brother, Hank, have an absolutely hilarious ongoing vlogbrothers channel on YouTube so his previously-established nerd credentials again gave him *ahem* a leg up. We never actually see these legs of his, though, do we? I question the authenticity of John Green's legs and the upping thereof.

For the Serious Twit

Yes, you there, who doesn't want to look like a fool or who, like me, won't go on camera because I'm too self-conscious (though oddly, can speak in public presentations without any issues at all, so long as there are no mirrors around!) How do you become "authentic" on Twitter without being a crazy comedian? Well, don't spam the twitterstream with sales pitches!! That's the #1 thing people (including myself!) seem to think to do.

I confess I don't see the interest in my humanity, but human interest tweets are far more engaging for me, as an audience member, so I can see how my own twitter followers would prefer them to my incessantly tweeting "buy my book! buy my book!" *eep*

Plus, selling someone something is not the same as building a relationship with them and in fact, highly-successful twitter users do attempt to build a relationship with their followers. In fact, it kind of creeps me out sometimes the level to which followers of famous people think they have actually got a relationship with the celebrity. Some even use the celeb's last name as though they were married. Can you say e-stalker?

Authenticity Begins with Connections

The Copyblogger's Internet Marketing for Smart People series had some great words on how to build authenticity in "Lesson 5: Connections"; here are some of their key points, though do  click through to see all of their suggestions as well as their linked articles (the 2008 one on "getting naked" was entertaining to read, as well as informative).

(1) Set boundaries for how personal you're going to get--and don't forget to remind yourself of those boundaries everytime you tweet. I think newbies who try to be "authentic" tend to get too personal and forget to be professional.

(2) Keep the primary focus (about 50%) on your product (benefits you) but fill in the rest of your twitterstream with content that benefits your reader--tweets with high entertainment value or helpful tips or advance notice about upcoming events (and not just events like your upcoming sales) Make sure at least 50% of your tweets benefit your audience (not you) so your "conversation" is inclusive, not exclusive, of your listeners.

(3) Remember that, as an audience member, people lose interest when there's only a one-way communication. Plus, connections require a 2-way street. In real life, when someone stops listening to you, does it make you feel happy to be standing there listening to them? I think not. Your audience wants to be able to communicate back with you. Answer them--and not by setting up an auto-reply or "vacation" message!

Of Mice and Robots

Scott Stratten's UNmarketing Blog Saran Wrap Series (from 2010) had fabulous tips on this specific concept of NOT automating out the humanity from your twitterstream. Note: I have to confess to automating the heck out of my twitterstream by autofeeding this blog through Networked blogs. In fact, I don't even post to my LiveJournal anymore because my auto-fed tweets keep the account active and populated daily. I still do make sure I manually answer anyone who manually writes to me in any of the social media in which I participate.

You have to show that you are listening just as much as you expect your tweets to be heard by your followers. And you have to not just show it but do it. Everyone wants to be heard. Invite your twitter followers to tell you something, anything, and then stay silent and let them answer or @reply to them--individually! You don't need DM them one at a time, you can @reply and let everyone else read your ongoing conversation. That's how conversations begin on Twitter.

Just Give me the Tools, and I Can Build My Empire!

If you read or learn nothing else today, really read Scott's Mannequinn Networking and learn what not to do on Twitter. Then, if you still want to give Twitter a try, check out Angela Maiers's 26 Keys to Twitter Success for tips on ways to improve your presence, your followers list, your twitterstream's value-added to the online world. Or maybe even the real world.

For example, I never liked Demi Moore much as an actress but her @mrskutcher campaigns against human trafficking--which I only discovered she was involved in when I stumbled upon her on Twitter--have really taught me how much I admire her as a person.

What can your Twitter followers learn about you just from reading your posts? Ask yourself that the next time you feel the urge to tweet "buy my books! buy my books!" See you tomorrow on Tuesday Tips!
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