Tuesday, February 26, 2013

TUESDAY TIP 3 Social Media Styles for #Indie #Authors #selfpub #pubtip #promo

Over the last couple of weeks, my favorite social media trade publication, Mashable, has run a few articles on different styles of social media presence for different kinds of businesses. None of them was written in a way making the advice immediately obvious to an Indie Author or other Digital Publishing professionals. However, I immediately saw how it translated into my own activities, so I thought I'd "translate" for the rest of you. Click through to get the scoop.

3 Social Marketing Styles
In this Mashable article, Todd Wasserman identified three different "styles" of social media presence that he believed made some businesses successful at leveraging sites like Facebook and Twitter. As the article states, successful companies found a way to:
  1. Connect with fans on the subject of a shared passion and/or interest.
  2. Entertain fans with their engaging personality.
  3. Provide fans with interesting and/or important content.

If you're following Webbiegrrl Writer on Facebook, you'll know, I dabble in a little of all three. Wasserman advises, however, that I should focus on just one. He couldn't be more right about that! My favorite marketing guru, Al Ries, cites this as his #1 piece of advice on strengthening a brand: focus, focus, focus. So here's how to translate each of the three styles into actual actions an Indie Author can take.

1) Being Passionate About Books
Most authors try this tactic and share a flood of posts on their Facebook newsfeed all about books--all books, including their friends' and their favorites from their own recently read list. In other words, these Indie Authors are passionate about all books. That makes sense--but is it the right choice for sharing on your Facebook newsfeed? Do your fans want to know what you're reading--or what you're writing so that they can read it?

While it's a great choice for a book blogger or book reviewer to post about all of their favorite books in the world, it's not going to promote an individual Author Brand. Simply flooding your newsfeed with advertisements isn't the answer either; your fans will get bored or outright fed up with all the advertisements and just leave.

An Indie Author should focus on the genre or category of books which they, themselves, write. Post about your competition but don't necessarily write them a review. Just provide your fans with news about your categor, who's releasing what and when. If you really like one of your competitors, then go ahead and promote them but try not to convince your own fans to read the competition instead of yourself. ^)^

Promoting the category, not merely your own Brand Name, is the strongest branding choice you can make according to the Law of Category (Immutable Law of Branding 8 or Immutable Law of Marketing 2). The more your readers become aware of the category -- and who writes in it -- the more likely they are to "position" you in that category in their minds. If you're a leading source of information for them about the category, they'll also be more likely to look for your books than others' when they're browsing the category in a bookstore.

When it comes to marketing and branding, being the "leader" is not about being the #1 Amazon rank, but rather, being the first name the reader thinks of when they think of that category! Using social media to "be passionate about books" means you become the "expert" in your field in the minds of your fans.

2) Entertain with an Engaging Personality
Okay, I'll admit it, I'm a pretty high-energy personality and when I have time to "be" on social media, I'm pretty darn engaging. Or snarky. I always get those two confused :) I type incredibly fast and never run out of things to say--only time in which to say them--so I could keep a newsfeed flood just with my innane chatter. Not that the bulk of what I say is exactly innane ((grin))

Luckily for my fans, I don't spend much time online for long enough lengths of time to bore everyone I know to tears, so this is probably not where I would say I focus my energies. I do not "join every conversation, and I suspect my fans on Twitter lose interest when I disappear for a while.

If you're online all the time, however, or take it with you (forex, enjoy using an app on your phone, something I loathe doing because of the tiny keyboard on my Android phone), this might be the style approach for you. I would still, however, advise you focus your "charismatic personality" on your Author Brand and not just you and your life in general. Don't tweet what you had for dinner without mentioning how it relates to your writing. Call it "food for thought" even if it's not--or don't tweet your dinner and lunch menu.

Maybe you and your fans share an interest in a television show. Whether it's The Bachelor or Grimm or some other show you love to watch and talk about, you and your fans can regularly tweet or share posts on that topic. At least, while the show's running you can.

Just be sure the topic on which you choose to entertain your fans is one that complements and does not conflict with your Author Brand. In other words, don't choose The Bachelor if you write murder mysteries or don't choose Law & Order if you write fantasy genre. Also remember that the point is to bring it back to your own writing so perhaps you might suggest ideas from an episode for a character or an event and ask your fans to tell you if they'd like to read it. Try to engage your fans in the conversation--otherwise, you're turning Style 2 into Style 1 by trying to entertain the fans yourself.

3) Provide Fans with Valuable Content
This is the hardest to do and one that risks losing fans if you misguess their interest level. A lot of Indie Authors try this approach and then get frustrated with how much free content they feel obliged to give away.

Free chapters of one of your books, serialization of a new book, advance looks at book covers, coupon codes to get free copies of your own or other books in your genre (this is obviously crossing over into promotion of the category) are all great options for "valuable" content you can provide to your fans.

However, providing content is a hard line to walk because there comes a time when your fans want everything to be free and you stop selling books. You have to find the right balance. More likely, you hook a fan community with this style, then retain them using Style 1 or 2 above.

The bottom-line secret here is to find a balance. I do a bit of all three but I'm trying more and more to focus Webbiegrrl Writer on Facebook on the subjects of my upcoming Romantic Suspense books, which will be published as Sarah R. Yoffa and not as Webbiegrrl Writer. I'm even starting to populate the new/as-yet-unused Facebook page for The Banbha Series with shares that I believe will be relevant to the books' fans. Over time, I'm trying to shift the focus of the two pages so they won't be identical.

I also maintain a third Page for The Phoenician Series and a profile for Marjorie F. Baldwin (FridayBaldwin on Facebook). Both of those streams are filled with SciFi-related and military-support-related shares...plus interesting stuff I just think is kewel. I'm still not focused there either, but I think the 5 different streams I maintain on Facebook are distinct enough you can tell the difference just by looking at them.

That's the key, I think. Being able to tell, at a glance, what the Page is "about" exactly. When one of my regular readers here, Maggie Jaimeson, first arrived and started reading the Monday Marketing blogs, Maggie asked me what Webbiegrrl's brand was, exactly. In trying to answer her, I realized, I wasn't very focused as Webbiegrrl Writer. Maybe as Sarah R. Yoffa or as Friday Baldwin, but I'm fairly sure Webbiegrrl Writer Page is still pretty vaguely-defined as an advice-giver. Do as I say, not as I do, hm? Maybe it's time Webbiegrrl took her own advice!

What's Next....
Next Monday we'll keep talking about publicity and how to generate it without sending out press releases. I hope to see you then. Thanks for stopping by!



Anonymous said...

As always, good food for thought. I'm in a place of participating in select blog tours in order to get traffic to my blog. Not sure yet if it's working.

I agree content is king. Every marketer says so. :) But what it should be is the difficult part for an author. If it's not books, and it's not your personal life, what is it? What fits with your brand except your actual writing? I know some people post chapters of their books as they write. I just can't do that. There is too much going back and changing and rewriting for me to feel comfortable putting up anything in process.

Lots to think about.

Webbiegrrl Writer said...

Hi again, Maggie,

It sounds like you're focused on Style 3 (providing valuable content to your visitors) and at the stage of becoming frustrated when your readers want "everything" free. It is, indeed, a fine line. Recall I suggested several things to give away free:

"free chapters of one of your books, serialization of a new book, advance looks at book covers, coupon codes to get free copies of your own or other books in your genre..."

I said one of your books, but I did not specify your current WIP and like you, I find it difficult to snippet since I start at the end, fill in the middle work at random towards the beginning and THEN I edit the whole thing and usually REWRITE the opener lastly. What you can do, however, is snippet one of your existing books. An author I really like who's a best seller (and operating remotely from Italy where she moved to get married and live a life of leisure after breaking out) is bestseller edgy romantic suspense author, Shannon McKenna. Shannon has very little content on her site and new content is posted very infrequently. Go to her "Bookshelf" and you'll see how most (or all?) books have an excerpt available. Her site's minimalist. She has a site, she has visitors, and the focus is on her books, what they are and where to find them. The site went through an overhaul in the past year or 18 mos and looks slicker, cleaner but still has the same "lean" content. The mailing list is new.

Another author who successfully has limited content (but is way to commercial now for my personal tastes) is Joanna Penn. She's not a NYT best seller but she is definitely making the money. She's kind of a role model of where I want to head the Webbiegrrl Writer brand--once I get more than one title out for sale. I have the content to convert but right now, my blog is more "generation of new content for free" than it is "generation of sales of existing content." I'll probably start converting over in 2013 though. It'll be a big project.

Another author who has a content-focused web site and who I know said she "struggles to find time to be on social media but the publisher insists on her doing it" is mega-bestselling romantic comedy writer Donna Kauffman. She blogs more along the Style 2 lines but she has weekly "giveaways" and weekly dishing about Dancing with the Stars. She's combined her activities to a level she can manage herself and still write. She probably gets on Facebook daily now, on Twitter once a week and blogs 2-3 times a week. I'm guessing, no clue on real stats.

Find a balance that works for you and just start doing it. Don't worry about servicing blog tours. They should service you or you shouldn't waste your time. Doesn't matter if you get visitors from the blog tour if your blog isn't selling your books. You need to focus on what your blog is saying and how it's saying it. That's the balance you're seeking right now. A blog voice :)