Last week, I attended a conference that focused on social media and technology. A group of professionals who work in events, marketing, communications, and technology gathered to share what they’ve done in the past year and trade ideas. One phrase that keeps coming up in regard to the topic of leadership is “influence, not control.” This concept fits well within the framework of social media, and the expanding universe of social media can be daunting. While at the conference, more new social media companies were being mentioned than I could keep track of. It began to feel as though we were in another “internet bubble” not entirely unlike that of the late 1990s early 2000s. It will be interesting to see what endures and how it all evolves.
What can one learn from the concept of “influence, not control”? Our group listened to author Duncan Watts present his research, recently published in his new book. The internet is a constant and dynamic virtual laboratory. Structuring your network is the key to success. The more you explore, the more successful it will be. Be willing to adapt. There is low risk in the realm of social media. Most of it is free. Experiment and see what combination of systems work for you. Let your strategy evolve. No matter whether you publish via traditional means or are an independent author, you’ll have to allocate a certain amount of time to self-promotion.
What works really well? As an author with a limited budget, how can one make the best of what’s out there? These have proven to be reliable for me:
Twitter is an incredibly powerful marketing tool. It’s time for the naysayers to realize this is how many people are getting their breaking news. Mashable.com offers an interesting array of articles about the growing influence of Twitter.
- Be clever with your tweets. Use a lot of hashtags to spread your message over several lists. Example: Just created #facebook page for my #novel about #dracula, please visit http://t.co/wD0TrQJ looking for “likes” #author #bookmarketingtnx!
- Do a search for popular hashtags for your field: there are long lists of hashtags for writers, and it’s growing all the time!
- Follow a lot of people/organizations in your field. Pick up the hashtags they use as well. Within hours after learning about #samplesunday and directing people to a free excerpt of my novel, there was an uptick in visitors and sales.
- Recycle your greatest hits. Try different days and times to share tweets. Since it’s a constant, vibrant stream of information, one really cool message may get lost in it.
LinkedIn is growing by leaps and bounds. This is definitely one of the places to be.
- Create a professional profile in LinkedIn. You can upload book trailer videos, and list publications. There are many tools to share PowerPoint presentations, and connect to your blog.
- Join professional writing, blogging, and editing groups. It’s a great way to network, but don’t use it to market your book! This is the place to share strategy and learn best practices. In many of these groups, posting endless promos for your own work will get you removed. But you will get many leads on where to market, and where your promos may be well-received.
If you use email for marketing:
- Keep subject line under 50 characters. More and more people are relying on their smart phones to keep up with their email, and the subject line needs to be concise and intriguing.
- The most important information need to be presented “above the fold.” As with traditional journalistic style, put the “who, what, then, where, why” elements in the first paragraph.
- Consider placing a Tweet-ready line in the email. In the message, prepare a 140 or less line for people to paste into their Twitter feed.
One social media tool that everyone was talking about was Storify. You can compile a story from different networks. At the end of the conference, they compiled the tweets using the hashtag created for the event and posted photos taken by the participants. It was a great way to continue to conversation.
Instead of the traditional world of “legacy publishing,” where agents and publishers who generate the contracts, the gatekeepers are now your direct network. As an author, you are closely connected to your readers. How you work with this network will help you measure your success. With flexibility and patience, you can forge your own path and earn recognition.