The world is digital. Short of an apocalypse scenario, there is no going back. Authors who don’t utilize social media marketing to promote their writing will become extinct. But there is a fine line between using social media and using social media well to market.
Hard Vs. Soft
If you know anything about marketing, there are two types of selling: hard and soft.
Hard sales are those annoying kiosks at the mall. Those sales associates who get right in your path and offers you all sorts of free things for a minute of your time. It isn’t enough that their product is on display enormously. It isn’t enough to be available. They have to be in. your. face.
That is hard selling. And that is a mistake a lot of authors, new and experienced, make when using social media to market their books. There are several examples of how authors use hard selling in one of my previous articles, Twitter Twits.
Soft sales are the meandering, not directly related to a sale offerings. Like the free song download offered by your favorite artist. The singer hopes that by giving away something small for free they can entice you to buy the whole album. Notice there is always a “click here for more” option on your device at the end of every free song? That isn’t a “click here for more free stuff” option; that is a “click here for more stuff I’m selling” link.
Soft selling is trickier and, sometimes, has less direct results. There are always people who are only interested in whatever can be obtained for free. Those are lost avenues and you shouldn’t be concerned with them. They will always be the ‘only free stuff’ people and won’t ever become your buyers.
To know how well your soft selling is working, you can track the effectiveness of your soft sales with any number of sources like bitly.com, goo.gl, tinyurl.com for example.
Social media approach.
Using social media for marketing does take a little bit of thought. But what it needs more of is a whole lot of genuine.
You must be genuine in your approach to social media as an author. Like life, social media is a give and take process. If you want people (potential readers or other authors), you must be willing to give almost twice as much as you take.
For example, on my Facebook page, I promote other authors and artists with my “Pimp A Creative” posts. Was I asked to promote people through those means? Nope. Did that person write or do something I thought was creative, entertaining, and possibly informative? Yep. So I ‘pimped’ them.
Why do I call it “pimping?” Well, to be honest, like any good pimp I do hope to get something out of that non-me promotion. However it can be any number of things I want to earn: give my readers something, good will, establish a relationship, catch their followers’ eyes, build a correlation between their brand and mine, and the list goes on. What’s most important is that unlike most actual pimps, I am genuinely invested in their information I’m promoting (i.e. I took the time to read it, liked it, and thought it should be shared.) Disingenuous pimping would be piggybacking directly off someone else’s established name or information without bothering to at least give them the courtesy of my click-through.
Social media timeline.
A mistake many new authors make is not bothering with social media until the week or two before their book releases. Building relationships and establishing a presence online takes time and crafting. I discuss it in more detail in my article, So You Think You Can Author? (Part 1).
To use social media well, you have to invest a little time into it before your book is released. Just as importantly, you have to remember to maintain that investment while your book is out and when you no longer have a ‘new’ book out. It’s just as phony to take the time to craft relationships online, release a book, and then drop promoting others in favor of your own promotion.
Remember, the key to online is to give almost twice as much as you take. If you ask another writer to submit one guest article for your blog, be willing to offer them two articles from you for theirs. For every one “ad” you post about your book, post two other authors’ “ads” as well.
Using social media is easy. All it takes is a little common sense and a genuine approach.
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