Monday, March 09, 2020

The Other Side of Social Media


What Authors Need to Know About Social Media

For many writer's social media can seem the most annoying part of getting your voice heard online.  What most writer's don't realise is that their success on social media is determined by personality, strength, and the standard of work produced, making each writer's approach truly unique.  Over time that approach will probably change, because with success audience numbers grow and change, and strategies shift as readership expands.

Social media isn't a stationery thing, because there is no formula, or one size fits all.  It's everchanging, which means there's always something new to learn.  This makes it more challenging and fun, and means you'll never get bored.

Social media marketing is used for selling products, including books and used as a means of promotion, which can feel like a merry-go-round for new authors and writers wanting to use it to promote their writing and books.

Whatever your skill level or experience is, hopefully the following points will take the sting out of social media marketing.

The More Work You Produce, the More Your Social Following Will Grow

An essential rule of author platform development is it flourishes as your body of work grows.  Which basically means the more blog posts and books you produce, the bigger your audience will grow, reaching more readers, and followers on social media.

If you don't have a writing platform it can be really difficult to build a social media following without any work published, but don't despair there is a way around that particular problem.

Social Media can be Used to Share or Micro-Publish Your Work

This concept is shared in Austin Kleon's book Show Your Work. His book is about showcasing your work on social media, and using it as a creative outlet to share whatever you're working on at the time. A good example is Roxann Gay, she started using Tumblr to tell people about her health and diet and soon discovered people wanted more, which prompted her to write her memoir, Hunger.

Social media has led to a growing number of authors being more creative and experimental both online and on social media, allowing them to share their work with the online community. Leading to a regular revenue stream and reader growth. This principle follows straight on from the first, the more you produce, the more people will want to experience and read your work.

Many serious writer's miss out on the benefits of social media, simply because they think it's dumb or low-class, and because there's no money involved.

Like many things in life, social media is what you make of it.
If you build it they will come.

Kevin Costner, Field of Dreams.

In Order to Succeed on Social Media Rules Have to be Broken

There are so many blog posts, studies and reports about how frequent you should post, and what networks are the most suitable for your genre. Not forgetting how to create effective titles and images for every blog post or social media post.

These things are only useful if you're working for a big corporation and want to become a social media manager.

What you need to know is everybody is different, and the only way to succeed is to understand what works for you, and engages your followers. This all takes time and patience, as well as endless curiosity.

One of the biggest ways to weaken your strategy is to post too many hard sells because this causes people to zone out.

With all the pressures of daily life, and expectations online, being able to engage on the Internet in a meaningful way takes time.

Start by looking at social media as an extension of what you do, and not let it be the be all and end all. Stop looking at it like the marketing and promotion part of your work life because your results will fall flat. Your audience isn't stupid and they know when you're trying to get something out of them. The more pressure you put on people to buy your books and products the less they'll be interested in what you have to say.

What's the Best Choice? Author Website or Social Media?

There's no doubt about it, social media can be transient at times, meaning you can be visible one minute and buried the next. This means you're at the mercy of the social media platform you're using, making your reach as a writer limited over time. If you're looking for a new audience, it appears the only way to do that is by paying money for advertising to make your blog or books more discoverable.

It's clear that by having your own author platform your outreach is greater and far outweigh your social media marketing. Not that you should give up on all forms of social media.

Here are some important points to help you understand why you should invest more time in your author website than on social media:

Make Your Website Easy-to-Find on Search Engines

Often referred to as the four horseman, Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook hold most control over our lives online, using analytics into our everyday behaviour and much more. I'm pretty sure that most people have an association with at least one of these companies.

At the moment Facebook and Amazon are pretty powerful for most authors and their book sales. Apple has potential for the future, but Google is the real one to watch.

Matched only by Facebook, Google still has control over a considerable portion of the digital advertising marketing.

If you're lucky enough to be at the top of Google pile when it comes to blog ranking, and you know how to monetize your site. Then it goes without saying you're making a living online. Which is why many businesses pay for SEO, or advertising to help increase their visibility in the current market place.

With a little know-how you can send a strong signal to Google by simply adding consistent keywords throughout your blog posts, website, or social media accounts. This will tell Google who you are, and what you're about, so it can send the right people and prospects to you.

Presenting Your Official Work and Story to the Media

For those interested in reviewing your work, they're more likely to discover on Google. Don't leave your potential audience guessing, or trawling through hundreds of social media posts to find your official bio or contact information.

Many opportunities may be lost because your website isn't professional enough to leave a good impression. Just because you haven't taken the time to be more serious about your own writing platform.

Gathering Premium Email Subscribers

Many novelists will gain their email subscribers from social media, contests, and giveaways. Bloggers and non-fiction writers gain about 99% of their subscribers directly from their website. Your serious readers will have no hesitation in signing up for your newsletter, these are the subscribers you want to hold on to.

Getting to Know Your Analytics, and Understanding Why Social Media is so Effective

If you haven't already got it installed on your website to analyse your traffic, make it a priority today to implement it on your site. It's free, and it will tell you all you need to know about the visitors on your website, and what their habits are. Unfortunately it can't look into your past traffic, but will start the moment you have it installed on your website.

Productively Monetising Your Audience

The hard sell doesn't wash with most people, especially when it's done frequently. If this marketing is used regularly you'll soon discover your audience shrink and disappear.

When I first started on social media I started posting a couple of affiliate links about six days a week. Last year I started narrowing down how many blog posts and affiliate links I was including on my daily schedule. It's made a big difference.

If you're going to try something only do it for a short time, and monitor your results over a certain period of time, before you start implementing it permanently.

The Less is More Approach on Social Media

According to the Pew Research Center, almost two-thirds of American adults use social media. Out of those numbers 70% are teenagers aged thirteen and up, use Facebook regularly.

Social media has become a haven for many authors and writers wanting to promote themselves and their books, in the hopes of finding more readers. For many it's like a magic pill, inspiring authors to try every social media platform in the social media universe.

Who doesn't want to miss any corner of the market?

Unfortunately this advice is contradictory to the current marketing culture. Yes marketing is all about casting your net wide to catch as many fish as you can. But you also need to know who your audience is, and where the best spots are to find them. This requires narrowing down your choice of social media platforms and using the less is more approach to marketing.

Less Channels Equals More Engagement

I've used numerous social media platforms over the years, but there's no doubt in my mind that less is definitely more when it comes to user engagement.

Check out these reasons for using fewer channels: 
It's easier to find your audience, and target them.
  1. Channels that have less than 25 percent of users online is wasted effort unless it's a niche channel specific to your audience.
  2. Not every social media platform is beneficial to selling. Always choose channels that allow you to engage and sell.
    You get a pretty good idea of where you should be when you take the time to really focus on who your audience really is.

    People won't stick around when they have endless amounts of posts, products and books being sold to them.  Instead they're looking for a place where they can connect and share with like-minded individuals a lot like themselves.

    Facebook marketing expert, Amy Porterfield processed over a million high-engaging Facebook posts and that these six content posts were the most engaging:
    • Inspiring posts: images, videos and quotes that make people feel more valued and feel good.
    • Amusing posts: entertaining or funny quotes and pictures.
    • Warning posts: vulnerabilities people face.
    • Instructing posts: tips, and everyday things people encounter.
    • Giving posts: contests, deals and offers people can benefit from.
    • Amazing posts: videos, stories, pictures and stories of people and events.
    Porterfield's research found that people wanted to feel happy, informed, inspired or supported when they engaged on social media.

    You have no cause for concern if you're already providing all of the above on your social media channels, your books will soon start selling with that level of engagement.  In Mark Schaefer's book The Content Code, the law of internet marketing (give and take) will warrant you the right to sell your products, providing you present enough content to your readers.

    So what is the bottom line?  Social media is about engaging your potential audience and current readers in places you know they interact on a regular basis.  This is by using your primary social media channels, the remaining are secondary channels and only require an outpost strategy that steers people to the channel where the action is.

    What You Need to Know About an Outpost Channel

    Outpost channel characteristics:
    • Usually populated by people you're already targeting on another channel.
    • Usually doesn't offer ads and apps, or e-commerce that will help your books and capture emails.
    • Usually less than 25 percent of the adult population use this channel.
    • Usually you engage and interact less than the normal amount for ideal engagement.
    Here are two big exceptions to the above guidelines:

    Category specific guidelines: Nonfiction writers selling courses or trying to establish their expertise use LinkedIn.  For fiction writers it's an unnecessary channel.
    Statistical exceptions: Channels such as Tumblr and Instagram should be considered for YA or New Adult writers looking to establish their primary channels.

    What You Need to Know About a Primary Channel

    Consider these points in order identify your one or two primary channels:
    • visitor demographics that complement your books.
    • the platform's power to sell.
    • your ability to post your content wisely on that channel.
    A good example of this is YouTube, it's great for selling books, but if you don't have the knowledge to produce regular videos you'll fail.

    Your primary goal should be establishing yourself on one or two big channels and finding your main community there.  These are the people you're going to interact with most of the time, and not see as sales figures.  After you've signed up to these channels you can start working on your plan of action to maximise engagement.  The 80-20 rule (80 percent to give value, 20 percent to sell).  You still need to sell, but you won't need a stream of sales messages to do it.

    Don't Make Social Media the Be-All and End-All

    When it comes to writing and promoting, the need for a  more social approach to your author platform might seem like a must for all writers.  But the reality is your writing rests on you being able to express yourself and being able to cultivate the confidence you have creatively through your writing.

    Here are some tips to help you do this.

    1. Your Brand Isn't Everything

    It makes sense that if you start focusing on one particular part of your writing career, that things will start to slip.  And this is certainly true when it comes to branding.  There are those that think that branding is somehow benefiting your readership, but the simple fact is it's the kiss of death.

    You can liken branding to wearing a sandwich board, something that will eventually get old, mess with your creativity, and eventually kill your business.

    Keep your writing creative and dynamic, you'll soon start wondering how you became so fruitful and engaged.  This will allow your writing career to evolve naturally, and unrestricted.  Leaving you the time to concentrate on your followers and readership.

    2. Why You Should Find Your Writing Legs First

    If you're feeling frustrated by the constant calls of bloggers telling you to create an author platform.  Don't despair, when the time is right then you'll know it's the time to start building your website.

    If you don't feel like it's necessary, don't build it.  You need to be sure that you want to share your work with the rest of the world.  It's a big step to take, and takes a lot of work to get it up and running.

    For me it was a natural progression, because I originally started on Hubpages, and was ready to move on with my writing. 

    3. You Don't Need to be Available and Accessible All of the Time

    By making yourself available all of the time you're shooting yourself in the foot, and people will take advantage of this.  This will leave little time to do the most important job of all, writing.  Social media is a way of reaching and connecting with your readers, not to add extra stress to an already busy life. 

    For most writers it's a great tool for connecting with people and hanging out, blowing off steam, and escaping from the worries of everyday life.  That's why I don't tire of it, because it's not the be-all and end-all.  I feel very fortunate to have a tool that can be used to reach hundreds of you new people regularly.

    Social media is a place to share, chat and chill out, for those who want to turn this haven into a marketing machine, in time they'll start to wear out its good graces. 
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