This is the next part in my series on self-promotion and self-publishing:
Social networking is like mingling at a huge party. There will be a few people you know, some not so well, and a lot of strangers. What do you want to get out of the party? Who do you want to meet? What do you want to find out? Who do you know already who can help you or introduce you to others? Can you attract some strangers who are worth getting to know?
The original social networking site is Facebook. You invite people to be your friends and accept requests from others who want to be your friend. I use the term ‘friend’ loosely. I’m Facebook friends with a few people I don’t actually know at all in the real world, but I have accepted their requests because they look interesting or might be useful contacts.
Facebook offers you a ‘wall’ to write on, or ‘post‘, which your friends can read. You can talk to friends, share photos & links to websites. You can comment on what others have posted, and they can comment on yours. Great for keeping in touch with family & friends, sharing news & jokes & trivia, but you might want to keep that separate from your business persona. Either use it only for business or, if you already use it, you can create a separate page. Security settings allow you to choose who you share with, and there are separate settings for your page. But if a friend shares your content with their friends, you have no control over where it goes from there.
Remember wherever you do your business promotion to set your security to public, because you want anybody to find you and learn about you. What you post on your page will also appear on your personal Facebook, so your friends & family will get your news as well. When you log in you see a news feed of everything your friends have posted. If they post a lot, or you have lots of friends, you will miss things if you don’t check in often. I check in at least once every day.
Similar to Facebook is Twitter, but all public, unless you send a Direct Message to someone. The space to write your message in is limited to 140 characters, which is called a ‘tweet‘. It can be a good discipline, to say something worthwhile in only 140 characters! You can include links to web sites or photos in your tweets. People use hash tags in their tweets— a hash character # (near the Return key on the keyboard) followed by a keyword. These can be searched on to find the latest comments on a topic. I use #writingtip for writing tips and #Swansea, #Gower, #Wales, #medieval and #history as appropriate on my local history posts. Then anyone searching on one of those tags will find me.
Instead of friends you have followers and people you follow. When you log in you will see the most recent tweets from everyone you follow. Beware, some people seem to tweet every five minutes and you’ll never keep up with them. You can create lists of your followers to view certain categories of people separately, like authors and publishers. You can reply to a tweet or retweet it to your followers. This is what you hope people will do with your tweets.
NB don’t try to follow too many people. Some people have thousands of followers (which is nice if they’re all paying attention), and follow thousands of people (which is impossible to keep track of). It’s not a contest. If you really want to engage with people, keep to less than 50 people that you follow. Read their tweets and reply or retweet so you’re part of the conversation. And I always say Thank You when somebody follows me.
In both FB and Twitter you need to do a lot of listening before you start talking, and a fair amount of interaction to build relationships. You shouldn’t push your book more than one message in five. Be friendly, helpful, share information, writing tips etc, THEN promote your book. It’s like the adverts on commercial radio or TV. We put up with them because we’re already tuned to that station because we like the entertaining content. If you’re not providing entertaining content, people won’t stay and listen when you get to the adverts.
People ask about the value of all this. I’m going to finish by quoting part of a blog post by Jon Ricson:
It’s Not About Sales
This is a sticking point with marketing and always has been. How much does this make me? How do I justify the time by sales I will see from it?
The thing to remember about Social Media is it’s not how many “sales” you get, but how many followers. People who will see your posts, tweets, follow links to your blogs, etc. And how many people follow those people’s tweets and posts, and so on.
“And they told two friends, and they told two friends…”
It’s about building an ever-expanding online world of followers, that you then post to when you have updates, new stories, novels for sale, etc. Your blog then becomes a place they come to, and then what’s on your blog? Links back to follow you on whatever social network they aren’t following you on.
So Where’s the Real Value?
The real value is bringing people to trust you and your brand. When they see consistency, quality, and market share, they see legitimacy, and that is what we need for our creative brands to succeed whether we are first time or self-published writers, or growing published authors.
When I send out a message to a throng of followers based on one of my brands, I build trust with my audience, I get new people following me, and I can expect 100 reads very quickly to my blogs or whatever I’m posting about.
THAT to me is valuable. Is it valuable to you?
Other posts in this series:
Introduction & Things To Think About Before You Start
Self-Promotion – Start With A Blog
Self-Promotion – Social Media Shortcuts
Self-Promotion – Social Media – Other Recommended Sites
Self-Publishing – Ebooks
Self-Publishing – Print Books