Top 10 Things One Writer Learned About Social Media Marketing

Guest Post by Colby Marshall, @ColbyMarshall

Front_Cover_Scan_Land_and_StineIn my (very brief) career as a writer, I’ve learned a few things about self-promotion on social media sites and in the blogosphere. I’m not an expert by far, but marketing is a work in progress. Just like writing, it’s something I’ve tried to learn and grow in, and like writing, I’m constantly revising what I know based on what I see that works…and what doesn’t seem to work. So far, these are the top ten things I’ve learned about social media in book marketing:

1. Social media doesn’t create a fan base–it keeps one. The people who come to your twitter or facebook pages have most likely already bought, plan to buy, or are at least interested in buying your book. Therefore, they don’t want to be told to buy your book every ten seconds. They want to interact with YOU.

2. When it comes to interacting with you, the key word is WITH. One thing I’ve noticed over and over again about authors with rabid fan bases is that they don’t just post on their social media pages and leave. They talk back. If someone replies to a tweet, replying back is important. If someone comments on your facebook page or blog post, respond. While it might seem “cool” to play it cool, the bond of being able to talk to an author of a book you like will keep you interested in your favorite authors’ books far longer than if they feel distant.

3. Speaking of getting close, on your social media pages, blog, and website, fans dig content they can’t get in the book. It’s why J.K. Rowling has done something so unique in Pottermore—readers can get even more of their favorite characters, stories, and the writers behind them.

4. While personal and book-related posts are great, content that is fun, informative, or relevant will always be enjoyed, too. Links to articles you enjoyed, websites you like, or even a fun fact you learned during research will keep posts fresh.

5. And on the subject of fresh posts…followers are far more likely to keep following if you spend most of your time posting about things other than your book. My rule of thumb: nine out of ten posts shouldn’t be directly related to self-promotion. Something you learned while researching doesn’t count, but that link to your newest review on Amazon or details about your next personal appearance? Yep. It’s your 1/10.

6. When you first release a book, you get to cut some slack on the 9/10 rule. Maybe 1/5. But don’t abuse it. No one likes a hog. (Unless it’s tame and wants to be my steed. Then I love a hog.)

7. Don’t hog the attention. If you want some love from fellow writers or even artists in other mediums, don’t spend all of your time posting about yourself and none sharing others’ work. Karma counts for something, but so do people’s memories. Don’t expect a favor if you don’t do any.

8. Another don’t: don’t get angry. If someone doesn’t like your book, don’t argue with them. Thank them for reading, and move on. Arguing with someone who says your book isn’t their cup of tea won’t make them suddenly fall in love with it, and it won’t make you look so classy, either.

9. Don’t go off half-cocked. You know what they say: the internet is forever. As I’m sure Mitt Romney and his binders full of women will tell you, even if it’s easy to put a sound bite out in the amount of time it takes to type 140 characters, it doesn’t mean you should. Think before you post about something controversial, when you’re angry, or after a couple glasses of wine. Tact is always better than throwing words around. As writers, we should know words are powerful. Use them as such.

10. Above all, be yourself. If you try too hard to find a “voice,” it’ll always come across as stilted, and you’ll think too hard about what to post. Keep the tact from the previous statement, but real is relatable. Keep it real.

These are just a few things I’ve discovered on my journey as an author so far, and I’ve still got loads to learn. My debut novel, Chain of Command, is a thriller about the simultaneous assassinations of both the President and Vice President that rocket the very first woman—the Speaker of the House—into the presidency.

What about you—what gets your attention on social media in a good way? What types of posts drive you nuts?
Writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, Colby is a contributing columnist for a local magazine and a proud member of International Thriller Writers. She’s active in local theatres as an actress and choreographer.
She lives in Georgia with her family where she is hard at work on her new thriller.

Chain of Command: The road to the Oval Office is paved in blood…the simultaneous assassinations of the President and Vice President catapults the Speaker of the House into the White House as the first female President of the United States. Evidence points to a former Navy SEAL as one of the assassins. Young journalist McKenzie McClendon must unravel a dangerous web of lies in a search for the truth.
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23 thoughts on “Top 10 Things One Writer Learned About Social Media Marketing

  1. Elizabeth – Thanks for hosting Colby.

    Colby – One of the things I like about your post is that you focus on making the author a real person to fans. Authors who respond to emails and comments and share a little of themselves are going to create more loyalty. I like that idea. Wishing you much success.

  2. I’m also anti-“buy my book” tweets. I’d rather an author tell me about someone else’s book they’ve enjoyed. And although some stats said that the “please RT” in a tweet got more retweets, it just comes across as groveling to me. Unless I personally know or agree with the author/tweet, I probably won’t retweet it. If I do, I’ll strip that part.

    Terry’s Place

  3. Anything which gives me an idea of the author’s personality or lifestyle is great. I follow them either because I love their work or I like them as people, and in either case I want to know more about the kind of person they are.

    The posts which turn me off are the immediate “buy my book!” post in response to a Twitter follow or Facebook friend request. I’m very careful when I get new followers just to thank them for following me.

  4. Thanks for the great information, Colby. Aspiring authors need to read this kind of post so they know their blogs, as well as their websites, should be geared toward the reader, not the promotion of themselves.

    Great insights!

    Chrinda Jones

  5. I follow authors for those same reasons, Paul.

    Thank you, Margot. It’s what makes the internet and social media age so cool. Years ago, you’d never hear from your favorite author unless you were lucky enough to find them doing a personal appearance near you. Now, you can “make friends” virtually with someone you’d love to know more about. We really do live in amazing times.

  6. Colby, thanks for posting today! Great tips here. I think my favorite might be #8…don’t get angry. Such an important lesson. Not everyone will like our books. And negative reviews actually give our book some credibility, I think–too many sock puppet reviews on Amazon and other retailers.

  7. Great tips, thanks for sharing! Good reminder about sharing world building and research tidbits.

  8. Smart tips!
    I rarely mention my book. My blog focuses more on the achievements of others. And a lot about movies and fun stuff. Because that’s what I enjoy.

  9. I love 1, 5, 6 and 10. Social media is for public relations, not advertising.

    And yeah, everyone who’s approaching their career as if it’s a business should know about 8 and 9, right?

  10. Wow, as a newbie blogger, I’m learning a lot! I’ll definitely not tell me to buy that book every other post!

  11. Thanks, Teri! I, too, tend to not use the please RT. I reserve RTs for things I think are worth the RT rather than because someone asked me to:-)

    Elizabeth- I’ve seen authors get into trouble for this more times than I care to remember!

    I’m glad you enjoyed it Chrinda! I actually looked for apost like this for a while, but I didn’t find one, so I thought maybe I’d do it myself :-)

    Thanks for stopping by and saying hello, Teresa!

    Nancy, yes, I find research is some of the “stuff” about our books we CAN post, just because it’s interesting (most of the time!)

    Alex, that’s great. It lets readers/followers connect with your personality- that’ll build a loyal fan way faster than being a constant salesman. Otherwise, folks will run when they see you coming!

    Deb, you WOULD think 8 and 9 were givens, but unfortunately, I’ve seen them in the wild way too much!

    Jem- I know, right? Can’t we send them off on an island somewhere? We could create their own MeMedia site where they wouldn’t even friend anyone, because all they’d be doing would be “me!” :-)

    Optimistic and Khahn Ho- I’m glad you found the post helpful! Now, go forth, be confident in your social media choices, and prosper!

  12. Hi Elizabeth and Colby .. it’s the same in life isn’t it – I don’t want to talk to someone who just talks about themselves … sadly occasionally I have to be polite – drives me nutty .. I want to learn, be involved and be interested in my fellow comrade …

    Thanks for reminding us of the essentials of being polite and including others in the conversation …

    I’d endorse Helen’s comment .. absolutely Elizabeth you do it for us …

    Cheers Hilary

  13. Colby – you have alot of wisdom for a new writer, and it applies to those of us who are just starting as well as those with more experience. Excellent tips!

  14. Great insight, Colby! All the points you touched on are applicable not just to writers, but generally to anyone who is looking to promote a business. I do agree that social media pages need to be more personal, especially when it comes to engaging followers. But there has to be a limit on how personal it can be so that the page won’t get lost in the shuffle.

    -Sage Aumick

  15. Social media has been a great leeway for businesses to promote and encourage their prospective buyers, wherever they may be. They should learn how to maintain a relationship with their consumers, and then build trust from that point on. What you posted will not only be viable to writers, but to anyone who wants to market themselves or their business.

    Jean Bridges

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