I’m a big fan of recycling and that includes blog posts. Since social media is still a hot topic for writers and illustrators as a vehicle to get the word our about one’s work, I thought I might recycle this post I penned a couple years ago and share it with you all. Just 2 more cents of mine toward the topic of why social media is an important tool you need to be using and not abusing…
This post is VERY long and intended for those Authors new to social media. At the end of this post is the TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read) version as well as some great resources.
Ever go out and buy a white car (or blue, black or any other color you love) and all the sudden realize that EVERYONE on the freeway has a white car? I have been having that feeling lately with the topic of Social Networking for Authors. Seems like many of the tweets I see and blogs I read have to do with the topic of what constitutes good manners in social networking.
Social networking scratch that – online communities have always fascinated me. I love the way like minded people tend to naturally gravitate toward one another to share their loves and experiences. I’ve been lucky enough in my time spent in these online communities to always find my way into the center of the buzz and excitement. Could be due to my charming personality **fluffs hair**, or perhaps because I happen to be very opinionated (no Shelley, really?) or maybe it’s my habit of seeing a need and promoting myself to do the job. It’s probably all of those things coupled with my involvement in large online communities (or maybe it’s just my big fat ego), that have made me pretty well versed in online etiquette. That’s not t0 say I don’t blow it from time to time, I mean I’m not perfect (don’t tell my husband I said that), but for the most part I’m a fairly decent source of info.
I happened onto the whole social networking thing over ten years ago on a little up and coming site called deviantART (for those of you that just said – hey, I go there who are you? I’m noir). Now back in my day we didn’t have any fancy sayins’ like “social networking (< that part works better if you picture me leaning on a sack of seed in overalls with a sprig of wheat stuck between my teeth). There were about 200 people on the site back then and it would be fair to say we all knew each other pretty well. As people joined in, those of us who had been members for a while became the unofficial ambassadors for the site, and our little group of wacky artists grew. I got to be fairly well known in the online art community through the simple interaction of shooting the pooh with my fellow artists. I didn’t set out to gain any kind of notoriety, but it happened anyway in this really cool organic way. I’ve been gone from deviantArt for a long time (other opportunities, raising my child and meeting my husband – life stuff) BUT if you Google my name (back then it was Shelley Eichholz) it still pulls 5 pages of my artwork, articles and interviews. I find this to be a pretty amazing testament to how powerful this social networking stuff is. I have NOT promoted my art work much over the years but the work I did early on has continued to carry on over time as people linked and relinked my art and articles. Are you starting to see why this social networking thing is such a great tool for promoting yourself?
At no time in my devianART days did I ever “market” myself or my art to anyone. It was just me making art and connecting with people I shared an interest with, but overtime through word of mouth, I became known for my art on the internet. People who knew me, who liked me and enjoyed my art let their friends know about me and the circle of those who supported me grew. No one was more surprised than I when I started getting emails from folks overseas to do album covers and some nice folks in the UK and New York to do magazine covers! None of that would have ever happened without the network I had unknowingly built.
** Hops off soapbox and sits on it**
The internet and its communities have grown faster than anyone ever could have predicted ten years ago. That little art site known as deviantART that I joined? It has over 14.5 million members now – that’s up from the original 200ish by just a bit ;). I find the growth exciting, and the opportunity to meet so many people who share the same interests as I from all over the world amazing! But along with the bunnies and rainbows, come the folks that want to bottle and sell said bunnies and rainbows. Enter the social network marketing professionals. OK enough booing and hissing – they have their place in this world BUT that place is NOT in social networking for authors. I see you eyeing that shiny book you bought written by the next big Social Network Guru who helped catapult 100 of the Fortune 500 to the top of the list – back away from it. NOW. Unless you’re one of the other 400 of the Fortune 500 looking to climb to the top of that list, that book was not written for you my dear readers.
I joined a group on facebook a few moths back . I’m not going to say what the group was, but when I joined it I was really excited about getting to know these like minded folks! “This will be just like the old days of deviantART” I mused, “Sharing ideas and such – yay!” I was so excited. But guess what I get posted on my wall from it? “Buy this” “Buy that” “Read about me” “Hire me” – that’s it. I have no clue who these people are. There’s been no interaction. No attempt to let people learn about them. No attempt by them to get to know me. Nadda. I have enough people trying to sell me stuff I don’t want; kitchen countertops, cars, electronics and so on. I’m tired of being sold to all the time, especially when it is done under the guise of “community”. You now the really sad thing? The work these people are selling could be really great BUT I don’t care. Instead of a flesh and blood human, they saw me as a wallet. I’m so not interested.
The other day this comes a across my twitter timeline:
I get DM’s saying “Thanks for following, come ‘like’ me on Facebook”. Let me ‘like’ you first on Twitter.
I wanted to jump up and down and cheer for Lawrence, actually I think I did! What a concept! Let us LIKE YOU first, and by like we don’t mean pressing a button on your page. We want to get to know you, we want to know what makes us alike. What can we point and laugh at together? What resonates with both of us. What makes both of us want to curl up and watch Steel Magnolias with a quart of Chunky Monkey nestled between us next to the box of Kleenex? This, dear readers, is being social.
Every publishing professional will tell you – traditional marketing does not sell books – word of mouth does. I went to a Publishing seminar taught by the very witty and oh so charming Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Berry and one of the things they talked about was how powerful word of mouth selling is and how important not only meeting, but connecting with your reader base is to selling your book. Just for the record – spamming where we can buy your book every hour or asking us to like your fan page is not connecting with us!
I know – it’s tough when you’re starting out on Twitter, facebook, Google+ and so on – kind of like trying to merge onto the freeway on a moped. It can be overwhelming and intimidating, especially if you are not use to online communities. Just relax – take a moment and get your bearings – voyeur around for a few days, follow tweets/posts of friends or authors you know well and get a feel for the rhythm of the chat. When you’re ready say “Hi!” and join in on the conversations and get to know others. Be polite, be helpful, be your charming witty self. DON’T try to sell to people, DON’T ask them to “like” or “add” or “follow” you. Just be you and we will love you for that and when we love you it’s really easy for us to love your work and tell our friends they will love your work as well and we will all follow you. I promise!
Still feeling overwhelmed or unsure? At the and of this post are some great resources to check out but right now I need to do the:
TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read) RECAP
OK so basically in a nutshell:
- DON’T spam your book link and its price on any social networking site, it is tacky and will cause people to put you on ignore rather than run to you with wallets open. DON’T ask us to LIKE you if we have no idea who you are and we have never talked.
- DO get to know us and let us get to know you. DO be helpful and polite to others. DO be yourself like only you can be.
- Yes all of this will take time but it is the only way to build a strong network of friends who will love you and in turn love your work and then recommend it to their friends.
This post by Chuck Wendig is a diamond amongst the rubble out there:
Kristen Lamb is THE point person for Social Networking for Authors – you can find her blog here, and on Twitter where you can catch her and those who are faithful followers of her books and seminars at the Twitter hashtag #MyWANA