How can something be social when no one is in the same room?

In the last few posts, I have spent a great deal of time talking about websites and their importance to any author branding/marketing exercise. First, we talked about how to put one together, then we moved on to what we need to put on them to get people to come, read, recommend (share) and come back again. Today, I’m going to start a series of posts on social media platforms and how to leverage them for authors, publishers and book marketing teams.

So, you’re sitting in a restaurant with a group of friends having a meal and catching up on the events of the past week. This is a time for friends to hang out and just be themselves, but out of the corner of your eye, you see a man coming towards you with a big smile on his face. You don’t recognize him, but you assume from his mannerism that he must know someone in the group and be smiling at them, so you let it slide and go back to the merry-making with your friends. The man comes up and says hello, but before anyone can answer, he jumps into a sales pitch for a product that you have never heard of nor have any use for. What’s worse is that no matter how many times you try to shoo him away, he just continues talking and pretends not to hear any of the complaints. Finally, one of your friends gets up and threatens to physically remove him causing him to stop, turn and walk away, but not before tossing a bunch of brochures for the product onto your table.

Welcome to marketing in the social media age! Whether we realize it or not, marketing has changed and people are getting more and more sensitive to our messages filtering into their casual or fun time. It’s part of the reason that so many people record their shows with TiVos and read the newspaper online – they are tired of the advertisements from marketing people. And here we come to your Facebook and twitter feeds! But we didn’t start the fire, did we?

This whole mess of advertising on social media was started by brands that wanted to push their products to the masses on every platform they could get their hands on. Whether they understood it or not, they had to be there. In the process, they clouded the pond for those of us who really want to use social media to market. What’s the difference between us and them? The pyramid.

What We Do For Retail Brands

When major brands ask you to share their content in the hope of winning a prize, you are competing with millions (and I mean multi-millions) of people. They share it once, and then like the Pyramid scheme, you bring in 10 and each of them bring in 10 and each of them bring in 10, until it achieves a viral status with multi-millions of people sharing a stupid status update for a product in the hope of winning an iPad. Who wins? The major brand – they just got what would have cost them millions in advertising, what did they give you – nothing. Now, you want to see what you are worth to them? Go post a comment about a problem with the product and see how long it takes them to get back to you with a solution. Game. Set. Match.

 What We Do As Authors

Why are we better? We don’t use social media to mass market (I hope). We have learned that the best way to market our books is through our own networks of authors and readers that will be interested in the product and have the willingness to buy the product. We also have learned that the best way to reach our target audience is with hashtags that will put our message into the right people’s vision. We don’t just “spray and pray,” as many marketers call mass marketing; we target and segment to get to the right audience at the right time. And more importantly, we are there to carry on conversations with our readers, answer their questions and encourage them with more of our writing free of cost. Sure, there are times when we give things away, but they stay within that network of people that are interested and willing to buy. That means that we get a better result in terms of book reviews, recommendations to other readers and sales.

Over the next few posts, I will be taking you deeper into the murky world of social media platforms. We’ll be talking about:

  • Which ones are best for what purpose (objectives)
  • Where you need to be and why (goals)
  • What you need to do to achieve success on each one (measurement)

There are millions of options out there and we, as authors, don’t have the time to be on every one of them. So the goal here is to help you define your objectives, set your goals and learn how to judge what is working and what isn’t. I do hope that you will join me for the series.

Lastly, I have created a hashtag on twitter specifically for the Marketing for Authors series that I am writing to take your questions, comments and ideas for future posts. What may be important to me might not be important to you, so your feedback and comments help to drive the conversation in a direction that benefits everyone. The hashtag is #MKT4AUTH. I hope you use it and add it to the tags that you check regularly.

Have your say

About Khalid Muhammad - Author

When people talk about Khalid Muhammad, they talk about an entrepreneur who has helped others build their dreams and businesses. They talk about a teacher, who is dedicated to his students, both inside and outside the classroom, and they return the dedication tenfold. Now, they talk about the author, who has written a fast-paced, action-packed spy thriller about Pakistan, the politics, the Army and terrorism. Born in Pakistan’s troubled Swat Valley, educated and raised in the United States, Khalid returned to Pakistan almost 17 years ago and fell in love with his country. His debut novel, Agency Rules – Never an Easy Day at the Office, is a journey behind the headlines about Pakistan, the world’s most dangerous place, to deliver an intense story that will challenge the reader to question what they have been told.


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