Sunday, June 15, 2014

How NOT to Use Social Media

If you have Twitter and have "followed" a few people "just because" or to increase the number of followers you have through reciprocation, then you have likely run into them.  Yes, them; the mindless automatons who feel that they are a gift to the world and that you would purchase or download their product (most of them, in my experience are writers selling their books - even free books).

Now, Twitter and other social media can be very useful tools in your online marketing, but these people are trying to do it the easy way, and cutting too many corners will have you running in a circle in no time.  Marketing is about branding.  Branding does not involve pushing the consumer to action first, and then introducing the product; it is an art that requires careful consideration and cunning.

So, here I present you with a few "don't's" when trying to market yourself with social media like Twitter, and alternatives that would work much better for you.

1.  Do NOT ever, ever, ever, set an automatic reply asking the person who has joined your social media circle to join you in your other ones.  First, nobody even reads these auto replies; second, most people delete them without even reading them; and worse of all, this is the FIRST impression you're making with this person!  Instead, create a post publicly announcing the person, and thanking them for following you.  Be genuine.

2.  Do NOT ever, ever, ever, send messages to your followers or fans telling them how wonderful your new book is and how they should buy it, because it's only 99 cents or FREE.  I say this all the time, but too many people out there are doing this so I need to drill the point home: DO NOT DEVALUE YOUR WORK BY GIVING IT AWAY.  If you want to be a professional writer, you must charge for your work.  You wouldn't expect a chef to make a complete meal for you free of charge to get you to go to their restaurant; neither would you expect an electrician to wire your entire home before you contract him to do other work.  If you want to be a professional, charge for your work.  That's what differentiates a professional from an amateur: pay.  If you give your books away (other than a very short promotion), then you are simply equal to a student in a creative writing class. Instead, run promotions to discount your book(s), create a website where people can learn about you and your work, and subscribe to a mailing list - this is where you can provide samples of your work and build yourself up to people who have asked for this information.

3. Do NOT ever, ever, ever, spam your followers with advertisements for your book or anyone else's.  Social media marketing success requires that people who follow you actually READ your posts - and if they know you as a spammer, they may keep you just to have more followers under their belts, but they are not reading your posts.  Instead, provide rich content.  Let people know you're a real person who will interact and who has something to offer.  If you build it, they will come.

4.  Do NOT ever, ever, ever, EVER, say anything negative about a fan or a critic.  To be a writer, you must have thick skin.  If you can't handle criticism, find another line of work, because it will happen.  Just look at reviews for your favorite writers, musicians, actors, directors, etc.  This comes with the territory.  Instead, ask the critic to provide more detail.  Exchanging respectful communications with a critic to find out why they didn't like your work is a great way to turn a critic into a fan.

5.  Finally, do not be inactive.  I am terrible with this one.  I really don't like using Facebook or Twitter, and I don't have an Instagram account.  But I do write at least one or two posts each week, because I know it's important for my career.  And this is fine, so long as you don't disappear off the face of the Earth for months on end.  Any marketing person would tell you that for a person to remember something - anything - they need to hear it mentioned an average of three times.  That's why ads on the radio mention the product AND the phone number at least three times; some do it in a row, which doesn't work.  Instead, place the cover of your book on your website (on every page, if you are so inclined) as the background on your social media account, on your business cards, on your email signature; everywhere, but be subtle about it - remember #3 above.

As a final thought, use common sense.  Ask friends what they think about your social media accounts and about posts you make.  True friends WILL tell you if something you post might bother fans.  So keep these five things in mind, and happy socializing!  Robots have empty flower pots, a professional charges for it all, spam gets canned, critics don't carry sticks (or stones), and the couch potato won't get no tomato.  Oh, and this blogger is a father - Happy Fathers' Day!