Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Why We're Social | Social Media & Marketing Part 1


As I mentioned at the beginning of Misty's post, we're talking about Social Media and Marketing again here on the blog. If you missed last year's posts you can see my wrap up here.

This series will be good for those just starting out in social media, those looking to improve their presence, and even those who aren't sure they want to dive in just yet. Its aim is toward authors (since that's often who I work with) but the tips and tricks provided in these posts will be helpful for anyone wanting to improve and widen their online presence. For readers, I think this series can be a fun look at "the other side". Your comments will be hugely helpful to see what actually works. What makes you pick up a book? What makes you follow an author on social media? Feel free to chime in so we can all learn!

Why We're Social

To kick things off I thought I'd start with the biggest question of them all:

WHY? 

Why are we social? Why do we spend so much time online? Why is it important to have an online presence? Is it important? I'm sure there are a million other questions we could ask, but these seem to weight in at the top.

In response, we're social for two reasons (in my opinion):

1) It's how we function best: I believe we were created to be social with a focus on family and community. We see that (most) are happier when they have a solid familial structure or community that they can rely on.
2) It's necessary in today's market: This takes on the more technical side of things, but it is nearly impossible not to be social in today's society. Or, I could put it like this: you won't get anywhere if you aren't incorporating social media into your life in some way.*

*Let me be clear here. For #2 I am strictly talking about successful promotion and visiblity as a writer/author, not success in life 😉

So what? 

This means we need to look at three things...

1) Who is our audience? 
If you've been a part of my blog before or looked through my past material you'll know I focus on this a lot but that's only natural. If you don't know your audience, you can't connect with them. Misty did a great job talking about this and why it's so important to know your audience and how to best connect with them.

I'd even go so far as to say there's a 0.5 step to this: know yourself. Wow, I realize how completely"out there" that is, but let's look at it this way. You attract the audience you want, but you first must decide who that is (is this sounding a little like the chicken and the egg to anyone else?). Know who you are, your brand, and who you wish to attract, then you can go "out there" into the social world and find them. Some will also find you, but just like a flower must attract a bee, so must an author have the right pollen, 'er books, to attract the right bee or, um, reader.

2) How will we connect with them? 
This is the next, most logical step. We've decided who our audience is because we know who we want to attract, but then the question becomes: How will we get to them? If you are hungry and want food, you go to the grocery store. Why do you go there? Becuase they have become known as places where you can buy food. So too will your readers come to you, if you show them who you are and what you offer.

This is where I think marketing and your platform/branding come into play. If you're an historical mystery author you will want your content and social media platforms to reflect that this is what you're offering. This can show itself in a wide range of ways, but you'll best reach your reader by showing them what you're offering and then following through with that.

3) What form(s) of social media will help us do this? 
This last one is more about the how than it is they why. How will we best showcase what we're offering in places and ways that will attract the 'right' type of reader. Let's go back to that historical mystery author. They aren't likely to find loyal readers among the Science Fiction community. Instead, they'll want to see where other readers of historical mystery "hang out". This is where market research comes in handy.

Some tips: Find authors who write what you do and see where they spend time. Is it on their blog, Goodreads, or Pinterest? Guest post on blogs that cater to your genre. See if there are conferences you can go to to network with other authors in your genre. Sign up for newsletters of author's in your genre and see where they are being "social". Engage with them and their readers on a genuine level and who knows, you might just make a few friends along the way.

To wrap this up, I'll put it out there again: To succeed in today's market as an author, you must be social in some capacity. Unfortunately, even if you are published by a large publishing house, they are often looking at your "already established" platform. They want to know where your readers will come from (and we're not just talking about friends and family). They want to know that, among their own marketing efforts, you will be ready and willing to do your own part.

Another side of this to consider as well is the focus of this type of marketing. The heart behind it if you will. If you approach social media as if it is only there to benefit you, you've missed the point. Those who excel at social media do so because they make a connection with their followers. They are genuine, honest, and real with them. They share their struggles as much as their successes, and they don't make their platform about "purchasing their latest novel", they make it about genuine connection.


Authors: Do you see the need for "being social"? What social media platform(s) do you like the best?

Readers: What do you like best about author's social media platforms? What turns you off from an author (in regards to social media)?