Monday, October 31, 2011

Social Networking Is So Easy

We live in a world where everything changes daily and changes quickly. And just as those changes happen, so do my thoughts on the many opportunities available to us. When the blog post I wrote on Twitter v. Facebook posted, it made me think a lot more about the two places, and I think some of your comments helped that as well.

When it comes to marketing I think it's pretty fair to say that everyone is looking for the quick fix. We all want to spend as little time as possible doing the marketing we know is necessary because, truthfully, we want to write our books. And of course you know how important that is because when all is said and done, the only thing that matters is the quality of your book.

Unfortunately, Twitter and Facebook, and other social networking markets, are not the time-savers we either like to believe they are or have convinced ourselves they are. Gone are the days when marketing meant taking a design to the printer, ordering a stack of postcards or bookmarks, and sending them to bookstores. Not that it was easy work, but it was a one-time deal (per book). You maybe took a day or two, or a week, out of your writing schedule to complete the job and then you moved on. Now marketing is 24/7, and if you're going to be good at it, and use it successfully, you have to do the work, which is a lot.

As I said in my earlier post, Twitter is great for connecting with new readers. It's a way to connect over publishing news, world news, or just pass along your favorite muffin recipe. It's a constant conversation with strangers, but strangers who just might find you interesting enough to want to learn more about you and buy your books.

Facebook is for fans. On Facebook people seek you out. Your status posts are not for public consumption. They are for your "friends" only. Therefore, Facebook is a way for you to connect with those who want a connection specifically with you. It's the place for you to talk about your upcoming book and connect with those readers in a conversation. It's the place for you to find out which of your characters is the most beloved or who they would like to see killed off in the next book.

I think both Facebook and Twitter can be hugely beneficial to all authors, but only if they are something you connect with as well. They aren't easy to use and they don't work if you don't use them properly, but if you do, wow, you can really find something special there.



JO said...

Yes - your title almost says it all. Social networking is so easy, and can be great fun.

But is there any way to measure its effectiveness in terms of sales? It's all very well justifying the time I can spend twittering away as marketing, but does it work? And is there a correlation between the longer one spends doing it and the number of books sold?

Nathan Rudy said...

As with any marketing effort, you need to use multiple channels to reach potential customers.

I'm always amazed when people try to pit one medium or strategy against another, when the fact is that you need to use many media, not just one medium.

You always needed to use more than one, and the nice thing today is we have more -- and some are really low cost!

Kate Douglas said...

I have to admit that Facebook is more than merely promotional networking for me. We live in a very rural area and I generally write seven days a week--it has become an important social outlet over the past couple years. My fans are, in many cases, my friends. Some of them have followed me for over ten years and we've met in person after meeting online. I've heard about their families, illnesses, good times and bad.

Twitter's not like that. The bulk of the twitter feeds I see are silly little snips of things I find totally uninteresting. With FB, there's room for more of a connection, and I think it's allowed me to know more about my readers and let them get to know me. For better or for worse, it seems to work. I'm still trying to figure out Goodreads--I honestly think that's a good one for authors who love to read because it fills a lot of needs, both personal and professional.

Now, if I could just get off FB and get those postcards and bookmarks designed!

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

I love both Twitter and Facebook. I have a marketing background and am a former rock princess so, in general, I'm quite the social butterfly. I love connecting with people and being genuine and authentic in the process. I know this turns some people off, but so be it. I care about marketing,but care more about real connections. I hope those who have gotten to "know" me on social networks will be excited to read my books, not only because they find the premise interesting, but because they find me interesting.

Great post, Jessica!

Unknown said...

I've actually found a few books from twitter. I follow their authors and see the retweets of others and think "wow, this book is creating a lot of buzz. I'll have to check it out."

ryan field said...

I started facebook when it first came out and it took me at least three years to "get it." But I do have fun with it...and twitter, too. I think the important thing is to be authentic. And don't look at it as a marketing tool, not completely. Look at it as a social tool where you can market at the same time and balance promotion and fun.

Joseph L. Selby said...

Your status posts are not for public consumption. They are for your "friends" only.

This assumes the author is accepting friend requests to his/her personal account. If that is the case, they're using Facebook wrong. Facebook limits how many friends we can have and requires creation and maintaining lists to limit what posts go to which people.

Create a fan page specifically for your writing and you have a venue specifically for your writing that is not limited to how many people can be a fan and does not require your approval, which can be a difficult thing when dealing with people you don't otherwise no.

In that regard, though, nothing you post there is private. Unless you ban a user/restrict your fan page, it is just as public as Twitter.

Kristin Laughtin said...

^Agreed with Joseph. It's better to use a public fan page anyway, because if you get popular, you don't want to be limited to 5000 friends like you would be with a normal account.

In my case, I think using the tools will be the easy part. Coming up with consistent interesting content and self-promoting (especially without making every post "Buy my book kthx!") and getting that first critical mass of followers will be the more challenging part.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Joseph. I think Facebook is what you make of it. A profile can be for close friends and family only, or it can be a networking tool and a way to tap into industry and other gossip/news.
A fan page on the other hand can be public and can be used solely for fans/readers and to talk up your product. A fan page is not really social since you can't see friends' pages from a fan page, nor can you comment on their status. You can however use it to interact with those who have 'liked; you and make comments. And again, you don't always have to 'like' a page to be able to access it -- it depends on how its been set up.

I think Twitter on the other hand can be a huge time sink compared to FB because to interact usefully you need to actively follow conversations. FB you can go to when you have time, and catch up. I often see industry professionals tweeting up a storm and wonder how on earth they ever get any work done :)

Barbara Franzen said...

I blog my writing on both Face book and Twitter-Face book is good feed back from friends. I have had fun with both- meeting famous people. On Twitter Warren Adler left a message encouraging me to write a short story-He has a contest-Also, the editor of a mag-contacted me about writing-The most exciting was one night from a writer's Face book Club I sent J. Michard-my favorite- a note never dreaming she'd reply. We did two notes that night-Never again but Wow I thought it fun, Back as a therapist I set up a successful practice using novel ideas and what felt right-Enthusiasm went miles Today I have M.S. and can't do it the same-but put your heart out there-You can!

Kate Douglas said...

I will admit I don't ALWAYS use Facebook just for author promo--I got to announce the unscheduled early arrival of our new granddaughter on FB this morning. It might not be good business, but it did this grandmother's heart good! And she is SO CUTE!

Buchgestaltung said...

Thank you, thats very interesting information. I need to share with my friends.

Susan said...

So many great and valid points have been made here. Two points I can so agree with are 1) many people are looking to social media to be a quick fix; the only marketing that has to be done and 2) the amount of time necessary for social media to have a positive impact, marketing-wise is significant.
Thank you for the great post and for the comments, too.