Social Media Marketing Made Easy

Since the launch of my e-books I’ve been getting emails from author friends, some of whom are flummoxed or annoyed about the whole social media marketing thing. These are established writers, too, who feel under pressure to Tweet this and Facebook that, and blog the other thing. All of which takes time away from what they want to do most — write fiction.
And then there are the newbies, who are being told You have to have a platform even before you have a book, which always seems like telling a Sea Scout he has to build a boat before he can go to the beach.
It’s a real concern, because too much stress and attention put on self-promotion and marketing can actually have an adverse affect on your writing, and even your personal life. You can take away some of this pressure away if you look at options that will enable you to have a large following on platforms like Instagram such as using the help offered by Buzzoid. Going to could prove to be a fruitful venture for you. OTOH, an author does need to get in the game in some way. There are of course ways you can streamline the process – we’ve all spent countless hours choosing the perfect character name, but luckily that doesn’t have to be the case for social media. Tools like this instagram username generator can streamline the process, so you can get back to worrying about the umpteenth supporting character you’re just about to introduce.

So what’s the balance? What follows are some tips for getting a foothold in social media marketing. They seem to work for me, so do with them what you will.
1. Specialize
Don’t try to be active on every possible platform. You’ll end up diluting your effectiveness in each. Instead, choose two or three and get really good at it.
For me, it’s primarily blogging (here at TKZ) and Twitter. I find the substance of blogging once a week, and the real time of Twitter each day, the perfect blend. On occasion I drop into other blogs and comment if I feel I have something to add to the discussion. I do have a Facebook author page.
I do an occasional video, like this one on writing advice.
The smartest social media guy I know, Thomas Umstattd of Author Tech Tips, says, “It is much better to specialize. Seth Godin does not do Twitter or Facebook. He just has the most popular blog ever. Be faithful in a few areas and then you will be ready to be faithful in many areas.”
2. Don’t Be Like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross
Remember the famous Glengarry Glen Ross speech delivered by Alec Baldwin? “ABC – Always Be Closing!” The hard sell, all the time.
Not in social media. If it’s always about you and your books, it gets tiresome fast. You may think you’re doing a numbers game, like sales folk, who cold call with the same script over and over until they land a fish. At the very least, use a service like Just Deliver It to streamline the process.
In social media, the key word is “social” as in “relating to or designed for activities in which people meet each other for beneficial exchange.”
Don’t be repetitive, sending the same tweet or message over and over again: Please follow me on my fan page. Followed a day later by, Please follow me on my fan page. You might as well type Apply directly to the forehead because that’s what people will want to do with the headache you’ve given them.
Try to give each message a unique spin or angle. You’re a writer, aren’t you? Prove it.
3. Use the 80/20 Rule
Spend 80% of your social media time focusing outward. Interact with people. Provide good content. Link to other sites and articles of value. Be personable. Make people glad they have you on their list of people to read.
Use only 20% of the time to “sell” something. And even when you do, don’t make it a generic “Buy my stuff” (BMS) kind of thing. If you do BMS over and over again, people are going to tire of you and find ways to avoid your posts.
Instead, always provide some sort of reason people should buy your stuff. Maybe it’s the launch, which you can announce winsomely and with a little panache. Or a contest. Or you’re providing some proof of value (such as a clip of a review). You can be clever in how you word things. Anything but “Buy my stuff!”
4. Don’t Hurt Your Writing Time or Your Life
If you find your social media presence detracting from your writing time and your ability to produce quality words, cut back. If you’re on Facebook more than you’re with your family, check your priorities. This stuff isn’t as important as either of those two things.
5. Don’t Sweat It
No one knows what works. In fact, even the stuff that works doesn’t work all the time. This is a fluid and un-measurable sea we’re in. So find a good balance, provide quality, be consistent and be patient.
Most of all write great books. That’s the key to repeat business, which is what makes a career.
So what about you and the social media scene? What are you doing that works? What frustrates you?

35 thoughts on “Social Media Marketing Made Easy

  1. Other than blogging, not a doggone thing. It’s all I can do to survive the day job and squeeze in a little writing, and update the blog once a week.

    At this point, I’m not going to try and kill myself tweeting, facebooking, or anything else. All the social media in the world aren’t going to help me if I’m dead.

    I do believe I’ll know when it’s time to start because life will shift and it will become feasible to do. Right now, I need to write.

    BK Jackson

  2. I’m spending way too much time on social media, and not enough time on writing and life. It’s hard to find the right balance. For instance, just a second ago, I was working on my novel, and now, I’m commenting on this blog post. I don’t know how that happened. Why am I not still working on my novel? It’s seriously a problem that my internet browser and my word processor are on the same machine. But that means I have to be more disciplined. It’s my hand and my brain that are operating the computer mouse. It’s a matter of setting goals and resisting the distractions, which any smart person should be able to do.

  3. Sounds like good advice, especially the idea of specializing in one or two activities.
    The whole marketing/social media thing is the one aspect of the new indie publishing thing that I’m still struggle with; how much do you have to do to reach an audience, what works best, or not at all. And as you say, its is all new.

    I’ve heard there are programs out there you can buy/download that you can set to time out your computer, actually lock you out of the internet for pre-set times.
    Might be something you want to try,but don’t beat yourself up too badly. I know a lot of writers who struggle with the same thing.

    David DeLee
    Fatal Destiny – a Grace deHaviland novel

  4. Helpful info, Jim. Social networks, or the Internet in general, can drain you of time and energy. It’s finding the right combination of time online and time on page that can help build your writer’s platform.

    I settled in on using Facebook the most (3280 friends). I don’t post much but when I do, it usually brings some good response.

    I have a Twitter account but rarely use it.

    I recently started a presence on Goodreads after my publisher encouraged me, and find it to be fun and interactive with friends and fans, current and new. And most of what I post there magically appears on my Facebook page.

    Then there’s TKZ blog. I’ve always liked the way this blog has gone and our loyal band of followers. Pluse we get new faces all the time. It’s a great way to teach and be taught. For me, I get to do both.

  5. Isn’t use of the adjective “easy” when talking about social media marketing sort of an oxymoron? It has been for me to this point. Thanks for some great tips.

    I agree that the 80/20 rule is important. I follow lots of authors on Twitter who use it entirely to market their work, and I delete their material without reading. It turns me off. On the other hand, when James Scott Bell tweets a la Dr Seuss, I enjoy the laughs and tend to pay attention when he refers to his work.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. BK, “All the social media in the world aren’t going to help me if I’m dead” may be the pithiest bit of wisdom on this topic I’ve yet heard.

    Andrea, I think we’ve all been there. Distraction is a mark of our society. Fight back!

    David, I have heard of these programs, too, and think that might be a great idea. One program I use from time to time is Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die. It’s a fun way to kick start your writing and keep you focused for a period of time.

  7. Sounds like a good balance for you, Joe. And yes, this TKZ community is a great place to hang out. I love being part of it.

    Doc, you remind me of one of the nice things about Twitter. You can get on these rolls that are just plain fun, and that becomes a way of stretching the writing muscles. The “less interesting books” game is legendary now. Not so famous, but just as fun for me, was Zombie Suess. At 140 characters, it got me thinking like a poet for a change.

  8. The hard part is not the 80/20 rule between being helpful and selling. The hard part is coming up with a balance between writing and selling. Not to mention family, home, day job, etc. etc.

  9. Great advice, as always. Social media can be addictive so I’ve found it pays to set specific time slots for my online activity. I have ‘Focus Booster’ installed, so I set its alarm to help me keep track. I agree with your first point. I can’t do everything and still have adequate writing and family time, so I’ve chosen blogging as my main focus, with once a day checkins at FB and Twitter. I’m not published yet so perhaps my priorities will change when I am, but that seems adequate for now.

  10. Glen, that’s exactly right. It is the crux of the issue. And will be different for everyone. I just don’t want writers to think they’ll miss some large boat if they don’t put in 20 hours a day on it.

    Carol, sounds to me like you’re on the right track. Well done, and good luck.

  11. I hate the whole building a platform thing. I’ve basically complained about having to do it in my blog. I make myself post once a week but I am too distracted by my stats. I do spend a bit of time each day reaching out to others (TKZ is my fave) but I’m not very good at socializing & kind of resent that I’m even made to feel that I HAVE to. I Facebook but not for business. I just don’t understand the appeal of Tweeting though when I saw that you do, JSB, I had a moment when I considered it. Really all I want to do is work on my novel & sweep all this social media stuff under the rug. But it’s part of the game & I have to play. *sigh*

  12. Nancy, I know exactly how you feel. I hear this all the time. There is unrealistic pressure being put on new writers by both agents and publishers. “You have to have a platform!” That used to ONLY apply to non-fiction writers who can TARGET an audience. Fiction writers can’t do that with their material, unless they specialize in a genre that all, say, quilters want to read.

    So a fiction writer like Nancy ends up doing stuff she doesn’t want to do because she feels like she HAS to to play the “game.”

    Well then, treat it like a game. Do the minimum. Have some “presence.” But do not take away from your writing. An agent worth having or an editor worth writing for is going to believe in your writing first, and worry about platforming later.

  13. Social media is here to stay for good. Given vast variety of the existing channels to choose and stick with, it’s time for such a hot space to enter into a new category.

    Here is my 2cents on this whole internet -> search Engine -> Social media things and my rational on why there is a need for a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the companies about their online connections. A Platform to Help us to Distinguish Our Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies:

    – Early 90s: WWW was born…
    – Mid – late 90s: Yahoo & Google were born to help us to find the right pages on the WWW…
    – Early 2000: Social media was born…
    – Late 2000: There are now millions of pages created by people, companies, and organizations on all these social media channels.
    – 2011: We are back to early 90’s

    That is why I built to accomplish such a mission – the portal to all your existing social media channels.

    CEO & Founder

  14. Thanks for this. I hope to release my first e-book before Labor Day, and have been wondering about many of these questions. Turns out I’ve been naturally doing pretty much what you recommend here, which takes a little of the newbie stress away.

  15. Indeed! Social media can be overwhelming and time-consuming.

    Having a management tool can save you a lot of time; many free ones exist, such as HootSuite or Tweet Deck, where you can manage all your social accounts from one place. They are handy when you’re time-crunched, as most people are. You can work for, say, two straight inspired hours and schedule Tweets and Facebook posts for the upcoming week – to be posted at times when your audience is most likely to read them.

    Agreed: no use killing yourself!

  16. Good points, the web in general is too addictive as it is. Promoting ourselves on it can suck us into a black the lines of which would make James Kirk scream like a two year old whose toy just got yanked out of his hand.
    Therefore I have chosen to keep it to a minimum. I keep my own website & blog, post to Facebook and Twitter, and comment here a lot. The stuff on Facebook seldom mentions my books but is usually news related or cool pics of my Alaska paradise. Other than those, oh and I recently added GoodReads to my list, I try to avoid much other stuff.
    The rest of my marketing relies on my new psychic transmitter hat and focused creative shared imagery where I imagine my books selling well and push of buying them into other peoples minds. The only downside is if some of my other kinds of thoughts accidentally escape while the psychic transmitter hat is on. Some people scream really loud.

  17. Basil, I have a Goodreads account as well! Get their widget and embed it into your blog if you haven’t already done it. It’s beautiful!

  18. I agree with this article that there is much pressure on the minds of new writers.They should take it just like a game.

  19. I am one of those folks who was told by a regional publisher: build your platform. They approached me and then told me my platform needed to be stronger. So, I did so. Got a blog name that was more in line with what I did, worked my Twitter presence, created a Facebook page for my work. Then, out of the blue, I got contacted by another, national publisher to write a cookbook (my field), and then I got an agent via that.

    I am so glad I worked on my “platform” because it got me notice from the publisher, then the agent I was dreaming of, and a book deal. I am very lucky. I recommend to people to do what feels best to you. I love Twitter and I just interact with folks. I do well there because I like it. And, I think the 80/20 guideline is really good. It’s super annoying to see someone just sell their book/blog/brand. It’s much better to develop relationships online. People then naturally want to support what you do.

  20. You are absolutely right. It is useless to spend time on every platform. It is better to choose the most suitable ones for us. In order to do that, we first have to understand our needs. We don’t need to go on & create an account in every site. It is also not possible for us to maintain all those accounts. So it will be better to choose the most important ones for us & then maintain those accounts properly.

  21. social media Step one of your dealers social media strategy should be building transparency through reviews. And not just your positive reviews from sales. Grow some kahunas and ask every single customer that not only purchases a vehicle but also services their vehicle at your dealership to rate their experience online using google reviews and a 3rd part review service like dealerrater. You better have everyone onboard, especially the GM and the owner/principle. Have a game plan and and process for handling the good and bad reviews. Opening this up to your service department can yield some interesting results.

  22. social media is only the online, technical implementation of what is actually a socio-cultural shift in communication styles. I understand that it takes awhile for that shift to make a dent on corporate culture, but I’m hopeful that as this concept becomes even more prevalent that companies will relax their traditional NDA-centric communications and begin to share and share alike. It’s a big step, but there are many companies out there doing it right and reaping the benefits.

    And thanks for the recommendation of Tara Hunt’s “The Whuffie Factor”. I like her concept of creating social media marketing goals by saying “I want to create a culture of … ” I’ll be sure to check it out.

  23. Like it or not, social media marketing is here to stay as one of the ways to keep your footing in the world of business. And it is the wave of the future, to say the least! Also, your points about it can give people an idea on how SMM rolls.

  24. Nice article! I really like the 80/20 approach. Some companies focus way too much on selling and not enough time on interacting with their target audiences who are the ones buying the products they’re trying to sell in the first place. I spoke to a social media company the other day, and they actually also mentioned the 80/20 principle. Seems to be the way to go!

  25. I like the 80/20 approach as well. And I think number 4 is really important too. These days so many people spend way more time on their social media sites than they do with their loved ones. To me, this is a little scary. How can we choose to spend more time with a computer screen than with actual real-life people? Let leave that to the seo professionals who actually do it for living and let’s spend more time with the people that matter the most to us.

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