Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Social Media: Having a Plan

Thinking of using social media to market your book?

It isn’t enough to simply use social media in an attempt to attract followers and redirect traffic to your website. If you are posting sales tweets or blogging sales promotional material all of the time you are not going to attract an audience, the followers you do have won’t be clicking through your links and you will develop a reputation as a walking advertisement. You have to be strategic about your use of social media and you have to be friendly. A lot of time is wasted by dropping link bombs or book promo sales tweets. Social media only works well for online promotions when you have a strong-engaged-return-following, a level of trust established with your audience, and when the communication and interest flows both ways. In order to build that loyal following and trust you have to offer the reader something they are interested in, you have to do it regularly and be open to comments by responding where you are able.

The people who are making and saving money using online promotions all employ a strategic plan when using social media. Here are some tips for making a social media plan that have been shared with me or that I have discovered working with WITS.


1. Write out your objectives: Know what you want your social media to do. Write out a bullet point list of objectives such as: “attract readers who are interested in my themes,” “excite readers into purchasing my book,” “inform readers about issues that interest me or have influenced my writing,” “introduce readers to my writing style,” or “Show readers how interesting and creative my writing is.”

2. List out all the social media sites you will be using: Pick your Favorites. The main four are: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn, plus having a blog. You don’t have to know how you’re going to use them, just list out the possibilities. Familiarity or popularity may be a consideration in the sites you select.

3. Develop a vision: Take each site and write the outcome you want. For example, “Attracting people who are both entertained and want to do business with me,” or “Sharing information that my clients want to know,” or “Creating a group that people are excited to join.”

4. List out possible places you can get material: This will be your resource guide of reliable websites that offer interesting news stories relating to your business or book themes. These sites are the places where you can return time and again for a new post or blog idea. If you aren’t familiar with or already searching the web for theme related sites try looking at the Top 100 Blogs on Technorati for examples.

5. Create a strategy: This might be posting updates three times a week or writing out a list of Tweets at the start of each month. It might also just mean spending time every day familiarizing yourself with the social media site and how to use it.

6. Write out your goals: Maybe your goal is to post a video book trailer, or get to 100 followers, to expand into a new sales area, or to simply generate more sales. Start with small, possible, measurable goals and update the results as you go.

7. Keep your blog friendly but professional: If you want to share pictures of your cat or update the babysitter on your current location and plans for returning home, use a separate Twitter account. Don’t use your professional blog to talk about Aunt Sally’s lumbago.

8. Give it time: It takes a certain amount of time to establish a following or return audience. Give yourself two or three months to know if your social media efforts are paying off before considering a change of direction.

9. Keep your advertisements to a minimum: You need to establish a returning audience, before you try to sell a product. Your audience will return to your site because you have peaked their interest by offering them news or insight, given them advice or passed on information they find useful. The fastest way to turn them off or away is by continually dropping sales posts or advertisements for your book. Out of every 100 posts, one should be advertising your services or product information.

10. Stick to your themes: Part of developing trust with your audience is being consistent in your choice of themes. The only way to woo your audience into returning to your site time and again is by offering them more of what they came to you for in the first place. Pick four or five themes and use those themes as a guideline when creating a post or blog entry. Follow your posting strategy religiously. Pre-program your posts and blog entries using a schedule. People respond well when they have expectations that are being met and random, irregular posting practices kill audiences. If you are offering quality content consistently and on a regular posting schedule, you will build the loyal following you want and sell books.

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