Sunday, March 19, 2017

Social Media: How Do I Make it Work for Me?

One thing I'd really like to get better at is using social media as a more effective marketing tool. Last year I did an on-line marketing challenge that gave all sorts of great tips. One of the best things that came out of it was setting up a Twitter account, which previously I hadn't had. I was super stoked about it, but now nearly a year later...it is sitting and languishing. I rarely post on it, so it's out there collecting cyber dust. And to be honest, I'm not sure how it's that much different than Facebook, other than you're limited to the number of characters you can use in a post. I'm sure I'm missing the point because I don't understand how it really works.

The same for my Facebook account. I rarely check that either. The biggest issue I have with Facebook is when I first set up my account, I did it as a personal account. What I needed to do was set up an author page. Does anyone who is more Facebook savvy than me know if I can switch it?

And will switching cut down on the endless stream of day-to-day from the hundreds of friends I have? I don't want to offend anyone, but what I'm looking for is a way to promote my books, not look at pictures of everyone's cats, babies, birthday parties, etc. I totally don't even know enough to know if having any author page would cut out the zillions of personal posts. Is there a way to use Facebook for strictly promo and not get an endless stream of everyone else's life?

Because I just can't keep up. There just aren't enough hours in the day. I am sorely tempted to go completely off-line with my Facebook account. I think, but again I'm so not up on how it all works, that I can put a 'hold' or 'stop' or 'freeze' on my account or something like that until I figure out how to switch it over from a personal page to an author/business page...if it's even possible to do that. Maybe I need to just 'erase' and start completely over. I just don't know.

What I need, me and every other author out there I'm sure, is a fresh approach. What's going to make me stand out from everyone else out there? I tried a promotion for my New Year's Eve release last year, but it didn't really pan out. I think I fell about 995 short in my #sellathousand 'challenge'. But in a sense, I don't consider it a complete failure. It got me to try something different as a way to reach readers. And as part of the promotion, I joined a few Facebook groups strictly for promoting books, which were great while I was running my contest and 99c book sale. The sale part of the promotion seemed to work better than trying to sell a thousand of a single title. I may try putting some of my others titles on sale in the near future, to see what kind of results I can garner.

What I need is to set aside time to really work at promotion. Part of the problem is I think of my writing as a hobby, not a 'real' job. Which means that other things in life always come first and take precedence over my writing. I know I'm not the only one. Everyone is busy and has a million things going on. I think I used to be better at balancing everything. I'm not sure what changed. Maybe just my attitude.

I don't mean to sound whiny...and I apologize if I do. What I'm really looking for here is to know how you use social media. Do you post on Facebook or Twitter everyday? Do you find there are certain types of posts that tend to draw more attention? How do you deal with the non-writing posts of Facebook? I'm not looking to steal anyone's unique and original ways of promoting, but if you're willing to share some tried and true strategies you've used, I'd be eternally grateful.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

13 comments:

  1. I understand your frustration, Deb! I haven't got the hang of Twitter either - it seems too 'transient' for me, with millions of tweets so it's too easy for your own tweets to get completely lost.
    However, Facebook is something I've used for about 8 years now, and I have to say that if you try to use it solely as a 'promo' tool, it won't work for you. It's a social site, and you have to spend a lot of time building up your 'social' contacts there, posting regularly and responding to other's posts (and I don't just mean the kittens and food etc!). Over the years, I have built up quite a large network of friends - and yes, they are friends now, and not just names, and I've met quite a lot of them in 'real' life too. But of course, it is time-consuming, and I couldn't do it if I had a full-time job like you have.
    Having said that, people on FB won't usually respond to book 'adverts' they see from people they don't 'know'. You have to interact with people first, and then hope they might be interested in buying your book when you tell them about it.
    Not sure that this helps really, because I understand how limited your time is. If all you really have time for is 'advertising', look at some of the advertising sites - although for most of those you have to pay. 'The Fussy Librarian' is one of the less expensive ones I've found.

    Good luck!

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    1. Thanks, Paula. You make a good point that it's all about building relationships with people. And the only way to do that is put time and effort in.

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  2. Okay, I'm going to be blunt, but nice. :) Social media has to be inherently social. It is, first and foremost, a way to interact with people. You're right, everyone's time is limited and requires prioritizing. If you don't have time to devote a regular portion of your day or week to Facebook and Twitter, you're actually doing more harm than good, because static accounts make people lose interest and FB and Twitter will hide your stuff. A FB personal page is able to be seen easily. An author page, due to FB algorithms and to the company's desire to make money, is only seen if you are consistently and highly active with it. Even people who follow your author page won't see what you post there if you're not on it frequently. Twitter is pretty easy, but is extremely fast paced. People, again, want to interact with you. If all you want is a way to promote your books, neither site is for you, unless you want to pay money for advertising, which I've found fairly cheap and effective. If you don't have time or don't want to go on FB and Twitter daily and post stuff and react to other people's stuff, then it's not going to do what you are looking for, and you're better off finding advertising sites to list your books (actually, the TWRP author's guide has a great marketing tool in the back that has sites listed). FB and Twitter will help you with word-of-mouth, as Paula says. I'm on both frequently, so if you need any help with either, I'd be happy to sit down with you by phone or whatever and go over stuff to determine if either is right for you.

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    1. Two things I've had success with, and led to me selling a LOT of books, were articles in local newspapers and joining a bunch of other women who were selling things. For the newspaper, I sent in a press release about one of my books being a finalist in a contest. You can also announce a new contract, etc. I had two local papers pick it up, including one that also did a review of the book. People I don't normally connect with (dog walkers in my neighborhood, my kids' teachers, etc) saw the articles and bought my books. For the women selling things, I happen to know a lot of teachers, and most of them are involved in selling things--jewelry, makeup, etc. One of them put together an open house and invited a variety of other vendors--jewelry, food, handbags, makeup. We all set up in different parts of her house, we all invited a bunch of people, and I sold to people I wouldn't have reached (because none of us competed with each other, it was easier, as opposed to an author event where they are deciding between authors). So if social media isn't your thing, you might want to try something like this.

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    2. You're right, Jen. I was just frustrated and forgot the most important part of social media...the social part. Like Paula mentioned, those connections. I needed blunt. Thanks!

      I've done book signings as part of 'craft fairs' and not had much luck. A more personal approach with a smaller venue might be a good idea.

      I do know people who sell various things as you mentioned. Maybe I can corral all of us and put together an event myself. Great suggestion. Thanks!

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    3. There's a fine line between blunt and rude. Hope I didn't cross it. If you need any advice or whatever with either social media or the group party idea, just give a yell (or send me an email). Happy to help--we're all in the same boat.

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    4. Definitely didn't cross it. When I have a 'moment' to sit and figure some stuff out, I might take you up on your offer of help. So thanks! :)

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  3. Since I don't have a book to sell yet, I have not focused on marketing. I take classes and follow marketing blogs, though, and they say a website is number 1, and a newsletter is number 1.1 for marketing.
    I am not fond of FB, and am barely able to read tweets let alone send one.

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    1. I do have a web-site, but I don't do a newsletter. That's a good suggestion. Thanks, Ana.

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    2. Just want to add here that the time for connecting with people (i.e possible buyers of your book) is long before your first book is published. I was building up my social contacts for about 3 years before my first book was published.
      Having said that, it took another 3 years (and 6 more books!) before my sales really 'took off'. Promotion is much harder work than writing the actual book - but you have to find every which way you can to get your 'name' out there!
      Just as an interesting aside, my sales rocketed in the month (in 2014) when I was on a month's trip to the USA and wasn't doing any online promotion at all. Go figure! I still have no idea how or why!

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    3. It's definitely all about getting your name out there. And it makes me wonder what the next 'big thing/idea' for doing that will be.

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  4. A fascinating discussion, thanks Debra. I'm learning a lot. As I one day hope to be published I do use FB quite a bit but have never got to grips with twitter, although I share things on it more than personally use it. When I have looked at publisher sites, they seem to be very keen on authors, particularly new ones, using social media.

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    1. I agree that publishers are very keen on having authors use social media.

      My current publisher is really good at getting the word out about new released on both Twitter and Facebook. I just wish I personally were as good as that. :)

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