For those of you who’ve been following me for a while, you know that my methods are very different, and my advice often runs contrary to what other experts are saying. Well, that’s because I’m right and they’re wrong . Joking! Okay, maybe only halfheartedly.
There are a handful of common practices encouraged by other social media experts that bother me deeply. I feel that, as we shift from the TV-Industrial complex of the past century and into the Digital Age, we are becoming more of a global village. Information no longer runs one direction, from sender to receiver. Why? Because the medium has changed. The medium always affects communication, and yet too many teachings out there are failing to account for this shift.
I Heard You the First 20 Times
Recently, another social media expert wrote a blog about the value of repetition on social media. I respectfully disagree. I feel that the paradigm has shifted and so has the medium. As the medium changed, society, culture and values shifted as well.
For instance, we never had America + Television. Once television became a part of our everyday life, America was different. It could not go back to the way it was before television. The change was like a chemical change, a cake that could not be un-baked. The culture changed. Our habits, language, expectations and definitions of “truth” all shifted.
Same with social media.
In the traditional paradigm, “air space” cost money. To put out an ad, a commercial spot on television or even an ad on radio cost money. Even printing off flyers and paying someone to stuff paper under windshield wipers cost money. This “cost barrier” was a sort of gatekeeper that naturally decreased the number of people who would be “advertising” their products.
Then came the Internet and social media.
Now it is FREE! for everyone to talk about goods and services non-stop. The sheer volume of people all pitching their services renders them invisible at best and highly annoying at worst. There is a lot about the new publishing paradigm that I love, but it also has created some serious problems. Now that everyone can be published, we are inundated with constant pitching to buy books or download free books or read reviews for books.
I do not believe in repetition for the sale. Why? Because it stands out so much and people often are offended. Posting multiple times a day about our book for sale is like us going to a cocktail party and opening a card table to take book orders. The medium has changed and so have the rules.
Yes, it is important to let people know we have a book to offer, but how we do that has changed.
In the TV-Industrial complex, people merely received information. There was no dialogue, so no social rules applied. We didn’t take offense when we saw a commercial on TV…but the TV wasn’t our “friend.”
In the Golden Age of TV and Advertising, we accepted that commercials were just part of having entertainment on television. We didn’t “own” any of that airspace, so we willingly acquiesced. Social media changed this dynamic, and, for the first time in human history, the Internet gave us virtual territory.
Tom Anderson was highly intuitive when he called his new social network (2003) MYSPACE. Humans are territorial. Our Facebook wall is literally OUR WALL. When strangers post ads in “our space” it is irritating and personal.
Don’t be a personal space invader.
We cannot get the benefits of social norms unless we respect social norms. On social media, we use terms like “friend” and “Likes.” To humans, these words have meaning, whether we consciously acknowledge this or not. When I “befriend” someone on Twitter and they immediately DM me with a spammy message to buy their book? I am offended.
Because social norms regulate social media. Fail to appreciate this and there are consequences.
Social norms don’t mean we are against buying stuff from “friends,” but it does mean we are part of a social dance that we are wise to respect. For instance, how many of you have kids? How many of you have had your kids come home with boxes of candy to sell for school? Who did you go to first to offload overpriced crappy candy? Family. Then friends. Then probably some coworkers.
Because no one wants to go door-to-door selling anything, let alone $4 stale candy bars.
But see how the social norms guided who you would ask, and in what order, and even how you would ask for a sale? Many of those closer relationships are happy to buy overpriced candy, but only because they know you.
Let’s look at this scenario instead.
What if I complimented a woman in the grocery store, then got her chatting about the items in her basket and what she was cooking for dinner? At first she is hesitant but as we chat she lets down her guard and talks about her cat Muffin, and how she likes to bake cookies for the church. And just about the time she is comfortable talking to me, I ask, “Wow, if your church likes cookies, they would LOVE chocolate bars. Would you like to buy some candy?”
Yeah. I bet she couldn’t get to
her wallet the door fast enough.
What To Do?
All right. Some of you might be panicking a little right now. But Kristen, how can we ever sell our book if we can’t TALK about it? I never said we couldn’t talk about our books. I said we had to adjust our approach. Sure, tweet about your book once, MAYBE twice a day. But, make sure to sandwich those tweets between a lot of authentic interaction. It should be clear to anyone looking at our interaction history that we are on social media primarily for the purpose of being social, NOT using Twitter of Facebook as free ad space.
We just need to apply the Golden Rule here.
Don’t just blast out a bunch of links all day. Are you lacking for stuff to read? I know I’m not. How many of you woke up this morning and said, “Gee, you know what I need? MORE information. I don’t have enough. In fact, I have far too much free time I need to fill.”
Most people are on social media because humans are wired to be social. We are looking for connections, not another news feed with commercial breaks. If we wanted that, we’d just watch TV.
Interruption Marketing DOESN’T Work
When was the last time a writer tweeted several times a day about her book and that prompted you to drop everything and go buy? When was the last time you clicked on a Facebook ad to buy something? If ads on social media were so great, then why did General Motors pull their campaign with Facebook?
One of the reasons I encourage writers to blog is that a blog is very useful for passive selling. Every one of you who follow this blog know about my two books even though I have never tweeted about them and never posted about them on Facebook.
How is this?
I serve first with a blog and then, at the end of my post, I mention my books or any WANA International classes that might be of interest. So I am promoting my books and classes, thousands of times a day if we look at my unique visits…but I am not doing so intrusively. Most of you are not offended that I mention my books, namely because I gave freely, and thus reciprocation on your part feels natural. You don’t feel like I am ramming book ads down your throat.
No one likes a personal space invader.
My attitude is that some of you will read, click and even buy, but those not interested can simply scan past the information. You might not buy one of my books today, but you know about them. So when the day comes that you decide you need to blog, my book will be in your mental databanks.
Since you have come to my corner of cyberspace it doesn’t feel invasive when I mention my books and classes, because I mention them in MY space, not YOURS.
Selling this way has an additional benefit. It makes it easier and less icky for others to support us.
For instance, when I helped NYTBSA James Rollins with his book launch in the summer, I encouraged him to blog about his work with war dogs (since his new character was a war dog). People, intrigued by the topic, would click the link, read the blog, interact…and see that there was a new book for sale. The book was there, the information was there, but the approach was different. It wasn’t intrusive like a commercial, a pop-up ad, or a repetitive sales tweet.
Jim gave first.
As I mentioned, this passive approach made promoting Jim far less icky for those of use supporting him. Hey, let’s all talk about dogs and swap pet stories! is way easier for the support team to get excited about. We much prefer this to, “Download Such-and-Such’s book. Now only $4.99!” We don’t want to tweet that about our own book, let alone someone else’s (yes, even Jim).
Serving first and promoting in a socially appropriate way is much more effective in an environment governed by social norms. It allows us to achieve our goals while respecting the virtual space of others.
What are your social media pet peeves? Do you see red when people post ads on your walls? Or does it not bother you? Do you buy books from people who promote a lot on Twitter? Or do you not see the tweets? Do they irritate you or make you unfollow? What are some of the areas where you see the most personal space invasion?
A quick announcement: WANA International is offering a class for creating your novel’s log-line. This is perfect for those of you panicked about pitching your book to agents. Solid log-lines are VERY helpful to keep you on track for NaNoWriMo. Down with plot bunnies! WANA also has classes about how to turn your books into audio, how to build your own web site. Lots of good stuff, so, if you have a moment, check out the new class listing.
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of October, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of October I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.