Welcome to the twenty-seventh installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.
This Week’s Fail Whale–The Traditional Tweeter
The traditional tweeter doesn’t understand the difference between traditional marketing and social marketing. Instead of forming relationships, this tweeter is no better than spam. Oh, is messages might seem to be genuine, but up close they all say the same thing:
Me, me, me, me, me. I don’t care about you, but look at MEEEEEEE!!!!!
There are writers who, when I mention Twitter, say things akin to, “Oh, well Facebook is where I socialize. I am just getting on Twitter to sell books.”
Yeah, good luck with that.
I remember years ago I was in the grocery store in mid-afternoon. The place was practically deserted. I had a song stuck in my head and was singing to myself (believing I was alone). Out of nowhere this man came up to me and told me that I had a really pretty voice. I recall blushing at the compliment and it made me feel really good….that is, until he handed me a business card. He was selling insurance. He asked me to call him and tell all my friends about the great deals he was offering.
I felt sick.
I felt manipulated and embarrassed. See, this man had been nice to me. True. But he wasn’t kind to be kind; he had an agenda. I never gave him my business, and I certainly didn’t rush out to tell all my friends. Worse still, he ruined any trust. Even if this man approached me today in an authentic way, I would never want anything he had to offer.
Twitter is the same way. We will support who we know and like, but we can smell a phony with an agenda from a mile away. Twitter is a powerful tool for selling books. That’s true. But Twitter is ruled by social norms, not market norms. Fail to appreciate the difference and the price to a reputation can be steep.
This Week’s Twitter Tip–Be a Team-Building Tweeter
The team-building tweeter understands the difference between market norms and social norms. The team-building tweeter is all about working smarter, not harder. Last, week NYTBSA Allison Brennan posted a blog blasting social media, and you know what?
I didn’t blame her one bit.
See, the “experts” in her circle were treating Twitter as some free way to advertise. In their minds, a writer had to have in excess of 20,000 followers for there to be any impact on sales. And this is true…if we are “marketing” to people.
Traditional marketing generally has about a 1% return. This approach, most often, will only influence 10 people for every thousand blitzed. This tactic is fine if you are a Nationwide Insurance commercial airing to tens of millions.
It is a formula for a chocolate overdose if you are a writer having to do all this marketing yourself…AND still write books.
Most writers have a day job, children, families and they have to write books. This is why teams are critical. This is about working smarter, not harder. It is about multiplying influence exponentially. How do we do this?
By forging relationships and serving others without an agenda.
Yes, Allison only has 3000 followers. But I LIKE Allison. Not only is Allison an awesome person, but she also writes fantastic thrillers (go here and buy one). Since I LIKE her, I am willing to tell MY network about Allison. Now Allison has just influenced an additional 4000 (my tweeps).
Oh, but it gets better. I have friends who like me and want to help me. So, if I am helping Allison, these friends want to help me help Allison. Many of my friends also have 1,000 to 5,000 people in each network. See how Allison’s influence just exploded? And this method is FAR more effective because it isn’t spam…it is heartfelt, genuine word of mouth. Traditional marketing cannot generate this kind of influence.
WANA methods work. They have put more than a few authors on the best-selling list without working the authors into the ground marketing day and night. No spreadsheets, no mailing lists…just friendships.
Tweet ya later!
In the meantime, I 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 . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.
#1 by educlaytion on July 26, 2011 - 2:00 pm
I agree it’s important how you continue to differentiate between marketing and networking for writers. We’re not selling knives that cut through tin cans. We’re selling ourselves. Legitimate connections are critical.
#2 by Nicole Basaraba on July 26, 2011 - 2:13 pm
Hi Kristen. You make good points here. Sometimes I click on the same link because Tweeps that I follow RT great blogs and links. Just goes to show that it works.
I would love it if you’re next Twitter Tuesday would be about how to create those friendships on Twitter because even though I know what’s going on, know how to work the hastags and have connected with some great Tweeps, I still feel like one of those people standing alone in the corner at the Twitter cocktail parties…
#3 by Carol Kilgore on July 26, 2011 - 2:24 pm
I am new to all the social networks except for blogging. I love this post. I saw the link to it on Twitter and I’m going to retweet it. I wish everyone would follow this advice. Thanks.
#4 by Naty Matos on July 26, 2011 - 2:24 pm
The good thing about this concept is that not only you market yourself but you get to meet a lof of interesting people and learn a lot from each other. Another great post Kristen 🙂
#5 by J. M. Dow on July 26, 2011 - 2:41 pm
I’m with you 100%. If all you do is spam people about your new book or post, you can really annoy them. But being genuine and occasionally promoting yourself? That’s fine. I try to use Twitter to gain a network of other writers so I can see how they’re doing, see what works for them, and maybe even ask advice if I need it. Thanks to the great World Wide Web, we can still communicate and build a community, even if we don’t live near each other.
#6 by Rhonda Hopkins on July 26, 2011 - 2:42 pm
Good morning, Kristen. A lot of great points here. I read Allison’s blog as well. I really like Allison as a person and as an author.She’s always willing to help out others and she’s every bit as nice in person. I usually learn a lot from her. And like you said, I knew where she was coming from in the social media blog, so I didn’t blame her for what she said. She talked about word of mouth but I don’t think she understood how twitter and fb are basically the main vehicles for word of mouth these days. However, she has managed to do the right things though in her own dealings with people in person and online to make them want to help her out and share her new books,etc. She’s just being herself which I think is part of what you’ve been trying to pound into our heads. LOL
#7 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 26, 2011 - 3:46 pm
Actually I thought Allison was too cute. She thought she wasn’t “marketing.” She thought I bought the book and loved the writing which is why I bought all of them. Allison was shocked that I bought all of her books without reading a word of her writing…because I liked HER (the books happen to be good, which is a bonus). Allison was so genuine and authentic that I couldn’t help but adore her. I’d never even really talked to her on Twitter, but she once took time to leave a really lovely and thoughtful comment on my blog. How could I NOT support her?
Anyway it was really funny that Allison didn’t realizew how much we really pay attention to her. She didn’t have to blitz about her books. We went out of our way to FIND them because we LIKED her.
#8 by Kristie Kiessling (@Narratus) on July 26, 2011 - 2:44 pm
This post has touched on so many issues about social networking in concise to-the-point words. Friendships are the single most important key in this social networking business. Unlike Nicole, I don’t yet know all the ins and outs of twitter. Facebook is easier for me, but that’s because I am used to it and have been there
Excellent advice, Kristen. Thank you so much for all you do. I’m linking to this in my blog and on facebook.
Have a great day!
#9 by Diana Murdock on July 26, 2011 - 3:01 pm
So true, Kristen. For me it’s easier and more pleasant to smile from the heart than to smile from the head. The recipient feels it, I feel it, and we both walk away feeling great. Thanks for the reminder.
#10 by Christine Ashworth on July 26, 2011 - 3:08 pm
I love Allison Brennan’s books. Thanks, Kristen, for reminding us it’s all about people – not blitzing! Once again you are the voice of reason.
#11 by Tamara LeBlanc on July 26, 2011 - 3:12 pm
My husband is a huge proponent of Work Smarter, Not Harder. I hear him tell his employees that all the time. I think it’s a fabulous mantra.
I don’t always work smarter though. I tend to be flighty and a tad air-headed, so sometimes I end up working harder than I should. But I’m learning.
And so far, I feel like I’ve been working smarter with Twitter and FB networking. I think I’ve been really good about supporting my followers and those I follow as well. I give pats on the back often, RT good news and excellent blog posts all the time, and thank anyone who does the same for me. Only twice since I began Tweeting have I tooted my own horn (and I hovered over the send button for an hour before clicking it because I was afraid I’d sound obnoxious) I think that strategy has done well for me:)
I unfollow the Tweety Birds who are constantly Tweeting BUY MY BOOK NOW and, never supporting anyone else. They’re all Cheap and no Tweet if you ask me.
So supporting Tweeps like Allison Brennan, Jami Gold, Ellie Soderstrom, Raquel Vega Grieder and Kristen Lamb, just to name a few, makes me very happy. Because each and every one is a team player!
Thank you for your wisdom, and have a bright, shiny, productive day!
#12 by Marcy Kennedy on July 26, 2011 - 3:14 pm
In May, I had 4 people following me on Twitter (after 7 months). I only had an account because my brother (who owns a marketing business) told me that Twitter was one of the places I needed to be. I didn’t understand it, tweeted once a week, and couldn’t see how it would be useful to a novelist.
But I kept hearing about the need to do more than blog, so I decided to figure out Twitter and one of my Google searches brought me to this blog back in May. While I can’t boast thousands of followers yet, the increase in my followers over 3 months is incredible to me. And it happened because of your commonsense insights and advice to support others.
Thank you 🙂 I hope one day I’ll be one of your success stories too.
#13 by Kate MacNicol on July 26, 2011 - 3:38 pm
If it it weren’t for you I wouldn’t be using Twitter or starting a blog. One of the biggest turning points happened when you explained that we should do this to build community and to be of service. Now that was something I could get on board with. I’ve barely dipped my toe in and I’m having a blast. Thanks for making me a believer. I’m sure with all your tweeps, Allison will be a believer soon too.
#14 by TL Jeffcoat on July 26, 2011 - 4:05 pm
I’m one of those who couldn’t disagree with this. I love Tweeting and meeting all these new people but my first intention to get on Twitter was for social reasons. I wanted to connect with other writers. I really didn’t get it at first, but I just keep being myself and making friends and although I don’t have a ton of followers, I have more than I ever thought I would have. I love this blog, because it educates me and validates my irritation from spammers who sometimes act like people.
#15 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 26, 2011 - 4:25 pm
That is probably the best description I have heard–spammers who act like people. It’s sort of like those comments you get on your blog. The commenter raves about how brilliant your writing is and how grateful they are to find your blog…and then you see it is from some cheap Viagra site. And then you feel like an idiot for glowing over a fake compliment.
#16 by Gene Lempp on July 26, 2011 - 4:30 pm
Great advice, Kristen. Strange how many people leap into something new, full of assumptions and never see the true power or reality of it. That approach isn’t smart business. I don’t even want to touch on the subject of spammers, especially ones that somehow think they are the greatest marketing machine ever. How can one be the best when 1% (or less) is all that they ever accomplish. Just a thought.
#17 by Anne R. Allen on July 26, 2011 - 5:52 pm
Nothing makes me sadder than some obviously shy writer awkwardly pimping a book like he’s selling Vegematics. I wish somebody would post on a big Twitter billboard “don’t thank somebody for a follow by saying “buy my book.”” In fact, dont’ thank for a follow. Send an interesting tweet.
If you make your first impression by saying: “I’m a spammer!” it’s only going downhill from there.
These words are golden “No spreadsheets, no mailing lists…just friendships.”
#18 by Sonia G Medeiros on July 26, 2011 - 6:02 pm
I’ve seen the power of social media. I bought my first ebooks ever because of it (a book called We Are Not Alone or something like that ;)). And I’ve bought several more…without reading the summaries. All because I like the writer. (I just had the most insane urge to throw an “!” and some itallics in there :D). In fact, I discovered James Rollins’s work through all of this too. Usually thrillers aren’t first on my to-be-read list (I gravitate towards scifi/fantasy/horror and some mainstream fiction) but I got to know a little more about him through you, Kristen. I’m glad I did. I love his books and have been talking to all my friends.
I’ve heard people question the power of social media on book purchases. A lot of folk never get on Twitter/FB/blogs. A lot of our blog followers are other writers. But (and it’s a big butt) we writers do talk to our friends. And if they like the work, they talk to their friends. So, if most of the folk who end up buying our books wouldn’t agree that they heard about it on Twitter, etc, they still might have been influenced by someone who was influcence by social media. That’s my theory anyway.
#19 by Catherine Johnson on July 26, 2011 - 6:21 pm
Great post Kristen. We are all learning how to chill out on Twitter and be ourselves without showing our undies lol. And when you are pushed for time that’s when the weaknesses creep in. If only I could remember more often to use hashtags. One day next century I may even make my own up lol. Go team MyWANA!
#20 by Becka (StickyNoteStories) on July 26, 2011 - 7:16 pm
I’ve found so many great books because of relationships on Twitter! Now my TBR pile has exploded, and I actually feel guilty sometimes for writing my own story instead of reading all these great people’s books 😛
#21 by Chloe on July 26, 2011 - 8:11 pm
I bought your book, Are You There Blog, It’s Me Writer, just because you seem nice.
I think the biggest obstacle I face is how much time it all takes. I spent over a decade building relationships on a forum, so I know how it’s done. But, as you say here, writing takes time and building relationships takes time and I have other obligations as well. Sometimes it feels daunting really.
#22 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 26, 2011 - 8:34 pm
It isn’t too bad. Everything seems to move much faster these days. It isn’t about spending MORE time as much as it is spending quality time. #MyWANA has been very helpful for hundreds of writers. since we are all there for the purpose of serving each other. Thanks for buying my book. And everything can be very daunting, but that was why I wanted to start this kind of movement…to let writers know–We are not alone. We can work together.
#23 by Jess Witkins on July 26, 2011 - 11:12 pm
I think #mywana has really made a strong impact with this idea because the majority of posts I see on there are entirely about supporting one another, talking to each other as a conversation and not a big media blast, it’s a place to share great blogs/writing and introduce each other to more people who will help us because they’re genuinely interested. Best invention ever, Kristen! Well, that is until you finally start marketing your own keychains, coffee mugs etc. I think the pants of shame need be miniaturized versions and made into tweedy fabric covered stickers for us to place on things that distract us from writing. One for the pantry door, one for the TV remote, one for the wine rack…
#24 by Sonia G Medeiros on July 27, 2011 - 1:10 am
Mini Pants of Shame stickers! That’s a fabulous idea!!!
#25 by Author Kristen Lamb on July 27, 2011 - 12:20 pm
That is an AWESOME idea.
#26 by Roxanne Skelly on July 26, 2011 - 11:26 pm
The scary thing, ‘marketers’ have come up with a term that vaguely describes the team-building type of marketing. Influencer Marketing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influencer_marketing.
The marketers build their ‘team’ out of the important bloggers, authors and such.
And they often miss the point. They develop these relationships as a ‘business channel of communication’ and not a personal relationship.
I just started being active on twitter again, and I’ve followed some of my favorite authors, as well as other folk. I’m even developing a ‘tweep’ relationship with some of those folk, not because they may be ‘influencers,’ but because we have common interests, be that writing, bellydancing, Seattle or whatever.
And those people, well, I wouldn’t ask them to ‘buy my book.’ I’d ask them to ‘read my book, ’cause I made it and I’m proud of it.’ If they choose to buy it, that’s great. If they can’t, then I’ll get them a copy somehow. Then I’ll let them sing my praises, or politely be silent if they don’t like my book.
#27 by Renee Schuls-Jacobson on July 27, 2011 - 12:07 am
My weird Twitter diet has been to try to really connect with one person each time I get on. I read a link from someone who’s opinion I trust and I take it from there. I may not have 5,000 followers, but I’m not sure that’s my goal. My goal is truly to connect with other writers.
Today I spoke with @Keenie Beanie on the telephone. She taught me about how to use the TweetDeck and I joked with her that if I were The Bachelor, I would totally have offered her a rose for standing by me and helping me. We definitely took our relationship to “the next level,” and I would buy her books just because I like her.
#28 by kerrymeacham on July 27, 2011 - 1:15 am
Awesome advice Kristen. I’ve seen so many people lead with a DM when you follow them that links to their website to sell their book. Really? That’s how you want to relate to me? You couldn’t have done that on a regular tweet? Unfollow. Out.
Now take the other approach where you really try to find out what makes me tick. What we have in common. It’s amazing how fast you can develop an online friendship with someone through Twitter. At that point I check out their blog, make a few comments, and recommend them to my network. When they connect, then I want to read their writing to see what they’ve got.
It really isn’t that hard to connect if you only try to be real. It’s not rocket science, it’s just being human.
#29 by Allison Brennan on July 27, 2011 - 2:04 am
Hi Kristen! Wow, I spend a day off-line writing and then go onto Twitter and see your message. Thank you for the plug, and for the kind words.
I know you understand what I meant in my blog about social media, and that we agree more than disagree about the whole social media business (and I am very much looking forward to reading your take on Google+) … One thing I think that traditional publishing doesn’t get (and full disclosure: I am traditionally published and plan to stay that way for the most part) is that they think that even my 3,000 twitter followers are something to brag about. On the sales sheet for my upcoming book they thought it was more important to post that I had 3,000 followers (actually, 2,400 at the time of the printing) was more important than having more than 6 million books in print.
I have been online longer than most people. My husband is a big tech guy and we had emails–and even a webpage!–long before 99% of the people online were online. In the legislature in 1995, only *some* people had access to the Internet (and I was one because I actually knew how to use it.) I used to read usenets and bulletin boards. When I first started seriously writing in the early 2000s, the Internet was a goldmine of information. When I joined RWA, I bonded over yahoogroups with other writers. I never considered any of that social networking, per se, but in hindsight I guess it was. The thing is–I would never have done it if I didn’t enjoy chatting online. I wouldn’t have helped people with research if I didn’t like doing research. I wouldn’t teach online classes if I didn’t enjoy it. All that is getting crunched because of time–writing three books a year and raising five kids is all I have time for. Yes, I’m still tweeting and on facebook, but it’s only because I want to be because I enjoy it. I blog because I like having a group blog. It’s the pressure from traditional publishers that social media is going to REPLACE ALL OTHER outreach, and that now *they* don’t seem to be as invested in promoting authors when they have more contacts and money and staff than I do.
For example, for LOVE ME TO DEATH they set up a blog tour I felt was very successful. I wouldn’t have had the time to set that up, send out the books, schedule it, etc. It was time-consuming enough to write a bunch of fresh blog material and answer questionnaires.
Anyway, thanks again for explaining the social media as word of mouth–I totally agree with that. It’s all in the execution. (And BTW, I was surprised at how many people posted on my blog that they picked up my book, or another book, because of something they read on-line.)
(And yes, I was shocked you bought my books because you liked me 🙂
#30 by Allison Brennan on July 27, 2011 - 2:08 am
@Rhonda, @Tamara, @Christine — thank you! I really appreciate your kind words. I have a few extra copies of my digital novella LOVE IS MURDER that I printed up for the Thrillerfest bags and to give away at my signing at RWA … if you’d like one, please email me and I’ll send it out. (I think the link clicks through to my website, or my email.) You may only read digitally, and I can send you a pdf if you’d prefer.
#31 by Piper Bayard on July 27, 2011 - 2:18 am
Thank you for this blog. I tried to tell someone that just this past week. Few things more obnoxious than people who come to a social place with their hand out to take, and never out to give. So glad you’re out here spreading the #MyWANA word.
#32 by Leanne Shirtliffe on July 27, 2011 - 4:39 am
Sometimes I’m amazed, awestruck really, at the quality of friendships I’ve developed through twitter and blogging. To the uninitiated, it must sound like I’m talking about invisible friends. Except to me, they’re as visible (and influential, really) as any real life friendship. In some ways I feel sorry for the people who see social media as a one way street. They are missing the point.
#33 by Susan Kaye Quinn on July 27, 2011 - 3:08 pm
Just finished reading your book, and blogged about it (and author branding)! I’m still absorbing everything from the book, but thank you for writing it! It’s helped me focus what I knew I needed to do anyway – have a plan for the social media part of my author life. (I’ve also got WANA downloaded to my nook to take on vacation next week!).
#34 by Laura Pauling on July 27, 2011 - 3:32 pm
I love this. It is all about relationships, not about asking people to buy your book. I wish more people understood this. Everyone can smell a fake friendship a mile away. So it has to be real too or you might not find it working for you.
#35 by Gilliad Stern on July 28, 2011 - 12:40 pm
I think the major difference with social media is exactly the way you have put it. I follow people on Twitter I wouldn’t have expected to meet ever. But through interaction I have been able to grow as a writer substantially and hopefully help someone else do the same. I know I found this site through a connection on Twitter and it has been an amazing knowledge explosion through your posts and both your social media books (which I recommend to everyone I see).
#36 by Julie Glover on July 28, 2011 - 7:47 pm
I eagerly read the conversation between you and Allison Brennan and found it fascinating. I agree with you that Twitter is about relationships, and that word of mouth is so important in a world where many people are getting published (through traditional routes, ebook, or self-pub). I trust my friends for a recommendation for all sorts of things. Why not books?
I also dislike those you friend on Twitter, and almost all of their tweets are about their book or a signing or whatever. Self-promotion is not as effective as self-revelation in the world of social media. Reveal yourself, and if I like you and your writing, I’ll probably buy your book.
#37 by Marilag Lubag on July 31, 2011 - 6:07 am
Wow! I think that because of traditional marketing, people follow a gazillion of people. Then, some of them follow back and those that don’t get removed from the follow list. Somehow, along the way, someone would accept their books. However, by the time that happens, their wrists would hurt like hell.