February 3, 2012

How to Do Social Media Right

Kristen Lamb’s wonderful social media how-to book, We are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media (Who Dares Wins Publishing 2010), provides a great nuts-and-bolts introduction to the basics of marketing your book online. She

Social Media and Marketing Books

Market books with social media Photo credit: Jane Friedman

shares her knowledgeable insights in branding yourself, putting your name out there (something I innately fear), and joining the online conversation in an enthusiastic voice that can motivate you even though it’s… just words. She then explains how to get your new ‘brand’ out there on the many facets of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and a WordPress blog. She has a lively blog called Warrior Writers (the name alone should make you click through) where she explains that times have changed and she no longer pushes the My Space sign-up (I suggest Google Plus as a replacement because I’ve found lots of useful info in my G+ stream).

I’ve spent considerable time learning how to market online. I don’t have a lot of discretionary money to hire agents or specialists. Spreading the word must be through me and be cheap. Since I have yet to publish a fiction book, most of my effort is directed at my non-fiction K-8 technology training textbooks. So, I sat down at my computer, Kristen’s book in my lap, and compared her instructions to my current marketing plan. Here’s what I found:

  • She convinced me of the importance of branding–putting my name on all my writing so readers understand my voice. As a result, I added my name to my WordDreams blog. I didn’t add it to my tech blog because I think Ask a Tech Teacher (my blog name) is a brand of itself.
  • I purchased my name as a URL and set up a website (with the help of the wonderful guys at WriteClick who focus their blog templates on the unique needs of writers)
  • I pay attention now to my Twitter streams. I found out a lot of people were retweeting my material and mentioning me. I can’t believe I never responded.
  • She explained that online marketing for writers isn’t about pushing a book, but sharing expertise. That validates my inherent lay-back style. I’d much prefer to chat than sell.
  • She told me to create a collection of strategic content material–my best posts that showcase my writing, thought process and voice for potential readers. I’ve now done that. When I do guest posts, I can cull from this collection–update, add/delete as necessary, knowing the basic content is strong
  • I reworked my bio to describe me in the context of my brand. Since I have multiple personae, this was more challenging than it sounded on the pages of her book, but I’ve done that. Now, I attach that quick bio to each post as a summary of my creds.
  • I’m supposed to create a detailed profile of my reader demographics, but I have only a general one. Eventually, this suggestion will percolate through my brain enough to come up with a way to accomplish it, but right now, I’ll settle for less.

The true test of a how-to book is whether it worked. Truth–I’m not sure. Don’t get me wrong. I know she made the right suggestions. Every year, my sales increase. I’m doing as she suggested so I have no doubt that these types of actions are responsible for that increase, but I have difficulty knowing where to attribute the success. Here’s what I mean:

  • Thanks to WordPress statistics, I can see where I’m getting my readers. In WordDreams, 80% come from Google or people who stumble on my blog. Only 20% are pull-throughs–from posts I’ve made, comments I’ve added to other people’s articles, or my social media feeds. On the contrary, 80% of my Ask a Tech Teacher readers come directly from my effort–posts, comments, web presence, etc. Only 20% stumble on my content.
  • 90% of my WordDreams readers don’t interact, though they hang out and read a lot. On the contrary, 90% of Ask a Tech Teacher readers click through my links. Sometimes, I’ll have 800 readers click through in a day compared to well under 100 on WordDreams .

Is anyone doing anything else that works for you? I’d love to hear about it.

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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