via Flickr / by Thomas Hawk
A writer recently asked me to comment on whether there is anything to be gained from being active on more than two or three social media accounts. How extensive should you really get—and is it possible that “less is more”?
I interpret this question to mean: When is enough enough? And how do I make any effort worth my time?
Answering this question requires stepping back—waaaay back—and looking at how and why authors use social media in the first place. I’m going to focus on the three most common stages.
- Growing relationships in the community.
- Actively marketing a book (or product/service).
- Nurturing reader relationships.
Stage 1: Growing relationships
This kind of activity is largely unquantifiable, but it’s also where nearly every single person starts (at least if you’re not a celebrity).
As you learn to use any social media tool, there’s a “warming up” period as you understand the community, its language, and its etiquette. Most people begin by reaching out to the in-real-life people they already know on the network, then branch out and connect with people they haven’t met in person before.
What’s the purpose of this activity?
Well, why do any of us attend social functions? To have a good time, to learn and be informed, and to seek encouragement and support.
When does it reach its limits of utility? That’s kind of like asking how many relationships, or how many friends, is too many. If it’s starting to drag on your resources and time to do other things more important to you (such a writing), then it’s time to re-assess.
While I don’t recommend analyzing your social media use (from a numbers perspective) when you’re focused on it being, well, social, it’s helpful to check in with yourself on how the activity is making you feel. Energetic or drained? Positive or anxious? Empowered or jealous?
If you’re experiencing more negative emotions than positive, it may be time to step back from the specific networks causing these emotions, or stepping back entirely until you identify what’s creating bad mojo.
Stage 2: Actively marketing a book
You’ll only be successful at marketing on social media if you’ve already been through stage one. No one likes a stranger barging into the room and hawking his wares. It’s considered rude and the stranger is ostracized quickly.
But let’s be honest: many people have been told to get on social media in preparation for a book launch, and have no interest in using it beyond the marketing and promotion utility. That people feel this obligation or burden is one of the greatest failures of publishing community, but I’m going to set that aside (for this post), and instead speak to how to manage this stage authentically without rubbing everyone the wrong way.
Social media is excellent at building awareness and comprehension in the community of who you are and what you stand for. Over time, you become more visible and identifiable, because you show up consistently and have focused messages (let’s hope). It’s usually only after this recognition and trust develops that you can run a successful campaign that focuses on the sale—getting the community to buy.
Measure traffic to your website from social media. Does it make up a high or meaningful percentage of visits? If you don’t know, this is a significant gap in your knowledge that is preventing you from really answering the question: How do I make it worth my time?
For those who don’t have these relationships or trust in place, here’s a work around: Get your friends and influencers who already have relationships and trust in place to help spread the word for you.
If you do have a solid foundation, then create a focused and strategic campaign, with specific start and end dates, for each social media network. Build in ways to measure if it’s working or not. For example, it’s easy to track how many people click on your links in Twitter, or retweet or favorite you. Facebook shows you the number of likes and shares. Over time, these simple metrics can tell you a lot about what people respond to, so that you can adjust and improve your updates. (At its heart, social media has a lot in common with strong copywriting. For lessons in copywriting, see Copyblogger.)
Regardless of your stage of activity—but especially during marketing campaigns—you should measure traffic to your website from social media. Does it make up a high or meaningful percentage of visits? If you don’t know, this is a significant gap in your knowledge that is preventing you from really answering the question: How do I make it worth my time? Continue Reading »