Yesterday, at 8pm Eastern Time, I hit the 100,000 ‘followers’ mark on Twitter. While it’s true that numbers alone can be somewhat meaningless, this was still a significant social media milestone for me.
Unfortunately, any sense of euphoria evaporated quickly when I looked at the stream of Tweets flowing by. What struck me is how many author friends still persist in using social media as a type of megaphone, billboard or advertising medium for their books, even though they should know better.
“Buy my Book! Buy My Book!”
Here’s an actual example of authors in action on Twitter yesterday – an unbroken stream of advertisements.
Twitter rocks when used as a social media. But there’s not the slightest hint of personal interaction in this group at all.
Seriously, I understand why they do this, I truly do. They all want a magic ‘book-sales button’, and Twitter can be exactly that type of tool, but not in the way they think. You see, there’s nothing actually wrong with any of those Tweets. The real issue is that they’re hawking their wares without any attempt at making a connection, which means they’ll be ignored for the most part.
Instead there’s a far more effective path they could take that would successfully attract attention to their books. And it will work for any author:
The ‘Secret’: Stop Presenting And Start Connecting
The response I get on Twitter and Facebook always explodes if I say something personal. Not only that, but visitor traffic to my blog increases, as does my list of subscribers. It’s always the strongly emotional approach that lights the fire, not an announcement, a pitch, or plea for a review.
Yesterday I put up two different ‘teaser’ Tweets about this very blog post you are reading to test this principle. One was an advertisement, the other more personal.
This self-focused, advertising style Tweet generated absolutely no response at all:
But the following Tweet generated over 20 highly supportive responses because of its personal style. (Some of the responses were downright comical. Thank you Imelda Evans for your ‘Miley Cyrus’ contribution.)
It’s All About Growing Community
‘Your Net Worth Is Your Network’
There’s no question that readership is built by great writing, but it also built by growing a community of advocates at a deeply personal level - friends who will spread the word about your books.
Warm, supportive community isn’t built by making constant advertising pitches, but by making meaningful connections, in particular by asking questions, which is highly engaging. Yes, you can pitch your books directly in social media, but this needs to be interspersed with engaging personal conversation for a single compelling reason:
Engagement Ignites The Word-Of-Mouth Fire
When you encourage just one person who knows you to buy a book, and it has genuine appeal, they’re highly likely to recommend it to a friend, and so it goes.
And for the communications to successfully engage, they all need to be about them, them, them, not you, you, you.
Sales grow, reader by reader, book after book, one person telling another. It’s word-of-mouth power, which is how all the great bestsellers blossom.
Furthermore, sales don’t just grow in a gentle curve either. Sooner or later, serendipity can strike and accelerate the process. Picture a member of your reader community recommending your book to a friend who is a journalist at a major news channel. The journalist reads your book and decides to write about it. Boom!
This applies to other types of supporters too. For example, if you genuinely get to know several book bloggers over time, they may well offer to review your books. (See post on how to get reviews from book bloggers.)
But these serendipitous ‘breaks’ will never happen if your social media content is merely a stream of advertisements. Instead it’s about interaction and community building.
The Book Selling Power Of ‘Social Ripples’
The bottom line is that a change of psychology is needed when using Twitter, or any social media. Instead of ‘I need to sell my book’, think ‘I need to grow my readership and community’, because in the end it’s about your writing. It’s always about your writing, because that alone has the power to grow community and generate Word-of-Mouth recommendation, reader to reader – which is the real force behind a successful book.
It’s this approach that I teach in my Twitter for Authors mini-course - engage and captivate your readers and supporters one by one, and if your book has appeal, the ripples will go out through them. And that is when the selling magic really happens.
Are you growing your support community’? Do you ‘socialize’ on Twitter and Facebook? Is it working for you, or are you finding it hard to do? Please do leave me a comment.
Article written by Jonathan Gunson
Author / Book Marketing Coach
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