(my opinion, triggered by remote voyeurism of Swancon)
My long held opinion is that marketing is evil, unless it’s for a good cause. Despite that, I’m kind of good at it.
Social marketing is a particular kind of evil, if you’re being used to sell stuff to your friends (!). Now, if you’re choosing share / try to sell stuff to your friends and they don’t mind … that’s okay.
Here’s my latest take on social marketing, having read quite a bit about it recently. My alliances are as follows: Twitter rocks. Facebook annoys me.
A lot of writers love Twitter. I love writers’ tweets, hearing about how their writing is going and the problems they are having, and their successes. Many of us use it for the sheer pleasure of sharing our thoughts or stories, for that hive-brain connected feeling.
Now, talking business. Can you use Twitter to add value to your author brand? Probably, but I can see some shortcomings.
Firstly, if you’re a newby author, are your tweets connecting you to a reading audience? It’s great to be connected to other writers, as they can teach you a lot and they tend to be prolific readers, too. But tweeting to them might not necessarily bring you a large reader audience base, which is what writers need in order to profit from their writing. It’s a chicken and egg problem, you need the fans to have the followers to have the fans. While not all fans will be followers, and vice-versa, building both by social and real-world marketing might make the total grow faster. I’m hypothesising. I’d love real world statistics if anyone has them.
A further question is whether Twitter leads to website hits or, more importantly, book sales. One way to promote a book is to find tweets that mention a similar topic and tailor your marketing to that tweep. This happened to me, by chance, last week, when I noticed an Aussie vampire tweet, and I told the tweep about the new vampire anthology, Dead Red Heart. She is a vampire fan and was grateful. That kind of marketing is perfect, because well-aimed marketing actually pleases its audience.
Another issue is differentiation. Like any business, in a mature market, you need to differentiate – stand out – in some way. Many people are writing; many people are tweeting. So think about what is different about you as an author, in person and writing, and try to bring it to the fore while remaining genuine.
Then there’s the fine line between promoting yourself and being a pain in the arse. How many tweets promoting your new book or event are too many? I have no idea. I tend to err on the minimal side, which might be dumb. But I also know that if a tweep sends six tweets within ten minutes I’m not likely to read the last four. If they annoy me too much, I’ll unfollow.
Finally, I love the tweeps I’ve met over the past year. Love is a strong word, but they make me laugh. Twitter has allowed me to have friendships born from single meetings, or no meetings, based on a common love of writing and spec-fiction. It’s a marvel of the modern era, along with hot showers and tissues (two other generally underappreciated miracles I like to muse upon).
And on an entirely separate issue, I discovered something about fiction writing today. The good thing about two-timing your old story with a new story is that when the new story stops working you can run back to the old one and have a fevered multi-k make-up!