Guest Expert: Penny C. Sansevieri
“I had a fortune cookie the other day and it said: ‘Outlook not so good’. I said: ‘Sure, but Microsoft ships it anyway’.” Author Unknown
These days, you can’t go into a coffee shop, bookstore, or turn on your television without hearing about social networks like Facebook, and Squidoo. These sites have exploded in recent years with members and an influx of money that’s kept them growing.
The idea behind social networks isn’t a new thing, but the concept of socializing online developed and morphed as more and more people spent time in front of their computers. The idea being that you could socialize, network, gather, communicate and meet friends in an online venue, rather than, let’s say a coffee shop. Years ago, before social networks, we met people in clubs, organizations, bowling leagues. We may not have had “profiles” like we do on these social networking sites but the concept was still the same: like attracts like and similar interest-based people gathered in places that supported these common interests.
As we continue to delve into this Web 2.0 world, you’ll start to see more niche social networking sites like those built for wine lovers, car lovers, and book lovers. The more focused a site can get, the more the network expands. And how many sites should you be on? As many as are appropriate to your message and you have time to manage. If you’ve got a book about cars then by all means, join the car lover’s network. Got a book about travel? There’s a travel lovers social network as well (we’ve listed a few of these niche networks further in this chapter).
Social networks, also referred to as social media, are places where people can join and become members of an online community. And why does this matter? Well, for a few reasons. First off, consider the Internet one big networking party. As such, you really want to participate, right? So you show up at the networking party (in this case Facebook or Squidoo) and you network. Meaning you connect with others who are interested in what you are doing. And much like a real-time networking event, you give first and ask for the sale later. In fact, in most cases you don’t even ask for it. If you give enough, eventually you’ll make the sale.
People join social networks for a variety of reasons: to socialize, share and/or self-promote. The one caveat to this is that social networks are not receptive to marketing messages or sales hype, but those sitting on these sites are looking for answers and advice. In fact your presence on a social networking site should be 80 percent education and 20 percent sales. Users on social networking sites want friends, mentors, experts and guidance. If you can offer this to a social networking site or sites, you can certainly grow your list.
The Right Way to Approach a Social Networking Site
There’s an old saying that goes: fake it till you make it. This is not true of social networking. You can’t fake anything. The best sites are those with an authentic voice. Social network members can sense an individual who is pretending to be just an “average joe,” but is really just looking for a quick sale. The worst thing you can do is constantly promote your book.
Users join social media sites to socialize, learn and get to know what you’re offering. Be helpful or be gone. That’s the motto of the social networks. Remember that social media (much like anything on the Internet) is a trust-based model. You gain trust by helping, advising, educating, or enlightening your readers. Seth Godin, who started one of the best social networking sites out there today (Squidoo.com), is a great example of what to do when promoting yourself. He offers helpful advice, tips and insights but rarely promotes his book. Does he sell books? You bet he does, but he’s helpful first, and a sales person second (sethgodin.typepad.com). The point is, gain someone’s trust and you’ll probably gain a sale, too.
Tips for Social Networking Sites
The first piece of this is to figure out what your message will be online. If you’re going to expose details of your brand, book, business, or life, figure out what you want to expose or, I should say, what’s necessary to expose in order to get your message across. This is important because once you start branding yourself on the ‘Net via social networks, you want to be consistent.
Next, remember that the first word in social networks is “social,” that being said, these networks only work if you interact with them. Whenever appropriate (and this will vary from network to network), join groups, be sociable, be interactive. Participate. You can’t just show up at a party and sit in the corner. Well, you can, but you probably won’t get asked back.
If you can spend a half an hour to an hour or so a day on your networks, that’s great. Don’t overdo the time you spend on them or you’ll burn yourself out. If you can use the social network feeds to have them syndicate your blog to the site, the updating of your social networking page will be done for you. To a greater degree, anyway. You’ll still want to get in there and tinker, update content, add friends, etc.
Fan Pages and Facebook
Since Facebook is the dominating force out there, let’s talk for a moment about Fan Pages. Why would you want one? Well first off, you’re in the business of marketing and as such, Fan Pages are business pages, so you’ll really want to consider pulling your book followers off of your profile and sending them to your Fan Page. Also, Fan Pages are indexed and searched by Google so you’ll get great ranking with a Fan Page, more so than you would with a Profile.
Fan Pages, once you know your focus and message, are easy to create and update. You just want to stay on message and know what your followers want.
Tips for Effective Social Networking
Leverage other social media: If you have a strong presence on another social networking site like Twitter or YouTube, then I recommend that you use that to promote your Facebook Fan Page. Let folks know where to find you and never, ever forget to add “Follow Me” buttons to your website pages and your blog.
Tagging: You can drive more interest to your page by tagging an author or a popular Facebook page to a status update, photo, or video. It’s easy to do this in Facebook, you can also tag an article that a high profile member ran on their page.
Step outside of your social circle: Try getting away from your inner circle and migrating out to other people who might be good networking opportunities. While it’s fun to stay connected to all your college buddies, that’s not the main focus of your Facebook page.
Selling on Facebook: Facebook now has an application that can add a store page to your Facebook Fan Page. What this means is that you can start selling your books and products from your Fan Page.
Slow and steady wins the social media race: The best Facebook pages (and this is true for any social networking site) are built over time. Slow growth is best when it comes to social networking sites, so don’t force a sudden surge of growth. This will also keep you from getting booted off if you add friends too quickly. Facebook watches for people who are adding hundreds of friends at a time and will lock your page if they think you’re over-promoting yourself.
Don’t be shy: The purpose of Facebook is to connect and interact with other members, so don’t be shy! Interact with people on your friend list by commenting on their news, and pictures, and/or wishing them a happy birthday. Doing all these things will help others to get to know who you actually are instead of just knowing your name.
Content, content, content: Remember that it’s important to add content. You can do this by uploading a video, adding the RSS feed from your blog, and a variety of other things.
Keep updating your Page or Profile: Don’t let your profile get stale. Update your status, add photos, and answer wall messages and emails.
Add your Facebook page to your blog: Make sure and add your Facebook page to your blog. You can have your web person take care of this for you; it’s a simple widget that gets added to let people know you have a Facebook profile.
Social media is a great way to market yourself and your book. When Facebook is integrated with other social networking platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Squidoo, it can be an enormous boon to your inbound marketing campaign. Just remember, your website needs to convert the folks you’re sending there. Next time we’ll talk websites, so stay tuned!
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author, an internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert, and an Adjunct Instructor teaching publishing and marketing for NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of five books, including Book to Bestseller which has been called the “road map to publishing success.” AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through The Virtual Author Tour™, which strategically works with social networking sites, blogs, micro-blogs, ezines, video sites, and relevant sites to push an authors message into the virtual community and connect with sites related to the book’s topic, positioning the author in his or her market. To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her website. To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email to: firstname.lastname@example.org