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In How to Market a Book, Joanna Penn writes, “The first job of an author is, of course, to write great books, but these days, their second job is to market them.” Penn goes on to address the misunderstanding many authors have about marketing:
I know the very word can be off-putting, but marketing is not about shrieking, “buy my book, buy my book” crazily on social media. It’s not about scams, unethical practices or treating people badly. Marketing is about sharing what you love with people who truly value hearing about it.
The truth is, if you have an aversion to social media, it probably stems from an aversion to marketing in general. And who could blame you? Social media platforms change faster than Kim Kardashian changes shoes.
When we talk about marketing in 2015, the conversation is incomplete without social media. Marketing research tells us it is a key player in buying decisions: according to Ad Week, 71 percent of consumers are likely to make a purchase based on a social media referral, and 78 percent say that a brand’s social media posts impact their buying decisions. With 71 percent of the adult Internet population using Facebook and 52 percent using more than one social media platform, these numbers are hard to ignore.
Successful Social Media Marketing Needs to Be Sustainable
“Sustainable” is a trendy word today. Slap it on a product and you’re in. Sustainable practices insure the ability to continue a defined behavior indefinitely—in it for the long run. It is not just a trendy watchword, though; it is a principle that can be applied to any practice, including marketing.
Sustainable marketing has 10 key characteristics, which act as filters for every strategy we implement and every tool we pull out. Checking our social media marketing plan against these characteristics insures that our marketing will be successful in the long run.
1. Sustainable social media is organic. Organic practices are ethical. They rely on natural growth and are fed by word of mouth. The audience decides if the product fits their needs. If it does, they spread the word. If your marketing is not organic, you may have growth, but it will be temporary. Examples of inorganic marketing practices include buying social media followers, buying book reviews, and paying for tweets and retweets. But paid advertising designed to foster sustainability can also be organic.
2. Sustainable social media values diversity. Finding the sweet spot of audience diversity takes some work. It starts with knowing who your fans are and having a keen sense of their needs. Putting all your marketing eggs in one basket (platform) aimed at one audience is not sustainable.
3. Sustainable social media adds value. When Jay Baer wrote Youtility, in 2013, his message was revolutionary and long overdue. Youtility is “marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your brand and your customers.”
4. Sustainable social media builds loyalty. When you put your readers’ needs at the center of your social media content, you build loyalty. Your need is to sell, but if that comes across as your primary motive, people will turn a deaf ear. A loyal fan is worth multiple book sales.
5. Sustainable social media starts in a local community. The base of a successful social media practice starts with a core group of invested fans. These are people with a first degree connection to you, whether they are reviewers, a Facebook group, newsletter subscribers, a book club, avid readers or just friends. When you make a connection with people, there is a commitment of reciprocity that takes place.
6. Sustainable social media uses your community’s knowledge and strengths. Once you build that strong community, let them in. Give them a chance to vote on covers, name a character or recommend their favorite books to the community. Crowdsource. Enlist them as ambassadors in your campaigns.
7. Sustainable social media earns trust. Way back when in social media history (2008), Seth Godin wrote a seminal book called Permission Marketing. Permission marketing is the opposite of interruptive marketing. A good example of the latter is a television commercial or an online pop-up ad. In the book, Godin stresses that brands need to make a friend before they can make a customer. People have highly sophisticated BS detectors today and trust their friends much more than they trust advertisers. The lesson: be a friend.
8. Sustainable social media starts with a plan. Marketing without a plan is like playing darts blindfolded. You can get close, but if you hit the bull’s-eye, you don’t know how you got there and probably can’t replicate it.
9. Sustainable social media can be integrated with other forms of marketing. Traditional marketing (magazines, newspaper, radio, television) and social media need to work well together. When your fans go to your website, they should feel the same vibe (message-wise and visually) that they see on your Facebook page or in your print materials. They should be able to recognize you wherever you are.
10. Sustainable social media marketing honors both innovation and strategy. One of the toughest things in social media is to separate strategy from innovation. A core value of true innovation is failure. When it comes to marketing, we lower the odds of failure by using principles that work. Within that framework, there is plenty of room for innovation. But if you just market by trying every new thing that comes along, you will fail.
Like it or not, marketing is an essential part of being a writer. And sustainable social media is an important piece of your marketing plan.
This is part one in a five-part series on SMART social media marketing by Chris Syme.
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