Three Ways New Fiction Writers Can Promote Their Work With Social Media

How can a writer promote their own work, especially if they are just releasing their first published work? Thanks to ebooks and ereaders, as well as print-on-demand and self-publication, any fledgling writer can publish their work and make it available to the general public.

But how can they get readers before they have even established their writing career? Here are three ways new writers can promote their newly published works to a wider audience than their moms.

1. Find readers on Twellow and Facebook.

Twellow is a Twitter directory that lets you search people’s Twitter bios. Look for anyone who would fit your target readership. If you write sci-fi, look to see if anyone has science fiction or sci-fi in their bio. Chances are they’re fellow writers, but you’ll find a lot of sci-fi fans too.

Check out the Facebook pages and groups too, and start friending and connecting with people in those groups. As you follow the other two steps, they’ll be the people you want to reach out to.

2. Pre-release the book in blog form.

As you’re writing your book, try publishing sections of it on a blog. Invite reader comment and ask them to give you feedback, ask questions, and make any suggestions. Make your changes from the blog and incorporate them into the final manuscript.

You’ll also get readers who start to follow along because they get drawn into the serial nature of the story. Plus, don’t worry about people not wanting buy the book because it’s on the web. There are plenty of people who have written books that were originally posted online first, and went on to great success. They’ll be willing to pick up your book too.

3. Create an audio version of your book.

Seth Harwood released the self-published Jack Wakes Up book as an audio podcast. He would read approximately 45 minutes of the book each week and upload it as a podcast. While that seemed to fly in the face of conventional publishing wisdom, the Jack Wakes Up ended up garnering enough attention that it was then picked up by Three Rivers Press and published.

It’s possible with some publishers that you can keep the audio rights to your book. If you’re self-publishing it, you own all versions, including audio and ebooks. So take advantage of that. Get a decent microphone (I prefer the Blue Snowball USB mic), and start reading it. Don’t launch until you get at least half the book recorded though. It builds in some extra time in case you run into a production delay.

Dear Executives, Social Media Does Not Render Your Employees Stupid

Social media does not make people stupid. It does not make them irresponsible, lazy, or unproductive. Social media will make you money, however, if you do it right.

I talk to a lot of business owners and executives who worry that if they start using social media to market their business, their employees’ productivity will plummet.

I’ve had meetings in the last two days with two different business owners. One has embraced Facebook and blogging fully, the other is worried that Facebook will hamper his employees’ ability to get work done.

The first employer urges his employees to do stuff on social media. Almost requires it. His Facebook page gets dozens of visits a day, which is awesome because they sell such a niche product, the customer base for the entire country can be measured in the thousands.

The other employer says — and rightly so — that they have so much administrative work to do around the office, he doesn’t want their Facebook efforts to distract them from getting their admin work done.

The first employer wants to know how he can do more social media marketing. The second employer wants to know the bare minimum he can get by with.

As Doug Karr says, asking what the minimum you can get by with on social media is like asking how slowly you can drive a race car.

Social Media Marketing is Not About Playing

Facebook lets me see kittehs

ZOMG! Facebook lets me play with kittehs!!

We as employers trust our employees. We trust them to answer the phones and be pleasant to everyone who calls in. We trust them to make travel to other states and make sales calls and presentations. We trust them to take payments from customers and put our money in the bank. We trust them to buy products from other companies. And we even trust them to use computers without standing over them, watching them type every email.

So what is it about social media that scares the bejeezus out of every employer and makes them think that the second they allow Facebook onto their computers, their entire workforce is going to turn into a bunch of 13-year-old girls jacked up on Red Bull and the most recent Justin Bieber sighting?

If you trust these people enough to do business in your name, collect and spend your money, and talk to your customers, then you need to trust them enough to continue to do these things while Facebook is unblocked on their computers.

If you don’t trust them, that’s your fault. If you don’t trust your employees to not screw around, you’re the problem, not Facebook. You hired the wrong people, and that’s a management issue.

Hire people who will get their work done, and make your expectations for social media usage clear from the outset. These are people who can help your company be more profitable, so why not take advantage of that?

Social Media Marketing is About Making Money

The whole reason for a business to be on social media is to make money. Period. It’s not to play Farmville on Facebook. It’s not to pin the latest novelty cake on Pinterest. It’s not to take photos of a rusted out piece of farm equipment on Instagram. It’s to find people who would be interested in buying your products or services.

Every business owner and manager is always looking for a way to make more money and be more profitable. The problem is, many of them are hampered by doing the things that don’t make them money. Doing payroll. Filing claims. Managing inventory. Filling and shipping product orders.

The problem is, payroll, paperwork, inventory, and shipping don’t make you money. Marketing makes you money. Finding new customers makes your money. If you’re a business owner, and you’re spending your valuable time doing payroll, paperwork, inventory, and shipping, instead of generating revenue, outsource them.

Hire a bookkeeping firm to manage payroll. Hire a virtual assistant to file your claims. Hire a $10 hour college student to count inventory and stick orders in boxes. The less of this non-revenue generating work you can do, the better.

Spend the newly found time pursuing new customers. Spend it on Facebook, Twitter, or writing your blog. It doesn’t take long to bring in a couple choice clients to recover the costs of having a part-time employee handle the grunt work that’s actually losing you money. Have them handle more of your non-revenue workload, and find a couple more. You can grow just by having someone else do the heavy lifting for you.

But it starts with letting go of the fear that your employees are going to be struck stupid the second you allow Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn on your company computers.

Photo credit: bjornlifoto (Flickr)

Social Media Marketing Lessons from a Broken Pilot G2 Pen

Broken Pilot G-2 .5 mm pen

My pen died last week.

Normally, this is not big news. In fact, this may be the lamest thing I’ve ever written about, and that includes my “this is my first post” post on Blogger back in 2003.

Broken Pilot G2 .5 mm pen

It gave its life in service of my words.

But it’s a notable event, because I want to brag about my pen, and also talk about the power of strangers in the world of social media marketing.

Social media has turned the marketing world on its ear, because it has disrupted marketing altogether. It used to be that we needed professional marketers to tell us what was cool/great/awesome about a particular product. If the paid professionals told us, then it must be true. Or at least, if it wasn’t true, their shouting generally drowned out the one or two detractors who hated the product. In fact, if there was something we didn’t like about a particular product, we got our talking points from a competitors’ commercial, much like talking points in a political ad.

But several years ago, when we started using early social media, like AOL, and creating websites with comments, we started relying on each other to tell us what was cool/great/awesome about a particular product.

That’s how I became such a fan of my Pilot G2 pen. In 2004, I had just entered the world of Moleskine notebooks, way before they became douche-y, and realized I couldn’t use just any old pen in the same notebooks used by Hemingway, Picasso, and Bruce Chatwin. So I went to the Moleskinerie website, an online community for and by Moleskine fanatics, and looked for any recommendations for a good pen. As it turns out, a few months earlier, someone had posed that very question, and the fans weighed in. In fact, it was one of the most commented-on posts they had.

The commenters far and away raved about the Pilot G2 pen, the 0.5 mm size, so I bought one and immediately loved it. I loved it so much, I have used nothing but Pilot G2 0.5 mm pens for the last 7 years, even carrying the same exact pen for over four years (I cannibalized the cartridges from a box of G2s to replace the empty one, rather than just replacing the entire pen). That pen finally broke last summer, so I had to pull out a second one, which broke last week and leaked all over the place.

The cool thing about this is, for as often as I use this pen, to have only one break or go bad in nearly eight years, I’m very pleased. (I’m especially pleased I found it before it leaked into my shirt pocket.) That’s a pretty good testament to quality — to have one cartridge go bad in 8 years of using them? I’ve never even had a car that long without developing problems.

But the coolest thing? I bought this pen based on the advice of a bunch of people I had never met. I didn’t need the Levenger people telling me what was cool about the $237 Pelikan, or Faber-Castell’s four-color booklet on the long history of the Faber-Castell name. All it took was several random comments from a bunch of strangers who were passionate about a notebook and were choosy about their pens.

Traditional Marketers May Be Out of Work Soon

Marketers who haven’t yet embraced social media need to take note: you’re basically out of a job. Consumers are no longer being persuaded by your beautiful graphics and well-designed websites and brochures. We’re being informed by them, but we’re not being persuaded. Instead, we’re persuading each other.

Italian artist Luc on 24 hours of Le Mans - he sketched and wrote about the highlights of the auto race in his Moleskine notebook

We’re getting advice from each other on where to eat, what to watch, which computers to get for our kids, what cameras to buy, what cars to drive, and yes, even what pens to write with.

Marketers who want to take advantage of this should provide places for your customers to talk to each other. You should get your products and/or services into the hands of influencers. Moleskine went so far as to buy Moleskinerie.com and leave it in place, so Moleskine users could share what they were doing with their notebooks, like Italian artist Luc, who uploaded several photos of his sketches and notes about the 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race.

The smart marketers aren’t telling us what’s cool/great/awesome about their products. They’re providing places for the rest of us to tell each other. They’re sponsoring special niche networks on Ning and other platforms for their target audience. They’re getting their products into the hands of influencers. Or in the case of Fiskars and their Fiskateers (which we discuss in No Bullshit Social Media), they’re turning it into a niche community and a research and development channel. They’re basically letting us do all the work for them, and are getting out of the way.

Social media marketing is disrupting the way traditional marketing is done, and giving us all of the power. Now if I can just get someone to send me another pen, I’ll be happy.

Photo credit: Broken pen –
Moleskine Notebook – Luc on Not Not Tana

You Don’t Get Social Media ROI Yet? C’mon, Man!

I was feeling good about social media ROI, and how/whether people understand it. I figured, at least my people — marketers — get it. They understand how to measure social media, or at least the principles behind it.

Apparently not.

eMarketer dashed those hopes to the ground with their December 20, 2011 article When Will Social Media Measurement Mature?.

Marketers know that counting fans, “likes” and followers is not the best way to measure success in social media marketing. Yet these metrics are often the top benchmarks for performance. It’s not surprising, then, that marketers consider calculating return on investment to be the biggest challenge of using social media, and that a majority of them believe they cannot measure social media campaigns effectively.

How to Calculate Social Media ROI

Calculating the ROI of anything is easy. Subtract how much you spent from how much you made, and that’s your answer. If you spent $10,000 on a social media marketing campaign, and you made $50,000, your social media ROI is $40,000.

Simple, right?

$50,000 – $10,000 = $40,000.

So how do you know whether sales are coming from your social media efforts?

I’m not going to delve into the step-by-step process, but I’ll give you the tools and concepts you’re going to need to get started.

  1. Set up Google Analytics, and install the code on every page on your website. If you have a blog, it only needs to be part of the code. If it’s on a website with pre-built pages, it needs to be on every page.
  2. Set up a Bitly account. Bitly is a URL shortener that also lets you do some basic analytics on the number of people that have clicked your link.
  3. Create a Google Analytics tracking campaign for any and all major links you’re sending out. This is how you’re going to measure a particular blog post, tweet, Facebook status update, etc. If it’s just a basic link to the website, a campaign code is optional. But if it’s a blog post about a particular marketing campaign, set up the Google Analytics campaign.
  4. Put a hyperlinked call to action in your blog posts that take people directly to a sales page or order page. Make sure that the hyperlink is given a unique campaign code.

Here’s what will happen:

  • You’ll send out a link to a blog post via Twitter, Facebook, etc. Let’s say that 10,000 people see that link on your various accounts.
  • 1,000 people visit your page and read that blog post, all within a 6-hour span.
  • Of that 1,000 people, 100 people actually make a purchase with a total of $10,000 in sales.
  • Those 100 people also fill out their contact information, which gets placed into your CRM.

By looking at these numbers, you can determine a number of things.

  • 1,000 visitors out of 10,000 social media followers, fans, and friends means you have a 10% click-through rate.
  • 100 sales out of 1,000 visitors is a 10% close rate; out of a 10,000-person network, that’s a 1% close rate.
  • By looking at the entrance and exit paths of that particular 6-hour period, or particular day, you can see that a majority of people were moved enough by the blog post to go directly to the order page. Compare that to another blog post that only lead to 30 sales out of 1,000 visitors, and you know it wasn’t as effective in moving people to act.
  • You can then subtract the cost of that particular campaign from the amount of money you made to calculate the total ROI for the day/week/month.

Calculating social media ROI is not that difficult. It’s just a matter of having the right tools and knowing basic analytics and campaign creation. There are literally hundreds of articles and several books on each step I first described. It’s just a matter of reading, and then trying out what you’ve learned. With some trial and error, and constant measuring, you’ll soon learn what works and what you can stop doing.

Or you could just hire a social media professional to do it all for you.

Quantify the Value of Social Media for a Music or Arts Festival

Let’s say you work for a large country music festival in Prince Edward Island, Canada, and you want to quantify the value of your social network so you can get sponsors for it.

Okay, this may only apply to one of you in the entire world, but the ideas are transferable to anyone who wants to determine the value of their social network, so you can sell it to sponsors and advertisers.

Kim Doyle (@Kim_Doyle) works for the Cavendish Beach Music Festival, which is held every July. I emailed a response to her and then figured it would make a good blog post, especially since I love going to music and art festivals, and am hoping one of them will arrange an onsite consulting gig at the festival. (I’m just sayin’.)

What is the Value of a Social Network?

Basically, the statement you want to be able to make to your sponsors is “our network will have X value to you.”

Pemberton Music Festival

Pemberton Music Festival

This is a little tough for a new network, because it has no “value,” since it’s still unproven. But an established network has more value, because you know how big it can get, you’ve already seen what it can do, and you’ve been delivering clicks and eyeballs to your other social properties.

We can’t say for certain what value the network will be until AFTER the festival happens. Next year, you can demonstrate last year’s numbers. And if you’ve been doing it for a few years, you can show growth. But it’s hard to say, our network will deliver X visitors.

That’s because you need to be able to trace the interactions and transactions from your network to the sponsor’s properties, and they need to trace what happens from there. But if they’re not doing any monitoring or measuring themselves, then they have no idea what those visitors are worth. You can only show them raw numbers, but it’s up to them to demonstrate the value.

Measuring the Social Media Traffic

1) Show them how you can track all the visitors to your website, all the members of your social network, and measure the amount of time they spend interacting with the site and with each other.

You’ll do this through Google Analytics (# of visitors, time on site, # of pages visited), Klout score (especially your influence and reach), Facebook analytics, and Bitly (# of links clicked).

Include links on your blog (“Please visit our sponsors who make this possible. The more you visit, the more they support us.“), and count the number of times people click those links. Post links to their sites via Twitter (“we want to thank Floaty Bits Bottled Water for supporting Cavendish Beach Music. Visit them here.”)

If you can show those numbers, you can show sponsors what you can deliver. If this is a new venture, start measuring the size of your network, plot its growth, and see if you can start driving traffic to your site in order to show potential.

2) Show them the demographics of who they will be reaching. If you can know a few demographics of the people who come to your festival, you can show sponsors why you’re going to reach them better than traditional mass media.

For example, if a big part of your audience falls within Generation Y, you can find articles and studies that show a lot of Generation Y doesn’t watch TV, they Tivo it and skip commercials, or they watch a lot of YouTube videos on their mobile phones. So create promotional videos, put them on YouTube with a sponsor’s logo in the bottom right corner just like on TV.

See how many different ways you can drive traffic to the video, and measure each channel to see what drove the most traffic (use different Bitly links per source, 1 for Twitter, 1 for Facebook, 1 for the blog, etc.) Measuring that traffic will give a sponsor an idea of the kind of traffic you’ll be able to drive for them.

3) Remind them that they are going to be reaching a niche audience in a way that no one else can: they will reach a large group of people who are passionate about your festival and that music/art. But unlike the festival-only sponsors, they’ll be reaching them long before and long after the festival ends.

And not in the “your logo will be on the t-shirt” way of reaching them.

But if you’re sending out tweets that point to videos with a sponsor’s logo on it, and those fans watch the videos to see who will be playing, or to see a recap of the last festival, those sponsors get more exposure than the ones who were only visible during the festival itself. And any links from the YouTube page to the sponsor’s page can have a major positive impact on their search engine placement.

Consider doing a daily/nightly recap of the festival each day. Treat it like a little newscast where a “reporter” is on scene (film it with a high-def digital camera, not a mobile phone), interviewing artists and fans, showing a few seconds of the artist playing, and then putting it all into a YouTube video (complete with sponsor logo). Tweet that out a few times the next day, let people access it via QR code, and put it on Facebook for the fans who couldn’t make it, and count the traffic there too.

These are just a few ways music and arts festivals can find a sponsor specifically for their social media marketing and social networking efforts. These kinds of affinity groups can be a marketing goldmine for marketers because they’re reaching a dedicated niche audience who has an affinity for that festival, and are more inclined to support people who support something they love.

Photo credit: theburied.life

Businesses Don’t Care About the Social Media Expert Debate

After reading a few of the different posts about social media experts, including ours, our partner and founder, Mike Seidle (@IndyMike), wrote this response:

First, I am not a social media expert. I do sit on the board for a company that has several people that I would classify as experts on the payroll. Anyone who is saying “there are no social media experts” falls into one of two groups:

  • People who can’t accept that others may have more experience/deeper understanding than they do. This argument boils down to “since I don’t understand it, or can’t keep up, you can’t.”
  • People who do not have the resume to actually be an expert that are trying to get a job or gig that is for an expert. These people will claim that no experts can exist because of massive recent change that obsoletes past experience.

In the end, anyone who claims that social media experts are like the tooth fairy, Santa Claus or the Easter bunny ends up looking pretty silly:

Executive: So, you are here for the social media director position. I see here you’ve been using social media for two years. What makes you an expert?

Social Media Not Expert: There are not experts in social media. We are all explorers at sail on an undefined sea filled with incredible wonders and indescribable dangers. You see, no one can possibly be an expert on social media since it changes so fast. What I learned last year has no application to the future, and the tools we use and strategies we build often are rendered obsolete in the blink of an eye.

Executive: So, if it’s not possible to be an expert, then why are companies shelling out bucks on social media people?

Social Media Not Expert: Well, social media can get incredible results. Most social media campaigns fail because they are not well planned and are mismanged. On top of that it’s impossible to measre the ROI on social media… so do not count on predictable ROI or even expect a return you can measure. But social media will greatly enhance your brand. That’s why most companies are doing social media.

Executive: So, most social media campaigns fail for lack of management or knowege. I can’t expect any ROI, and you are not an expert. Right?

Social Media Not Expert: Well, when you put it that way… it doesn’t sound right. I would say that I’m not an expert, but I have experience and can guide your company around making mistakes that will make your social media campign fail. While we can’t …

Executive (Redfaced, Cuts off Social Media Not Expert): The door. Use it. Use it now.

Measure the Three Most Important Business Metrics With Social Media

Jason Falls rocks his talk about social media measurement at #ESMToledo

Jason Falls is currently rocking the Exploring Social Media Business Summit in Toledo, Ohio, talking about measuring social media marketing, and making sure that businesses are making money from it. There are three Very Important Questions every business manager will ask of their social media manager, and you’d better be able to answer them.

  1. How much did we make?
  2. How much did we save?
  3. Are our customers happy?

Jason Falls rocks his talk about social media measurement at #ESMToledo

That’s right, social media hippies. Social media, just like every other part of marketing, is about making money. It’s not about conversations, friends, followers, Likes, fans, connections, comments, or Google ranking. It’s about sales and conversions, and customer service and satisfaction.

This is why social media monitoring and analytics is so crucial. You need to be able to show your boss that your social media campaign was not $20,000 thrown down the toilet, because you thought it would be cool to sell your bulldozers on Facebook.

Use Google Analytics to Measure How Much You Make

Google Analytics can tell you how people came to your website, what pages they visited, and whether they went to your sales page and placed an order. If 300 people visit your website because of a tweet, 30 people went to your sales information page, and 3 people placed an order, you have a close rate of 1%. If your social media campaign costs $1,000 per month, but those 3 sales are worth $4,500, your ROI is $3,500.

Use Your Accountant to Tell You How Much You Saved.

Social media is a great way to handle customer service complaints, reducing the amount of troubleshooting calls that take 20 minutes, reduce technician visits, or even the total number of calls coming in to your service center. Ask your accountant to tell you how much you saved from month-to-month. Calculate the average cost of troubleshooting calls, technician visits, and the monthly salary of a call center rep. Get with your Google Analytics person and social media monitoring person (#3) to see if you have seen an increase in social media activity. Chances are, the latter had an effect on the former, so count these savings as a win. If you spent $1,000, but saved $3,000 in a month, your ROI is $2,000.

Or, more importantly, if we combine the two, you spent $1,000, and made/saved $6,500, your ROI is $5,500.

Use Social Media Monitoring Services to Measure How Happy Your Customers Are

Radian6, Lithium Technologies, Sysomos, are some of the biggest social media monitoring services around (they’re all subscription-based services, so expect to pay a fee), and if you’re a larger brand, it’s worth doing. If you have a small company, set up a free listening post with tools like a Twitter search (like a TweetDeck column), SocialMention.com and/or Google Analytics to see what people are saying about you. Quickly respond to any complaints or queries, and make sure you’re keeping people happy (see #2 above).

Happy customers are returning customers. Measure the sales of returning customers, especially those who have complained in the past, but you managed to keep by solving their problems, and compare that to the amount you paid for the social media monitoring service, and you’ve got your ROI.

We’re hopefully moving beyond the “social media is all about the conversations” way of thinking, at least in the business world. While this was cool and froody back in 2008, businesses are starting to use this as a new marketing channel. For those companies who want to make money this way, it’s real simple: just measure how much you made, how much you saved, and whether your customers like you.

If you can’t answer these questions, quit playing Farmville and go find someone who can answer it for you.