Sunday, September 8, 2013

Social Media: Trying to Do it Right!

My long-time friend and international best-selling author, Taylor Stevens, recently sent out a newsletter discussing How to Use Social Media Right. AND, Off on a Whim was very pleasantly surprised to be featured as one of the 'They're Doing it Right!' examples :)

(Taylor's Munroe series at present has three published books and one on its way to publishing. The rights to turn her first book into a movie have been purchased by James Cameron, cool!!)

Here's what Taylor has to say:

The Thing About Social Media...

When I do writer events I’m often asked about social media and how best to use it so I thought I’d give you an overview of my thoughts on the subject.

Advice on which sites to choose, how often to post, why one venue is better than the other, etc., is endless and, in truth, these are personal decisions based on each individual’s preferences and there’s really no right or wrong. Where I do often see writers and/or those in other industries flub their social media opportunities is in how they interact with their online communities and in what they say. I’m by no means a social media expert but some of these mistakes are pretty basic and I see them so often I can’t help but offer my two cents. 

I think one of the biggest underlying misperceptions about social media is that somehow it’s a magic potion that will sell lots of widgets—that just by being online and gathering Facebook likes or Twitter followers that these numbers will somehow equate into sales—or that by having a page or a website the book or product will be quickly and easily discovered. I wish this was true, but it’s not. Social media is a tool that authors are expected to utilize in promoting their work but like all tools, its usefulness is only as good as the skill with which it is utilized. Poorly used, social media can be worse than not being online at all. 

Authors and small businesses often seem forget that the social networks are sites where individuals with like-minded passions connect over points of interest (friends, family, fan clubs, hobbies, or what-have-you) not to have products shoved in their faces. When they ignore or forget this, they become another version of the same kind of spam that we all hate. When it comes to authors specifically, I see this in the form of multiple “by my book” updates followed by numerous links to their books, followed by links to every single positive review ever written about their work. 

If you’re doing that, stop. If you’re just getting into social media, avoid it. It’s a mistake to confuse social media with advertising. The key word in social media is “social.” Social media is about genuine interaction, it’s about giving not getting. If your expertise involves how to take care of your pet goldfish and you are passionate about goldfish, then for goodness sake, let your online interaction be about goldfish. Those who are likeminded will find you and connect with you and that connection will be based on something authentically you and authentically them.

If you watch the social media accounts of best-selling authors, you’ll notice that they rarely, if ever, do “self-promotion” stuff. Instead they post news, they post personal thoughts, or quirky things that they’ve discovered and enjoyed. In essence those who really have a handle on their online “magic,” interact with their online contacts as friends not dollar signs and they do this because they are genuinely having fun with their fans and readers and aren’t there under some other guise or pretense. They are REAL and their audience loves this. And that’s what successful social media is really all about.

Think about it: If individuals have connected with you online, either a) they already know who you are and have their own opinion of your products and all you’ll accomplish with “buy my stuff” behavior is annoying them, or b) they connected with you online to increase their own exposure which means they don’t care at all what you do or what you write and nothing you link to is going to change their minds. The reason individuals connect with you online is because they want to connect with YOU, the genuine you. So be genuine and be you. They stick around when you offer them value, and because value means different things to different people, this is an ever-evolving target—but one thing value definitely is not is you shoving your products in people’s faces over and over. When you write your book about how your pet goldfish solves murder mysteries, let your friends and readers know about it—just don’t shove it in their faces every single day. 

A very good example of someone who does social media right, who gets sales without ever advertising for them, is my friend at Off on a Whim. She builds custom-made jewelry using leather (or silver) and power stones. [Power stones is a term very familiar in Japan, where she lives, and for which we don’t have a direct equivalent in English, but essentially her pieces use stones ranging from common to precious that have specific meanings and are built around whatever a person might need in his/her life.] The Off on a Whim Facebook page generates income and business, but her primary reason for putting the page together was as a way to share what she loves and to have fun. This genuineness comes through and creates a visibility she could never get by constantly posting about products for sale.

The golden rule of online interaction is this: it’s not about you or your ego, it’s about making a genuine connection with those who want to interact with you. When you’re in desperate need of validation and you want to post that awesome review you just got, think twice before you copy/paste/share because you’re posting for the wrong reason.

* * *
The thrill is in the chase; to prove to myself what I am capable of.

--TaylorFind Taylor's FB page here: Taylor Stevens, Author
Find my Etsy Shop here: Off on a Whim Jewelry

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