A few weeks ago I posted Part One of 10 Things Authors Can Do Before the Book Comes Out spurred by a conversation with an early social media coaching client Melinda Emerson. (These posts are targeted to non-fiction authors, but much of this advice will work for most fiction authors and even for small business owners). To recap the first 5 tips:
- Begin to Build an Online Platform, Before the Book Comes Out
- Know What Goals you are Trying to Reach
- Set Up Short-term Goals
- Identify Who Your Ideal Audience Is
- Determine Where They Hang Out Online (and Craft Your Branding to Catch Their Eye)
- Don’t Forget to Network Offline, in Person (IRL – in real life – as they say) as Well
6) Identify what 3-5 topics your audience is interested in and then provide it
Make your website, blog, e-newsletter and social media sites all speak to your ideal customer and focus on the topics of interest to them. What do they wonder, worry about, need help with? Make a list. For fiction authors that might mean letting them know about your creative process. For non-fiction authors – what can you talk about that let’s them know you understand their business and needs, and let’s them know you can help, without actually selling them.
6b) Weave a bit of your personality into your brand
You want to be seen as a person, not a robot. But be balanced about it. I occasionally talk about my hobbies as a potter and photographer, and that I am an aunt. But I do this occasionally, and naturally. It helps people get to know me, and helps me not be just another boring social media coach or PR pro. I know a real estate broker who says sometimes he hears crickets when he talks houses, but when he talks golfing and fishing, two of his other passions…he makes connections that later on turn into sales or referrals.
7) Don’t Try and Do it All at Once
Pick a site that your clients use most and start using what you’ve learned here to connect with your ideal audience. Yes it is a good idea to have a basic presence on the big three sites – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and on your own website and a blog. At least set up the basics. Claim your name/branding on the others, but it’s okay to focus on one site first. Either start where your customers hang out most, or if you are not that comfortable using social media for business, you could start with where you are most comfy, as long as a portion of your clients are there. The conversation is happening out there – you just have to join in.
7b) Now, if you are reading this and thinking, I’m already out here on these sites, but I feel like I’m not making headway, or are not really connecting with my customer
Go back to tips 4, 5 and 6 and really hone in on your customer’s and their needs and interests. Become that helpful resource, and connect with folks, engage them in conversations, begin to build relationships. And recognize that it takes time to both develop a reputation online, Melinda Emerson said has said that is was 18 months or so before she felt like it was really in the groove.
But a focused, helpful, and consistent online footprint will enable you to reach individuals, customers and colleagues you never would have reached via traditional means. “People buy from people they know and trust…” If they like what info you offer, and the way you handle yourself online…they often pre-qualify themselves and sign up to get your blog via email, sign up for your mailing list, then they buy your book, or even reach out to talk with your about hiring you, or bringing you into for a speaking gig.
8) Plan and launch your blog with focused content and an e-mail sign-up form
While you are dipping your toes into the social media pool, also begin writing content / blog posts so you can launch a blog in a few months. For non-fiction authors, a blog helps showcase or prove your expertise. It also helps people get comfortable with you, your style. When they subscribe to your blog or e newsletter do you consistently give them info that’s interesting and useful to them, is it easy to read? This preps them for buying your book once it’s out, and helping to spread the word, and even hiring you. A blog built using WordPress.org, on your own domain name, builds credibility, is a hub for your social media activity and helps others find you via search engines.
If you already have a blog – go back to 4, 5, and 6 and review it with that info in mind? Are you posting content of interest to them. Have you strayed too far from those 3 – 5 topics? Has the site too busy and needs a face lift?
9) Once you’ve gotten comfy with your first social site, pick the next and create a strategy to connect with your audience there
Don’t just link up your content from one site and have it automatically go to the other site.
10) Work it, be consistent and rinse, refine and repeat before your next book
While all of this may sound intimidating, with Melinda Emerson, we took it one step at a time. Once she felt comfortable with Twitter, we took a bold move and launched a Twitter chat (when they were still a fairly new phenomenon), then I started her writing and planning posts for a blog, so she launched the site with several posts already there for reading; and she already had an audience of followers from Twitter. Then we worked on Facebook, then later on LinkedIn and she was off an running. She had laid out her goals and she “worked it.” She consistently put out good information, and focused on her audience’s needs and interests, and interacted with them.