Friday, October 28, 2011

Guest Blogger ~ R.S. Guthrie on Social Media Marketing

Come On In, the Water’s Fine
Written by R.S. Guthrie
First I’d like to thank the lovely and talented writer, Becky Illson-Skinner for not only having me here to guest blog, but also for her outstanding interview earlier in the week!

For anyone who throws a serious hat into the publishing ring—for we writers—an ugly truth is soon discovered:

We need to be marketing experts!

Now, granted, if you majored in Marketing, or have been doing it the past few decades, you are probably okay with this realization. But for those of us who skipped Marketing 101, the understanding arrives more like portents of DOOM.

Marketing? Isn’t there a department for that?

Sadly, writers, the answer is an unequivocal ‘no’. We’re pretty much on our own, particularly if we are independent (although most authors signed to publishing houses are also nearly one hundred percent responsible for their own marketing). Enter, social media networking. (I think I just heard someone hack up a nervous hair ball.)

Seriously, though, in this revolutionary world of digital wonder, you better get savvy on everything from Internet slang to the latest browser plugins, social media software, and reliable network connections. Why, you ask?


 If you’ve yet to jump into the pool feet first, you aren’t alone. There are still a lot of writers who are standing around dipping their virtual toes, feeling like the water is too darned cold and confusing.

And when you look out over the water, you see all these beach balls being tossed back and forth with printed names like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

So you are tempted to think: “Maybe I’ve got this handled! I’ve got accounts in all those places. Things aren’t as bad as they seem.”

Then, without warning, all these big, ugly, tattooed kids jump into the water and start stealing all the pool toys. The tattoos say things like: Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Social Oomph, Tweet Adder, and even a bicep tattoo that reads Twit Cleaner.

Things are starting to look bleak.

Don’t worry too much. Again, you aren’t alone. And the great news is that most of the products in today’s social networking universe are designed so that a child can use them.

Okay, scratch that. Your kids are probably a lot more technical than you. They are designed so that YOU can use them. And the best part is that most of the tools are all about automation. They exist to make your marketing job easier.

Take Twitter, for example. First of all, you need to be on Twitter. Second of all: You. Need. To. Be. On. Twitter. There are debates about the quality ratio of Facebook friends to Twitter followers. Don’t worry about that now. Get. On. Twitter.

Then use a product like Tweet Adder to help automate the process of finding followers. I’ve been on Twitter for just over two months. (I know. I should follow my own advice.) In that short time, I am past 3000 followers. I owe Tweet Adder a few rounds of drinks for that. This application allows you to search tweeps on several different criteria, from who they follow to who follows them to what food they most often tweet about. (And, yes, “tweeps” is a highly technical term, but you’ll eventually figure that one out.)

Just remember this: Tweet Adder follows people for you. While you sleep, while you water ski. Tweet Adder doesn’t care. It works so you don’t have to.

So what do you do once all these tweeps are following you? They’re all really cool people, right? Hmm, have you forgotten the hooligans at the pool? The last thing you need are deadbeats filling up your Twitterverse. A free tool called Twit Cleaner  will help you with that problem. Twit Cleaner is basically a free Private Investigator who camps outside each of your follower’s virtual homes, records their bad habits, and reports them back to you (normally in a few minutes, depending on the size of your following).

Twit Cleaner identifies followers who haven’t been on Twitter since Paul Revere tweeted “One if by land, two if by sea”. It shows you people who talk only about themselves, who post nothing but links, and who are “relatively unpopular”. (I know, that last one sounds too much like high school.)

Now that you’ve got all your followers, the group is pretty devoid of deadbeats. What now? Well, you want to consider a platform that organizes your social networks and helps you keep track of your prowess (and also does some cool things like scheduling tweets).

I use Hootsuite. A lot of people use TweetDeck. Each of these products is free and helps you build feeds (filtered lists of tweets categorized by elements that work best for you). These are basically applications that organize all your networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) in one easy-to-read display. The nice thing about Hootsuite is that it’s web-based (i.e. you don’t need to install any software and can access it from any computer connected to the Internet). One of the features I like about TweetDeck is that it allows you to go over 140 characters in your tweets and automatically posts them with a link to read “the rest of the story”. (Posthumous apologies to Paul Harvey for that one.)

But you can’t possibly spend your whole day tweeting and posting to Facebook, right? Au contraire.  

The Cadillac of social media marketing software is a product like Social Oomph. This application is like a universal remote control with a mind of its own. You can build tweets, responses to retweets and follows—it can even do a Tweet Adder-like following for you. You can schedule your tweets: send some every hour, some every couple of days—you could even build your Christmas card tweet list and send them out while you are sunning yourself in Mazatlan. Pretty cool, huh?

More scared than ever? Well, that’s okay. We all were at first. And this is just a sampling of what’s out there. The most important thing for your social marketing campaign is to BEGIN.

The rest you can leave in the capable hands of software, hardware, middleware, and a growing sense that you are not nearly as technically necessary as you once thought you were. 


Andrea Buginsky said...

Thank you for your step-by-step instructions. I'm still a bit of a noob when it comes to marketing myself. Great advice!

Dean from Australia said...

Rob - this is a really great guide for the beginning social networker and it's certainly something I wish I knew about much earlier in my journey.

I find the networking tools a little overwhelming to be honest and the concept of building a following via an automated process a little scary. I have built my following much more organically and I tend to be fairly discerning with who I follow back. But it sounds as though I could be hampering my efforts in building a wider audience. I need to give that some reconsideration.

Being in Australia too, makes it challenging in getting tweets out in an American time zone so I'm going to give Social Oomph a look in.

Great post.

Carrie Green, said...

Great overview of how to make that leap into Social Media in order to publicize your books!

Becky Illson-Skinner said...

Okay, this is embarrassing....I followed the advice but put in the wrong user in tweet adder - lol, silly woman! It won't let me fix it unless I buy the full version. Anyone know the "fix"?

Rob, you rock for agreeing to take time out of your busy schedule to give us newbies some really sound advice. THANK YOU :-)


R.S. Guthrie said...

Thanks, Andrea and Dean!

Andrea: if you ever need any help/advice, I would be glad to share what I know (I am still a bit of a noob on some of this, too). Melissa F. is a total expert on a lot of this (particularly Social Oomph, which I am still working on getting fully configured).

Dean: you nailed it...Social Oomph's scheduling capabilities are perfect for you!

Bec: You should be able to delete that user and recreate it. You could just uninstall the product and reinstall, probably. I will say this: the $50-70 they charge for a license is well worth it. You can set up auto tweets and replies in that product, too---just not with the flexibility of Social Oomph.

Emerald Barnes said...

Fantastic advice! I always love reading what you have to say, Rob, about marketing. :)

Chris Devlin said...

Thanks, Rob--always good to hear more about a subject that scares the heck out of me. At least I'm only scared by the second half of your advice, about the automated stuff. But you make it very clear. Thanks again.