Effective Social Media Marketing: Are we in denial?

 

Love it or hate it if you are promoting something you are waist-deep or at least dipping a toe into the social media marketing landscape.  For public relations professionals, we are always focused on effective social media marketing tactics that will build our clients’ audiences.  I’ve written about social media on this blog, often breaking down different platforms and their uses, listing the latest stats, and how to build a content strategy.  However, I am adding this to the conversation because I think many of us are in denial. Our expectations and feelings about how things should work are getting int the way of our own success.    Below are some statements related to social media conversations I’ve had.  If you relate to one or more of these, then you might want to read on.

  1. My follower count on Instagram only increases by 5 to 10 followers per week so my campaign isn’t working.
  2. Nobody wants to hear from me on Twitter because I don’t get likes or retweets.
  3. I post contests and polls on Facebook and I don’t get any audience participation.
  4. I post every day and I’m not growing.

Time for a reality check

 

It’s time to face reality.  There are 3.3 billion people on social media; there are bots and marketing agencies spewing generic content; advertising is cluttering news feeds; and if you aren’t a celebrity, you won’t gain followers by the hundreds.  So why does anyone even bother you ask?  Because there are 3.3 billion people using social media.  If your audience was just a fraction of that number you could be happy.

We are so fortunate to be able to reach out to all of these people directly.  But you have to be thoughtful, dare I say strategic about how you talk them.    If you do your homework and start talking to your “people” who want to hear what you have to say, then you will grow and you may even become an influencer someday.  If your social media platforms are not behaving the way you want them to, it is likely that you are not properly focused on who you are trying to reach and what you need to communicate.

Build Authentic Online Relationships

Relationship building online is about earning the trust and loyalty of your customers and audiences so you can maintain, and grow your numbers.   But how do you do that?  Is it by working with a company that will push out “snackable” content? (I was pitched that idea by a social marketer.  Let me ask you this: If you were at a cocktail party would you want to talk to a robot who can say a dozen sentences or a real person who can tell you about a trip to Belize)? Is it by talking about how great you are or how wonderful your product is?  Would having a roomful of cats posted on Instagram fit the bill?

Even though we can now hide behind our screens, it doesn’t mean that the skills and needs of human interaction are out the window.  If anything, you need to be even more thoughtful about your dialogue with others to practice effective social media marketing.  Your content needs to be authentic and you need to do your due diligence and research in advance to identify an audience that will be interested in receiving your messages.  After you determine your audience, you need to figure out how to reach it, what platforms to use, the content you will use, and when you are going to post and share.

It takes time and tenacity

To build an army takes an army and that’s what you are doing.  You are setting up a foundation of friends and followers who want to know about your ideas or buy your product.  If satisfied, they will help spread the word via retweets, shares, and referrals.  And as I’ve said, it doesn’t happen overnight.

When I was at a conference recently a woman asked me about an aggregation application that helped drive followers on Twitter, but she was losing followers as quickly as she was gaining them.  I told her that Twitter has been public about their attempt to rid the server of unattended accounts and spambots.  Aggregators are not a shortcut when it comes to quality, actionable followers.  The ones you end up with are often spam and other ineffective types.  You need to put a real engagement plan into action, stick to it, monitor the results, and take appropriate action when necessary.

We all need to accept that this process is going to take a lot of work.  I’ve got a business built around media with a heavy social focus, and I know about the time that goes into an effective social media marketing campaign.  But if you aren’t able to hire somebody to do it for you, then you can set up a schedule that works for you.  Block out time every day to work on internet engagement and research.  Find a tracking program or use the tools that the individual platforms provide so you can see how your content is doing.  Someone told me once regarding careers that you start with one brick and soon you will have built a wall.  So go ahead and start your construction and you will see how things progress.

The last thing I’ll add is for people who dislike social media or do not feel comfortable with it.  My advice is: Don’t establish any platforms you are not going to use.  If you feel super hesitant about social campaigning, then do not do it.   In a future post, I’ll present some ideas for alternatives that will still build your SEO presence online.

Additional Informational Resources

Here are a couple of  articles from around the internet that talk about current content and social strategies:

10 Important 2020 Social Media Trends You Need to Know

12 Social Media Trends to Watch in 2020

 

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Publicity 101: The Importance of Tracking Your Pitching

While tracking the outlets you’ve pitched in hopes of procuring reviews, features or interviews for you and your book isn’t the most exciting process there ever was, it sure is important.

Why, you ask? Firstly, it saves valuable time and money. Arguably just as important, tracking the outlets, contact names, contact emails, phone numbers, addresses, contact positions and outcomes will not only keep you organized, but also stop you from pitching the same people twice. No one enjoys getting the same copy and pasted message more than once.

Your personal running record of contact information acts as a good reference sheet for future pitches as well. For example, we’re currently launching a media campaign for the third installment of Chris Babu’s Initiation series (more on that to come—stay tuned!). Having worked on the second book, The Expedition, and documenting every pitched outlet while noting those who ran our pieces in the past gives us a better idea of who we should re-pitch for the new book.

In other words, because of our record-keeping, we know who is more likely to say yes, who only offers paid reviews, who only works with local authors, and so on. You’ve already spent countless hours on outlet research. Why start over for every pitch? Tracking your work is also crucial for determining when to follow up. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly check-in via email or phone to yield a response.

Now that we’ve covered why it’s essential to track your pitching, you may be wondering how exactly you should track. Lucky for you, there are plenty of tracker templates and organizers out there that make it easy for you to input key information. Even an Excel spreadsheet does the trick. Below you can find a sample format:

Want more information on how to curate the perfect media list? Check out our five-step process.

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The Influencer Series: Targeting People in Your Niche

When reaching out to influencers in the hopes of getting them to promote your product, it’s essential to target the right people – for your brand, and theirs.

Here are 3 important questions to consider as you compile your pitch list:

1. Who is my audience? Identifying your own audience first and foremost will give you the framework to then identify the type of influencer(s) that attracts the people you are trying to reach. For example, we’re currently working with a children’s book called Scout Camp! by Judy Newman (under the pseudonym Pepper Springfield) and have been reaching out to elementary school teacher influencers to post about the book. Because teachers are our main target audience, it makes sense to connect with influencers who have a solid following of other teachers.

2. Does this influencer have a need for my product? One of the biggest “no-no’s” with any kind of influencer or blogger outreach is lack of research. You must make sure the person you’re about to pitch could realistically use what you want promoted in their day-to-day life. This will be the difference between quality leads that yield fruitful relationships, and dead ends yielding a waste of time -and money. Case in point, we would not pitch Scout Camp! to a high school math teacher influencer as they have absolutely no need for an elementary-level book.

3. Is it realistic to expect a response? Believe it or not, there are three different types of influencers (Jeff Bullas):

  • Mega Influencers: Over one million followers
  • Macro-Influencers: 100,000-one million followers
  • Micro-Influencers: Less than 100,000 followers

Typically, mega influencers are of celebrity status. That’s not to say that macro and micro-influencers aren’t celebrities in and of themselves, however, mega influencers are typically harder to reach. That’s why the safest option is to go after the macro and micro influencers (for more on who micro-influencers are exactly, click here). With that said, depending on the product, brand, endorsements, etc., anything’s possible.

Looking for more information on influencer outreach? Check out our guide.

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Social Media 101: TikTok and Book Promotion

If you aren’t using it, you’ve heard of it. However, you might not know how to use it -or, you might not even know what it is. Today we will be discussing the underdog tool in your promotional belt. The overnight, 15-second sensation: TikTok.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a window to the latest pop culture trends among Generation Z. Gen Z (any individual roughly between 13-and-24-years-old) dominates TikTok’s user base; the same generation also happens to be the next large target group of potential consumers.

TikTok was created by the Beijing news-media tech company ByteDance. Often described as a combination of both Snapchat and Instagram, TikTok is a video-only application that posts in 15-second bursts. The app hit over one billion downloads in February of 2019, exceeding its competitors up to that point (HooteSuite). Their net user and download numbers only continue to climb.

Needless to say, a large audience is there for the taking – particularly ripe for YA authors.

How do I use TikTok?

Currently, the application is only available for download on mobile device. You will need to download via smartphone or tablet. While this sounds limiting, don’t fear: TikTok has a host of editing tools in-app that enable you to create unique and original content.

  • Setup: The first prompt you get when logging in to the application is one asking your interests. Would you like to see comedy skits? Do you follow beauty influencers? What about dance performance? Your answers to these questions feed TikTok’s algorithm and influence what content you view under the “For You” page (one of two pages that make up your TikTok “Home” screen). The “Following” page consists of users you are subscribed to after tapping around the app and finding what you like. Each user has a page setup much like Instagram -a photo of themselves, their handle, a follower count, bio, and their content.
  • Creating Content: Similar to Snapchat, creating your own content starts with a simple point-and-shoot clip. As talked about before, you only have fifteen seconds to deliver your message. Spend more time focusing on visuals, use dialogue sparingly. Most users supplement sound clips from popular music or memes rather than talking in their TikToks.

How can I use TikTok for book promotion?

Here is where you’ll need to get creative. TikTok is very similar to Twitter’s late application Vine -there is little to no text involved, and strictly video-based. In other words, TikTok users aren’t looking to read when they engage with the app.

Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities to promote your book.

  • Challenges: TikTok users generate a great deal of challenge-based content. An example of social media challenge is the ALS ice bucket challenge that took social media by storm in 2015. Users would dump a bucket of ice water over their heads in the name of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, then nominate fellow users in order to raise awareness for those affected.

TikTok is rife with similar challenges, distinguished by hashtags (much like challenges seen across other social media). There is even a “#bookschallenge” with over 109.2K views! Feature your new book in original content to spread the word. You can even create your own hashtag and start a trend by simply adding a # before your desired phrase.

  • Memes: Aside from challenges, memes spread like wildfire. Users essentially take a pop culture item and tweak it with their own personal style. From songs to live-TV bloopers, TikTokers take soundbites from these moments and make a 15-second video performing their own take. Like we mentioned before, it’s all about the visuals with this application. Having a stack of your own books as the background of a TikTok is the perfect subliminal marketing strategy.

TikTok has increased in notoriety to the point of Facebook imitating the application (Wired). It’s time for you to make use of the trend. Now you’re ready to TikTok with the best of them!

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Social Media 101: What’s New with LinkedIn?

What’s New with LinkedIn?

Back in 2016, we wrote a blog post about LinkedIn as an invaluable author tool. The site, at the time, was transitioning from a more formal platform to the hybrid social network for professionals everywhere that it is today.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, LinkedIn was founded in 2002, then launched in 2003 by Reid Hoffman, Allan Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly, and Jean-Luc Vaillant. It began as a digital job posting. Each user’s profile served as an accessible resume for job recruiters to scout, and for users to connect with potential jobs of interest. So, aside from some cosmetic changes to the website layout, what’s new with LinkedIn?

LinkedIn hashtags were just launched in 2018, keeping with the theme of a casual social network atmosphere on the evolving platform. Now, when creating a LinkedIn profile, you are prompted to follow hashtags that might interest you. Here’s why these hashtags are important to you as an author.

They’re informational. By following any given hashtag, you sign up to be constantly updated on what LinkedIn users are posting pertaining to the hashtag’s subject. For example, if you are a fiction writer, you should follow #fictionwriting. This hashtag is now assimilated to your news feed. If fiction writing isn’t your cup of tea, you can always search for your topic under “Discover More” in the “Followed Hashtags” section of your home page. Discover what is happening in your specialized area across the platform!

They establish a presence. As we’ve discussed in other blog posts, hashtags are an aggregation of posts that pertain to a common interest. By adding a hashtag to your post, you are adding it to a collection of content that contains the same hashtag. Going off of the example above, if you hashtag a post about your newest novel #fictionwriting, users just like you will find your content when searching the term on LinkedIn. Bam! You’ve successfully made you and your book known to a key audience!

You can create your own. Here is where you can have a little fun and be creative. Have you found that no hashtag on LinkedIn quite fits what you want to post about? If so, you can just make one of your own. It’s as simple as putting together a short, and if possible, catchy phrase that relates to your subject with a # in front of it (but still keeping with work appropriateness as LinkedIn is still largely a professional platform). You might find that other people were looking for one like yours and begin to use it themselves.

Hashtags are used universally in the world of social media. Take what you’ve learned from this #SocialMedia101 and use it anywhere! If you have questions about other hashtag-using platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, don’t fear -we wrote blogs about those, too.

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