My Guide to Influencer Outreach

With the prevalence of social media continuing to grow, influencers are becoming incredibly powerful tools in content marketing. In fact, a Tomoson study found that influencer outreach is “the fastest-growing online customer acquisition channel, outpacing organic search and email marketing.” For one, influencer outreach is incredibly useful when it comes to relationship development. We’re currently working on a couple of campaigns whose central audiences are geared toward the education market. So, how did we expand our outreach? We found popular teacher Instagram influencers with over 12,000 followers who we can approach with the latest series additions for optimal publicity. A simple Instagram post or story can go a long way in terms of making a lasting impact on consumers.

With that said, it’s imperative to implement tactics that best reach both influencers and your ultimate target audience. The key in initially building durable relationships, in my experience, is to come across as genuine as possible. Considering the numerous amounts of DMs these influencers sift through every day, taking an unorthodox, new approach can help achieve the attention you desire. Avoiding the clichéd, copied-and-pasted pitch will certainly help you stand out from the rest. Here are 3 tips to help you do just that:

1. Design your pitch around how your product or service can be beneficial to the individual influencer and less about how they can be beneficial to you. Any salesperson will tell you that people are of course more interested in what they stand to gain, so always keep that in mind. For instance, when reaching out to the teacher influencers we emphasized why our book would be a great addition to their classroom libraries. What teacher doesn’t love free books!?

2. Show them you know who they are. Instagram/Twitter bios are convenient, go-to places to find that kind of personal information- so utilize it!

3. Be relatable. It’s basic human nature to be drawn to people who you can relate to. It further shows these influencers that you’ve taken the time to scroll through their feed to find out what they’re all about.

All in all, influencer outreach can be extremely advantageous if approached properly. Authenticity is essential when building any type of relationship, so treat influencers more like people and less like brands.

Social Media 101: Tumblr for Authors

TumblrTumblr is a combination of social media and blogging—users actively post content to their Tumblr blog, but they can also re-blog and like other users’ posts. Tumblr can be a fun platform to use because it is very different from Twitter or Facebook, and it is a perfect platform for authors to use because it is easy and creative. The number one rule for this platform is to make sure to have fun with it!

Here are 5 ways that authors can use Tumblr:

Reblog or post GIFs or screenshots. Tumblr is full of screenshots and GIFs that are at your disposal to use, from TV shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation, or movies like Clueless and Mean Girls. You will give your account exposure this way because GIFs—especially those that are popular or humorous—will more likely be reblogged than other posts.

Use it as a blog with a purpose. Do you have a specific topic you’d like to blog about, but don’t necessarily need all that SEO and headline writing that comes with a WordPress blog? Tumblr can be a great use for “micro-blogging” or just writing a couple sentences on a topic every day or once a week. For example Clients from Hell started as a Tumblr blog, where they posted anonymous comments about bad clients. Other examples include Bookworm of Camelot which specifically blogs about literature, or That Coffee House Tumblr which only posts about coffee.

Use it as a social network. Don’t just focus on your Tumblr but make sure to follow other blogs that you are interested in and might reblog. Comment and share your stories on other users’ posts.

Use it as a news and events page for your website. Did you get a new Amazon review or were featured in a literary blog? Did you have an event last night? Share these links and photos on your Tumblr and make sure to tag the posts with tags that people frequent (books, literature, amblogging). Did you see another Tumblr post a photo of your book? Reblog it! Connect it to your website so that it is easily accessible.

Use it as your writer’s blog. If you are interested in blogging but know you aren’t going to commit to writing hundreds or thousands of words a week, Tumblr is the perfect way to keep people updated with your life by posting short blog posts or GIFs, new music you are listening to, news articles you just read, etc. with little commentary. Did you just read an interesting New York Times article on how sales at independent booksellers are up? Did you finish a book you have mixed feelings about? Post it on Tumblr and ask your readers what they think.

Many artists and creatives are on the platform, from Taylor Swift to Veronica Roth (Divergent) to Rainbow Rowell (Landline; Carry On). It doesn’t take up as much time as a regular blog and it is more interactive for users because it is so simple for another person to reblog your post. Check it out and you’ll see how much you may just enjoy it!

For more insight on social media check out our blog posts here.

Social Media 101: What to do if you are concerned about privacy

facebook privacy

Social media can be a useful tool for authors and personal brands. It can help with exposure, lead to new fans of your book(s), and is an easy platform to publicly engage with your audience or other book lovers like bloggers and reviewers.

The other side of that coin, however, is murky. The last week has been a storm of revelations over Facebook and how it uses information from its users by selling it to advertisers—and, once that information has been sold, your data belongs to them forever!  You can only tighten your personal Facebook privacy and security settings so that future information cannot be sold (read this New York Times article for more information on the updated privacy security settings Facebook released this week).

Worse, Facebook has allegedly been logging data from calls and texts from Google Androids—even though Facebook says they do not sell that logged data. (This article from Wall Street Journal explains.)

Now, companies and people are taking a stand against Facebook with the #DeleteFacebook movement. Mozilla is “taking a break,” and Elon Musk has removed Tesla and SpaceX pages, among others.

So what can individuals and their brands do if they’re concerned about privacy and are considering deleting social media?

If you use Facebook and other social media, and are now unsure of whether or not you want to continue, you must consider how you are going to get your brand out there.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Create a public author or brand page, but keep your personal Facebook settings private. Author and brand pages are public, so if anyone were to search you, those would come up. But what if your private Facebook account also shows up and strangers try to add you? By going into the Facebook security settings, make sure that only “Friends” or “Friends of Friends” can see your profile information, or even set it so that only you can see certain things like your current hometown or who you’re in a relationship with. In your privacy settings you can also make sure that your personal profile does not come up in web searches.
  1. If you plan on deleting Facebook, then you have to put yourself out there. If you’ve gotten rid of your social media presence, then you need to make up for it by putting yourself out there in person. Attend festivals, visit your local bookstore and library, go to conferences, meet with other authors or book lovers, and create postcards/bookmarks to drop off at local coffee shops or stores you inhabit. Read more in our blog post on how you can create visibility.
  1. Focus on a blog and newsletter. If you are concerned about your privacy, but want to have an online existence, then creating or focusing more on your website/blog and sending out an email newsletter to friends, family, and those who signed up is a good way to keep your audience updated on what’s going on with your writing endeavors.

This is all “new news” that exposes just how much Facebook was really using our data beyond their own advertising platform. The least we can all do right now is tighten our private security settings across social media platforms so that our personal data can’t be used in the way it has in the past.

Social Media 101: Snapchat and Instagram Stories for Authors

SnapchatInstagram and Snapchat are popular social media platforms for influencers, especially those who are celebrities or are in the fashion industry. The various Kardashian women are perfect examples of Instagram influencers—follow their accounts to get a rounded grasp of how useful Instagram Stories and Snapchat can be for public figures.

Snapchat and Instagram tend to skew young in terms of who is using these platforms, from teenagers to millennials in their mid-30s. As an author it can be useful to tap into these age groups to cultivate a new audience for your books and/or brand.

How both Snapchat and Instagram Stories work is that you take a photo of something (yourself,your dog, something cool you saw) and it disappears after 24 hours of your posting of it, unlike regular Snaps or Instagram posts. Regular Snaps to friends disappear after they are viewed (if not viewed, then after 30 days); Instagram posts are there permanently unless deleted by the user.

Here are 5 tips on how authors can use Snapchat and Instagram Stories:

Use them for exclusive content. Are you in the middle of writing a new book? Snap or Insta-story a line from a chapter you just wrote. Are you writing a short story for a new anthology? Snap a photo of yourself with one of the other authors or editor with something along the lines of, “Meeting with so-and-so today. Can’t wait to show you our latest project coming soon!” Creating some mystery and suspense will excite your followers.

Snap an immediate and intimate glimpse into your life. We all want to know what our favorite celebrities are doing – and snapping photos of themselves cooking food, out to dinner, enjoying a concert, or reading a book achieve that aspect of making followers feel like they are included in their lives. You can do the same thing as an author by taking a video of a book you are reading or a new recipe you are attempting to cook.

Show off your fun side. With all the funny and cute filters available (making your eyes huge, face swapping, giving yourself dog ears, etc.), showing readers how you can have fun will make you more personable.

Hold a contest. Gain followers on Instagram or Snapchat by holding a contest–with the winner receiving an advanced reading copy of your upcoming book, a box set, or a signed copy of your newest release. Hold the contest only on Instagram or Snapchat, but announce it on your Facebook page or Twitter so that you drive new people to your Instagram or Snapchat usernames. For example, post on Facebook: “New contest on Snapchat that I am announcing in five minutes! Go to [username] to see what I’m giving away this week!”

Engage your followers. Because people can message you back on your Instagram stories or Snapchat stories, post a question: “What are you reading today?” or “What are you doing today?” to engage your followers by having them respond in a message. Respond back so that they can feel that you are engaged with them as well.

Even though Instagram stories and Snapchat are similar, you may find yourself inclined to use one more than the other, and that’s fine. Just make sure to use whichever one you favor on a daily basis so that your followers don’t lose interest.

Read more beginner’s tips for social media here.

Social Media 101: 4 Reasons Why Buying Followers is a Bad Idea

buying followers

This office dog is confused and upset about why he is seeing so many disturbing spam followers on a Twitter account that is supposed to be family friendly!

A recent article (February 1st) on BuzzFeed said that the Newsweek Media Group has been buying followers and manipulating traffic on some of their websites, and that they are being accused of ad fraud.  The ad fraud part of this story is not my area, but I do have something to say about the other part—buying followers—as it relates to marketing and branding using social media platforms.

There was a time when having 200,000 Twitter followers looked impressive to the naked eye, but those days are long gone.  Now it isn’t very difficult to look through someone’s following on various platforms to find out that many of those 200,000 are spam bots and other kinds of cheap “friends”.  In fact, the people who have more modest numbers of active followers, who engage with them, and build more solid relationships over time, could have the upper hand in social media marketing.

Here are some reasons why buying followers is a bad idea:

  1. The internet is not an alien universe.  The people using the internet and social media are just that—people.  And the rules of engagement apply just as they would at a cocktail party or a business conference.  If you want to grow as an influencer on social media, your audience needs to feel like you are a real person —not a virtual identity with no substance, which brings me to the next point.
  2. Trust is more important than ever. The internet, the very tool you want to use to market your products and ideas, has eroded trust in its own population.  This is partly due to the “bad apples” in the bunch who have figured out how to buy and sell cotton candy entities and canned content.  If someone takes more than a cursory look at who is following you and they find porn (true story) in the form of bots, it will not make a good impression (unless that is what you are selling).
  3. Relationships rule! When there is trust, the chance for a relationship to grow increases.  In a relationship with good communication, the other person believes what you have to say, appreciates your advice and counsel, and may even talk about you with others in a positive way.
  4. Protect the brand. Would you wear dirty clothes to a job interview?  Why sully your brand with ineffective and questionable marketing practices, like buying a fake community?

Perhaps we think that, because we are typing on a keyboard or a phone in our own private spaces, that our anonymity allows us to behave in any manner we want.  Well, it doesn’t.  Companies who engage in buying followers or traffic in order to beef up their potential advertising power may not be doing something illegal, but it is certainly unethical.  If an individual wants to be an influencer, it needs to be clear that community and engagement are a priority.  If bots are all we see, we assume that you aren’t real either.

Check out our other social media blog posts here.