Wednesday, March 09, 2011

#WW - How do you promote?

I'm deviating from writer's craft for today's Writer Wednesday for a few reasons. One, I attended a great workshop on social media this past weekend, and two, things annoy me, and it makes me wonder if they annoy you too.

On Sunday our local rwa chapter had a guest speaker - Richard Black from Rich Graphics, who came to talk to us about social media. It's very easy to be overwhelmed by the social media playground these days, and choosing which platforms to use can be crazy and make you want to pull your hair out. For example, I have a myspace profile that largely has been abandoned. I haven't deleted it because I'm not SURE I want to. But it is definitely languishing as I ask - is anyone even USING Myspace anymore?

We talked a lot about Facebook and Twitter and blogging and YouTube and bringing it all together and I was pretty in the loop. I know I could tweak things and I made notes to that effect, but I do have plug ins on my site and blog, I do manage my social media through one program (Hootsuite, I used to use Tweetdeck but got utterly frustrated). I did ask about HOW people use these programs though as that's where my mind is these days. Not just tweeting and posting but doing so effectively, you know?

For example, as an experiment I cashed in a google ads coupon a while back and drafted an ad. I then could look at stats and see how many impressions I had vs. click throughs to my site. I have considered facebook ads as well, especially after reading a piece on Facebook ad tips by Laurie London the other day. I do not feel the same about Twitter ads, though, and I clued into WHY when Rich used the words "subculture" in reference to twitter.

I have always thought promotion is a conversation. It's a soft sell. And yeah, I do my share of tweeting announcements of where I'm blogging, when a book releases, good news I've received. It *is* after all a promotional tool. Lilly Cain put this really well  - she said that for every promo tweet sent, another 10 should be non-promo. Responses, RT-ing, personal glimpses - but not selling. I get the most responses when I tweet about what I'm making for dinner, I swear to God. It really is called SOCIAL media for a reason.

Loved this blog post too on Jody Hedlund's blog about alienating readers using social media.

Anyway, this brings me to twitter ads. Because I despise them.

With Google and Facebook, ads show up in your sidebar. I don't mind those so much - I can take them or leave them. But if, for example, they showed up on my WALL? There'd be a holy revolution. In fact, when people have used my wall to push their own promo, I've deleted or hidden posts. There's a whole etiquette thing that goes with social media. You know what? Send me a message. Chances are, if I know you and I'm keen, I'll post to my wall myself and link to whatever it is you've got going on.

But with Twitter, ads show up IN MY STREAM and I HATE IT.

With facebook you get to choose your friends. With Twitter, you choose who you follow. To me, twitter ads are the same as crashing a party where you haven't been invited - and then asking me to buy something from you. How likely am I to do that?

If you want to sell books via twitter, start conversations. Talk to other people, ask questions, retweet things you find interesting. It's not so much about consumers as making connections. And I feel that way about all promo. It's why I love getting reader mail and I respond to each one. It's why I try to make sure that as an author I'm accessible. I really really believe in accessibility. Lately I've seen one author who will remain nameless who continually posts to a blog and it is all "buy my book". If I buy your book, chances are it'll be because you showed me a glimpse behind the scenes, because you shared something with me, and not because you shoved an ad in my face. In fact it accomplishes the opposite - chances are I won't buy your book, and it's unlikely I'll buy any others, either. Because buy, buy, buy does not give me a really good impression and there are a lot of books and authors to choose from when it comes to spending my $$$. And that's also why, when I see an author do a really good job of relating to their readership, I do buy. And I talk them up to other readers.

Anyway, what sorts of promo annoy the heck out of you? Am I overly sensitive about the twitter ads thing? What are your views on the best way for authors to reach out to readers? I wanna know!


  1. Yes! the ads in the Tweet stream but the heck out of me. In fact I sent a tweet to Twitter today about their app for the iPhone where they take up valuable space to include trending topics, some of which are paid-for.

    Facebook -- the ads on the sidebar are easier to ignore, but the blatant promo people post on your wall to "buy their book" after you friend them? Very annoying, and they get deleted and defriended immediately.

  2. i don't unfollow or "unfriend" anybody, regardless of content. i think there is a tolerance for whatever anyone posts since A. i am not always on twitter. B. it's a roulette wheel. which leads us to C. there is about a one in million chance i will see any one tweet at any given time.

    logic, math and common sense aside, i do not unfollow people, as it seems to be something that restricts my flow of information. i can't gauge what is popular on twitter; i can't get a "feel" for it.

    i had a ball on Oscar night, although the Grammies were much more humorous and provided one of the funniest experiences of my life. people who are not normally funny made remarks and comments that i would have missed had i been a serial unfollower.

    about ads, who cares? i don't. i can't see the vast majority of them, and people have to make a living. i have never posted a paid link in my life.

    ultimately, your blog post seems to infer we should take some "slower approach" to selling a book by creating a relationship first, then selling later. apparently some folks are jumping the gun and selling first? i say "so what?" i find it refreshing at least they are honest and forthright and getting to the point. maybe they write some good stuff?

    i work for firms that manage celebrity images and twitter accounts, and i'm working on a book about unfollowers, and twitter sociology and why people do certain things that they do, and why others react. so your reactions and observations have been noted in my wily little ferret mind, and will be taken into account.

    i am very glad you took the time to promote your blog link, and the roulette wheel of twitter landed me on your blogspot post.

    Sarcastic Sam I tweet at @Samuel_Clemons

  3. I think the reason the dinner menus get the most response is because it's the start of a conversation. I can reply with that I'm making ribs, or a funny story about the time I made pizza from scratch.

    There isn't too much to reply to promotional stuff except congrats. I don like to hear the good news. If you have a new release or the book did well, I want to celebrate with you.

    But that's not a conversation. And the conversations are what I'll remember when I'm in the book store.

  4. Sarcastic Sam:

    I don't generally unfollow either - I pick and choose WHO I follow. So the ads? That is not my choice. Those people show up in my stream whether or not I follow them or not. And I know what you're saying about Oscar and Grammy night - but again, those comments are not a hard sell and basically exactly the point I'm trying to prove...that was social. And enjoyable.

    And I'm certainly not saying that twitter shouldn't be used to promote. As you mentioned, my tweet about this topic brought you here. In my blog I mentioned the 1:10 idea as well. My issue is when ALL I see is straight promo without content.

    I think of my readers in the same way I think of myself. If I have a conversation with someone, and then I'm given a flyer about their business, I'm far more apt to a)visit their site b)look into their product c)buy their product d)recommend their product than I am if they just come up to me and thrust a flyer into my hand. In that case it would probably go very promptly into the recycle bin.

    Either way, my tweet started a conversation between us. ;-)

    Julia - you hit the nail right on the head with my point.

  5. Hi Donna,

    It was your tweet about this blog post which brought me here too :)

    Interesting post, btw!

  6. My company offered a free seminar for local business owners on promoting their business via social media. Maybe I should have attended.