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Marketing Advice for Writers (and Publishers too)


"There is no magic button to build your audience."—Dan Blank
"So it all comes down to relationships. Do you have a relationship with those you’re selling to?"—Bob Lefsetz

Writers need to think about is what "being social" actually means.

Social media is not a tool.  It’s not a strategy.  And it’s also not a guaranteed path to success, especially for writers.  

Social media is an expression of human culture and communication.  It’s another form of "talking amongst ourselves."  In many ways, being social is simply about being human.  And trying to use social media as just another form of marketing is counterproductive, unless you think about marketing differently, by thinking first not about what you are trying to sell, but what your audience cares about.  People today want a deep connection; authentic relationships are more valuable because so much of what passes for social connection today is, in fact, meaningless.

I’ve written before about "connecting" instead of "marketing".  Think of social media as another opportunity for sharing, for connecting, for building relationships with people.  Writers might be creators sometimes, and other times might be consumers.  Both roles are reflective of our urge to share, to communicate, to be with our fellow human beings. So if you pay attention to who you are as a consumer, you will be a better provider of the content you create for certain.

So what are the principles of human interaction? Most of us probably know instinctively what works, whether we are ourselves introverts or extroverts, or somewhere in the middle (ambiverts).  It really helps to think about these ideas before you try to participate in the online social graph.

Ask before you tell.  

Listen.  

Pay attention to what others want and need.

Help, assist, give of your time, energy and heart.  

Don’t think of what the reward will be, just know that what you give will come back to you one way or another. 

(This is especially true, if what you provide is what people want or need so try to provide value whenever you can - the brilliant Tim O’Reilly has said about modern business that it must "Create more value than you capture" - this applies directly to everyone who is participating in social media.)

So how to apply these concepts?  If you are a writer, you clearly have a lot to give. You start with a big advantage - you know how to express yourself in words.  Writing is transformative. So much social media is based on writing, you are ahead of the game from the outset, you can express your thoughts and ideas, you can provide information, and you can instruct.  So begin by reading.  See what others in your network are saying or sharing, and then find your own way to engage in the social ongoing conversations that are happening all around you.  Be yourself, or find the part of yourself that loves to share ideas and information. Have fun and make a difference.  Remember the basic rules of karma.  If you do, good things will always happen.

"To sell is human."—Daniel Pink

Posted by David Wilk on 02/01 at 11:40 AM
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