Monday, August 25, 2014

Marketing for Writers: 3 Tricks for Facebook, Twitter, MeetUp







Not getting much from your social media efforts? Here are some quick and easy tips for Twitter and Facebook, plus tricks for promoting your readings and events with Meetup.com.

Brown-Nosing with Twitter

Gathering thousands of followers on Twitter can take a lot of time. Or you can save time and buy followers. Will this drive traffic to your Web site or sell books? Doubtful. 

There's an option that is cheaper and more efficient: Connect, flatter, and brown-nose people who already have a large number of followers.

Here's How:
- Identify influential writers, journalists, and experts in your industry. For non-fiction writers, this is straightforward -- search Google and Twitter for your topic and see who appears at the top of the list of search results. For fiction, you have to consider themes of your work. I'm writing a novel about a chronically-single guy who takes a trip around the world looking for the woman of his dreams. So, my book covers two topics: life as a single person (dating, loneliness, sex, relationships) and world travel.
- Follow these influential people on Twitter and sign up for their blogs. On Twitter, follow who they follow and who follows them. Make note of hashtags they use in their posts.
- Tweet and retweet their posts. Post images of their books or links to their Web sites. Go to their lectures or readings, take a photo, and post it to Twitter.
- Be sure to include their Twitter handles and favorite hashtags in your posts. By including their Twitter handles, you're telling them that you like their work and are happy to help them get the word out. People may retweet your tweet, which means all their followers will see your name. They influential people and their followers may follow you.

Example involving a play and performer popular with single people:
After attending an event by writer/performer Elaine Liner, I took a photo of her promotional flyer and posted it to Twitter. I included her handle @thesweatercurse and #edfringe, a hashtag she used to promote the event. That hashtag is also followed by the local press and other influential people.

Brown-Nosing on Facebook

On Facebook, you can make posts to groups you follow and mention important people. Most of the same rules for Twitter apply on Facebook:
- Post photos and links.
- Thanks people for help, praise their accomplishments, be a nice person.
- To tag, or include people's names in your posts, start typing their name and it should appear in a pick list. Type capital letters for first letter of their name. You can include their page by typing the @ sign and their page name. More on tagging with Facebook.

An example from a Facebook Group I belong to frequented by writers and performers interested in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. (I just went and performed excerpts from my novel in progress.)


In the post to a Facebook group, I thanked important people who helped me produce and perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Tips for Promoting Yourself with MeetUp Groups


I've discussed using MeetUp groups for promotion before. Recently, I tweaked my strategy.

For MeetUp, you want to promote an event geared toward individual groups. Better still, offer them something special for attending: a discount, drinks with the author (you), or something else. Here's what I did for my recent events in Edinburgh, Scotland

1) Searched for groups by location and topic:

Here I'm searching for single's groups within 10 miles of Edinburgh.


2) Completed a profile and joined the group. I was honest and said I'm a writer who will be in town performing my work at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

3) Contacted the organizer and asked if it was OK to post an event. This is good etiquette. You could just post your event, but you might piss off the group organizer. Either way, be prepared for responses ranging from: "Sure!" to "Only if you pay me" to "Drop dead."

4) At this event in Edinburgh, I offered a discount on tickets and the opportunity to meet with me after the event.

5) Other things to consider:
- Lead time: Do this several weeks to a month before your event.
- Links with more information: Include a link to your Web page or another page describing your event and location.

After striking out with single's groups and groups interested in travel -- two themes of my book -- I contacted a local writers group. First I filled out a profile and then emailed the organizer to ask if I could pitch an event.


Art Attribution:
By Comstratega (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

More Marketing for Writers Articles

 




-  How I transformed scenes from a novel in progress into a one-man show called, "The Chronic Single's Handbook."

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Monday, June 9, 2014

One Writer's Social Media Campaign: What Worked, What Didn't




Recently, I started promoting my writing with special events -- readings and lectures -- and using social media to publicize those events.  I read at public libraries, youth hostels, adult education centers, and fringe theater festivals. The results: My readings and lectures were mentioned on numerous Web sites and by media outlets that normally wouldn't have given me the time of day. This blog post describes social media tactics I used as well as what worked and what didn't



I assembled my short fiction into a one-man show called "The Chronic Single's Handbook." Recent performances were mentioned in publications such as the Orlando Sentinel.



Readings and Special Events for Writers



To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut: Writers are in show business. Put on a good show and you'll get noticed. But reading straight from your book is boring. Some better options:
- Rework short scenes from your fiction and creative non-fiction into stand-alone stories, memorize them, and enhance with a little acting. Tips on reading your work in public.
- Non-fiction writers can create entertaining lectures. Contrary to popular belief, Powerpoint presentations can be engaging -- just keep them short and kooky.  Lectures and Powerpoint presentations I've given
- Then find venues and festivals that will let you read/perform/lecture. Look for organizations that have in-house marketing staffs that will promote your event. Recent venues and festivals

After you've read at your local library and hit up your friends, family, and co-workers several times, you'll need to branch out to other cities and other audiences. Drawing an audience in a distant city is tough.

Over the last month, I've performed scenes from my book at fringe theater festivals in Atlanta and Orlando. Here's how I used social media and Web marketing to generate awareness of events held far from my hometown of Boston.


Web and Social Media Marketing for Events

 

1) Help the Venue Promote You

- I provided a short description of my event, plus photos, links to my Web site, links to my youtube channel, a press release -- whatever they want.
- I met all deadlines and size requirements. If they wanted a 60-word description, I didn't send a 70-word description.

My Results: Excellent
- I was listed in printed and online show catalogs produced by the venues.
- I was mentioned on the venues' Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages.
- In Orlando, I was listed in a preview in The Orlando Weekly.
- In Orlando, I was reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel and the art publication Watermark. These articles were picked up by blogs and social media.

2) Ask Fans, Followers, and Connections for Help

- I created a Web page describing my event.
- I created a short note linking to the Web page and asking people for help.
- In the short note, I explained -- specifically -- how people could help and made it easy for them to do so. (I asked people to post a link to the Web page and ask their friends to retweet it on Twitter and share it on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.)
- I sent the short note to email contacts and posted it to other email lists, such as a college alumni email list, my blog, and as a social media update.
- LinkedIn: This site has a unique feature that lets you sort your contacts by location and send them a note. I created groups of contacts in Orlando (about 10 people) and Atlanta. (about 15 people). I sent them a note through LinkedIn. Several people offered to post my note to their connections. (More on how to do this next week.)

My Results: Mediocre, but worth trying.
- Email: About half of my contacts read the email. Several posted to Twitter, etc as I had asked. The key benefit: I connected with former coworkers, friends, and other contacts who I only email a few times a year.
- Social Media: I got a few retweets and shares.
- Not sure if this brought anyone to my shows.

An email blast to my Mailchimp contacts was opened by about half of them.



Sample of note I sent over LinkedIn



3)  Posted to Related Social Media Groups and Pages

- I searched Facebook and Google+ for groups in my target cities. For both Orlando and Atlanta, I found a bunch. My book is about a chronically single guy who takes a trip around the world looking for the woman of his dreams. So, I looked for groups in my target cites that catered to singles, travelers, or folks interested in the arts.
- I checked the rules of the groups to see if posting links was OK. If so, I joined. If I wasn't sure, I dropped a note to the group owner and asked if I could post my event.

My Results: Negligible. Not Sure if this is worth the time.
- One group owner posted my link on his group and personal Facebook page.
- A few people in a Google+ group liked and commented on my post.
- Not sure this brought anyone to my shows


4) Posted to Meetup Groups

- I joined Meetup.com and searched by city and interests (arts, travel, and singles)
- After joining, I posted my show as a possible event for the group.
- In most cases, the event never got posted to the group.
- In a few it did and I was listed as the host.
(more on this next week)

My Results: Negligible, but worth trying.
- In one Orlando group, seven people signed up to see my show.
- Only one showed up.
- In one Atlanta group, the moderator asked me to pay to $50 post my event. I declined.
- Why it's worth trying: I did an event in November that was picked up by a Meetup in Boston and five people showed up. A friend did an event last year and dozens of Meetup folks showed up.




Meetup.com lets you search for groups of people with common interests in other cities. Then you can post your event. Though my results were mixed, the process doesn't take much time and is probably worth trying.


5) Contact Media in Target cities

- I created a press release with links to a basic online press kit with photos, a resume, and other information the press might want.
- I asked the festival organizers for a list of local media contacts in Atlanta and Orlando.
- I also Googled each city for editors who cover arts and entertainment. I found a few editors with email addresses and emailed my press release. For those who didn't post their email addresses, I located them on Twitter, followed them, and sent them a tweet about my show.
- Many media sites have events calendars: I uploaded my event to the calendars.
(more on press releases next week)

My Results: Good
- My event was listed in dozens of events calendars.
- But I was not interviewed by the local press.

6) During the Shows
- I took selfies and other photos, and posted them to my Facebook and Twitter pages. I always mentioned the venue, so they could see I was working to promote myself and the festival.
- Each morning, I Googled my name and my show for mentions that I might share with Facebook and Twitter followers.
- For Facebook, I posted to my Author Page, then logged out and logged in using my personal account. I went to my Author Page and then liked and shared the link.

My Results: Good
- My posts on my Facebook Page reached ten to twenty times more people than normal.

A post of me with a 6' 7" female impersonator at the Atlanta Fringe festival reached 193 of my Facebook fans. Typically, my posts reach about 20 of my 2,000 fans.



More on Special Events and PR

- One Writer's Platform: Events and PR

- Promote Your Writing: Events, Readings, and Fringe Festivals

- My Note to Blog Subscribers Requesting Help Promoting Recent Events



Photo credit: George Skene, Orlando Sentinel / May 16, 2014


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