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social media thumbs upSocial media has become the 900 lb. gorilla in the room. We’d all like to utilize it, but it seems too big to lift. When the first computer BBS (bulletin board service) was built in 1978, people chatted about their interests, connected with people who had the same pastimes and networked with professionals in similar industries. These early BBSs were often coin operated at colleges and universities, and, in terms of what we would label “internet” services, they were mighty primitive. The real internet came in the 90s, where more and more people had opportunities to meet other users and arrange to meet face-to-face. It wasn’t even called “social media” in those days, but it most certainly had the hallmarks of that trend shift. Business owners soon realized their audience was getting on board with social media, and BBSs were phased out in favor of My Space, Facebook, and now Twitter and Google+. (And a bunch of newer ones which haven’t got their market share up yet.)

Social media can be a scary thing though; it can take up a lot of valuable time. So much so that you may be wondering if you should even bother. Here’s how to determine whether it’s a good fit for you.

Do you have enough catalog to last you until you retire? If your answer is yes – what planet are you on?! If you can retire on what you’ve got, you don’t need social media. But let’s be honest, do you have that much business? Do you want your business to grow, or possibly stall? (And never forget: your writing career is a business.) It’s true that it’s easier to keep and please existing readers/customers than it is to find new ones, but if you aren’t on social media, you’re not only missing a lot of opportunity to get new customers, but also to connect with your current ones.

stay focusedYou also need to ask yourself this: can you really have too many customers? It never hurts to keep bringing in new ones. This is how a business grows and expands. And social media could open you up to a whole new audience. Do you want that personal assistant, that live-in chef, J K Rowling’s bank account? You need more readers/customers, and you want them pronto.

In the past, businesses could rely on word of mouth, but these days that isn’t always enough. Having a good social media presence can work like word of mouth if your followers share your content with their followers. However, you need to create a compelling social media presence that people enjoy and want to share. A few hot tips about your books/products could have the opportunity to go viral.

Can you afford traditional advertising methods? If the answer is no, then using social media is the cheapest way to advertise your business. It does take time, but as your business grows you can pay for advertising through social media outlets and extend your reach even further. Many writers swear by FB ads – me included. I’ve started investigating Twitter ads as well. I’ll share my results with you once I’ve got a program in place.

Do you have a faster way to interact with and answer customer questions? Social media is a great place to get feedback from your readers or your potential readers. You can answer questions and get to know them on a more personal level. Personal service is extremely important to people these days. You can build a life-long reader/customer simply by making people feel that they matter, they are important and that you desire to cater to their needs as best you can. Ask questions, ask for help with a title or a product color. People love to feel involved.

Many people claim that you’re not just building a business, you’re actually building relationships. This is a true statement and the best way to gain loyal customers. Taking your business entity to social media is an excellent way to build those relationships.

Social media can do wonders for many authors and other businesses. It might become a key strategy for you. Certainly, it’s worth giving it a shot and seeing what you can produce.

Chances are that you can benefit greatly from being on and using sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Be sure to check out those sites to see how similar businesses are utilizing their existence and reaching their readers/customers. This will help you decide if it’s a smart move for you.

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  1. Thanks, Patricia. I tend to hate that 900lb gorilla, it’s not a bad thing to see that he has his good points too.

  2. Good post! I think what turns some people off from social media is the feeling that you have to post “me, me, me” or “buy my book” all the time and I actually find those posts to be a turn off, at least after the first two or three. We are all trying to sell books, afterall. I think it’s a bit more tricky in spanking fiction because where other authors or businesses might share something personal like where they are having dinner or a photo of their kid, we are also all (or most all) trying to keep a firm line between our real life and our life as writers.

    • I do feel like I’m constantly saying “here I am! look at me!” which is definitely unappealing. You have a great point about having to be less “out” where spanking fiction (or erotic romance for that matter) is concerned. I’ve pretty much decided that my friends can take me or leave me, exactly the way I am, but I can see where a person with young children or conservative parents might have to be a lot more circumspect. Thanks for your comment, Celeste!

  3. I want JK Rowling’s bank account, and a maid! 🙂
    Great post, Trish!
    I am still not comfortable with social media, and wish I could get away with just doing word of mouth 🙂
    But I guess if 80 year old granny’s can work it out, so can I! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

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