by August Wainwright on June 11, 2013
If I was feeling like a particularly mean spirited a-hole right now, I would head over to Twitter, take a nice little screenshot, and paste my feed into this article. I would tell you to look at the twitter-ers listed, and notice the pattern of every single tweet. Then, I would say, “THE END”.
Or, I could head over to my G+ page, let the mouse meander its way up to the notifications section, take another screenshot, and let you digest the numerous unsolicited notifications, invites, and blog posts that I must be “dying” to read.
But at this very moment, I’m not feeling all that mean spirited (I won’t promise to feel the same way by the end of this article). So instead of calling out the authors that continually and religiously employ the “BUY MY FREAKIN’ BOOK RIGHT NOW” technique, I thought it would be better to have a discussion about what NOT to do with social media.
In general, I do my best to stay away from absolutes. But when it comes to utilizing social media, I have only one definitive rule, and it’s very simple:
DON’T Sell on Social Media
Seriously. Don’t do it. Ever.
I know some people might not entirely agree with that, so let me clarify a little. Social media sites are for connecting with people and sharing. And it’s for enhancing those connections; enhancing the “idea” of what you represent.
Social sites like Facebook and Twitter and G+ are called “social” for a reason – because that’s what you’re supposed to be when you’re using them.
Imagine for a second that it’s a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in late spring. It’s a perfect 75 degrees out and the wind is just barely blowing. You’re on your way over to the nearby park for a community bbq. Everyone from the neighborhood is going to be there. You get there and the food is great and the drinks are cold. You couldn’t ask for more. Naturally, people start breaking off into individual conversations. You bounce from one little group to another, laughing and smiling as you go. Occasionally, you circle back to the coolers and pop a Michelob Ultra (because you know it’s almost beach season and you have to watch those calories), but you’re always able to find another cozy conversation. In a word, you’re being SOCIAL.
Then, that dreadful d-bag “Don” shows up. “Don” is that guy that thinks he doesn’t have to “play by the rules”. He does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and fails to recognize that the rules weren’t set up by some evil overlord… no, they were set up by his peers, who he constantly irritates. “Don” is louder than everyone else. He only talks about himself. He photo-bombs and convo-bombs at every opportunity. Everyone knows he’s there because he sure as hell won’t let you forget it.
And while “Don” is having a good ol time, everyone else is thinking:
“Who invited this asshole?”
If you spam your book over and over and over again, then welcome to the party “Don”.
Now, I’m not saying that if you release a book, and you have 20,000 facebook fans, that you don’t drop an update to let your fans know your new book is out.
That’s completely fine. Nobody will ever judge you for that. And the less you send out those updates to your followers, the more that it will come off like an exclusive thing for only them – which is good.
What you don’t want to do is what I see every single day on all the social media sites:
“I just published my book. Please buy and review it here.” – NO
“Isn’t this the best book ever? Read it now here.” – NO
“My new book is out. Please retweet and share the link.” – NO
“My book has 8 five-star ratings. Read it now” – NO
Rinse and repeat, again and again.
Look, even if your book is the best ever, and even if I would have read, reviewed, retweeted, and shared it before, when you spam the living shit out of me hoping to force me into something, you can count me out as a reader. And here’s the thing – I’m not just going to not read this book, I’m going to remember you and not read any of your books. Ever.
Because when you take the “Buy my freakin’ book right now” approach, you’re nothing more than a bad used car salesman. You’re the guy who runs up and follows me around the department store to get that commission when I buy that sweet pair of jorts.
I despise that person. And here’s a little tip that’s only a secret to the person who employs the same tactics – everyone despises you too.
The truth is, people buy books for many different reasons. Anyone who tells you that they can guarantee you a sale if you do “X-Y-Z” is more than likely lying to you. However, there are obviously a few things that can help tip the odds in your favor:
– Write a really good book
– Have a really really good cover
– Write other really good books
– Be nice to readers and, especially, to other writers; offer to give instead of always asking to receive
– Get lots of reviews, aka “enticing the herd”
There are plenty of other things you can do too. But take notice of the fact that spamming social media sites all day is nowhere to be found on that list.
If you’re ever enticed to employ this ludicrous tactic, maybe you should stop and ask yourself this question: When was the last time you purchased a book because you saw a promotional tweet about it?
Or better still: When was the last time you clicked on a Facebook ad? What about a banner ad, on a social media or any other site?
Lastly: When was the last time you saw someone “screaming” for you to do anything online where you sat back and said, “You know what, the fact that I’ve seen that same ad 10 times today really makes me want to give that maniac my money”?
Think about. You don’t want to be “Don”.
What do you think is something that is an absolute “don’t ever do it” on social media? Are there some acceptable practices on Facebook that don’t translate to Twitter? Let me know your thoughts – leave a quick comment below.