Now, you don’t have to look far (do I start all of these posts with this sentence?) to see that everyone will tell you how much you need social media to get your books sold.
What they don’t tell you is what they actually mean by that, which is that you need to ‘build a presence’, or, more simply stated, you need to let people know you exist, put yourself out there, actually market yourself. In other words, when people say, use social media, it’s really the equivalent of, hey, you should market your book! Pretty vague and useless, right?
I mean, sure, they’ll give you all sorts of advice on how to use social media, they’ll point you to the tools which will tell you when to post things and what sorts of things to post and the appropriate ratios between retweets/shares of others items, completely new content, and direct promotions of your books. In fact, they’ll give you so much advice on how to use social media that your head can quickly start swimming at the very idea of what to do with all this advice and still have time to write anything.
But they never really tell you why it’s so important to use social media, just how to use it for great success.
I think that why is a very important piece of information to understand, otherwise you’ll just start to look like every single other person on these sites trying to sell something and quickly get overlooked. Of course, with some of these sites (I’m looking at you Facebook), even your rabid followers might not see what you post, unless you’re willing to pay for them to see it.
But the why…it’s important. Because the reason you should use social media isn’t to sell books (although, you know, that’s also the reason why), but the reason you need social media is to build a presence, to let people know you exist, to make people not only care about your brand, but about you.
Social media has completely changed how marketing works. It used to be that you could just come up with some sort of clever ad and your success would revolve around how people responded to that ad. Now people want to know about you, want to know about the person who is creating the thing they’re selling. You know why Apple is so successful? It’s not about the products, although many will debate me for hours on end about how their products are the best ones out there…I’m not going to debate that right now. You only need to look at the response to the death of Steve Jobs to see that it was about the people running the company more than anything else.
Sure, you can say that Steve Jobs was a visionary and all sorts of other glowing things about the man, but at his heart, his most basic level, he was a salesman. A damned good one. He knew how to make you care about what he was working on. He did very little to create the ipod or the iphone, just saw the product, knew what it could mean, and sold the hell out of it.
Yet he was beloved. The response to his death was as great (if not greater) than the deaths of great creatives like Walt Disney or Jim Henson, people who really were the creative forces behind their products (well…Walt, honestly, could be debated, seeing as Ub Iwerks actually designed Mickey, Walt just knew how to package him). I’m going to simplify things here, and I promise I intend no insult to the legacy of the man who really can be seen as a central figure in the creation of the personal computer, but this is akin to mourning the man who sold you your favorite car. Yes, this was a much more well-known man than Crazy Mike, and a man who really did want to make a difference, but he was a salesman.
You know why we cared so much when he died? Because that man knew how to build a presence. He wasn’t okay with just doing what everyone else was doing. He wanted to improve, to make everyone absolutely need what he was involved in. He might not have spent as much time actually delving into the innards of these things Apple created (you know, like the much less known Woz), but he was the face of this company that he had trained you to desire to be more like.
The iPhone was definitely a leap forward in how we communicate with each other today, but it’s no great movement ahead of many other phones on the market today. Yet, if you state that to any of the faithful…well, let’s just say that they will completely ignore things like how iMaps (or whatever Apple calls it) just plain doesn’t work.
It’s a product, but people are completely dedicated to that product and will still sit in line for hours (if not days) to get the newest, slightly better version of that product only months after the previous one came out (which they did the same thing for).
Obviously Apple’s success has very little to do with social media (if at all, seeing as their success predates social media…and the internet…) But the important thing here is humanizing yourself, making yourself become that person that your readers want to support and love and help move forward. You know why Apple continues to be important to people today? I can’t tell you the last time I’ve seen a commercial for the company (noting that I cut my cable connect years ago), but still they are the biggest name in personal electronics today. Talk to an iPhone user (at least one of the dedicated) and you’ll see why. Their users love them and will do whatever they can to convert everyone else.
You need that.
Yes, writing a good book is important. Next important is to build a fanbase of people who love you and want to help you achieve your goals. There are many methods in which to do this. Social media just so happens to be one that gives you the opportunity to get in front of a large audience.
Also…I apologize to any of the Jobs-believers for any sense you might have gotten that I don’t believe he is the most important man to have lived in the modern age. I get a little sad about how much the Woz gets forgotten…even if Wozniak does have a presence within Spaceship Earth nowadays.
Alright, I’m out. Have fun out there!