Social Media Hate
If you spend a lot of time on social media like I do, you’ll have noticed a LOT of writers blotting their copybooks lately with their potential friends and followers.
Here’s what’s happened to me lately, in just the past 2 or 3 weeks:
- Facebook Fiends. Writers may send me Friend requests. That’s obviously fine, but within SECONDS of accepting their request, they may send another asking me to LIKE their page. (Plus the really persistent ones will send a private message as well).
- Facebook Fiends #2. Writers on Facebook may ‘tag’ me from their timeline, especially into Amazon Author pages, but also crowdfunding campaigns, blog posts and their photos (sometimes entirely random ones). Sometimes these tags will be 50-100+ people, not just me! Again, I will have never interacted with these people before.
- Clunkedin. Every single day on Linkedin I get messages asking me for referrals for their writing to agents, publishers and producers. This will be despite me NEVER having interacted with this person before, never mind read their stuff. Every. Single. Day.
- Twatter. I get tagged into copied and pasted tweets constantly, usually entreating me to check out a blog post, book or crowdfunding campaign, but other stuff too. I may also get tagged into photos too – I never usually mind this from this from friends and allies, but randoms?? NO THANKS.
- Instagrab. Every week on instagram, multiple people hassle me to follow them by tagging my posts. The really persistent will send private messages too, asking me WHY I HAVEN’T FOLLOWED THEM OMG.
- Email lust. Every week multiple people sign me up for their email list, unsolicited. I get notifications for writing products and services, books, crowdfunding campaigns etc that I NEVER subscribed to. I know, because I am VERY SELECTIVE on what I sign up to, since I get so many damn emails!
- Email Deluge. Every single day I get multiple emails asking me to check out their site, blog, book, crowdfunding campaign or whatever. I also get lots of pitches for various projects or blog post ideas. Most of the time, they will be obvious copy and paste jobs: my name or my site’s URL will be wrong, or the pitch will bear NO RESEMBLANCE to anything I am interested in, or carry on my sites. Even worse is when that person sends this SAME email to countless other people and forgets to BCC the names.
This is just scratching the surface. Again, no one minds their FRIENDS AND ALLIES asking for help spreading their message via shares and RTs (and if they *do* object to tags for any reason, they’ll just ask you not to. Sorted).
Writers Are Spamming. STOP.
So, if you’re sending and tagging RANDOM people you’ve never interacted with before, and/or the ‘internet at large’? You need to stop right now, because it is SPAM. Here’s why:
- It marks you out as an amateur. Here’s the thing. PROFESSIONALS who want to spread their message and/or sell their products and services know they need a PROPER STRATEGY. Do you think famous brands and names simply crossed their fingers and hoped for the best with a scattergun approach, or do you think they INVESTED THEIR TIME (and money, where appropriate) in reaching their target audience? ‘Nuff sed.
- No one likes cold callers. In real life, do you LIKE someone randomly knocking on your door and asking you to buy something? I would bet real money you don’t. Signing people up for email lists they never subscribed to, plus random requests, emails, messages and tags (especially copied and pasted ones!) IS THE ONLINE EQUIVALENT of cold calling. Don’t do it!
- User preferences change! lf you don’t understand how social media works, then you can quickly get yourself unfollowed, unfriended or even blocked. Social media etiquette and what constitutes spam is constantly in flux. What was considered reasonable may change, year to year. You need to stay current and find out what users like and dislike (like via THIS article and many others!) and how it may vary platform to platform. It is SOCIAL media, after all!
- Algorithms change. Facebook in particular can make life difficult for people wanting to get their message out. It changes its algorithms more or less every year, in the hope users – like writers! – will do stuff like boost posts and buy advertising on the platform. This is not surprising (Facebook IS a business!), but writers are typically broke, which means we have to keep to up-to0-date and find a creative way AROUND these algorithm changes and spamming people is not it.
- Spamming does not work!!!!! You are literally wasting your time. For every minute you spend copying and pasting tweets; or sending out begging emails and messages; or subscribing people to your email list unsolicited, you could be learning a MORE EFFECTIVE METHOD of getting your message out. True story!!!
So if you recognise anything here, do yourself a favour. Discontinue – and instead of panicking, learn about how you can ENGAGE your followers. More on this, next.
‘But … But … I need to get my message out!!’
I know the feeling. Whilst B2W has a large platform now, it didn’t always; I had to build it up, from scratch. What’s more, I recently relaunched into the crime fiction community as an author myself, so I had to start over – B2W might have greased *some* wheels, but only a few. I had to start over.
So I get it. I REALLY DO.
The internet is a brilliant way of connecting with your potential target audience, whether you are a writer or not. But it IS a minefield. You can’t just go out there and simply chuck spaghetti and the (digital) wall and expect people to engage with you. There’s too many people doing this; you’re shouting into the wind.
Give Something To Get Something
In marketing, it’s said that people have to exposed a minimum of FOUR TIMES to buy a product or service. But it’s not enough to simply get your message HEARD. You have to ENGAGE people who are interested in the type of thing you do. Here’s how I do it:
- As Bang2write: I set myself up as someone who KNOWS STUFF about writing and the things that surround it – not just craft, but also careers and other related stuff (like social media!). I mostly write articles about this subject (hence this blog and other guest posts), but I also appear at talks (both real-life and online), as well as post videos on Youtube and talk online about this subject. The idea is, when someone needs writing advice, they will come to me – either by paying for a consultation, buying one of my books, doing one of my courses, or maybe all three.
- As Lucy V Hay, Author: My other site is about READING and books generally, rather than writing. I post interviews and spotlights about my fellow authors, as well as reading recommendations from book bloggers. I appear at literary festivals and other events. I post about my own book and writing, sure – BUT I have created an author persona online too that is different to B2W (whilst still interlinking with it). This means people who may have followed me as B2W may be interested in my books, either because they like me, or because they want to see if I can ‘practice what I preach’ writing-wise (or both). Those people who have no interest in B2W will see me solely as an author and may become interested either through my book, THE OTHER TWIN (‘I like the sound of it’) through to, ‘I like her tweets (or whatever), I will see what her book is like’.
This is called content marketing. Content marketing refers “a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.”
Content Marketing Is Not Spam
Content marketing WORKS. You are reading this article directly because of content marketing: you will have clicked through from a social media platform (where I, or another user has shared it), or perhaps via an email newsletter (mine, or someone else’s that YOU signed up for).
Many of my posts carry a related ‘ad’ at the bottom (this one does, in fact!). This is known as ‘a call to action’ – this is where interested parties can click through to relevant stuff I am selling. I started adding these when Bang2writers literally asked me to. They want to know where they could learn more on the subject from me, or how they could help me spread my message. ALLIES!!! W000t!
Crucially, this post is not simply ‘sell sell sell’. Whilst every post I write might be part of my content marketing strategy, you can read them WITHOUT having to buy anything or clickthru if you don’t want. That’s the key.
So, if you are not seeing the results you want via social media, do these things instead:
- Stop spamming random people online, ENGAGE them instead
- Come up with a specific content marketing strategy to get your message out
- Learn everything you can about how social media platforms work & change
- Stay up-to-date with what users on social media want, too
- Content marketing works. You’re here because of it! It’s also FREE (bar your time)
- DON’T PANIC!
Lastly – if you’re feel weary of certain writers on your TL, send them this article! 😉