This is the final installment of my guest editorials at ADMAVEN, and I’d like to thank Nick for the opportunity, and all of you for reading—very much appreciated!
Last week I wrote about how even novelists need to build and maintain a brand. Today I’d like to talk about one specific way I did that, taking advantage of social networking.
Twitter is today’s buzz topic, and a lot of agencies and clients are trying to find ways to maximize the value it offers. To my mind, the most important thing is to remember that Twitter was created so that people could keep up with one another, not so they could be marketed to. The worst thing you can do on Twitter is treat your followers like a passive crowd that you talk at—or worse, sell at.
Okay, fine. But what does that mean?
Well, for me it meant that first, I waited to leap to Twitter until I had an idea of what I wanted to say. I didn’t want to just shout about my books. Also—and this is important—I didn’t want to be an early adopter. Unless you’re Ashton Kutcher, the benefit to being first to something like Twitter is outweighed by the cost in time and message. Remember that before Twitter there was Facebook and before Facebook there was MySpace and before MySpace there was Friendster and before Friendster there was AIM and before AIM…you get the picture.
The next thing you want to do is maintain a direct connection. That means replying to people. It means re-tweeting interesting posts. It means shooting thank you messages to people who follow you. It means spending some time being a real live person.
Beyond general interaction, I wanted to do something that would A) increase the number of people subscribing to my posts, and B) promote my new novel to a large group, while C) not being annoying.
All of which added up to a contest. A carefully planned contest.
My new novel, THE AMATEURS, is about four friends in their early thirties who are dissatisfied with their lives, and who make a risky plan to try to take what they think they deserve. Along the way, the meet every week or so to chat and drink and play games, one of which is called “Ready, Go.” It’s essentially a question game:
“If your best friend killed someone, how far would you go to help them cover it up? Ready, go.”
So for my contest, I decided to host a two-week round of Ready, Go. Every day I would tweet a question. To enter, all you had to do was re-tweet your answer, and tag it with @MarcusSakey and #TheAmateurs. Every answer counted as an entry. My publisher, Dutton, generously provided a prize package, about $1000 in hardcover books (A significant prize is important—small prizes feel small, and no brand wants that).
The idea was simple. At this point, being relatively new to Twitter, I didn’t have a huge network. But this contest took advantage of the networks of everyone who entered. Every time someone responded with:
“I’d help bury the body. @MarcusSakey #TheAmateurs”
it flashed out to their entire network. Thus my name, and the title of my new book, appeared on thousands of screens everyday for two weeks. Not only that, but because the questions led to intriguing answers, a lot of people in those networks checked out what had prompted the reply—and ended up subscribing to my posts.
Of course, at the heart of this is that personal connection. This wouldn’t have worked if it wasn’t a real person putting it together, maintaining it, responding to some of the juicier answers—in other words, interacting. Which is what social networking is all about.
Anyway, I’d like to thank ADMAVEN again for the opportunity. If you liked what I had to say—or if you hated it—please let me know on Twitter or Facebook.
Better yet, if you like to read, check out my new book, THE AMATEURS. I think you’ll like it.
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