Hey all, and welcome back to The Bard & Books! It has been another exciting week in the tropical paradise of work-from-home land (Truth be told, I really do love it. I miss my coworkers, but the absence of a commute is amazing).
This week we have another case study on social media marketing. Specifically, I want to discuss mobilizing an audience into effective action. Before we jump into it, if you haven’t done so already, please hit the FOLLOW button to the right of the screen. I appreciate all the support, and thank for taking the time to stop in and read!
Social Media Marketing: Engagement vs Action
Social media marketing allows average users the chance to reach hundreds, thousands, and in some cases millions of people. Twenty years ago the only way to have this amount of reach was to have a relationship with traditional media outlets which were admittedly expensive (a simple newspaper ad reaching just under 200,000 people costs $3,776). Publisher weren’t—and still are not likely—willing to fork out this kind of money for most new authors. Social media levels the playing field. Rather than investing money, we are able to invest effort and time in order to reach those same people.
Meghan Mahoney and T. Tang—the authors of Strategic Social Media: From Marketing to Social Change—delve into the intricacies of social media’s influence on Breast Cancer Awareness. Good ‘ole TLDR for those skimmers:
“Before creating a social media mobilization campaign, it is important to ask whether lack of awareness is the biggest challenge to the cause. Is your biggest challenge that individuals don’t know that you exist, or are they just not interested in your services?”(Mahoney & Tang, 2016)
Mahoney and Tang’s wisdom can be applied to almost every writer, myself included. Before we can approach the topic of mobilized marketing, we have to ask an important question. Is our audience even interested in what we have to say?
The are almost as many strategies for a successful social media presence as there are books published each year (2.2 million according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). A few elements that most have in common are:
- Approachable Hosts
- Entertaining Presentation
- Relevant Content
- Demonstrated Competence
- Established Community
Rather than going into each element in detail—which would be an entire blog post in its own right—I want to assert that social media should not be viewed as a marketing tool initially. Instead, it should be a communication. If the presence that is being displayed comes across as a used car salesman, who would want to stick and hear them ramble about buying their product? We might listen for a bit if they are humorous. We might share the content if it is impressive. That said, if the only apparent motivation of the poster is to sell me something, I will not become a loyal follower. It is fine to make a living, but when it comes to social media, we need to build a community.
For most of us, community building should be our primary goal. We want to find our tribe of people. We want to have that solid base who will read, comment, and support our work whenever we release it. When we generate content, this is the type of mobilization that will be the most effective in developing a dedicated audience.
Mahoney and Tang discuss several different techniques in generating this shared community. One aspect is to create bond between members of a similar group. Often in the month of October, viral social media trends revolve around breast in order to raise awareness of breast cancer. The discuss the trend of woman posting status of only their name and the color of their bra. No context. The trend spreads through private messages between woman. When posted in mass, the strange content grabs attention and helps make the posters feel that they are in an exclusive group. This strategy can be applied toward books.
As writers, there are countless spins on this strategy that can be used to garner engagement. The big obstacle is building that initial interest. With a loyal base, this can make the effort easier but it still has a major problem. How exactly does this increase in engagement translate to a stronger community/audience?
Mahoney and Tang propose that mobilization efforts do not end with an online interaction. Instead, the most effective require some sort of real-world action. By calling an audience to buy a book for someone else, and posting the effort on social media, you have a much stronger impact on the world and the community. In addition, if there is a way that you can differentiate those who have taken to the time, effort, or resources to participate and distinguish them from others, it helps snowball the entire effort. Think of the “I Voted” pins. How often do you see individuals posting pictures with their pin on social media? Such awareness may push someone to take action that they would not otherwise have done.
Social media marketing is a huge beast, and I know that this doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. If you are interested in reading smarter people than me discuss social media marketing, please check out Jake on the Case or Rachel Wilson. They are both classmates of mine, and I think their content on our last assignment is killer. Thanks again for reading, and if you enjoyed the post please hit the like button, comment, and follow the blog. Until next week, this has been The Bard & Books.