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Use Social Media to Have a Discussion with Your Readers

Some hate it; some can't get enough of it. No matter how you feel about the new outbreak of ways for marketers to reach their consumers and for consumers to create their own content, there's no denying that social media will drastically change the way we market. While traditional media (magazines, television, and radio) are still a great way of marketing, building awareness for your book without first understanding the new trends that this new way of communicating and marketing has given rise to would result in you yielding smaller results than you’d originally hoped for.

Blogs, social networking sites, wikis, social bookmarking, and numerous other new media have revolutionized the way consumers find out about products, talk about products, and the way marketers should think about communicating with their customers. Your options for marketing your book using social media are vast, and the results can be highly rewarding, so overlooking your options would be a terrible waste of a wonderful opportunity.

Oftentimes, your readers will be more open to this type of marketing, because it requires at least implied permission. When consumers stumble across your social media message, they are looking for information related to your topic. Therefore, the process seems less intrusive and more like a welcome channel of discussion.

In this discussion, don't just promote your product. Give your readers something more. For example, if your book is about cooking, don't simply say that you have the best cookbook in the market; offer some cooking advice (like regular blog updates with new recipes or tips) to make the communication with your consumers a two-way street, not a one-way, consumer-facing advertisement. This exchange of information with your readers gives them more engagement with your product and the chance to give you regular feedback.

Social media differs from traditional (or industrial) media in three ways: its accessibility, its usability, and its recency.

  • Accessibility
    Marketing using traditional media such as newspapers or television often requires at least some money. Traditional media outlets are highly controlled. There are limits on the size of your marketing piece, what you can and can't say, and how often you can market through the outlet. Social media, however, can usually be used at little or no cost, and can be updated any time of the day or night. Your speech and method of presenting your marketing material are only lightly controlled, if controlled at all.

  • Usability
    Traditional media production typically requires specialized skills and training. Creating a television spot or magazine ad requires know-how. Most social media simplify or re-invent traditional processes, so anyone can operate the outlet with little or no experience and expertise.

  • Recency
    It often takes days, weeks, or even months to produce traditional advertisements. Social media, however, is capable of being created and published almost instantaneously. The content is then ready to invoke responses from the public quicker than traditional media would allow.

Aside from your option for marketing, your consumers have the same options for presenting their opinion of your book to a large audience. Online forums, blogs, and social networking sites are ways that your readers can communicate how they feel about your work. Whether they love it or hate it, they have an outlet to tell as many readers as they can reach exactly how they feel about your product. This may seem scary to some, as the thought of being unable to control all things published about their work seems rather risky. The most you can do is use the media to your advantage as much as you can, creating a discussion between you and your readers.