Before we answer that question, let’s examine the potential non-financial payoffs.
- Make new friends or keep up with existing relationships.
- Share ideas and information that is meaningful to you in hopes you will help or influence others.
- Serve your inflated ego and narcissistic leanings.
- Initiate a public dialogue on an issue or topic of importance.
- It may help you get noticed by major news media.
Now let’s look at the potential monetized payoff of social networking:
- It sells something, like a book -- hopefully lots of them.
- It brands you as an expert who can then charge higher fees for existing services/products.
- It generates more business or provides more client leads.
- It helps you raise funds for a project, non-profit, or foundation.
- It allows you to charge for advertising or sponsorship - or sell subscription fees.
- It increases website traffic so you can sell a seminar or launch a new product or service.
- It captures email addresses so you can market to your new fans in the future.
So are social networks worth joining?
It’s worth trying, first because it’s free (except for your time) and second because it’s becoming less a choice and more of an obligation. People expect authors to blog, tweet, and have a website.
If you were looking for a job – in almost any field – a potential employer will look at your online resume to see what you do and say, but in publishing magnify that by tenfold. You need to be out there, in the mix.
Still, aside from expectations or social pressures, authors and those in book publishing should be a part of the online dialogue where the book community now flourishes. You will connect with others, learn, discover and share information, and create your marketing footprint.
Others have gone too far in focusing on social media, as if that were the only way to promote a book. Please note: Few people can blog their way to a bestseller list. A balanced attack is necessary to sustain long-term growth as an author.
Traditional publicity, speaking engagements, direct marketing, select advertising, and social media are the pillars to launching and building a career in publishing. You can’t dismiss any of these parts and you can’t overly rely on any one of them.
The digital landscape will continue to evolve and change. Perhaps Twitter will disappear in a few years or change significantly but it or something else will be the playground for ideas and a driving force in the marketplace. Like anything else, your success with social media is dictated by the quantity and quality of your efforts, by your level of creativity, by your relationships, by your willingness to experiment, and your ability to learn to do new tricks.
So the answer is yes to social media, but you should diversify your activities. Allow it to fit your preferences, time demands, and needs, but don’t ignore it, dismiss it, or think it’s a big waste of time. But don’t think it’s the savior either.
Continue to do other things to market yourself. It’s okay to still send letters via the post office or to actually call people or even meet them for lunch. The world may have gone into a box that we hold in our hands but you should find a way to both live outside the box and in it.
– Brian Feinblum, the chief marketing officer for Planned Television Arts, has been promoting and marketing authors since 1989. Pick up the phone and call: 212-583-2718. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: http://www.plannedtvarts.com. Brian’s new blog can be found at http://bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com.