Friday, April 13, 2012

Can You Hear Me Now?

     Building an audience is so important to a writer nowadays.  This is true not just for those who self-publish, but also for those who want to go the traditional route.  Agents and publishers look to see if an author (especially a yet unpublished author) has a following.  So authors have to spend a good deal of time and energy doing self-promotion long before the book is ready to be sent to an agent or publisher.  So writers tweet, blog, gather Facebook friends, link into LinkedIn and add themselves to Google+.  Often I feel I'm devoting so much time to networking that it's hard to find the energy and creativity to work on the books.  There is a good side to it though.  I really do enjoy interacting with other writers.  I read and comment on five writing / publishing focused blogs and I connect with other writers on Twitter.  I find that interaction encouraging, inspiring, energizing and supportive.

      My experience on Facebook has not been as positive.  I keep showing up, writing my own posts, commenting on others' posts and sharing.  But it feels like a waste of time and energy.  My friends and family, for various reasons, don't do Facebook.  Since FB requires one to have friends in order to grow friends, I feel that I'm having a conversation with myself in a big empty meadow.  Even the birds aren't listening.

     Recently I read about a great idea on a Books and Such post that I follow.  A writer who has written a book about the Titanic started a FB group for people who want to go on a virtual tour of the Titanic.  She connected this to her book by having her main character be the Tour Guide.  Brilliant idea!  I thought, "Maybe that's a way I could grow friends on FB; start a group."  At first, I wasn't sure what kind of group would work for me.  One of my books is about a multiple personality.  The other is about a teenage fairy.  I knew I didn't want to start a multiple personality group, so it seemed that starting a group related to the YA fantasy would be the best route.  Still, I was a little stymied in terms of what kind of group to have.  Then a series of things led to a perfect creative storm.

     A few days ago I watched a supernatural genre t.v. show that my sister loves.  The episode was about banshees and since I write a blog called "Whispers of a Banshee Weaver," my sister thought I might enjoy the episode.  The episode was entertaining but it perpetuated a modern day misconception that banshees are evil and murderous.  With this in mind, when I sat down to write my Banshee blog, I protested this continued defamation of banshees and asked readers to use social media to get the word out that banshees are compassionate and noble, not vicious.

     After finishing the blog, I went to the grocery store.  On the way, it hit me.  I now had my group idea.  An activist group to stop banshee bashing.  I played around with some names and realized as I was doing this that one name created a perfect acronymn: Society of Banshee Supporters --SOBS.  I then promoted it on Twitter and asked for RTs.  I wrote a short new blog on the group and posted it on FB.  Immediately (within minutes) traffic to the blog went up 14%.  Wow!  I didn't expect that much of an impact that quickly. Of course, I was delighted.  Sometimes a little creativity pays off.

     Unfortunately, I found that I couldn't form the group on FB because of the Catch 22: I had to have interested friends on FB to start the group.  So that felt like a dead end.  In response, I asked people who visited the blog to go to my FB page (under the name Christine Dorman) and "friend" me so that we can start the group there.  It remains to be seen what will happen there.

What marketing strategies or platform building have worked effectively for you?

Have you found FB to be a helpful tool?

What's your preferred social medium?