BLOG SERIES: Lesson 2 – Engaging Key Influencers

Blog Series – Lesson 2: Engaging the Influencers

Now that you have your list of Influencers, whether they are Book Reviewers, Publishers, or Agents, the key is not to have a tremendously long list – top 10 max to start. You want to spend time on the most influential entities rather than spread yourself thin on too many influencers.

That being said, it’s not a bad idea to have tiered Influencers, because chances are, once you get to know your key influencers well, and a relationship is formed, you can move on to Tier 2 Influencers to create even more brand awareness. Just something to keep in mind.

Keep my example of influential book reviewers in mind, answer the following question.

TRUE or FALSE or MAYBE – Moving down your list of Key Influencers, as an author, I should immediately introduce myself and request them to review one of my books.

I know you probably hate pop quizzes, even as an adult, but it’s important to stop and think before you act with regards to Influencers.

Answer = MAYBE

If you already have a “relationship” with the Influencer, where you communicate regularly via Twitter, Facebook or another social network, then by all means, go ahead (if you haven’t already) ask them to review your book.

If you already know, i.e. have a social relationship with, all the influencers on your list, then you are more than ½ way to your Big Brand Marketing Goal of Brand Awareness.

But more than likely you know of them, but you aren’t exactly best buds.

ENGAGING THE INFLUENCERS

OBJECTIVE: The goal isn’t to get the one pop book review (at least not in my opinion). What you’re trying to do is create a brand relationship. You as the author are the brand. You want them just as excited about your next book as your most avid fan. You also want these Influencers to become your brand street team and to advocate you to their followers.

Step 1: Research and create your list of influencers. – COMPLETE

Step 2: Check the patterns. Find out if the Book Reviewer that’s on your list actually reviews your kind of book. Visit their website to see how they accept submissions. See how often they come out with new reviews, once a week, once a month? If it’s not the right fit, doesn’t matter how influential they are, they won’t be reviewing your book. As an example, I think that once-a-month book reviews is a bit slow and might not be the best nor the most influential group for your Author Brand. Might want to reconsider who’s on your key influencers list.

Step 3: Get on their radar. You want to start a conversation with them. Comment on something they tweeted about or a book they reviewed. This can be via Twitter, Facebook, or commenting on their website. Participate in any contests they might run. Don’t be obnoxious about it, but let them know you admire their work.

You could also post suggestions to them; but you might want to consider emailing those rather than posting them because you never know how people will react to advice. Keep in mind that the information offered should be complimentary, such as: I really like the book contest you ran on the XYZ Paranormal that you just reviewed. I was thinking that it might be fun to do it again as best vampire photo contest. Thanks again for offering such fun and interactive contests.

NOTE: Step 3 is especially important for unpublished writers, because you want to have a relationship with the key influencers so that once you become published; you have sites waiting in line to review your book.

Step 4: Ask for the review & maintain the relationship. Once you have gained rapport with the key influencer, go ahead and ask for the review. What can they do but say no, right? But what you have to make sure is that once they agree to do the review, and it posts, don’t make it a love-em-and-leave-em type of thing. They gave you a review, and most likely a glowing one, so return the favor. And I don’t mean by retweeting their review of your book over again. I mean #FF their site, share their links, etc. so that it’s a two-way street.

Another option is to offer them prizes for any contest they might run on their site. Can run from a bunch of your books, a Starbucks Gift Card, a nice writers page, whatever. Remember, you’re trying to create a relationship, not a one-time book review.

Links:

For an example of HOW to ask for a review, check this out: http://www.worldliterarycafe.com/content/wlc-author-pr-101-how-request-book-review

 

SERIES: Big Brand Marketing Tips for Authors -Step 1

Big Budgets

Ever wonder if the strategies that work for big brands like Coca Cola or Nike could work for you as you strive to brand yourself in the world of publishing? With deep pockets like the big boys, it would be easy to brand yourself to the world! I can imagine you just rubbing your hands together in glee thinking of how you’re going to market yourself with a $23 million budget at your fingertips.

*Slap Slap*

Wake up! Enough fantasizing already.

Even if you’re on all the best-seller lists, I doubt that any publishing company would toss around $23 million as a publicity campaign, but if they did, power-to-ya! Now scram. This blog series is for the rest of us working on a shoe-string or no string budget marketing/advertising/PR campaign.

First of all, the reason why I am qualified to give this little “chat” is because at my blessed dayjob (really, I like my job) I am a senior manager in the marketing department for the #2 brand in our category. I’m not going to reveal what that brand is, BUT, let’s just say that it’s sold at all the major and minor retailers across the nation, like Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, etc. So, I kinda know what I’m talking about. And I say “kinda” because it’s an ever growing and changing spectrum of success and until we’re #1, I say “kinda.” =)

Lesson #1: KEY INFLUENCERS

Influencers = Noun. The capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.

How the Brands Do it: One of the important first steps in any social media and public relations campaign is to determine your category’s (or genre’s) key influencers. People that you already (or should) depend on for new information and who influence large crowds of people…preferably to buy your book.

Typically, Brands would pay an agency to do the work for us, someone like Traackr (No – that’s not a typo). They are a company that specializes in the algorithyms that not only find key players in the field, but determine the relevance to your brand (YOU).

It is a great service, but it’s extremely expensive and not something the typical aspiring writer or newbie published author can afford (i.e. our program started off at $10,000).

So why did I torture you by telling you about something you can’t afford?

I’m just explaining how Big Brands do it…we cheat a bit. If you have the time, energy, and a good network, you can do it yourself. I have put together a short list of key influencers in the Romance Genre – namely Book Reviewers. Other categories to look for would be Key Agents, Key Publishers, etc. But for the sake of this blog, we’re talking about Book Reviewers.

Below is a chart of some key influencers in the Book Reviewers Romance Genre. PLEASE NOTE: This is by no means a complete list of all the book reviewers. To make life easier, I simply went by their Google Ranking and stopped at a certain point. So don’t get mad at me if I left someone off, it was unintentional, as I do not have time to list every single book reviewer.

After I chart their Google information – I check out their web address and type it into Alexa.com to see how it ranks in US traffic. Since it’s comparing all the websites published in America – which is an obscene number of websites, the rankings that these book reviewers show is phenomenal. The rest is easy to fill out. PLEASE NOTE: The number of fans or followers an entity has is NOT the most important factor in determining the influence level of a book reviewer.

Why? Because many people want to keep their interests private. So they may visit a Facebook Page often but NOTE click “like” to be a fan because they don’t want their mother/brother/kids/coworkers to know that they like a particular brand/musician/service.

That’s why it’s important that you create a chart (like mine below) and then add more information. Most of these can be found right off of Alexa.com when you get the details for the website that you are researching.

– Relevance (they define it on Alexa)

– Number of Sites linking in

– Demographic of visitors, etc.

Once you have this information – add it to the chart. NEXT TIME, I’ll tell you what to DO with your list of key influencers. STAY TUNED!

Key Influencers Example