My Cringeworthy Social Media Marketing Experience

When I first got into social media marketing, I admit that I really had no idea what I was doing. I had never used sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ before. Now, I’m no Luddite, but I just never had a reason to use these sites. I don’t need to know what everyone is doing at all hours of the day, and they don’t need to know it about me. However, I found I was in desperate need of social media marketing etiquette when I began publishing my novels and had no idea how to market them outside of ads and blog spots. (Which I also had to educate myself on.)

Everyone told me to get into social media. Now, once I made all these accounts, I had no idea what to do. I barely knew what a tweet was. Sure I dabbled a bit, and eventually got the hang of hashtags, but I was at my wits end making it work for me as a marketing tool. I ended up buying a book on ebook marketing that basically told me to shout into the ether.

I’m not proud of this, but I turned into a spammer without realizing it. I scheduled tweets for every hour on the hour. I packed my tweets with terrible hashtags. Not only that, but I would friend people for the sole purpose of having them friend me back. Sure, I had about 10,000 friends by the end of the first month, but they weren’t “friends.” Or followers, I guess. Either way, they had no interest in my tweets. Or my status updates. Or my whatevers. In fact, they got sick of them pretty quickly. Instead of boosting my sales or seeing my tweets retweeted until the end of time, I steadily began to lose followers. In some cases, users completely blocked me from communicating with them.

What had happened? My friend soon told me she was this close to defriending me because she couldn’t take it anymore. She said, “If I didn’t know you so well, I would be inspired to never buy a book from you. Because if this is the way you do business, then I can only imagine the quality of your writing.” That took me aback and made me rethink a few things. If even my own friends didn’t want to be friends with me online because I was so annoying, then what was I telling total strangers? I was mortified. I promptly stopped for a while and reassessed what I was doing.

I studied popular authors. I noticed that they rarely promoted their own works, and instead engaged their followers in conversation. By George, they were people! You may laugh, but this was an interesting concept to me. I tried it out. Soon I had real friends on social media, and they actually bought my books. Then we would talk about my books.

I cringe when I think about how I started of marketing online. But now that I know what I know, I want to make sure that other authors don’t make the same mistakes I did.

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