Don’t be that guy: How to get your message across without spamming
This is a guest post by Anne Chaconas
Everyone knows a version of that guy. You know who I’m talking about. We all know the type (because we all, unfortunately, have at least one of these individuals on our various social networks): That author who never says anything, never comments on anything, never sets fingers to keyboard unless it’s to relentlessly self-promote. And that guy’s not a quiet, occasional presence, either (are they ever?). “The cover of my book is truly spectacular–and the content is even better!” that guy will exclaim at 12:45pm. “My background qualifies me as an expert in my field,” that guy will puff at 1:13pm, “which is why my book has positively affected so many people.” “Check out this 5-star review on my book,” that guy will say at 1:30pm. “Have you purchased my book?” that guy will ask at 1:52pm. “This book will change your life,” that guy will muse at 2:17pm, thoughtfully providing us with the link to his book’s Amazon page. It’s time to get the hell outta Dodge, I’ll think at 2:18pm, as I hustle on over to his profile and effectively erase him from my online life. Ah, bliss. Suddenly, my feed is quieter. Cleaner. I no longer feel the need to punch something small and defenseless.
Social networking, guys and gals, is a science. An art, if you will. Not even Twitter, with its 140-character “What are you doing? Is it mundane? We don’t care! Tell us anyway!” vibe lends itself to this kind of unrelenting banging of the self-promotion hammer. No one is that awesome. And, certainly, no one wants to hear you talk, on loop, about how awesome you think you are.
Let’s analyze exactly what’s wrong with Spammy McLookatme’s approach to social media and advertising:
- It’s completely self-centered and self-serving. In the world of that guy, nothing is as sweet as the sound of his own voice or the look of his own words. And when he gets to talk about his own work in his own words—well, there’s really nothing quite like it. It might just be heaven to that guy. So he does it. Over and over. And over. The problem with this approach is that, unless you’re very, very interesting, chances are pretty good no one’s gonna wanna hear you talk about yourself endlessly. And, even if you are very, very interesting, no one’s gonna wanna be associated with someone who’s nothing but a walking bullhorn for their own accomplishments.
- It’s relentless. That guy sees nothing wrong with posting about himself and his own work at least a few times an hour. I shouldn’t have to explain why this is the wrong approach, but I will anyway—it’s mentally exhausting to those subjected to it. Hell, I get tired of seeing multiple daily posts by people who don’t talk about themselves all day long. Perhaps even worse than the mental exhaustion this kind of badgering produces is the fact that they people will eventually just tune you out—the complete opposite effect you hoped to have.
- It offers no added value. You’re not helping anyone with spammy self-promotion, except maybe yourself (but, as we saw in point number two above, even that’s a doubtful thing). If your posts are nothing but ME-ME-LOOK-AT-ME-BUY-MY-THING, the chances of anyone actually reading them, sharing them, or even just considering them worthwhile will quickly dwindle down to zero.
- It’s repetitive. There’s only so many ways you can say “Hey, I think I’m pretty awesome—buy my book!” After a while, they all sound the same—and, as I mentioned in point number two, this will just get you tuned out (and potentially shunned from polite society).
There are a few things that, I believe, everyone should keep in mind when they’re interacting with others, whether online, offline, informally, or professionally:
- Care about others. Sure, it’s nice to have others care about you, but it’s also nice to return the favor–and return it sincerely. If you put love out there, you’ll get love back. Put nothing but promotional squawking, and all you’ll get in return is meaningless white noise.
- Make bonds. You don’t have to become besties with everyone you meet online. But take the time to get to know a few people, learn some of their idiosyncrasies, and create a little tribe of like-minded folk. Social networking’s a lot more fun when it’s, you know, social.
- Reply with thoughtful answers. Not everything has to tie back to you and your work. Sometimes, just listening to what someone has to say, or reading what someone has taken the time to type, and replying with a comment that indicates that you’ve given it more thought than simply, “How can I make a buck out of this?” is all you need.
- Don’t make it all about you. Because it’s not. In fact, it almost never is. At its core, life is about the relationships we have with others.
- Add value by your presence. The more thoughtless, self-centered, and self-serving your answers, the more devaluated they become. The less value something has, the easier it is to ignore. Eventually, you’ll just blend into the background, an annoying fruit fly that you only notice when you swat at it.
- Shut up and listen. You might learn something when you stop being enamored with the sound of your own voice or the look of your own words.
So, how do you get your message across without spamming?
I’ll let you in on a little secret—when it comes to indie authors, the thing that initially sells books is not the book. It’s the author. If people like you, they’re more likely to check out your work. If people love you, they’ll not only check out your work, they’ll share it, too. And if people adore you, they’ll check out your work, share it, and then talk it up like mad. That’s how tribes get created and how buzz begins. So, your goal, dear author, is to become lovable. Here’s how:
- Toot your own horn sparingly. It’s totally okay to talk about yourself and how awesome you think you are. Just don’t make it the only thing you do. A post every once in a while, highlighting a passage in your latest work you particularly like, talking about a contest or offer relating to your book, or telling others about what you’re currently working on is fine. The operating phrase here is every once in a while, though. Don’t go crazy with the self-love.
- Use the words of others. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, is that praise that comes from third parties is always better and carries much more weight than self-praise. This is where posting excerpts from your Amazon reviews comes in. It’s also where being a part of a blog tour is key. Can a blog tour make you a best-seller? Doubtful. Can a blog tour give you plenty of opportunities to highlight what others think of your work? Absolutely. Can the praise of others, when shared judiciously, potentially lead you to create enough buzz to turn you in a bestseller? You know it.
- Talk about something other than yourself. Even though the crux of social media is sharing what we’re up to, that’s not the only thing we can—or should—talk about. Talk about other things that interest you, whatever they may be. Use your hobbies to find other topics to discuss. People are much more likely to like someone with whom they have common interests.
- Be a pal, share, and connect. Reply to messages. Comment on posts. Engage. Show your personality. Leap from the screen and become a three-dimensional being people smile about.
Avoid becoming a spam-bot. Embrace the social aspect of social media, and make it your aim to make friends, not just make a buck. Seek to leap off the screen as a human being with actual interests, hobbies, and a sense of humor. Become lovable. Your book sales will thank you for it.
About this post’s author:
Anne Chaconas was born in Central America and educated in the U.S. Northeast. She moved to the Deep South for love and currently lives on the East Coast (and misses winter terribly.) Her snarky husband, adorable daughter, three rambunctious cats, and two very adoring dogs keep her busy. Salve Regina, her debut novel, will be available this fall. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter,Pinterest, Google+, GoodReads and Tumblr.