Using Social Networking Sites for Book Promotion

With regards to online promotions for authors, there is such a thing as spreading oneself too thinly. With the recent surge of social networking and bookmark sites, the urge to join every new community is strong. It is true that you want to certify your name and/or book as a brand, and devoting time to socializing via sites like MySpace and Friendster can help build a potential readership, which in turn may improve word of mouth promotion of your book.

However, trying to manage a presence on several sites at once can be daunting and time-consuming. Plus, too much time spent marketing takes away from writing that next book. So where do you find the balance to maintain your creative writing while employing effective online marketing techniques? Is it better to spread yourself in tiny portions across a multitude of social networks, or concentrate your energy on two or three and let the readers come to you? The authors of a marketing book I once read called "Focus" touched on the theory that a business that maintains a focus on one product or service tends to be more successful that the company that attempts to branch out into different things. This thought can be applied to online marketing: make one or two social communities part of your marketing focus, and your chances for sales may increase. Of course, this begs the question, "Which social networks?" MySpace, for one, is perhaps the best known and most popular of the active sites.

Its multi-functionality and growing database of users gives the author greater opportunity for establishing a following. As for other up-and-coming sites whose names may become dictionary terms, here is a short listing. Determine which ones may be most useful to your book marketing, and focus your energy on creating a visible presence through the services they offer. delicious - delicious is regarded as one of the first widely known social bookmarking websites on the Internet. "Social bookmarking" refers to the collection of favorite websites and pages, made available for other Internet users to browse. Websites are grouped by keywords which are made searchable through the site and may be viewed as lists or as "clouds".

A cloud is a grouping of keywords where the larger font words represent phrases with the most websites attributed to them. As a registered delicious user, you can add and edit favorite URLs and save them to an RSS feed which can be applied to your site or blog through an aggregator. Many people use to reference favorite sites or to promote multiple URLs with which they are associated.

For somebody marketing via the Internet, offers the opportunity to create inbound links to websites for link popularity, and to offer delicious user the chance to find your site under a specific keyword. For delicious to be truly effective, however, your site would have to be tagged by other delicious users. One way to achieve this is by adding a special button to your website to entice visitors to add your URL to their bookmarks.

As a marketing tool, delicious works best if people use it to tag you. Keep a profile at for the promotion of your URLs and books, and spend time on it when you have some to spare.

Flickr - Flickr is a social community founded on photo sharing. Offering widgets to allow blog users to add gallery functionality to their templates, Flickr enjoyed an explosive popularity as a social site, and through its acquisition by Yahoo it maintains status as one of the top places to visit and share pictures. Here people may upload vacation snaps, photos of bizarre but true hometown imagery, and personal photos designed to bring people of the world even closer.

Can Flickr benefit the author? In a way, yes. Readers are fans, and fans have an interest in various aspects of the lives of those they admire. Flickr presents the author with an opportunity to share with readers through pictures.

Snapshots of recent booksignings or conference appearances may be uploaded to a gallery and shared with all. Exposing a personal side to your writing persona, however large or small, cements a bond between you and the reader than can grow and ultimately benefit your sales through word of mouth. As a marketing tool, Flickr can help bring a personable quality to your site or weblog. Update occasionally as you have pictures of book-related events and objects to share.

Faqqly - This is a unique social site in that it encourage users to ask each other questions. These questions form your personal FAQ, or Frequently Asked Question list. Once you set up a profile, you can offer information about your book and writing career. The idea is that people on Faqqly will ask questions about your books and writing, and as you answer you create the FAQ.

It is very similar to being interviewed. As a marketing tool, Faqqly presents an opportunity to market yourself to interested readers. Rather than maintain a personal FAQ on your site, you can link to your Faqqly profile and encourage reader interaction, thereby enhancing your rapport with your audience. As you can be alerted to new questions, you won't need to devote too much time to FAQQLY unless you can spare a few minutes to reciprocate questions to other FAQQLY users. This in turn, exposes you to a wider FAQQLY audience who will hopefully visit your profile.

From bookmarks to impromptu interviews, social networking sites offer the author many opportunities for self-promotion. Choose the sites that best fit your time schedule and energy, and keep your focus and a polished profile for yourself and your books. Use your time to write and give readers something else to look forward to when they revisit you on these sites.

Kathryn Lively offers book marketing tips to authors, and writes for CINIVA, Virginia Beach website design.

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