Nowhere have I seen stronger objections to intrusive efforts at self-promotion than in established online social networks. Joining conversations online can be tricky, and authors who come off as self-serving and self-absorbed are rightly rebuffed and sometimes openly chastised for their online marketing blunders.
Chris Brogan explains that being other-focused is the most effective strategy for authors who are promoting their books. In fact, he might not appreciate the word strategy, because it suggests an ulterior motive. He tells authors to make a genuine effort to get to know the people who are discussing their work online. On his blog, he provides step-by-step instructions on how to find those discussions.
When I met Brogan, I noticed that he was an intent listener, which is a sign of being other-focused. In this video he also points out the importance of waiting until the opportune moment to mention a project, business, or book rather than immediately launching into a sales pitch. The Web was designed for conversations. It didn’t start out as an advertising medium, and there is still very little tolerance for spam, whether it’s generated by socially inept human beings or insidious ‘bots.
Brogan spoke yesterday at the O’Reilly TOC (Tools of Change for Publishing) Conference in New York. (If you can’t see the video below, find it here.)
It’s easy for authors to forget that they need to reach out to readers instead of expecting readers to find them and their work. Making the effort to relate to strangers online can be a struggle for the uninitiated. But there is a way to make it almost painless. Authors who concentrate on a charitable cause or take the time to share information that might help others with similar interests can find that the process of giving, and focusing on others, eases their shyness and discomfort.