Social networking is a great way to build your readership, expand your fan base, and sell your products and services. You’ve probably already heard of some of the more popular networks like myspace and facebook.
So, what are social networks? They’re online spaces where virtual communities are created. You join (usually for free), create a “space” or profile page, invite your friends to join and then link to each other. Most sites allow you to create text profiles, and upload photos, images and sound files. All the social networking sites are searchable, so people looking for you, your books or services you offer are likely to find them. Some of the larger networks boast millions of users; that’s a lot of potential buyers. With the “trusted friends” function, everyone you invite or who requests to be one of your network friends must be approved. This built-in trust is essential in online marketing.
In the most basic form, social networks are like billboards that allow us to constantly promote our books and services. Yet, many networks have advanced features like calendars, invitation services, blogging and forums. For example, on John Kremer’s BookMarket.ning.com, a writer’s networking community, you can blog and create profile-linked forums. Some of the networks also have built in messaging, so you can contact your group of network friends with news and announcements. As we get to know our readers, buyers and fans, we’re better able to answer their questions. And, as a recent Live Journal poll pointed out, 99% of book buyers buy books because they know or feel they have a connection to the author.
There’s another advantage to social networking: it can be fun. The writing life can be solitary and social networks are a way to step out of your office without leaving it. I join all the social networking sites that I come across. While I admit I don’t spend a lot of time socializing on these sites, they have helped build my fan base and allowed me to connect with some old friends.
Are you ready to take advantage of social networking? Once you get started with the social networking sites below send me an invitation, I’ll be happy to be your social network friend.
Gregory A. Kompes, author of the bestseller 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live and the Writer’s Series, speaks at conferences and teaches Internet self-promotion courses online. Gregory is editor of Queer Collection: Prose & Poetry, Patchwork Path, The Fabulist Flash, and Eighteen Questions, a Q&A series that collects published authors experiences (chosen a “101 Best Website” by Writer’s Digest ). In Las Vegas, he hosts the Writerpreneur Workshops and co-host’s the Writer’s Pen & Grill. Gregory holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, New York, and a certificate in Online Teaching and Learning and an MS Ed. from California State University, East Bay.