1. How does brand building for authors compare to developing a brand for a business?
It depends. Is the brand a product, person, or entity (a persona like the Coca Cola polar bear)? The principles of marketing/publishing in the digital platforms would be similar in that they all follow the same rules of engagement if they want to build a community. All potential readers/clients/viewers… want the same thing: a connection, to be wowed/wined and dined, to be inspired/entertained/appreciated and have their time respected (i.e. don’t send viewers on a wild goose chase clicking a bunch of links to get to the point). The difference is in who is creating the content. For a business, it may be the marketing/PR department, therefore there should be some discussions on editorial guidelines to make sure the message is clear, concise, and consistent.
2. What 3 social media platforms should authors use and why?
I would say the big three are Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but there isn’t a one size fits all in social media. It comes down to audience and message. But if you are catering to an adolescent crowd, then Tumblr is a must. If your book/message is a visual experience, then Pinterest, Instagram, Google +, and Flickr. LinkedIn is where you want to be to find the business crowd — especially those who have not yet embraced other media. Facebook is good if you promote your humanness. Twitter is a news feed for meaty tips and interesting stories. Each platform works with a different purpose, so choose the one that fits and work it well.
3. What is the key to shareable content?
Shareable means making it easy for others to share your content and not putting up walls and obstacles. Users like to be entertained, wowed, educated, inspired — you can see in your own feeds (and test it out) as to what gets shared more than others. BUT to focus on shares is not how you get shared. Focus on really good content. Make people want to keep visiting your profile. People like to laugh, which is why memes are popular. You can make your own memes using your own photos. Post something inspirational or educational. Continually test the waters.
4. If an author has 30 minutes a day to devote to online marketing, where should they concentrate their effort?
If you could write a blog post once a week and share it with a unique blurb introducing it to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google +, you are doing exceptional. Post your own content (such as a photo you took with an inspirational post), links to other great content, share someone else’s, reply and respond to someone else who has shared your content. Pick a post in general that you like to comment on. Get to know your followers on a human level a little at a time.
5. How does an author build credibility online?
1) Be everywhere. If your specialty is wills, be in as many free online directories you can find.
2) Post something every day — meat, inspiration, or entertainment. Lift up the community and give them something to look forward to rather than ranting about this and that.
3) Talk to your community. If you see a post you like, acknowledge that person — “your post made my day” or “thanks, Brian, I really needed this.”
To learn more about building an online profile and marketing your expertise in the digital age, take a look at Elicksen’s recent title on the subject Publishing & Marketing in the Digital Age published this fall by Self-Counsel Press.