Bennett's Blog

Part 3 - Online Marketing

Bennett R. Coles | April 22, 2011

It's pretty much a sure thing that as an author who has to worry about your own marketing you don't have pots of money at your disposal. The good news in the 21st Century is that the Internet has provided all of us with a medium to reach potentially millions of people at little or no cost. The bad news is that there is SO much other stuff out there online that making yourself stand out can be tricky.

In a previous post I talked about the importance of having a website as the key to your online marketing campaign. It acts as the focus, and all your online marketing efforts should direct people to it. Keeping in mind that your website can be rich in content (indeed, it should be) the other parts of your online marketing don't have to be - all they have to do is get people to go to your website. The Internet is an excellent medium for short, provocative messages. As you put together the specifics of your online marketing plan, consider that you have about two seconds to grab the attention of a casual surfer.

The other extremely important fact about online marketing is that it has to engage its audience. Simple flashing a banner ad in front of people won't be very effective (most surfers will ignore all standard advertising on a page) - you have to find a way to grab the viewer's attention and invite them to participate in what you have to say. The blog on your website is the best vehicle for true engagement, but it suffers from being "hidden" in only one location. You need to consider sites that your target audience already frequents and engage them there to come back to your website for a more in-depth chat.

Twitter, Reddit and quick social media like them are a good place to start. You can present yourself and your message to the entire world in one shot, and people who find you interesting will follow and connect with you. Facebook and LinkedIn can help you tap into your existing network and branch outward to the networks of all your contacts. If you have the right media to present, YouTube can also be a good snare. Online forums populated with people who might enjoy you book are a potential gold mine. The important thing to remember with all of these sites is that you must be offering to engage your viewers with something interesting: just blaring a one-way message across the Web won't be effective and may even get you blocked by some people.

The specifics of how you engage your audience are up to you, and depend very much on the subject matter of your book. Your online social media campaign doesn't have to be exactly on the topic of your writing, but it should definitely appeal to people who would enjoy reading your book. Make sure that your online campaign is as creative and dynamic as the book it supports, and you should be well on your way.

The final thing to consider for online marketing is the time commitment. In order to engage, converse and stay fresh, you will need to devote a lot of time - and the more media you use, the more time you'll need to devote. If, like most authors, you have a real job in addition to writing, consider carefully how to most efficiently devote your time to this critical pillar of your overall marketing campaign.

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