Friday, July 31, 2009

Twitter marketing: Using hashtags

by Donna Gunter, The Online Biz Resource Queen (TM)

Twitter, as a popular social networking platform, is a viral marketing strategy all on its own, especially if your followers like your tweets and retweet them to their followers. However, I've recently noticed another trend in Twitter usage that increases its viral marketing capabilities through the use of hashtags.

What's a hashtag, anyway? Also called the pound sign, the hashtag (#) is added to a tweet as a way of creating trackable categories, groups, or topics that others can use to search for info using the Twitter Search feature. One of the most common uses of the hashtag is to tweet what's happening at an event or conference. The event organizer will request all attendees use a specific hashtag, i.e. #yourevent, when tweeting about the event to your followers. So, then, someone who isn't present at the event but wants to follow what's happening there can simply search for #yourevent and see what's going on and what participants are saying and sharing about the event.

Anyone can create a hashtag by putting hashtag (#) in front of anything. If you log into Twitter and look in the right-hand column, you'll see the Trending Topics, many of which can be tracked with a hashtag. How can you use this strategy to create more viral marketing for your business on Twitter? By creating a hashtag Twitter tips campaign.

Here are 6 steps to help you create your own Twitter hashtag campaign:

1. Research. What kinds of tips would be appreciated by your target market? On what topics do you frequently receive questions from your clients? My target market is always asking questions about getting more traffic, so I decided to focus on traffic generation strategies.

2. Choose your name. Choose a short, simple name that reflects your brand and what you're offering. Before making your final decision, you need to check your proposed name on Twitter Search (search by including the #) to ensure that no one else is using that name. Otherwise, your tweeted tips will intermingle with the other hashtag group using that name. I quickly checked and discovered that no one was using #OBUTrafficTip, so that's what I chose.

3. Create your tips. You can easily pick your tips out of an article or blog post you've created. In my case, I had purchased a PLR ebook that I used as a basis for my tips. Remember that your tips need to be less than 140 characters, including the hashtag name you've chosen and any links you include.

4. Link to relevant info. You get the most mileage out of these tips if you link the tips to something relevant to that tip. For example, if you have a bank of articles, each tip might link to an article you've written that has more details about the tip. For maximum exposure, you'll want to link to info on your site or your blog rather than to the posting of an article in an article directory.

5. Upload the tips into This type of campaign is easily managed using Simply upload your completed tips and set them to distribute once a day (or several times a week) over the upcoming weeks by postdating them into the future. In this way you put these tips on autopilot and they post themselves.

6. Let them begin to work their magic. It may take awhile for them to catch on, but eventually others will begin to retweet your tips as useful information they want their followers to access. As with most marketing strategies, consistency is the key here to your success.

It's pretty easy to begin your own viral marketing tips campaign using the Twitter hashtag. Simply follow the steps as outlined above, and watch as your number of Twitter follows grows each day!

Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps baby boomers create profitable online retirement businesses by demystifying the steps needed to successfully market a baby boomer business online. Would you like to learn the specific Internet marketing strategies that get results? Discover how to increase your visibility and get found online by claiming your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, at == >

Monday, July 27, 2009

Using cross promotion in book marketing

Today I want to share a couple of ways I've used cross promotional opportunities to successfully reach new audiences. Hopefully these examples will help you come up with a few cross promotion ideas to help you market your unique book.

Back when my novel was new, I wanted to reach equine enthusiasts as a secondary market because a horse owned by the main character plays a major part in the plotline. After doing a google search, I contacted the Equine Art Guild and asked if anyone would be interested in working with an historical fiction author (a fellow "starving artist") on a promotional project. I received a handful of responses and picked Kristen Queen, who specializes in equine and animal portraiture. Kristen already had a piece of art that resembled the equine character in my book (named Justus) - and I really liked her style.

In addition to placing information on her website about my book (and me doing the same for her), Kristen also created an entire Justus store on Cafepress which helps get the word out about her art and helps me by showcasing a character in my book. We also incorporated each other's contact information on all our promotional material, including "Justus" greeting cards that I had printed to give out at book signings.

The great thing about cross promotion is it doesn't have to cost anything to reach a new audience. Kristen's art is now being seen at the festivals and book signings I attend, and my book is being seen at art shows and horse events that she attends.

My latest cross promotional project involves the trailer for the Civil War novel Shades of Gray. Since authentic-looking Civil War stock art is a little hard to come by, I requested permission to use the artwork of renowned artist Dale Gallon (never really thinking I would get it). Mr. Gallon not only gave me permission, he is linking his website to mine, helping me to reach Civil War enthusiasts in a whole new way.

No author has the time or money to reach all their potential audiences. Concentrate your energy on a small, defined group, and then think of ways to reach secondary and related audiences without expending a lot of time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

10 mistakes first-time authors make

Finding that promoting your book is even harder than writing it? I certainly have. But luckily for me, my earlier career was in a newsroom where I learned the ins and outs of getting past the editor's desk and into print. As a result, I was able promote my historical fiction novel into the #1 spot on Amazon in the romance/historical/U.S. category.

There is more to book marketing than just press releases, so here are some of the mistakes I often see first-time authors make in book promotion.

1. They spend too much time chatting with other authors. Author groups are great for networking and commiserating, but you’re not selling books by chatting with other authors about how you’re not selling books.

2. They assume the store where they are signing books will advertise the event. Do your own publicity for every event. That could mean press releases to local papers, sending calendar items to publications, posters, postcards, radio interviews, etc.

3. They spend too much time on social networking sights that don’t produce results. It's easy to spend the better part of a day between twitter, facebook, linkedin and ning groups. They are an important part of marketing, but you should be wise with your time.

4. They don’t realize the power of the press release. You have a local paper, right? And there are tons of free Internet distribution sites out there. If you've sent less than four press releases in the last six months, you’re not effectively marketing your book.

5. They're not using key words and SEO effectively (which is why press releases and articles are so important). There is a learning curve to all this technology, but it’s necessary to know.

6. Back to the basics: They think their target market is "everybody."

7. They start trying to get reviews AFTER their book has been published. The big reviewers need the manuscript four to five months before the pub date. If you want the review to coincide with the launch, obviously you are going to have to get the book into reviewers hands early.

8. They rush their book to print before it's ready. It's hard to be patient, but hurrying the book into print will only cause headaches later.

9. They think they are going to be a guest on Oprah before they've even received an interview from their local paper. Start small, build buzz.

10. They're marketing plan (if they have one) is not multi-faceted. You can't rely on one type of marketing. Your plan should include print media, radio, blogs, websites and ezines, to name a few.

Good luck!