Writer's Road

Author Platforms + Digital Marketing

Hey BookWyrms,

I’ve been doing a lot of research into digital marketing, and I have some predictions on what we might see in the next five years. A quick note: Since I’ve been researching this topic like crazy, I’ll be sure to actually include where my information is coming from for this post.

Technology

“Imagine if modern chatbots had been available when Daniel Handler started promoting A Series of Unfortunate Events (written in-narrative by a character called Lemony Snicket). He could have set up a chatbot for Lemony Snicket himself, and had it respond in character-appropriate ways, making for an entertaining and gripping promotional campaign.”

Micro Startups, Chatbots Life

What’s Happening Now

If you’re like me, you’ve been doing a lot of online shopping this year, and I’m sure you’ve noticed the little chatbot popups that offer assistance with your shopping. I haven’t really used them much, but they’re around. I’m sure they are moderately helpful at this point in their little robotic lives.

Where I think It’s Headed

Have you considered what they could do for authors? The staff writers over at Aerio predict that they could be incredibly useful to us in the coming years. While I’m not tech savvy enough to fully understand how, it’s predicted that chatbots will be able to ask readers for book reviews, collect data for email lists, help increase social media followers, manage contests and giveaways, and help sell books. I, sadly, haven’t yet come across any chatbots coded specifically for book sales, but I think this will be a really fun and exciting innovation in the author community. Imagine being able to virtually chat with our own characters. This may be more of a dream than a prediction, but five years from now, I really hope to be implementing this into my own author platform once I have a book or three under my belt. Hopefully by that point I’ll actually understand how chatbots work.

Strategies

“The first thing most people do on their phones in the morning is now text messaging, not checking email, which was the most popular answer in 2014.”

Lisa Eadicicco, Time

In 2015, Time reported that “Americans collectively check their smartphones upwards of 8 billion times per day.” They also found that there was a shift in priority towards text messaging over checking emails first thing in the morning. BookWyrms, are you seeing the same marketing trend that I am? Raise your hand if you have a celebrity’s “cell phone number.” I have two: Lindsey Stirling and Stephen Amell, but they are certainly not the only two doing this.

What’s Happening Now

If you don’t have a celebrity cell phone number, here’s how it works based on my own experience. A celebrity will give out a cell phone number (not their personal number) for fans to use to sign up for text messages from them. I remember when Lindsey Stirling set hers up she mentioned getting a second phone, but according to The New York Times, most celebrities are partnering with Community to do this for their fans. Other than that, I don’t fully understand how it works on their end. Once signed up, fans receive real texts from celebrities. I don’t get much from Stephen Amell, but I will usually get a text from Lindsey Stirling on holidays and when she has announcements about shows or new albums.

Where I think It’s Headed

Here’s my prediction: Text messages will replace newsletters. In all of my research for my author platform, newsletter sign ups are pure gold. And it makes complete sense. If I spend a year putting everything into gaining twitter followers and then Twitter suddenly shuts down, those followers are gone. I will never be able to contact those specific people again. But an email list? I own that. As long as a subscriber has intentionally signed up for my emails and I have a hard copy of the contact information, that is mine for as long as they are happy to hear from me. However, if people started checking their emails less five years ago, and it became a thing for celebrities to text us about a year ago…. I predict that in about five years, we aren’t going to be collecting those email addresses anymore. We’ll be collecting cell phone numbers and short texts will replace the newsletter altogether.

Trends

“We’ve already seen the first stages of Facebook’s next big revenue push, with the introduction of shops on Facebook and Instagram, which simplifies the process of building an eCommerce outlet on the world’s most used digital platform.”

Andrew Hutchinson, Social Media Today

What’s Happening Now

Okay Wyrms, here is where things get a little hinky in the author community. I’ve talked a lot about digital marketing to other authors and the general consensus that I hear from them is that Facebook is dying and Twitter is the best platform to be on right now. I have to say that I disagree. We can see from the chart below that Facebook is the top social media platform with Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest coming in a close second. Comparatively, there really aren’t that many users on Twitter anymore.

Where I think It’s Headed

There were a lot of things that changed since COVID-19 came into play. One of those changes was the increase in how much we shop online and socialize virtually. Social Media Today made the observation that Facebook was really innovative last year by shifting their focus towards eCommerce. Twitter, on the other hand, hasn’t really changed much. Considering their low statistics of internet users and their lack of innovation, I predict that sometime in the next five years, Twitter is going to go under. Now, I could be wrong, but here’s where we have to pay attention, Wyrms. When I started my author platform a couple years ago, every source was telling me that Twitter was my most important channel because agents and publishers were going to check to see if I had at least 1k followers. As authors, we have to carefully track where our readers are going to be. If there are more people on Instagram and Facebook, then that is exactly where my platform is going to live. Now, I’m not saying to jump the Twitter ship just yet, but definitely keep an eye on those stats, and for bonus points, find out where your target reading age fits in.

Signing Off

As always, BookWyrms, thank you for sticking around to listen. Be sure to leave a comment. I’m always happy to answer questions for anyone new to author platforms. And of course, if you’d be so kind as to sign up for my newsletter, it would mean the world to me. Happy writing, BookWyrms!

Links

Aerio Staff. (2018, December 19). 7 Book Marketing Strategies to Watch For in 2019. Aerio. https://www.aer.io/blog-article/7-book-marketing-strategies-to-watch-for-in-2019

Eadicicco, Lisa. (2015, December 15). Americans Check Thier Phones 8 Billion Times a Day. Time. https://time.com/4147614/smartphone-usage-us-2015/

Hutchinson, Andrew. (2020, November 30). 25 Predictions for Social Media Marketing in 2021. Social Media Today. https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/25-predictions-for-social-media-marketing-in-2021/589785/

Kunst, Alexander. (2020, November 19). Social Media Usage by Platform Type in the U.S. 2020. Statista. https://www.statista.com/forecasts/997190/social-media-usage-by-platform-type-in-the-us

Lorenz, Taylor. (2019, October 15). Forget DMs. Celebrities Want You to Text Them. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/15/style/celebrity-phone-numbers.html

Micro Startups. (2019, March 22). How Authors Can Use Chatbots to Market Their Books. Chatbots Life. https://chatbotslife.com/how-authors-can-use-chatbots-to-market-their-books-9f829f42b149