This week's piece is a re-posting of Joel Friedlander's helpful article that de-mystifies the whole social media thing. His site is well worth following for publishing and design advice.
The Hub and Outpost Method of Social Media Marketing
by Joel Friedlander on September 10, 2012
Do you wonder whether you should set up house on a Facebook fan page? Concentrate on Twitter? Don’t you have to be on there for hours?
It’s all pretty confusing when you’re new.
I know, I remember getting started on Twitter myself. I just sat and watched what other people were doing for months. I wanted to be sure I “got it” before diving in.
Eventually I got over my hesitation and learned to enjoy social media, but there’s a reason for that—I discovered a great way to make the whole thing manageable: this simple “hub-and-outpost” method to organize my social media marketing.
It came from Chris Brogan and it has served me and many of my clients well, because it works. And it works at simplifying your life, too.
Social Media and Authors
Most authors (and filmmakers and musicians) have gotten the message: you have to be marketing on social media sites if you want to make an impact and, eventually, sell your content.
Social media is indispensable to today’s self-publishers, but it’s good to remember that social media by itself is one tactic in your overall marketing strategy. Just using social media is not a strategy in itself; it’s a way to implement your basic marketing thrust.
Set Up Your Hub
This method of organizing your social media activity requires that you set up a Hub that will be your “home base.” It could be a blog or a website.
What’s important here is that you own it. You own the domain name; it doesn’t belong to another entity the way that blogs on blogspot.com or wordpress.com are part of a larger company. You need a place over which you exert ownership, which you can control without worrying about other people’s “terms of service.”
Here are a few good reasons to use your blog as the hub of your social media strategy:
- Your blog is frequently updated—This is the place it’s easiest to post new material relating to your book or your subject area, and consequently is the most up to date and flexible site you have.
- Your blog has your list opt-in—One of the reasons you want visitors to stop at your blog is to find the people who are interested enough in what you’re doing that they want to stay in touch and want to find out more.
- Your blog is the best place to release news—Blog software allows you to easily post updates or breaking news items, which then go onto your subscribers through the email or RSS feed. It’s the best way to stay in touch with your fans and followers.
- At your blog you have the best tools for engaging with readers in a robust way over time.
Explore to Find Outposts
Outposts depend on your own subject matter and preferences for working, but they have to be places where people interested in your subject congregate.
You might find effective outposts in:
- Facebook fan page
- Twitter accounts
- Forums that deal with your topic
- Photo sharing sites like your stream on Flickr.com
- Video sites like your channel on YouTube.com
- Bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon.com
- Networking sites like LinkedIn.com
- Specialized niche sites like those run on Ning.com
Really, there’s no limit to the number or type of outposts you create.
At your outposts you post links to content you’ve published at your hub. But you’ll also contribute content to the outpost sites, too. Outposts are used for:
- listening to what others in your niche are doing
- building authority by contributing expert tips and answers to questions
- testing ideas for marketing or for your next projects
- networking with other people and influencers in your niche
- growing your online profile
- creating links back to your hub
Remember to link to your hub at every outpost. These links create the connections that people will use to travel back to your hub.
On Twitter, for instance, the link will show up in your bio, and that will be the first place people click on to find out more about you when they’ve been intrigued by one of your posts.
Go Forth and Multiply
It’s likely that new social media sites with different approaches to connecting people will continue to sprout online. With the hub and outpost model for your social media strategy, it’s easy to integrate new locations.
You might decide, for instance, to start building a series of Squidoo lenses about your topic or your book. Linking back to your blog is a natural way for people who come across your sites on Squidoo to find out more about you.
When they travel back to your blog they’ll find links to your other sites, like the site you’ve set up for your individual projects, your content’s Facebook fan page, your Twitter account, and you’ll be able to supply links and “follow” buttons for all of them.
From this central location, you will rule your (social) media empire. So go forth, creator, and multiply your voice and your influence, confident that you can make use of all that traffic you generate by engaging readers with your content and, eventually, welcoming them as book buyers and readers.