Social media networking and Internet press releases build target audiences and can be combined with email and business cards to create an effective free book publicity and marketing strategy. 

Social Media Icons

Social Media Marketing Icons

Building an audience using social media networking, email and business cards may sound like a fantasy, but it can be done and is being done by people who are not trying to sell anything. People who are are simply trying to get a crowd to their next party are using social media networking.

Others using social media networking have hosted occasions recently by inviting their social media network groups to gatherings that turned out to be disasters because so many people showed up at a private residence for a pool party or too many fans showed up at a musical event!

Then why we shouldn’t use social media networking for more serious reasons? Political campaigns do. Medical doctors do. Real estate professionals do. Even people who are looking for jobs use social media networking to find employment. There is no limit, it seems, on how to fashion a social media campaign to suite your needs.

Not that you want to create a riotous environment at your next event, you can still use the basic concept of social media to develop a list of prospective invitees. The purpose of this post is to give you some ideas by sharing with you how I have successfully used social media, email and business cards  to plan live or internet events. Authors, musicians and other professionals are using FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin and other social media services to sell out their dates and sell their products.

Sunny Nash Signs Her Book

I’m the author of the book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, a memoir  about life with my part-Comanche grandmother during the Civil Rights Movement, recognized by the Association of American University Presses as essential for understanding U.S. race relations. This book and others I have in progress are a source of material this blog, Sunny Nash –  Ethnicity and Culture and my most popular blog, Sunny Nash – Race Relations in America.

Every author needs a book to sign when speaking in public to live audiences or presenting online to virtual communities, who are also anxious to own the author’s signed book. This a good use for social media networking, an opportunity to tie all the pieces together: the book, event promotions, public speaking engagements and book advertising and sales.

In fact, my publisher, Texas A&M University Press, had me sign 1000 copies of my book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, when it was first released and then advertised to its perspective audience that signed copies of my book were available for sale. The signed copies sold first.

Audiences want a signature and they will buy the book to get it.

Both online and live target audiences through social media networking can increase book sales on location and on the Internet if you get all the tools working together. In person these gatherings mean immediate business contacts sitting out there listening to you talk about yourself, your profession and your book that they will surely buy. An author is more valuable with that book on the table at the back of the room where you can sit or stand to meet your guests and sign books they purchase.

You know that expression, “Have a book on the table at the back of the room?” Well, it means more credibility as a public speaker and more book sales for an author. 

Sunny Nash signs her book, Bigmama Didn't Shop At nWoolworth's

Sunny Nash Signs Her Book

If you are an author, what better opportunity can you have than a chance to invite a group of family, friends, fans, followers and connections to your next book signing and public speaking event? When I first started in this writing business, there were no social media networks from which to build a target audience. In fact, email was still new.

To advertise public speaking engagements and book signing events, the publishing industry and independent authors relied on traditional means of publicity–newspapers, newsletters, radio, television, flyers, posters, mailed invitations and word of mouth–all of which, except word of mouth, could run into hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Sunny Nash Featured in Press-Telegram, Long Beach CA

Sunny Nash, author of Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's, Featured in Press-Telegram

When I was new to the book circuit, before my events,  in addition to my normal flutters of butterflies in the stomach, I always feared that no one would show up. And I was always wrong. When I drove into the parking lot of an event location and saw all the cars, then I felt comfortable that preparations had not been wasted effort.

Sunny Nash Featured in The Los Angeles Times, Best Bets Section

Sunny Nash Event Featured in The Los Angeles Times

Many guests will come to your book signing events if they have read about you or your book in the newspaper. I was fortunate to have been featured in several newspapers before events. Newspaper coverage of your book will give your sales and event attendance a boost.

Many newspapers are now online and must be approached differently than they were in the old days, but still they are rich in value. If a reporter writes a feature article about you, that becomes free publicity. However, if you have to take out an advertisement in the newspaper, that will cost serious cash. The same thing is true of radio and television interviews as well. Always go for free book publicity when you can.

Some guests will come to your events because they know you and want to support you. Others will come out of curiosity. Whatever their reasons, welcome them, give them some time, and let them buy your book and become a permanent contact in your database. You never want to speak in public without having your book on the table at the back of the room and a hefty supply of business cards to exchange with members of your audience.

I say business card exchange because having the business cards of your audience in your possession is as important as their having your business card in their possession. The business cards you collect should be placed in your contact database for future reference via email or social media networking to remind the person who you are, where you met and how a relationship can benefit you both.

Beneficial Relationships

  • Consulting Contracts
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Social Media Networks
  • Employment Opportunities

Don’t take too long to make your contacts with those in your audience, lest they forget about you. Something or someone new is always on the horizon and people’s attention is turned away from you very easily in this age of rapid and constant information. Take the opportunity in an email message to thank them for attending your book event and to extend an invitation to join you in a social media network.

Social media networking is about more than building up a large number of names in your network. Social media networking can become a serious marketing tool. However, you want to be careful about selling to your connections. They will be offended if selling is all you do. Your posts and offers must extend helpful tips, links and information that you would normally share with friends, family and business associates. If you make the social media connection with members of your public speaking audience, be sure to place the new connection in the appropriate group so you can include them in your next event, link or newsletter distribution.

Those business cards you collect at your events are a valuable resource that many people overlook and have begun to discount because of technology. Look into the back of your desk drawer and see how many business cards you have dropped in there and shoved to the back. Those are contacts you failed to make. That failure could have cost you a contract, a book sale or an invitation to speak to a group, depending upon how long the business card has been lying in the drawer.

I developed a little system that helps me to keep my contact database fresh with the business cards I collect. Using inexpensive supplies from an office supply outlet, I have made my business card contacts available for use when I need them. Take a look.

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To prepare for a public speaking event of my own, I wrote an internet press release and an article for online distribution and submitted them to a free online publicity service. Being careful to include all the logistical information, I also included information about my book, writing career and other features of the event. Don’t be afraid to talk about your honors and other activities that make you look good. Be sure to mention in your announcements that there will be refreshments. Really, you may ask? The mention of event refreshments in your announcements may sound like a little thing, but food draws an audience, especially the media. Little things count. When I was working for radio, television and newspapers, and I had a choice of events to cover, I chose the events that had food on the front table.

Be careful about the number of links you include in your press release. I usually include my primary blog link and a link to my book page. If you don’t have a book fan page, by all means create one and post a like to your Internet press release about your book event in the status of your fan page, as well as the status of all your social media networks.

"Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's by Sunny Nash"

Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's by Sunny Nash

At book signing events, I talk about and read from my book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, a family memoir about life with my part-Comanche grandmother, Bigmama, before and during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. When possible, my publisher will arrange for a team tol come to my location and take care of book sales. I like that. It frees me to schmooze with members of the audience.

After I wrote my Internet press release, I knew that would not be enough to get me an audience. Those press releases can reach the entire planet and still not get you a local audience. So, I went into my social media networks and found the contacts in the area where I was appearing and targeted them individually with a note to their page and invited them to my event. Then, I searched my email addresses for names of those in my local and surrounding community whom I thought would be interested in my event. Do not forget those people who may still need to receive an invitation by postal mail.

In an email message to my list of invitees, I placed a link to the Internet press release that announced and described my event. I learned early in the digital media game that attachments are NOT as effective as links. People are reluctant to open attachments for fear of computer infections and attachments are large files, whereas, links are small. Although I still mail out a few invitations to those loyal fans who do not use computer technology. However, email invitations save significantly on postage.

Place email addresses and social media contacts into convenient categories where those in the groups share common interests, conversations and discussions. It simplifies your communications with them. If you have kept in touch with the groups on a frequent basis, they are already familiar with you and your work from your conversations, discussions, blogs and links.

Your target audience is out there awaiting your invitation. Go get them!

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