OK, pay attention: here’s the theory bit. This is a diagram I sometimes use in lectures, to illustrate the shift from traditional to social media marketing. You may have seen it before; it was conflated with an older blog post about YouTube last year. When I transfered the blog here, I thought it could do with a fresh, expanded airing on its own post.
So. The traditional, bog-standard marketing theory. Marketers have always tried to get us to trust them by passing their message down to us through traditional media channels. If they can get endorsements from experts, so much the better. Who might they be in publishing? Well, anyone you get to do a cover puff for you; pre-publication quotes from your reviewers; Richard and Judy, or Oprah maybe, if you’re really lucky. The people we trust most, of course, are our friends and family. The Holy Grail of marketing is ‘word of mouth’. People start talking about your book, recommending it to friends. It’s the most effective, yet the hardest thing to do with traditional media – unless a TV chat show book club kick starts it for you.
Traditional marketing theory describes this as a circle of influence – the layers of influence that marketers try to penetrate. It looks something like this:
But traditional marketing is less effective than it used to be. Today, people listen to recommendations from peers rather than marketing from companies. Social media marketing might be represented as a merger of influence, like this:
It’s what happens when people become media and they market stuff for you and to each other. They create their own media (blogs, social networking profiles), they review and recommend, they pass on YouTube clips, they tag interesting media and websites with keywords so others can find them. It all gets mixed up.
And who are you going to trust? Trust today is in ‘people like me’ rather than in corporations. Those people might be tenuous connections, distant nodes in your online social network; but you’re more likely to listen to their recommendations – or even simply pay attention to what they’re doing, which cultural products they’re consuming. Which books they’re reading.
It’s not hard to tap into, and it’s not expensive. The first step is simply to make your stuff findable, so people can locate and recommend it. A blog is easy to start. A Facebook Group takes a couple of minutes to set up. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you might want to create some media that people can pass on and that you can track – such as a YouTube clip or a podcast. In fact, you can track all this stuff. You can start small, and measure your results. They might surprise you.