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Managing Your Social Media Expectations

Posted by: herb | Filed Under Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing | 5 comments 
Sep 7

Recently, Businessweek published an article on writing successful business books. What’s an up and coming publishing and communications consultant supposed to do? I lunged for it, curious about how an outsider sees this sub-industry and whether readers would need any guidance on what the piece said.

The article, “How to Write a Bestselling Business Book,” written by Eric Spitznagel, is to be commended for its clear prose, good interviews, and focus on how publishing has changed in the wake of the economic crisis. Certainly read it for the insights of major brand authors such as Jim Cramer and Seth Godin. I liked some of the tips Spitznagel proffers authors:

  • know the importance of brevity
  • realize that the days of big advances are mostly gone
  • grasp the reality that many bestselling business book authors arrange for astroturf book purchases to make the bestseller lists
  • pay attention to titling your book because your publisher will
  • write a book you’d like to read yourself (Cramer’s advice)

In the tip ‘Jack Up Your Klout score’, I thought Spitznagel overstated the value of social media visibility and equated it with the celebrity and visibility of a Jim Cramer. (A Klout score is the measurement of a person’s overall online influence.) Many successful authors aren’t television personalities or household names—consider bestsellers such as Lean Startup by Eric Reis or When Markets Collide by Mohamed El-Erian, published when I was at McGraw-Hill.  El-Erian was a respected fund manager who was well-known in the finance pages but only really became a star after his book was published.

To become a bestselling author, Spitznagel wrote, “you need name recognition or an impressive Klout ranking…”.

This reminded me of a point I’ve wanted to make for some time. Yes, social media traffic and influence are important—but with limitations. With so many experts—including me—evangelizing online promotion and smart content marketing, authors can’t be blamed for thinking this is the whole ballgame now. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest are very important for many reasons, but only in rare cases does a big Klout score really drive book sales. My advice: Authors, get your Klout score up, but keep your expectations modest–and do a social media reality check against your business or book goals.

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5 Responses to Managing Your Social Media Expectations

  1. Here’s the thing about social networking: a handful of people in America have used it to make it big and now we’re all a bit chained to it for the same reason, I think. And it’s a great tool. But there is NOTHING in the social networking world that can make up for not WRITING. If I spend all day at my screen–or half a day even–it better be at crafting some terrific content, some writing that contributes to others, otherwise it’s all hype at the end of the day. Sure, social networking feels URGENT, but what’s IMPORTANT, to me, is the writing. I think we’ve put the cart before the horse a bit lately and we’re hyping the online presence more than the content of what we have to offer. If it’s about being of service (which I believe it is), then our message has to be the first priority.

  2. Well said, Herb! And, yes, JoAnneh!

    Effective communication of your passion and purpose is key then building that relationship with one’s network is where the real value comes. Both for us as writers and readers. People long for value, integrity and validation. It’s all part of the process. Keep up the good (hard) work!

  3. Herb and Joanneh, I was so taken by this discussion about balancing substance and social media hype that I did a blog ( and podcast ( about it entitled “Can you handle the truth about social media hype?” Herb, I was honored to be one of those unknowns who you helped be a bestselling author. I will forever be grateful. All my best Joseph

  4. herb says:

    Joseph, good to hear from you. You did a lot of innovative savvy work through the blogosphere for your books–but you never lost sight of the true North Star–helping readers with great content. Thanks again.

  5. Thanks to Joseph for the mention, and I loved your blog! I appreciate the support on the topic, too!!!

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