Friday, September 30, 2011

So Many Hashtags, So Little Time: Connecting with Readers Part 3

I'll tell you right up front: This post is barely scratching the surface of using hashtags to find readers. But don't stop reading. I'm continuing to investigate, and dig up all the dirt I can, to bring you the best information. Just call me "Bones." But tell me I'm better looking.

(Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Okay, let's move along.)

Seriously, finding out which hashtags are going to effectively get you what you want and need is a lot like digging up a crime scene. You weren't there to see things when they started. You probably don't have a video of it. There are some scattered clues lying around, and probably some witnesses who saw a little something here and there that might help. But you've got to do the hard work of piecing it all together and making sense of it.

I'm not kidding when I say that there is a long list of reader-related hashtags. This is an overview with some beginning tips. I'm going to dig down deeper into them as I have time and report back. But for starters, here is something you absolutely need to know:

Some hashtags connect back to websites. Sometimes, hashtags can seem random. But two of the popular hashtags for readers, #goodreads and #fridayreads, are not random. You can visit their websites, GoodReads and FridayReads, and follow them on Twitter (@goodreads and @fridayreads). Fridayreads is also on Facebook and Tumblr, and Goodreads is on Facebook.

This is important, because both of these sites are truly geared around readers. But since they are meant to allow readers to share, your shameless self-promotion of your book may backfire in this hashtag. However, there are a couple of things you might do to fit better in those hashtags:
  1. Ask your existing readers to post about your book through the Goodreads and Fridayreads hashtags, Facebook pages, and websites. They'll immediately fit in, because they're readers. See?
  2. Post an offer to give the first of your books for free to GoodReads and FridayReads readers. You can only do this if you've got several books done and ready for purchase. And you'll have to define how many books you want to give away. Or chapters. Or short stories.
  3. Promote a contest of some kind. You can really get creative. Maybe the first reader from goodreads who posts about your book through Twitter wins a signed copy from you. Or the first Facebook mention on Fridayreads wins a free copy of your newest book.
  4. Clip art illustration by Pamela Perry
    created for Acclaim Images.
  5. Find out which of your friends and family readers is already on Goodreads or Fridayreads, and ask them to post about your book after they read it. (Of course they're reading it! They're your family and friends. They have to read it.)
I'll mention a third reader site, LibraryThing, separately. It's smaller than the other two:  4,000 followers to GoodRead's 188,000+ (the big ape in the room) and FridayRead's 4,300 (small but scrappy). Author Moses Siregar recently tweeted about giving away 100 free ebooks through LibraryThing. So, you can see that a giveaway or contest is a good idea. And smaller sites like LibraryThing and FridayReads are still capable, regardless of size, of getting your book and your name out there.

Bottom line for today's advice: Go where the readers are. And then treat them the way you would want to be treated if you were a reader. You wouldn't want to be spammed, would you? But I'll bet you wouldn't mind getting to know people, finding out about books other people have read and liked, and winning contests. So give them what they want (that is, what you'd want if you were in their shoes).

Next Friday, more on reader hashtags, and how to make use of them. In the meantime, if you have tips, suggest them. Want me to hunt something down? Tell me. And if you've tried one of the approaches mentioned on today's blog and it worked (or didn't), share what happened.

See you again soon!

Copyright (c) 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.