Content Sharing Strategy Builds Platform and Sells Books

online content sharingDo you struggle with the idea of building author platform on social networks? Does creating personal relationships on Twitter and Facebook—in cyberspace—seem too time consuming and “unreal”—maybe even fake? Maybe you don’t really want any more friends, or you really want only close friends—the kind you can meet for coffee.

Despite the emphasis so many people put on “social,” social networking is also about sharing content. As a writer, if you focus on this aspect of social networking, you may find this activity more palatable. And you might end up with more cyber friends in the process.

Platform Gets Built with Relationships

In the world of publishing, relationships create what is called author platform. According to Chuck Sambuchino, author of Create Your Writer Platform, “a platform is your visibility as an author” and “your personal ability to sell books right this instant.” Platform is created by:

  1. who knows you because of who you are
  2. your personal and professional connections
  3. the amount of media attention you have received (and who knows you because of this).

Notice what these three things have in common: They all involve relationships of some sort. They are social. They involved connections with other people. That’s why social media is important and why social networking is an important aspect of platform building.

Sharing Content Builds Platform

Yes, you still need to develop some personal relationships when you use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus, but it’s content people really want and respect—good and useful content. Sharing your own great content serves as a good strategy, but an even better one involves sharing the great content of others as well. When you support others by sharing their content you become a good community member. And when you provide useful content, you support and serve your community members—your current and potential readers.

In the process of sharing content on social networks, you gain friends and followers on social networks. Those people then share the content you share. Your “reach” gets larger, as does your platform. The larger your reach, the more visible you become and the more people follow and “friend” you.

No one does a better job of sharing content than Guy Kawasaki, bestselling author of 10 books including Enchantment, Reality Check, The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way. His most recent book is APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book.  Go look at his stream on Google Plus if you want an example of his continuous flow of shared content.

He said he has plenty of real friends and family and doesn’t actually need any more online friends. Yet, he admits his social networking efforts are meant to achieve one goal: “I want to have a large following so sporadically I can promote whatever I want to promote,” he said during a keynote speech at New Media Expo in Las Vegas, NV.

Kawasaki is one of the most active Google Plus users you’ll find. He’s also extremely active on Twitter. And he has succeeded in building his networks up to 4 million+ fans and followers.  Yet, he says he does this with what he calls an “NPR attitude,” or PBS attitude, about social networking. He provides great content to his followers 365 days of the year—basically ad free.

For this “service,” Kawasaki feels he “earns” the right to promote his books (or something else) once or twice a year, almost like a telethon. (Yes, everyone hates a telethon, but PBS lovers put up with them. And you typically get some “gifts” when you donate to PBS; many authors provide bonuses when you purchase their books.) He doesn’t feel guilty about promoting his books every now and again because all year long he provides his fans and followers with benefit in the form of a steady stream of interesting content—his own as well as content he curates. He works hard to serve them, and that builds his network so he can use it to sell his books. In this way, he said, his fans and followers end up with a sense “reciprocation. They feel, ‘The least I can do is buy Guy’s book,’” when he does ask them to do so.

The larger your platform—the more visible you become, the more books you can sell. If you don’t have the time to hang out on Twitter and Facebook and be social and work on developing personal relationships, then share great content regularly. Share your great content and the content of other people whom you respect. Don’t feel guilty about it. Know you are providing a great service, just like NPR or PBS. And watch your networks grow in the process.

I’d love to know if this strategy has worked for you. Leave me a comment below.


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