With the social media, the tides are changing day in day out. Strategies that yielded 100% profit some decades back have been displaced by new trends. Marketing is no longer limited to promotions, advertisements, and what have you. Gone are the days when authors sit back in their rocking chairs while their books, like a carcass in a bookstore, attract flies of readers.
Book marketing has become more challenging, writing less profitable in this state of play. In fact, Michael Hyatt believes that “Marketing is dead…in the world of social media, it has morphed. Dramatically.” Truthfully, there are stacks of revolutionary and lovely books in bookshops and online that have turned to dust because there is a disconnection between the author and his audience. What does this mean? Let’s talk about Tribe Building.
Michael Hyatt also says, “Tribe-building is the new marketing. Marketing is no longer about generating transactions, it is about building relationships.” To build a tribe means re-orienting your thinking about marketing. It means seeing your books beyond a product that you need readers to buy. It is positioning yourself as a writer, as a writer who values the author-reader relationship and whose writings impact the lives of your audience.
In other words, tribe building focuses on interactions before transactions.
“When we make friends online, we need to be authentic and we need to set aside our agendas. We must make friends because we value people, not because we want to get something out of the relationships.” – Kristen Lamb
Until you create value in your readers, they may never find anything interesting about your book or even recommend it to others. Tribes get your book to the rest of the world. Tribes spread the news naturally. Do you wonder why books by celebrities tend to sell faster than others? It is because they have built their tribes, who would pay any amount to get their works.
You may not be a celebrity, but you should have a tribe. These people will not only be the first people to buy your book, but they are also going to be your biggest advocates.
Who is in your Tribe?
A tribe is “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.” – Seth Godin
A major principle of marketing is defining your target market. This is the crux of your market survey and analysis. As a writer, you should be able to define your audience or potential readers through your topic and aim of writing. For instance, if you write fiction, you decide whether to narrow down to science, romance, or children. Your target readers then become your tribe.
You can find your audience by getting to know your targeted age group. Observe. Study. Take part.
- What are their likes and dislikes?
- Where are they hanging out?
- What struggles do they face in their current stage of life?
Your tribe may be small (e.g., your family). It may be medium size (say, you are a community leader or you own a small business or pastor a congregation, etc.). Or, your tribe may be large (e.g., you are a thought leader in your industry, a well-known professional athlete, or a celebrity in one regard or another).
No matter the size of your tribe, they would become your paying readers. After you have identified your tribe, you should communicate with them. Decide on the best way to communicate with your tribe—Twitter, Instagram, blog updates, Facebook page, or LinkedIn. This, however, depends on your audience. Share ideas with them. Offer values for their needs and search for knowledge. Build their trust, their excitement, and their loyalty.
And most importantly, while you spend hours or months writing a book, make sure you are always checking in with your tribe. Keep your project in front of them and on their minds. This way, when the time comes to market your book or launch a Kickstarter, they will be there for you.