Social media is unpredictable. You can spend months or years carefully crafting your marketing message without success, then unexpectedly find yourself in the spotlight because of something random you shared on a whim. If your post goes viral, are you set up to capitalize on your sudden fifteen minutes of fame?
This happened to me recently. The post that went viral had nothing to do with my book, but the attention I got translated to exposure for my writing. Fortunately, I was well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunity!
My “I Went Viral” Story
My website and nonfiction books educate people about death and funerals. I recently drew people to my website via a post about my helicopter playground. What?! There are common themes that link them together. Everything I do is unusual, weird, fascinating, whimsical, and fun! There’s a potential for a crossover audience there. The same people who appreciate the peculiarity of my helicopter playground may also enjoy my pet dinosaur (weird), my extravagant Halloween displays (weird), my hearse themed racing team (weird), AND my writing (most definitely weird)!
I shared my helicopter playground in a large Facebook group where I could NOT share my books, driving traffic to my website. I wasn’t marketing my book, but they still ended up learning about it. Nothing about the interaction was sales-y or aggressive. It was very organic! But then, the Facebook group I shared to was archived mere hours after my post gained traction.
I assumed that was the end of my fifteen minutes. Imagine my surprise when, after the post was restored, I was approached for a news story about my helicopter playground! Even though my post wasn’t blowing up, it had enough staying power (and contact info!) for someone to discover it and track me down.
The reporter was astonished to discover how many other bizarre things I’m involved with. She pivoted her story and included the ostensibly unrelated material because of my connecting theme of weirdness. We ended up speaking at length about my writing simply because I jumped on the opportunity and spun it to my advantage. (Ed. note: here’s the story! https://uk.news.yahoo.com/mum-fascinated-death-since-she-060047138.html)
Here are some basic must-haves and tips to funnel people in the right direction to make sure you’re ready for your viral moment, whenever or however it happens!
If I find out about you through a viral post, where do I go to learn more? How do I contact you? Where can I follow you? Do you have a newsletter?
- Having a website (or even a landing page) means you’re off to a good start. From there, you can direct people to your email address and social media channels. They can sign up for your newsletter, read your bio, and learn about your work. Don’t make it hard for people to find things out. Even if they loved your viral post, they will not follow up if it’s too much effort. You’ll lose them! That’s a wasted opportunity.
- Are you just starting out? Get as many of these things as you can, even if it isn’t everything, everywhere. If you’re not on every social media platform, pick one for now. If you don’t have that, at least have a professional sounding email address. Don’t go with your 20-year-old AOL or EarthLink address. You get bonus points if it’s linked to your domain (ex. Mine is firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Don’t neglect your Media Kit. If a reporter stumbles across your viral post, they may want to write a story. Give them the tools they need to access your info quickly and efficiently. What goes in a Media Kit? Go get Shayla Raquel’s Pre-Publishing Checklist for a step-by-step guide on setting it up (plus lots of other things you should do!). https://www.shaylaraquel.com/prepublishingchecklist
- Cross link EVERYTHING. If your viral post came from your personal Facebook account, does your profile include links to your author accounts, pages, and website? If you’re on Instagram, are you taking advantage of Smart Bio or LinkTree? Give people options on where to find you. Also, give them a compelling reason to visit your website.
- Add something fun to the backend of your website. Tuck it away (not on your main page), then share it in places where it “fits.” It doesn’t have to align with your book, but you should connect some kind of overarching theme. In my case, it was the post about my helicopter playground, and the other weird things I’m into.
- What’s your “If you like this, then you’ll like that”? See if you can use a hobby, talent, or special interest to draw a new audience to your website, then encourage them to explore and discover what else you offer. It’s important to have some sort of theme or connection, otherwise you’ll end up marketing to people who couldn’t care less. But you never know! Someone who visits your website because of your portraits painted while skydiving might just forward your “History of Cow Milking” book to their cousin.
- Internet fame is fleeting! Trends move quickly. Your viral post can vanish for reasons beyond your control, like how the Facebook group I shared to was archived. When the group was restored three days later, the window of opportunity had closed and my potential viral fame fizzled. It’s a good thing I had my website and links set up in advance to capture the attention from my short-lived popularity. I picked up followers on social media and saw a huge spike in website traffic.
- Get your talking points ready. If a reporter gets a hold of your story and wants to do an interview, write some notes down first. You can help direct the conversation and ensure the salient points are covered. Otherwise, you might forget to mention the title of your book or include your call to action. Another wasted opportunity! If you’re being interviewed about something non-book related, figure out a way to segue into your writing. Again, look for the connection. Don’t just throw it in if it doesn’t fit.
With a little preparation and creative thinking, you can position yourself to benefit from unexpected publicity.
Action Tips to Do Right Now
- Identify your quirks or interests and figure out how to tie them in.
- Find ways to share your non-book content and gently guide people towards your writing.
- Make sure your social media and contact links are everywhere.
Now if you suddenly wake up to find yourself trending, you can be confident that your publicity machine has been running smoothly all night.
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