You might not like her, but Taylor Swift knows a thing or two about promotion. The girl has reincarnated herself so often, it’s a wonder she hasn’t lost her entire fan base each time. But instead of drifting off into the sunset and popping up in another corner of the universe to be rediscovered, she’s learned how to drag her fans along like they’re stuck to her with superglue. And we’ve just carried on like it’s normal to drop out of sight completely for over a year, delete every photo on social media accounts, and then suddenly reappear with teasers so good and so…uh…weird….that it had us all wondering what was going on. But even though the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now because she’s dead, it turns out, she’s just a Phoenix.
Whether you like her or not, Taylor Swift has five surefire marketing quirks that she repeats over and over again, something authors could learn from. Aren’t we all tired of the Bookstagram photo/blog tour/giveaway schtick? Let’s take a page out of Taylor’s songbook and go for these FIVE fresh ideas to help us market our work!
SURPRISE YOUR FOLLOWERS
Okay, so I don’t have a book to promote, and I’m not great at styling photos. I don’t have a cute cat/dog/horse/kiddo to draw on the “awww” factor, either. What would Taylor do? (WWTD?)
She’d shock the heck out of us.
She’d send presents to people she’s been stalking on social media (because, seriously, don’t we all do that?), or set up a super secret reveal before anyone else gets their hands on it, just because it’s weird and interesting! Think about it…what would you rather see…another book cover, or a fun video or Instagram post featuring your followers? Honestly, I’d watch/read the whole thing, just because it was so out there!
FOLLOW UP A BOOK RELEASE WITH SOMETHING OTHER THAN A BOOK TOUR
Taylor Swift isn’t shy about promoting her newest music. But she doesn’t just drop the album and expect you to wait patiently for the videos that go with each single. No, she floods us with content. For “Reputation”, we are still seeing weekly videos of behind-the-scenes sessions writing and recording many of the albums best songs. Not only do we get a better sense of what the songs are about, or how difficult they were to write, we get to see more of Taylor herself. It’s a little lifeline into her otherwise celebrity world. So, how do we do the same with books? We aim for surprises.
They say that the more exposure your book has before and directly after its release plays a big part in sales. But flooding your feed with book reviews left on Goodreads, or pictures of your book in the wild really does nothing for anyone but you & the person who made the post. The rest of us? We scroll right on by. Seriously.
Plan a social media blitz BEFORE your book even comes out! Tease your fans–and use them as part of your marketing plan. Ask people to do something creative to mark their excitement around the book (a video review, act out a favourite scene, cook a food featured in the book…whatever. Only the best ones will be featured!) Then start collecting! A week or so after your book comes out, put together a montage of your favourites, and don’t forget to let fans know it’s coming. Set your social media account apart, and reward your fans with something unique. You could even do two or three so that no one gets left out.
Or make your own videos, a behind the scenes look at how you write, your favourite writing spaces, what inspired your book, or whatever you think your readers might want to know about. Don’t forget to include funny/flawed moments. Have you watched Taylor’s latest vids on YouTube? They’re mini-movies devoted entirely to the creation of each of her songs. She’s not dressed up, she makes plenty of mistakes, and she plays some things over and over until we’re ready to drop. It’s fun to see someone create, and it makes us feel like the person is just like us.
WRITE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU KNOW
Taylor is infamous for writing about her failed relationships. But it’s not just about what went wrong–she writes little glimpses of her life into her music that feel more like secrets she’s sharing with a friend than fodder. She’s good at it because she does it–a lot. And it keeps people guessing. And talking. That’s exactly what you want.
Now, I don’t mean that you need to start divulging all of your relationship woes on your daily blog, but the old saying “write what you know” is always more truthful than anything you could make up. The same can be done for people you see randomly (and I mean randomly….don’t write about your pharmacist or your paperboy). Write little imagined backstories about them, just like you would write a new character. It makes for extra post ideas when you’re too busy or stressed to find something interesting to write about, and a series of these could make a good collection in the future. Plus, it gets people coming back to your page.
PROMO OTHER PEOPLE
This isn’t the same as sharing a post from a favourite blog, or regramming a photo with credit. No. You follow people on social media that YOU find interesting, and there must be a reason for that. Share your enjoyment with others by doing a feature interview, a collection of interviews with people who have great stories or lives, or talk about authors that you love. A little promo never hurt anyone…and it doesn’t all have to be about books!
Taylor does this quite a bit by featuring artists on her albums that she admires. And if you’ve ever watched an interview with her, she often drops names of people or bands she’s listening to and can’t get enough of. And we’ve all seen her dancing in the front row of an awards show. Isn’t that the best advertising you could imagine from someone you respect?
IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME
Does it really matter that some of the most interesting things T-Swift posts on social media are videos of her cats? Do you get tired of seeing impromptu dinner parties with her famous besties? Nope. It doesn’t matter that none of it has to do with her music. We’re seeing a bit of her life. (Okay, am I the only one who zooms in to see what kind of blanket is on her bed, or what dishes she’s using every day?)
YOUR followers should be the same, whether you’ve written one book or twenty. They want to know more about YOU. Sometimes, those little candid hair-up-in-a-messy-bun Insta-story photos are the best ones. They’re the real ones. And that’s who we’ve come to see. So give us that. Please…just once in a while.
This isn’t the typical promotion post for writers, but why be like everyone else? Stand out, my friend! I’ll remember you better that way.