The Power Of Recommendation: Contributing To Your Community
If you don’t have a notebook, buy one. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, short, fat, large, thin, pretty, recycled, a couple of old envelopes stapled together, whatever. No I will not be getting you to write lines. Today we are delving into the world of blogs, forums, discussion boards and groups. Chances are that for every niche out there, for every genre you can think of, there is at least one community built around a love for that topic. People who like to wear funny hats, check. People who feel going commando is a better option, check. People who enjoy dancing like Mr. Bean, check. People who watch Tom Cruise movies obsessively, check. Chances are you have found several while researching your market. One of the best ways to directly communicate with your audience is to participate in these communities. It also helps boost the popularity of your sites with Google. Aha! Now I have your attention.
Studies have shown that 78% of people trust the recommendation of their friends or trusted community members over advertising. By becoming a part of a trusted community (or several, hence your need for a notebook to keep track of all your user ID’s and passwords) your words hold sway. If you make a significant contribution to the community, a relevant comment, post or question and then finish your contribution (sign off) with a link to your website or e-book, participants of those communities will be more inclined to click on your link. This is another case where you must stop selling your novel upfront. Get people to opt in on your website (through your sign off link) so you can follow up and convert them into readers at a later date, or send them unobtrusively to your book by making the link easily accessible. If you are not a contributing member for the community, and are merely promoting your e-book, more likely than not, you will be banned from the site. You will be seen as SPAM, not the meat product of highly dubious origins, but a person who fills up a person’s email or website with ‘junk’.
The best way to find groups in your niche is just to Google your genre and the words ‘forum’ or ‘discussion board’ or ‘group’. There are Google groups, Yahoo groups, Kindle boards, discussion forums on blogs and websites. Look up authors or experts in your genre, and see if they have fan sites created by themselves, their publisher or fans. Generally there are discussion boards and forums present on these sites that you can contribute to. Target the online communities where your readers connect. As I said, make sure you contribute to the community then sign off with your name and below that the link to your website. Your comment can be anything from recommending books, discussing the traits of a fictional character, the merits of a theory or just agreeing and adding to the response of others, any of these are valued.
This is also a great way for authors to tune into the trends in their genre. You can find out what people want to read, what questions they are asking, what they need. Non-fiction authors can ask questions about the problems and frustrations of their potential readers and hence find out how much time they should devote to different sections of their novel. A non-fiction author can even show people how to turn their hobby into a business. Fiction authors can find out what sort of traits their readers want in their heroes, who are their favourite bad guy’s and why do they prefer this mystical dragon over that one. The opportunities are endless.
The added plus of posting on forums and communities is this can get you higher up the Google ladder. By placing the link to your e-book or website at the end of each post or comment you are creating what is called a back link to your site. The more back links your site has across the World Wide Web, the higher up in Google your site appears. Google rankings also depend on other factors, but back links are a major factor. That is why it is so important to place the link to your e-book in every online activity you do. But for this to work well, don’t provide links to multiple sites or e-book stores that stock your book, send everyone to one, centralised place (this is where websites and blogs come in handy) or e-book store. It takes a LOT of back links to make a dent in the Google ranks, so every post counts!
But don’t just concentrate on the technical side of things, have a little fun! Make some jokes, entertain, educate, and engage. If we don’t find enjoyment from our work them what’s the point? Certainly not to pretend you love base jumping when the thought of climbing two stairs to the front door makes you faint.
TOMORROW: The Media Machine: How social media can increase your fan base by thousands within a few short months.
SUCCESS?? Have you started to apply the tips in this blog yet? If you have had success, I would love to hear about it! Please feel free to tell us in the comments section below.