Tuesday, August 4, 2015

5 Crucial Steps to a Marketing Plan: Formulating Your Plan (Part 2)


Step 1 in a Marketing Plan is to actually have a plan!

That may seem like stating the obvious, but let me explain what I mean:

The major way in which I started experimented with social networks over the past few months and teaching myself how to use them to market was by starting a fan account on those networks. Those who know anything about me know I'm a fanatical The Walking Dead fan. (You'll probably see more of it when the new season starts in two months. :D) Anyway, right now the show is playing a major hoax on it's fandom concerning a major character death and only a small percentage of the fans who even realize it. So, over the summer I started doing theories on Instagram. I pretty quickly also migrated to Tumblr. 

See, the thing about this is that TWD is, obviously, not my writing. It's a well-established TV show with a fan base 20 million strong. So the second you get online, it's ridiculously easy to find an audience for what you have to say about it. Much easier than for your own writing when you're still a rising author, right? But that's exactly why it's easy to learn social networking this way. Basically, I learned a lot about several different platforms, and now I'm applying them to my writing. 
A slide I posted on my TWD account yesterday.
(TWD/Princess Bride mashup). Source

So, back to the plan. 

I decided that if I was going to start a fan account, I wanted to have something to post every day. And that was pretty easy because 1) I had a lot to say.  A lot of theories I wanted to post. And 2) there are plenty of pictures, jokes, memes, etc. all over the place about every aspect of this TV show that I could use for filler. 

So, I spent about three weeks putting together as many posts as I could think of. I started the account the beginning of May and knew I needed enough material to take me through to the new season, which begins in October. So really, it was about six months worth. Now, I didn't come up with that much material in a few weeks, but I came up with enough for 2-3 months if I posted once per day. (Keep in mind that this is Instagram, so a single photo could be a post. I could easily pull them from Pinterest, where I already had a well-filled TWD board, and post with credit. This was much easier than writing six months' worth of blog posts.) 

Anyway, almost immediately I realized I wanted to post way more than once a day. I really wanted to post 3x a day. One theory, one sad/serious/tragic picture, and one funny meme. The only problem with that was that I would go through my material MUCH faster than I'd originally planned. 

But here's the thing. As with all things in life, when you start looking for answers, you generally find them. Even though I've been posting 3-4 times/day, I still haven't run out of material yet. (Yeah!)

And the results? 1000 real, organic followers in under 90 days, including quite a few really loyal ones who have told me they actually get on looking for my specific posts each day, a great deal of authority on my subject in this community on IG, Tumblr, and G+, new followers on other platforms, a new audience to speak and present to, and of course lots of new internet friends. 

But, that only happened because 1) I already had things to post and a lot of them. 2) I followed other, similar accounts, and often reposted (with credit, of course) what they posted that I liked, or just got really great ideas for more of my own posts from them, and 3) Dedicated a lot of time and thought to the account.

But really one thing flows into another here. If I hadn't started with a major, well-thought-out, detailed plan, none of the other stuff would have happened. If I'd just sat down at my computer each day and gone, 
"Hmm. What should I post..." *drums fingers on desk*... 
Do you think I'd have been nearly as successful with this account? No, of course not!

Steps for creating a marketing plan for your social networking accounts:

Ah brainstorming! (Source)
1. Brainstorm what you want to post. The best way to do this is by following and going through the feeds of similar accounts. I'm currently building up my author instagram account (rather than the TWD one) and I went through some author friends' accounts to see what they post on IG and get ideas. I now have a huge list of stuff I can create and post. (Yea!)

2. Create posts in advance. I would recommend creating enough for a month or two. I know that sounds like a lot, but if you can get that done before you get started, it helps you in several ways. A) It will get your creating juices flowing and get you in the mindset of what you want to create for your account. I promise once you get rolling the ideas will just come and come. You'll have way more stuff to post by the time (probably way before) you go through your original cache. B) It will allow you to relax during the first few months of your account because you already have plenty to post and won't be stressed about coming up with new things. This is key because stress = fear = the account becomes a chore and you don't want to maintain it. No stress = you can sit back, have fun, interact with and watch your audience grow. 

3. Post a lot if you possibly can. The more you post, the faster your audience will grow, because people want to see lots of posts by active posters. Of course you can just post once a day or a few times a week and that's totally fine. But if you possibly can post more, do!

4. Write out a schedule. Figure out when you're going to post (weekly, daily, etc. and if daily, then when, how often, and what time). Also figure out what you're going to post when. Like i said, I posted three different things at different times of day. As an author, I can post lots of different things: pics of my book covers, quotes from my books or from reviews, pics of characters. my progress on particular projects, the list goes on. So you can post something different each day of the week, or different things at different times of the day, etc. However you want to run your account, works. Be creative!

Want examples? You can check out my 2 Instagram accounts here: 

IG: @twdmusicboxmystery -- obviously that's my TWD account
IG: @l.k.hillbooks -- my author account

*Notice how the TWD is pretty big with lots of posts, followers, etc. I've been at that one since May. My author one I've only been building up for about a week, and I already have 50+ followers, but still very few posts.*

Once you have your plan in place and have created a cache of posts, you're ready to implement it. That means posting, interacting and gaining followers. Come back tomorrow for some tips on those aspects of your campaign. This stuff really works! :D

Do YOU create posts in advance?


  1. Great tips! Smart you planned so many posts in advance.
    I know a lot of authors are successful with Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Still trying to decide if I should venture into any of them.

    1. Yeah advance planning and caches of posts are kind of my bread and butter these days. I didn't know about IG until very recently when an author friend of mine told me there's a HUGE branch of the bookish community there. I was really surprised, so now I'm trying to build that up too. :D