Interaction is Key to Success.

This Marketing Monday, I want to talk about interaction and interactive ways to engage an audience. Please remember that I am looking at marketing through the guise of an author, not someone selling a thingamabob or a watchamacallit, though I’m sure some of the techniques will work for other marketing systems as well.

We’ve already talked, albeit briefly, about the virtues of Social Media for interacting with your audience to help create a reader/customer base.

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For me, the most effective has been Twitter, though I am slowly branching out into Instagram, and once I feel I’ve mastered that, I’ll jump into SnapChat… hopefully before the newest thing comes out and makes SnapChat obsolete.

For me Twitter seems to be the best suited for actually being Social. I understand that SnapChat works for that as well, although you seem to have 2 main methods of interaction there: 1) creating a story which stays for a while, allowing you to reach multiple people with your story, and 2) sending direct messages that are ephemeral and will disappear after an extremely short period of time. I did read an interesting article about how one teacher uses SnapChat in the classroom for things like study reviews, helping students use memes, 10 second videos, and the like to create some sort of mnemonic device to help them remember the material better.

In our society of short attention spans, this seems to work… though it does terrify me a little.

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Twitter works for me because I can interact with people in real time, or if I am busy, I can get back to them later, and there’s a log of the conversation, in case anyone forgets what we’re talking about. Again, very beneficial for the short attention spans of today.

Then again, I’m also trying to interact with READERS, meaning they want words, not just pictures. Maybe, if I’m honest that’s why I prefer it. Who knows?

Either way, the important thing is interaction.

But are there other ways to interact that don’t require such personal attention?

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As of right now, I have over 3,000 followers on Twitter, and I don’t have time to have 3,000 conversations every single day to keep them all engaged! Hence, I post links to my blog, and I host the weekly #JustAddTea Twitter Chat, allowing people to interact with me and others about things that are important to me, and (on a smaller scale) are important for my writing.

Those all still require me at a keyboard (or on my phone) talking/interacting with someone directly. Is there another way?

Enter quizzes and polls and the like. One of the things about the Reality Television focused society we now live in is that each individual person wants to feel like they are the center of their own Reality show. They want their fifteen minutes, but they want it at all hours of the day and night. They want their opinions to matter, and they want to connect with the shows and books that they love. They want the inside scoop of their favorite characters, and to a lesser degree, they want a peek into the lives and situations surrounding the creators of those characters!

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This is why I started getting so active on Twitter in the first place, but as my Mentor, Tabitha Barret has shown me (whether she meant to or not), contests, quizzes, polls, help to make people interested because they get to have the sensation that their input makes a difference!

As a side note, she is a master of interacting with her readers! When she hosts one of her quizzes or polls, she does it as a Facebook event, and responds to EVERYONE who posts/comments. It’s inspirational to see!

Speaking of, Facebook (which we’ve already kind of decided is mostly for the older folks) allows you to make surveys/polls without a lot of fuss, and anyone who is your friend, or who is a fan of your page will get to see it. More people can see it if you change your privacy settings! It’s not exactly flashy, but if you are just looking to get a quick idea of what people want, it works.

There are other sites, like Survey Monkey and the like that allow you to make polls that are a bit more editable, so they can be a teensy bit flashier. If done correctly, these can also help to engage readers. It appeals to our inherent need to feel important. Myself included. Why else would I start a blog? I, too, need to have my fifteen minutes… but for an indefinite amount of time.

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But, let’s look at some other ways, things that keep people coming back for more…

Everyone can agree that J.K. Rowling is now a household name. Her books spawned a whole franchise of books, movies, toys, and even an online phenomenon known as Pottermore… and Pottermore is really what we should be trying to emulate.

Pottermore lets you become a member of Hogwarts, or at least it allows you to be Sorted into a house and find your wand. It gives you insight not only to new and exciting parts of the world of Harry Potter and his friends, but it also has hidden notes from J.K. herself: omitted scenes, hand written notes and doodles from her writing process, and audio of her explaining key elements of the story.

For what it’s worth, I’m apparently a Hufflepuff, and my wand is a hard 13″ Ash Wand with a Phoenix feather core.

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Not everyone has the time, the patience, or the depth of material to create something as immense as Pottermore. I know I don’t, but for my friend, whom I was helping with his marketing strategy (notice the past tense, he kind of flaked on me… not sure what happened), one of the things we were talking about for him was creating a Buzzfeed style quiz that allowed the quiz taker to figure out which of the fifteen or more characters they were.

He had a great tagline that asked, “Which ___ are you?” It seemed only fitting.

I even helped him find a variety of artists that were willing to help him make original sketches/paintings of his characters so that he could finish out the survey and have a visual that would help. I really am not certain what happened or why it’s on hold at the moment.

Either way, it’s a thing that is very popular! Look at all the variety of “Which Game of Thrones character” quizzes there are. I’ve taken no less than 4, I think, and I don’t even watch the show. (I decided I wasn’t going to watch or read anymore until he finished the last book… still waiting.) The most recent quiz has decided I’m Arya. I can see that.

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And Buzzfeed will let you make a quiz, so long as it doesn’t directly link to a site that is selling something.

So… you can’t link to an Amazon page, but, what if you had a blog dedicated to your book? Or an author site? I believe you could link to that and not break their rules. So long as it was to something about the characters or the book itself without being a page where you can directly click and buy something, it should work.

If there’s any doubt about whether or not you can do it on Buzzfeed, no worries; there are plenty of other sites you can use. Playbuzz, Quiz Maker, and a whole host of others. A quick Google search for “make a personality quiz” gives you a huge list to choose from.

It’s a quick way to get people interacting with your work. It’s something to make them curious, and if you have an interesting picture and bio to go with it, even better.

It doesn’t have to be characters, it could be locations in your book, or decisions that have to be made. It’s like creating a choose your own adventure, but less work involved for the reader. It’s interactive, and if you have multiple quizzes, they’ll keep coming back to try stuff out, and maybe even check out whatever it is your selling as well.

Engaging your customer/audience base in a way that keeps them coming back is the goal.

I hope this helps. Since I don’t think I’ll be able to do it for the person I was trying to help,  I hope it works for others out there. If you have done this in the past, or if you try it, please comment and let us know how it works/worked. I think I may very well try it for my own book…if I ever get the blasted thing published! (You can still vote and help me out, if you haven’t already done so…)

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