The Hub and Outpost Method of Social Media Marketing

by Joel Friedlander on September 10, 2012 · 26 comments

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Do you feel like you’d like to get more involved in social media to market your books? Are you hearing a lot of people tell you that it’s a great way for authors to find readers and build community?

Do you wonder whether you should set up house on a Facebook fan page? Concentrate on Twitter? Don’t you have to be on there for hours?

It’s all pretty confusing when you’re new.

I know, I remember getting started on Twitter myself. I just sat and watched what other people were doing for months. I wanted to be sure I “got it” before diving in.

Eventually I got over my hesitation and learned to enjoy social media, but there’s a reason for that—I discovered a great way to make the whole thing manageable: this simple “hub-and-outpost” method to organize my social media marketing.

It came from Chris Brogan and it has served me and many of my clients well, because it works. And it works at simplifying your life, too.

I’ve written about it for CreateSpace and taught it at workshops. Now I’m going to expand on this concept in a webinar next week. It’s part of the IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) Publishing University Online educational series, one of the most extensive in the book publishing world.

If you’re looking for a way to make sense of this social media world, you should check it out. I’ll get to the details in a minute, but let’s look at what this idea means so understand exactly what we’ll be talking about on the webinar, where we’ll have a chance to look at these points in detail.

Social Media and Authors

Most authors (and filmmakers and musicians) have gotten the message: you have to be marketing on social media sites if you want to make an impact and, eventually, sell your content.

Social media is indispensable to today’s self-publishers, but it’s good to remember that social media by itself is one tactic in your overall marketing strategy. Just using social media is not a strategy in itself; it’s a way to implement your basic marketing thrust.

Set Up Your Hub

This method of organizing your social media activity requires that you set up a Hub that will be your “home base.” It could be a blog or a website.

What’s important here is that you own it. You own the domain name; it doesn’t belong to another entity the way that blogs on blogspot.com or wordpress.com are part of a larger company. You need a place over which you exert ownership, which you can control without worrying about other people’s “terms of service.”

Here are a few good reasons to use your blog as the hub of your social media strategy:

  • Your blog is frequently updated—This is the place it’s easiest to post new material relating to your book or your subject area, and consequently is the most up to date and flexible site you have.
  • Your blog has your list opt-in—One of the reasons you want visitors to stop at your blog is to find the people who are interested enough in what you’re doing that they want to stay in touch and want to find out more.
  • Your blog is the best place to release news—Blog software allows you to easily post updates or breaking news items, which then go onto your subscribers through the email or RSS feed. It’s the best way to stay in touch with your fans and followers.
  • At your blog you have the best tools for engaging with readers in a robust way over time.

Explore to Find Outposts

Outposts depend on your own subject matter and preferences for working, but they have to be places where people interested in your subject congregate.

You might find effective outposts in:

  • Facebook fan page
  • Twitter accounts
  • Forums that deal with your topic
  • Photo sharing sites like your stream on Flickr.com
  • Video sites like your channel on YouTube.com
  • Bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon.com
  • Networking sites like LinkedIn.com
  • Specialized niche sites like those run on Ning.com

Really, there’s no limit to the number or type of outposts you create.

At your outposts you post links to content you’ve published at your hub. But you’ll also contribute content to the outpost sites, too. Outposts are used for:

  • listening to what others in your niche are doing
  • building authority by contributing expert tips and answers to questions
  • testing ideas for marketing or for your next projects
  • networking with other people and influencers in your niche
  • growing your online profile
  • creating links back to your hub

Remember to link to your hub at every outpost. These links create the connections that people will use to travel back to your hub.

On Twitter, for instance, the link will show up in your bio, and that will be the first place people click on to find out more about you when they’ve been intrigued by one of your posts.

Go Forth and Multiply

It’s likely that new social media sites with different approaches to connecting people will continue to sprout online. With the hub and outpost model for your social media strategy, it’s easy to integrate new locations.

You might decide, for instance, to start building a series of Squidoo lenses about your topic or your book. Linking back to your blog is a natural way for people who come across your sites on Squidoo to find out more about you.

When they travel back to your blog they’ll find links to your other sites, like the site you’ve set up for your individual projects, your content’s Facebook fan page, your Twitter account, and you’ll be able to supply links and “follow” buttons for all of them.

From this central location, you will rule your (social) media empire. So go forth, creator, and multiply your voice and your influence, confident that you can make use of all that traffic you generate by engaging readers with your content and, eventually, welcoming them as book buyers and readers.

Webinar Details

The Hub and Outpost Method of Social Media Marketing
September 19, 2012 (that’s next Wednesday)
Time: 2:00 p.m. — 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time (US & Canada)
(Central: 1:00 PM | Mountain: 12:00 PM | Pacific: 11:00 AM)
Cost: $39 for IBPA members, $49 for nonmembers
Registration Page: The Hub and Outpost Method of Social Media Marketing
Or click the banner below:
IBPA-pub-u

Photo credit: matt512 via photo pin cc. Based on an article originally published by CreateSpace as “The Hub & Outpost Method to Organize Your Social Media Marketing

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    { 22 comments… read them below or add one }

    bowerbird September 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    thebookdesigner
    has turned into
    thebookmarketeer.

    bring back the old joel! :+)

    -bowerbird

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for the thought bowerbird. The requests I get from readers are heavily skewed toward help with marketing.

    If you think about it, people spend a few weeks in the design and production of their book, but may spend years trying to figure out how to sell them.

    So you’ll find a balance of articles here, including both bookmaking marketing topics.

    Reply

    bowerbird September 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    joel said:
    > Thanks for the thought bowerbird.

    thank you.

    i was speaking from my heart.

    -bowerbird

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins September 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    I like the mix that covers the entire spectrum of publishing.

    A few more articles on E-book formatting and converting would be cool. Seems like there is a lot of info on the web, but none of it really covers the proper way fiction ebooks should look and flow. I have had to figure out how to do tables of contents, header linking, paragraph formatting, etc virtually on my own. (Opening the HTML files in Word has been a BIG help!) :(

    I know there isn’t much in the way of pagination for ebooks, but content around meeting expectations and producing a professional product would be good.

    Reply

    James Moushon September 11, 2012 at 10:12 am

    I’m like Tracy. I just signed up with Squidoo. When I get time I’ll try to put up a book trailer for my new ebook: ‘Black Mountain Secrets’.

    Also, I just read your document: 10 Things You Need to Know… Great Stuff. I will include a link on my site for my readers to check it out. http://bit.ly/MmKxRn

    Thanks.

    PS: In a former life I designed and programmed software (30 yrs. worth).

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins September 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Not to get off topic, but have you had any luck with book video trailers? I have a couple that i haven’t put out in the wild yet.. But i am wondering if there is any real return on them at all?

    Reply

    Ian September 11, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Hi Joel,
    Just to let you now the “just don’t do it” link in your 10.38 reply returns a 404! Nice custom 404 page though lol!
    Cheers
    Ian

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 11, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Thanks for that, Ian, it’s fixed now.

    Reply

    Ian September 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    :-)

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 10, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Tracy, I know it can be daunting when you first venture out into the social media world, but a few simple ideas can make it much easier, more profitable and less threatening.

    For instance, my advice to authors is to make sure they create at their hub a destination truly worth visiting, because this changes the balance of the equation in a good way.

    And the solution to the “authors always selling stuff” is also pretty simple: just don’t do it.

    My experience has been that people respond to what they see in front of them. A good comment, a provocative status update, or a resource that’s just what you were looking for will spark readers to click your link to see what else you’ve got. That’s the moment we need to understand and make the most of.

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins September 10, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Some days my “Hub and Outposts” are more like little atolls, far out in the vast ocean of people. Standing out in the crowd is tough, especially if you are new or taking your first steps. Spreading your seeds to the wind is part of the strategy, but producing fruitful crops can be the hard part. Finding a way to be both remarkable (worthy of remark by others, according to The Big Moo) and distinguished as a person, is where social media collapses for many authors. It’s easy to see why.
    I have been in it for a little while, and I’m still trying to find my footing. By nature, I am a pleaser, and I also like to produce useful things. Putting out an article or how-to, here and there, which is useful to others, gives me a lot of pride and pleasure. I get a rise out of someone saying “thanks!”

    Finding a way to funnel that spirit into social media is something I am very keen on doing. However, it’s a catch-22. If no one knows you, your intended contribution is often met with skepticism, or ignored. Yet, to be known and trusted, you must contribute in an honest and useful way that people will notice. Perhaps it’s even harder as an author, as we have a reputation that we are only trying to “sell something”. Getting a foothold in that cycle is the challenge everyone that wants to have an internet “persona/brand” must figure out. Further, there is a minefield of some mean-spirited people that has to be navigated as well. It’s easy to get discouraged, but you still have to put yourself out there, in those outposts.

    I guess the meat of what I’m trying to say and steering back on topic is this. From my experience, the hub and outpost method is very important and can return results. Perhaps the outposts are more important than the hub, early on, and in the current internet environment. Few people are going to find your hub if you are an unknown. People will only really find you by seeing you on someone else’s hub. Later in the cycle, you can build your own hub, and that central hub becomes crucial to your success. Nevertheless, simply being out there on hub is not enough. You must contribute value if you want to be remarkable. Finding out how to be remarkable is something that has no formula, that I’m aware of, past hard and honest work. Oh.. and a lot of luck too.

    Reply

    James Moushon September 10, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Great post. You and Chris are right on top of this. Links back and forth are the key to this as you pointed out.

    I am like Michael with twitter. Shortly after I started getting involved with twitter, I found that I was drowning in all the noise. It was hard to get use too. Finally I set up a database and wrote a program to try to keep track of the followers and their focus: Authors, just followers and expert sources like yourself. At least I can look at a sorted list of followers and try to manage them from my blog to my twitter account.

    Your list of outposts is worth following up on. I use most but I’ll check out Squidoo for sure.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 10, 2012 at 10:19 am

    James,

    Squidoo is underutilized by authors, but it’s a very robust platform with a huge amount of traffic, so do check it out.

    I love the fact you created your own program to manage Twitter. I use HootSuite, a free suite of tools that allows me to segment my feed by criteria similar to yours, and that makes it much more manageable and enjoyable.

    Reply

    Ian September 11, 2012 at 12:39 am

    James, squidoo does get a healthy amount of internal traffic. I wrote a page on curing ‘scaly leg mite’ after my chickens got it when we lived in New Zealand.

    I wrote a quick step by step page on how to cure it and forgot about it; now it reliably gets around 400 visits a week and squidoo send me a ‘cheque’ (for what exactly I am not sure!) each month for around $10!

    You could just as easily write a snapshot of a book or related topic directing traffic back to your hub. Squidoo as you know was started by Seth Godin who knows a thing or two about publishing!

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins September 11, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Looks like your chickens are paying off!

    I didn’t give Squidoo a thought until this article. I guess I didn’t understand it, and probably still don’t. I signed up and started looking around. Appears to me as if it takes some of the best parts of blogger, Wikipedia and e-how and merges them together into one concept. Squidoo looks like a nice place to create and place some original content. I am curious about the traffic, and how much notice content will get, and the conversion for that content.

    Finding a balance between hub and outpost is going to be something for me to work on, especially with the ease of putting content on Squidoo. It’s almost like self-publishing your own guest posts! HA!

    Reply

    Ian September 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    “It’s almost like self-publishing your own guest posts!”

    That’s a clever analogy Tracy, certainly links from squidoo back to your ‘hub’ impress Google!

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins September 11, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Well, after a couple of hours playing around, i managed to make my first Squidoo post. (Reference: http://www.squidoo.com/scarcity-and-post-scarcity-a-primer ) I must say, it wasn’t too bad at all. They make it really easy to put together a nice content article, link a few items, etc. Great platform. I wouldn’t try to make it a “hub”, you don’t own it.. But, it could be a good “outpost”. I will see how this little experiment works out. :)

    Michael N. Marcus September 10, 2012 at 4:11 am

    I have mutiple websites, blogs and Facebook pages, I am active on LinkedIn and various forums, but I just don’t ‘get’ Twitter.

    I can’t imagine why anyone would want to know what I am doing or thinking all day long. I am not Sarah Palin or Lindsay Lohan.

    In an effort to understand Twitter, I set up an account several months ago. Despite the fact that I have never tweeted, I gain new followers every week. I dont know what they expect from me, but they’re not getting it.

    Michael N. Marcus
    http://www.bookmakingblog.blogspot.com
    http://www.SilverSandsBooks.com
    http://www.BookFur.com
    http://www.Facebook.com/SilverSandsBooks

    Reply

    Tracy R. Atkins September 10, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Michael,

    I didn’t get twitter either at first. I have come to realize that it is basically an email-distribution list on meth. The power isn’t in the endless status updates from celebrities, but in the ability to virally propagate a message rapidly.

    The 3 key pieces are Re-tweets, Hash-tags and URL Shorteners.
    Re-tweets are the viral part. Someone you follow posts something you find interesting, re-tweet it out and your followers see it. If you tweet a useful item, some of your followers may re-tweet. Compelling content can travel like wildfire.

    Hash-Tags (#) are keywords you can drop. Say you have a tweet on a book design topic. Add the hash-tag #bookdesign in your tweet, and it makes posts it to the “board” for bookdesign, that people may be following. (that one is free for the taking, BTW) This is like a quasi-distribution list, where the readers pull the content, instead of get a push from an email. (Opposite of Google groups, for instance). Hashtags.org is a good place to find analytics on hashtags.

    URL Shorteners like Bit.ly cut down URLs so they fit in a tweet and allow maximum characters for actual content.

    So, if you Tweet: “This book is total BS! My #books review: http://bit.ly/Q9qr2b”

    Your character assassination of that self-publishing book might go viral.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 10, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Tracy,

    Thanks for the explanation. I consider hashtags “do it yourself metadata,” since tweeters assign the tags themselves. You might be interested in this article:

    Metadata for the Tweeps: Twitter Hashtags

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 10, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Michael, I think you are correct, there are not a lot of people wondering what you had for breakfast today. However, lots of people are looking for information or entertainment or connection, and Twitter is pretty good at supplying those needs.

    And as for your new followers, they were simply hoping you would follow them back.

    Reply

    Rinelle Grey September 10, 2012 at 1:28 am

    I’m still in the watching stage on twitter! So many options and they can be so overwhelming if you try to do them all at once! I like the idea of having a hub at my blog, and setting up outposts, thanks.

    Reply

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