Blogs, Author Platforms, and Connecting (pt 13)

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Welcome back to the not-quite-organized effort I’m putting together to try to help fellow writers develop their author and/or blogger platforms.

Last time I introduced the idea of having a street team help spread the word.  I have a tiny one, and am carefully working on growing it.

To get us started let us first break down  what a street  team is:

  • Not everyone has the same definition as I do, and I freely acknowledge there is a huge amount of variation, even within the definition I choose to use.  For me, a street team is a group that volunteers to help spread word about what you write.  It can be through sharing your social media posts, tweets, or other digital contact, or it can be in person as they visit with others and let your work come up in the conversation.  If any event, a street team is an integral part of getting your word out to the world that you even exist.Think about this:  if you shouted your loudest, how far in how many directions can you be heard, and for how long?  If you add just one or two more, how much longer, and how many more directions can you shout?  Each voice that is added to your network pushes the boundaries for how far the news travels, and the softer you can speak to help preserve your voice.

So, now down to the nitty gritty – what makes an effective team?

Again, this is personal preference, so what I consider an effective team may not be the same as what you do.

Outreach

  • An effective team is not restricted to just one social media platform.  In fact, they are not restricted to just social media.  The further your team can spread the word the better.
    • To achieve this, go ahead and start small, focus on one or two platforms – probably Facebook and Twitter, as those tend to be the biggest pools of potential team members.  As your team grows, actively seek to recruit members who are on other social media platforms and are willing to spread word about your work on the other platforms.
    • Stay away from demanding your members do anything strenuous, especially if you’re relying on their good will to spread word about you.  Personally, I think it’s acceptable to require one share per person per week on A platform.  If your team members wish to do more – wonderful!  If all they do is one, then that’s fine, too.  Either way, if you’re posting regularly – then the one share requirement usually means that what you’re writing gets a week long run of exposure.
  • An effective team can help you fill in the areas where you may not have the most strength – be it in graphic design for your promotions, helping to write engaging promotions, or even helping to rough-edit your work through beta reading.
    • To achieve this you’ll need to have an idea of where you need help, and then actively recruit those who are willing to do so.
    • Do not expect to learn everything overnight.  Also, do not recruit with the intent to exploit other’s experience.  You’ll want to work on improving your skills in these areas, and having someone both familiar and better at it than you can do this.  Be honest, and do your utmost to help your  team – make the work a give and take, rather than a one-way street.

Active Teams

  • Keep your team active and engaged.  Don’t throw up drama just for the sake of drama.  We all have good days and bad days, just try to limit the “bad days” if you can.  If you have to rip someone a new one, try to do that in private – it could be a misinterpretation of what someone has done/said rather than an actual deliberate slight.  When you’ve got something good to say – make it public to the team – praise often, thank frequently, and let your team know you constantly appreciate them.
  • If you must throw a hissy fit because of something the entire team is doing – give them warning and try to make sure everyone’s present.  Try your best not to be insulting while you’re stating what you feel is going wrong, and then ask the team for ideas how to correct the issue.  This is done best in smaller groups, but can work for big teams as well.
  • Try to make sure everyone has a reason for being part of the effort.  Don’t rely on just one or two – rely on everyone in the team.  They may not all have an active purpose at each stage of the process, but knowing there’s a place for them to contribute will help keep anyone from feeling left out.
  • Try to encourage the team to work in smaller groups once it hits about 10 members or so.  Several can collaborate on one or two projects with you to help shoulder some of the workload.
    • Try to avoid asking any of your team members to do something you refuse to do.  It’s acceptable to ask for help in doing things you just do not have time for, but otherwise would do.  If there is a task you refuse to do, that negativity shows, and the members who are working on this part of the project may begin to feel resentment and that they are being “dumped” on all the time with the scut work.
    • There may be times when you cannot add your weight to part of the project – such as on Facebook:  You have an author page and a personal profile, but do not wish to promote on your personal profile feed.  This is a grey area:  DO promote on your author page, and do a little promotion on your profile – just not to the same extent as your page.  You want readers to be able to connect, and to see what you are posting.  A couple of ways around this is to start up a group for your work, or to establish a second profile for your personal connections.
  • Engage your teammates – there may be times when you have to “drop and run”, but make those the exception, rather than the rule.  Your street team needs to know you, as a person, in order to properly promote you and your work.  If you only run in, drop a promotion and orders, and then run out – they do not get a chance to know you.
  • Be willing to cull out the inactive members.
    • This is the item that I differ the most from almost anyone else I’ve met who has a street team.  Inactive members can really drag the activity of a team into the pits.  It makes the active people feel as if they are shouldering the entire burden without help, and the inactive ones often continue to receive the perks you’re offering as rewards without actually putting in the work.
    • When you do cull, do not make a big deal about it – quietly cut the lurkers loose.  And, above all – do not cull for malicious reasons!  If someone has been inactive, and let you know they will be gone for a while due to life – give them time to resolve the issues, return from vacation, or fix what’s wrong.  There are two reasons for this:
      • 1) Giving them time lets them know you care about them, and that you have their back, whether it is a new family member, an illness, or even a vacation
      • 2) There will be a level of gratitude that will show when they are able to return.  This not only will encourage them to continue helping, but it will also show through to potential readers.  Definitely a win/win, right?

These are just the basics for setting up and growing a street team.  If you are interested in joining my team, feel free to catch me on Facebook, or applying to the Pukah Dreamers.  I’ll admit, there are some platforms I could really use some help with (like Instagram and Pinterest), and can always use help in beta reading my work, or writing promotions.  I’ve managed to carry the 10 pukah show by myself with the help of the Dreamers, but I am still just one pukah juggling everything.

Next time I’ll share a few of the tricks and tools I’ve picked up along the way to help keep everything in the air.

What are your thoughts on having a street team, and how to make them effective?  Share in the comments below – you never know, you may have just the information someone else needs to close a knowledge gap.

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