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Random Thoughts: Finding the Right Vehicle

Random Thoughts

No two book blogs are alike. Though it might seem that many are quite similar, there are often subtle differences that make two seemingly equal blogs quite different. Especially when it comes to promotion. And while size does matter, if the blog isn’t the right fit for what’s being promoted, its size is almost irrelevant. Because without the right audience – one that will generate buzz or sales – it’s a wasted effort.

A fashion blog that focuses exclusively on clothing, with tens of thousands of hits per day, would not be the best vehicle to promote technology. And vice versa. The same is true for books. A blog that focuses exclusively on paranormal romance would not reach the target audience for readers who enjoy historical romance or science fiction. So promoting these types of books on those sites would have much less of an effect than it could have had if the right vehicle was found.

While some readers of those blogs might be curious about the book being promoted, in large part the audience wouldn’t be interested. Because it’s not their genre, it’s not the type of promotional outreach they’d expect. But if the book were to hit that “sweet spot” where both the blog hosting the post and the readers visiting the site were equally as enthusiastic for that type of book, then it could be a promotional gold mine.

Where it gets more complicated is when the blog is an eclectic blog or has less of a targeted focus. Because unless the publisher or author has followed that blog for any length of time and knows its reach, knows its audience and knows the overall type of books the blogger reads and is enthusiastic about versus the types of books they’re willing to promote, it can be a hit or miss.

If a publisher goes strictly by the numbers they may be missing those blogs that are the “sweet spot” blogs. They would be reaching a large audience, but not the right one. Not one that would help create buzz or generate sales.

And while there isn’t yet quantifiable data on just what a blogger’s effect on sales might be, it is only common sense that a blog with the right audience will be more effective than a blog with a disinterested audience. Even if the larger blog has ten times the visitors per day, if that post isn’t one of interest to those additional viewers, that hit count is irrelevant.

So how can you tell? Research. Promotion is one of the 4P’s of Marketing. And as such, those making those promotional outreach efforts need to find out the best place to showcase their product – in this case a book.

If they don’t do their research to find the online sites that will give them the broadest reach, the largest splash, the most bang for their buck, they may as well not have spent any time putting together the blog tour or event and asking their authors for guest posts or interviews. Because their efforts will have minimal effect. And if there is little result for such a large effort, what’s the point?

Online promotion may be free in some respects – bloggers don’t get paid for what they do – but it’s not really free. The time it takes the marketing team to come up with guidelines and strategy for the event or tour is not without cost. Add to that the cost involved in creating graphics and printing and sending books, and “free” promotion doesn’t seem so free.

So, again, why spend all that time if the end result is going to be less than desirous? Especially when taking the time to do a little research can pay a much bigger dividend.

It’s easy to get distracted by things like pageviews, unique visitors, Alexa ranking. But those numbers don’t tell the whole story – and sometimes they can be entirely misleading. A blog with a heavy fan-base for an author, book or character, even with a much smaller following, less traffic or lower rank, can have a broader reach with a greater ripple effect.

Enthusiasm for a book, a beloved character, an author is infectious. It entices those who might not have otherwise expressed interest, it draws in potential readers, it tells people that for some this book/character/author has moved them to such a level that they can’t help but want to sing its/their praises from the rooftops. Enthusiasm, much like ire, helps to sell books.

The combination of a large blog, with the right audience and a level of enthusiasm that will spark interest in its readers of course is a promotional gold mine. But a smaller blog with both those other characteristics can be nearly as effective. And a smaller blog with the right audience and unbridled enthusiasm can often have greater promotional effect than a large blog with the wrong audience and zero enthusiasm for the book they’re promoting.

For publishers to try and ensure a win for their blog tour promotions, to cover all bases they could include a variety of blogs on their tours – large blogs with high traffic regardless of audience, large blogs with high traffic and a potentially interested audience, mid-sized blogs with a target audience, and small to mid-sized blogs with a target audience and large fan-base.

It’s all about finding the right vehicle so that whatever is being promoted can make the biggest statement possible. Because what’s the sense of promoting something if all promotional efforts fall on deaf ears? If the goal is awareness, the promotion must reach those who are willing to listen and to spread the good word.

My thoughts…

As of late… well, for the past year or so… blog tours and other online promotional efforts have become a bit of an interest of mine. I tend to follow tours to see what kinds of posts the bloggers are creating, the number of comments they receive on their posts, the number of entrants into the giveaways being hosted, and whether they get any interaction in the form of comments if there is no giveaway attached.

I also have taken a peek around to see what types of posts receive the most attention, where those posts are located – “celebrity blogs,” large blogs, mid-sized blogs, smaller blogs, genre-specific blogs, etc. – and whether tours with fewer stops generate more interest than those with multiple stops or those with one stop per day receive more attention than those with many stops per day.

And while I don’t plan on sharing all my insights, as they are only my own observations and not those of an expert, I have come to the conclusion that those blogs who have a special interest in the author, main character, book or series tend to get far more interaction on those promotional posts than those who have either an appreciation for them or just use them as “filler” posts.

Blog readers are savvy. They know when a post is “thrown up” on their favorite blog just to fill an empty space, because the promotion will help forge a relationship with a publisher, or a giveaway is just too good for the blogger to pass up because it will generate traffic to their site. They also know when the blogger truly enjoys the book they’re promoting, loves the author they are hosting and is passionate about the author’s characters.

While they may visit those other, less enthusiastic, sites when a giveaway is involved, they’re far less likely to visit those sites when a prize isn’t rewarded for the visit. But they will typically take the time to visit the tour stop by that exuberant blogger, even if it’s just to witness the love fest.

Whether you’re a tour host, a publicist or a marketing associate, taking the time to do the research and find out what combination of blogs would make up the most effective tour to promote the author or book you’re seeking to bring awareness to, is the key.

And while some subscribe to the idea that more is always better, it’s not always true. Sometimes a targeted approach can have a far greater result.

So I say, take the time, shop around, and find the very best vehicles for those promotions. A little effort at the outset can go a very long way toward a successful result.

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