RWA National: Social Media 360 with Cindy Ratzlaff

When Cindy Ratzlaff was in kindergarten, she brought home a report card that said she chatted too much with neighbors and daydreamed in class. Her father read over the remarks and, thankfully for us, said, “Don’t let anyone tell you that’s a bad thing.” Cindy has been able to parlay those qualities into a successful career in PR and marketing. She’s been the brains behind hugely successful book launches. Today she talked about branding and how social media can contribute to establishing your writer brand and enticing readers along with it.

Cindy focused on the role of social media to build and enhance your author brand so readers can find you. Her strategy, which she calls Social 360°, is designed to do the following:
• Articulate your brand attributes
• Add to your author brand with everything you write
• Attract your ideal tribe with brand content
• Amplify your digital footprint

These social media platforms do not all have to be used, but they each provide a different view of you and need to be selected accordingly.

Your blog/website is the centerpiece of your strategy. It’s the place to have deeper/longer conversations with readers. It’s your home base. Here you provide your full contact information, all your social media profiles, and links so people can find (and buy) your books. This is a non-negotiable for a successful media presence.

Select some of the others according to what interests you and what you will use well. Cindy’s recommendations are in order:

Get a business page (not a profile) as “Your Name Author” and design it to put you the brand up front. Use your picture as your avatar and choose a cover photo as an advertisement/billboard for the books. Be sure to complete both the short bio and the more detailed information, using key words so that readers searching for work with your attributes can find you. This is basically free marketing and advertising! Free apps can help you cross post to other outlets like Twitter and Pinterest. When you post, use photos, videos, and other things to encourage engagement.

Twitter is a social amplifier. Hashtags help you find out what people want to talk about. Key hashtags include #amwriting #amreading #bookchat
You can find folks to follow through hashtags, then connect and interact with them later so they might follow back and eventually read your work. Twitter people are used to seeing Facebook posts in their feeds, so set up your Facebook feed so it automatically posts to your Twitter handle. (This doesn’t work the other way around–Facebook-focused folks don’t tend to like Twitter)

Pinterest helps you find the people who adore you. Use to search for users who post your stuff or repin from your account. Cindy considers these people influencers because they help you spread your message.

Other social media outlets she mentioned were YouTube (creates intimacy because they can see you) and Google+, but we didn’t have time to explore all of them in detail.

Cindy and her best friend of thirty years, actress Kathy Kinney (you know her best as Mimi Bobeck from The Drew Carey Show) co-authored the guide Queen of Your Own Life, which will probably become my new manifesto. Tons of great food for thought! Go follow Cindy on Twitter now: @BrandYou. Seriously. Go now.

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