Marketing experts stress that authors need street teams these days. They are a group of superfans that are behind your book/event/site/product 200%. More than friends, they help broadcast your efforts and show mega amounts of support. So, you created a private Facebook group and invited a ton of people...
OK, now what?
Many authors, both traditional and indie, have fun creating exclusive groups, or street teams, to help them push their books to a wider audience. They work on clever names with puns and alliteration. They throw kickoff parties and might even give away prizes to celebrate. Then they can get stuck. Is this you?
Utilizing a team to the fullest
Have members been hitting ‘like’ on everything you post and leaving you to come up with the rest? Is it often weeks between their comments of your latest news and events? Do shares happen organically? Are reviews getting posted - or are you begging?
Being selective when creating a street team is imperative to prevent headaches down the road. Every close friend is not always ‘street team material’ as they are often just not as passionate about writing as you are. (Which is no-one's fault!) And, even if they are over the moon supportive of you, they might not be as market-savvy as some street team members are.
So what should you look for?
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Keep In Mind
Those willing to join will be more willing to work events online
Thorough readers can accurately discuss elements of the story
Target audience members sharing across their social media will connect with others potentially in that same target
They can help set up blog tours or Facebook takeovers to give you more time to write
Fellow authors in your shared genre can swap guest blog opportunities and share new marketing opportunities they find
People willing to distribute swag at libraries, book fairs and events can take your digital efforts and translate them into word-of-mouth marketing in the real world
Get To Know Them
Don’t completely rule out adding close friends but open this team to all fans willing to take on extra responsibilities with you. Those who know you best can help jumpstart takeover events as they will know what questions to ask to get the conversation started. And people who love trivia are great to include as they can help set up entertaining games for fans (virtual scavenger hunts, for example) . Spend time chatting with your team so they all feel comfortable coming to you with future ideas on how to help spread the word with different marketing ideas.
Mold To Their Strengths
It’s great to have a core of support around you as you venture into the world of being a published author. Be careful not to push too much of your marketing to strangers who are not able to step up. Set up a Google doc that potential street team members can fill out. This ‘interview’ process will help sort how everyone is best able to help you. Some might only be available in the afternoons. Some might be much more active on one certain social platform. Others might have a side hustle you can benefit from. Find out! This will maximize output without overwhelming members.
On days when events are scheduled, hit up your private Facebook group to touch base a few minutes before things start. Give a shout out and see who is there, send out a post to members about the event and keep communication flowing. This might be the only notification they get so don’t feel bad about reaching out to remind everyone. Let members know they can post in the group if they are unable to make it so that you’re not left hanging. Post in the private group after events conclude to allow for feedback.
Don’t Forget To Thank Them
Feel free to offer bonus content or swag to those you choose as a nice thank you for their investment in you. They will be taking active time out of their day to help spread the word about your book or event. Some might be passionate enough to do this out of the kindness of their heart, but don’t take that for granted. Include a word about the overall goal you’re shooting for so everyone is on the same page when they join. Keep thanking them by offering ARC’s of your next work in progress.
Always Stay In Charge
Keep sharp eye on what is being shared. Urge your team to always incorporate a custom #hashtag to be able to follow what’s out there with your name on it! Keep yourself as administrator of any private group so that you have ultimate control/say over what’s going on between members. Conflicts are sure to arise at times, and as the author who brought all these people together, it’s up to you to show leadership and quell any disagreements that might occur. This will help keep things on track.
In the end, you might not be at a point where you need a street team. With the help of one or two friends, you might have things covered just fine. Don't feel compelled to over-extend yourself creating a street team you don't have the energy for. If your plate is already full, the added responsibilities of a street team might hurt your overall writing. Honor that you might be at a stage where this isn't a priority for you. Acknowledge to yourself that it's ok if you don't have one right now.
What say you?
So, how do you utilize your street team? What kinds of exclusives to you share to let them know they are a cut above the normal fan? We’d love to hear from you – share your ideas in the comments below!