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'Oh no! Not Marketing again! Do I have to?' Part Ten: Creating Magic

If you use a social media group to gather an audience who are broadly interested in the types of story that you write, then make that group interesting and alive around its topic, while occasionally dropping in a comment or two about your own book, then sometimes a well-structured and positioned ad for your book, everyone’s a winner. Fans of your genre are entertained, enlightened and given something else that they might love to read, all without any sleazy or wasteful attempts to ‘sell’ them anything.

Here are some further tips:

1. Choose Language With Care

Whatever you do as a writer, it’s going to involve language. Language lets you lead people wherever you want to take them. It’s the simplest and most effective way to shift someone’s attention away from one area and towards another — it’s the foundation of what you do as a writer. So running a social media group and directing attention should be second nature to you — or it will quickly become so with a little practice.

2. Magic Moments

A magic moment is specifically designed to grab someone’s attention, something that either stops them in their tracks, surprises them, or makes them laugh. It can be something visual, like a picture or drawing, something auditory, like a story or poem, or something physical like a demonstration. In a social media group context, this can be a posted image, or a meme, or a puzzle or something similar. The purpose behind a magic moment is to engage attention — but it has to be relevant, it has to be something that’s meaningful to the other person and that will lead them into the process of engaging with your work.

Have you ever noticed a certain blandness in most social media responses? Someone mentions that it was their birthday, or some accomplishment, or some other good news, and it’s followed by a long comment thread with people saying ‘Congratulations!’ or ‘I’m so happy for you!’ or some other predictable comment along those lines. The same thing happens with negative news: there’s the news, then a long string of very predictable responses from others.

Now there’s nothing wrong with saying congratulations or responding predictably — it’s a free medium, and people can say what they wish. But if you want to slightly stand out, to attract a little bit more attention, you have to be a bit more imaginative and respond fractionally outside people’s expectations.

It’s the ‘difference’, you see, that creates the gap, the hole, the blank — and that acts as a vacuum and pulls in attention. Instead of merely saying ‘Congratulations!’ make a joke or point out a detail to make the recipient feel happy — stand out from the crowd.

Example: one day years ago, when I was a teacher, I realised that I had lost my favourite winter jacket somewhere in the school grounds. The school had a system of daily notices which were circulated to all the classes, and it was customary to mention any lost property in those notices in the hope that someone knew where the item might be. But I knew from experience that these announcements could easily become boring and were often skipped over. So I wrote one saying ‘Mr. Hudson has lost his Magic Jacket. Anyone finding it is advised to approach the jacket with caution, as it contains residual magic properties.’

Within minutes of the notices circulating, someone came forward with the jacket which they had found somewhere in the school. My notice had stood out, made people smile, and drawn attention: a boring item reading ‘A jacket has been lost; finders please report to Mr. Hudson’ would have faded into the background and drawn hardly any attention at all, just as it did when you just read it to yourself. Would you make a point of looking for a jacket or be reminded that you’d seen a jacket somewhere, given that dull statement? Hardly likely. But my jokey announcement created action.

So a ‘magic moment’ is just such a creation: something slightly out of the ordinary which captivates a little bit of attention and makes you different and worth noting. You can do this with copy, with blurbs, with social media posts and comments, and of course throughout your writing. It will yield benefits.

More tips soon.


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