I read Anthony’s post the other day “Happy New Year!” and was quite pleased to see he made a resolution to be more active on his site The Vampirologist. When I noticed at the end of the post he asked for suggestions my marketing hat jumped on, and my train of thought went out in left field on a tangent and got me thinking.
Once the Christmas holiday season is upon us we realize the New Year is rearing its ugly head around the corner; which triggers thoughts of “should haves” and “next year will be the year for change.” We overindulge in sweets and delicious foods telling ourselves when January 1st rolls around it will all be different, adopting a healthier lifestyle and joining a gym. People get this uncontrollable urge to reinvent themselves, a New Year equals a new you, body, job, relationship or all of the above.
Most of us being packrats are unwilling to part with our treasured belongings all year until the date rolls into 2014 and we get the urge to purge our lives and eliminate clutter. We ambitiously set out to make ourselves into new people usually failing a couple of weeks into the resolutions by taking on too much at one time. The key most people do not realize to anything in life is “baby steps.”
Now the question is can you apply this concept to a website? Damn straight you can! Can you succeed where others have failed? Hell yes! All you need is an idea, a plan and the skills and resources to execute.
The following are my suggestions for the website so hold on to your seats and bear with me, I went a little overboard!
Ask the Vampirologist
So we explain up front and candid that we are NOT real vampires or do we know any. We cannot hook you up with immortality, glowing red eyes (unless you want contacts), pale skin that sparkles, or superhuman strength. What we can do is answer intelligent questions. Maybe you are working on your own novel and want some insight?
For instance today in the Vampirologist Facebook Group Adam Drerup posed the following: “I have seen in some movies vampire turn to dust immediately after they are staked, yet I have not heard any reason to why that is. So, what causes the quick decomposition? Personally, the ones I write about decompose at the same rate (unless they are burned) as any other dead body.”
The question received an automatic response from Anthony, “I’m guessing the reason follows on from “Dracula” – that’s what happens to him when he’s impaled at the end of the novel. However, a similar thing happens to Clairmonde in “La Morte Amoureuse” (1836). But you’re right, basically, it’s the reversion of the vampire to its “natural” dead state – Dracula was hundreds of years old. Compare it with what happens to Lucy after she’s staked: a look of peace falls across her face (something similar happens to Dracula), too. The difference was, Lucy was recently dead.”
Most people that are part of this website are either academics or authors. Why not give the audience a chance to flog their wares, and what better place to do it than a website targeting their genre. It simple marketing 101, the easiest place to reach your target audience is in a place where they all conjugate together like a website or Facebook group. There could be an author featured once a week including a link to their website, picture of their book, post social media outlets, an excerpt of their publication and a quick blurb on the author. Now the catch of course is the publication has to be about vampires, but not limited to passionate academics. It needs to be a fiction and non-fiction free for all where anyone can be confident and comfortable in sharing and not judged.
I know this one is a bit more challenging than the other ones. If you haven’t checked out a Podcast that Anthony did on his friend’s Trystan Swale’s site, Fortean Radio, I highly recommend it. He gives an informative narrative about the infamous Highgate Vampire story. If possible I would love to see more podcasts on the website. Network connections among the group need to work together, make introductions and get this ball rolling. The topics are endless and hearing people speak passionately is breathtaking.
There is currently a film and television section on the website. Use it! Post a film and get the audience talking. You can rate the film, recommend it, critique it, or tear it a new one if you want. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and the key is to encourage conversation where people feel comfortable expressing their opinions, but not intimidated. Sometimes when you get a room full of intense passionate people, they scare off the average person who is the mass audience. Make sure to include all types of films and once in a while throw caution into the wind and include something like Twilight. Yes I really just said that! You can’t ignore a series of films that had box office sales reaching $3,352,322,180 from 2008 to 2012.
A little bird once said that the beautiful part of Facebook was the ability to connect with people that under normal circumstances he wouldn’t be able to. An informative and entertaining interview with Edward Meyer was posted on October 7, 2011 by Anthony on his blog.
I know some of you right now are asking who the hell is Edward Meyer . He is the VP of Ripley’s Exhibits and Archives and the main purchaser of Ripley’s “vampire killing kits.” People can make suggestions who they would like to see interviewed and again people use your connections to help make this happen. Do some research and see where it leads you.
This is where some vampire folklore can be introduced to the average non-academic reader, hopefully introducing them to something new and educating at the same time. One day a week you post a feature on type of vampire or monster where you can explain origins, history, characteristics, mythological or religious significance if applicable. A picture is totally preferred because we all love eye candy. Many of you academic types know so much it is a crime to keep it to yourself. Open up and dazzle your audience.
Social Media and Widgets
So the elephant in the room for some of you is Twitter and other forms of social media. I know some of you think it is unnecessary and why should you bother, just because your publisher is making you. Social media is just another way for your audience and target market to communicate with so pay attention! It is not going to vanish and go away, so you need to get on board sooner rather than later. It’s not hard, just a little time consuming at first. Once you get the hang of it, you may even enjoy yourself!
The front page of any website and blog if possible should have widgets connecting directly to sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and my newest favorite Tumblr. Whatever social media you use, promote it! Check out The Vampirologist and Vampires2hunt on Tumblr for examples of what you can do. The same goes for Twitter too!
There is no point having all these different tools at your disposal when you keep your brand disconnected. Do yourself a favor, integrate and promote! To make it easier you can even link your accounts so you only have to post one and not be overwhelmed by all the social media outlets. For instance you can link you Tumblr account to your Twitter account. Ever post you put up on Tumblr automatically goes up on Twitter if you set it up right. If you don’t have time to be submerged in the world of Twitter sign up on Hoot Suite and you can schedule your tweets for when you are away from your phone or computer. Oh yeah, there are apps for all of these too so no excuse to be disconnected if you have a Smart phone.
Knowing how important it is I will even put out a personal offer to any members on this site. If you want help just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Useful Links and Other Blogs
Websites are resources and resources are meant to be shared, especially when everyone is interested in such a small niche. The website needs a page where anyone can share their favorite websites or blogs. Remember information is contagious and when introduced to others grows out of control like a weed. The reach is endless and are you paying attention? Add social media into the mix and voila!
So Anthony has a little goldmine on a website called LibraryThing many of you may not be aware of.
I have reviewed it and frankly I think it is fantastic and gives him bragging rights! It is a cool website that let’s others see what books you have in your library. Quite simple! His impressive collection boasts 218 books. All the important information is there: Title, author, dates and you can even rate or review the books as well.
Another useful site I was introduced to was Book Depository. Normally when I am searching for a book I check out our local book giant in Vancouver called Indigo Chapters or Amazon. Apparently if you are having troubles finding what you want this is the place to go.
So a big trend I am noticing on Facebook groups in general is people are desperate to find like-minded people to bounce ideas with. There are so many of us interested in the same thing why not share and help one another. The site could have a section where you can put yourself out there, supply contact info and what you are able to contribute or your expertise. We all know that trying to brainstorm with one person goes nowhere fast. People should be friendly, open and welcoming. We all have something to offer no matter our education or background. People are the best resource around!
Okay this one is totally influenced by my marketing persona. I used to create, plan, and execute experiential marketing campaigns and I love to see things branded. It is free advertising and creates awareness especially if you offer something cool that others want. I may be getting ahead of myself on this one or it can be kept in the pocket for future use. Shirts, hats, pens, etcetera a key promotional tools. Even if we only touch upon this for aspiring authors, film makers or whatever your medium is don’t forget to brand and promote yourself. So next time you are planning your next book signing keep this in mind and check out www.vistaprint.com They offer inexpensive marketing collateral, for reasonable prices and the best part is you don’t have to order 500 of one item like with most larger promotional companies. A secret too, if you sign up with your email you get obscene discount coupons every week, so there is no reason to ever pay full price. Usually shipping is free as well!
Boylan, Andrew M. 2011. “My Stepdad’s a Freakin’ Vampire – Review.” Taliesin Meets the Vampires, December 27. http://taliesinttlg.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/my-stepdads-freakin-vampire-review.html.