Building a Street Team to Promote Your Romance Book
In 1998, I started working online. This was before PayPal and even before Google. In that twenty-five years, so much has changed online. Not only have content creation and delivery options opened up, but also marketing opportunities. It isn’t just that you have various new marketing tools at your disposal. How we attract and engage consumers has changed as well.
In the book, Creating Super Fans, Brittany Hodak explains how Costco lost her as a potential member because they weren’t welcoming and joining was difficult. There was a time in which consumers might just put up with that, but no more. Not with so many other options and businesses that welcome customers with open arms.
It makes me think back to the days of the long-distance telephone wars. I switched to MCI, but at one point noticed they had a great deal for new customers. When I called to get it, they said I couldn’t have it because it was only for new people. Here I was, a long-term paying customer treated worse than a new one. Of course, I switched to AT&T’s long distance. (I’m so glad times have changed with phones!).
Today’s consumers expect to be treated well, not just upon the sale, but after the sale as well. They expect responses to inquiries, even if they’re on Twitter. They like to feel heard and connected with those they do business with.
And while that might seem hard, consider that these consumers can become a sales force on your behalf if they’re happy with you and your product, in this case, your books. In fact, developing a street team or reader group is an affordable, fun way to engage with your fans and create buzz around your books.
What is a Street Team?
A street team is a group of dedicated fans and supporters who are passionate about your work and willing to actively promote it. The concept came from the music industry, where indie band fans would hit the streets put up promo posters around town to garner interest in a show.
Street team members are your advocates, spreading the word about your book through various channels, such as social media, word-of-mouth recommendations, online reviews, and more. Building a street team can significantly amplify your book’s reach and generate buzz about your romance novel.
How to Set Up A Street Team
Step 1: Create a Name and then Identify and Engage with Potential Team Members
The first step is to come up with a name. Your members are going to belong to a select club. Make them feel special and a part of the group by having a name. Many authors use a play on their name. For example, my team are the SweetHartes.
Next, identify readers who are already enthusiastic about your writing or show a genuine interest in the romance genre. Reach out to your existing readers, social media followers, or engage with romance book clubs and online communities. Don’t forget to let your email list know about the group, and regularly share information about the group to your list and your social media followers. Have information about your street team in your books as well.
Connect with readers personally and explain your idea of forming a street team. Emphasize the benefits of being a part of the team, such as exclusive access to early content, author interactions, and other perks of being on the team.
Step 2: Set Clear Expectations and Goals
To ensure a focused and committed street team, clearly define the expectations and goals from the beginning. Establish the specific tasks and activities you want the team to engage in, such as writing reviews, sharing social media posts, organizing online events, or participating in blog tours. Provide them with the necessary resources (e.g. social graphics) and guidelines to promote your book effectively.
Consider having rules that prohibit negative content about other books and authors. Your team may love you so much that they’ll bully others who they feel disrespect you. Have guidelines that tell members not to engage in that sort of behavior since what they do can reflect on you.
Step 3: Create a Dedicated Communication Channel
Maintaining constant communication with your street team is vital. Establish a dedicated communication channel, such as a private Facebook group, Slack workspace, or email list, where team members can interact with each other and receive updates directly from you. Regularly provide them with important announcements, behind-the-scenes insights, and promotional materials. Encourage active participation and foster a sense of community among team members.
Step 4: Offer Incentives and Rewards
Motivate and reward your street team members for their efforts. Offer incentives, such as exclusive sneak peeks of upcoming projects, signed copies of your book, personalized merchandise, or even acknowledgment in your next publication. I have occasional giveaways in which each social share earns an entry (counted by use of a special hashtag) to a drawing for a prize like an Amazon card.
Recognize their contributions publicly through social media shout-outs or dedicated blog posts. Show genuine appreciation for their support, which will keep them engaged and motivated to continue promoting your work.
Step 5: Engage in Collaborative Projects and Events
To keep the street team active and excited, engage them in collaborative projects and events. Organize virtual book club meetings, author Q&A sessions, or online contests. Encourage team members to share their experiences, reviews, and recommendations on their personal platforms. Collaborate with them on social media campaigns, blog tours, or cross-promotions with other authors. By involving your street team in various activities, you foster a sense of ownership and strengthen their bond with your book.
See below for more ideas and details on engaging with your street team.
Step 6: Evaluate and Adapt
Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your street team’s efforts and adapt your strategies accordingly. Monitor their engagement levels, review the impact of their promotional activities, and seek feedback from team members. Use their insights to refine your approach, identify areas for improvement, and keep the team dynamic and productive.
Some authors remove members who are inactive. The idea is that the street team gets the perks in return for helping you spread the word, so people who don’t spread the word, don’t get the perks. Of course, the other side of that is you could upset someone who bad mouths you online.
Street Team Activities
Day to day, your communication with your street team could be simply sharing a tidbit from your research or soemthing you wrote that day, asking for help on things like naming a character, a behind the scenes post, or a poll about some aspect of your book or to understand your group’s interests or reading habits (e.g. do they listen to audio books?).
However, your street team is also a place to host fun events that get you all together around a shared interest…your books. Here are some ideas of activities you can do with your team.
1. Organize Virtual Book Club Meetings:
– Schedule regular virtual book club meetings where team members can discuss your book and other related topics.
– Choose a platform such as Zoom or Google Meet for the meetings.
– Prepare discussion questions or themes in advance to guide the conversation.
– Consider inviting guest authors or experts to enhance the discussion.
2. Author Q&A Sessions:
– Host live Q&A sessions where team members can ask you questions directly.
– Set a specific date and time for the session and promote it in advance.
– Use a platform like Facebook Live, Instagram Live, or YouTube Live for the session.
– Encourage team members to submit questions beforehand to ensure a smooth and engaging session.
3. Online Contests:
– Run online contests where team members can participate and win book-related prizes.
– Choose a theme or prompt for the contest that relates to your book.
– Use social media platforms to promote and organize the contest.
– Set clear rules, deadlines, and guidelines for participation.
4. Encourage Sharing Experiences, Reviews, and Recommendations:
– Create a designated space for team members to share their experiences, reviews, and recommendations.
– Use your dedicated communication channel, such as a Facebook group or Slack workspace, to facilitate these discussions.
– Encourage team members to share their honest opinions and experiences on their personal platforms, such as blogs, social media, or online review sites.
– Provide them with pre-written promotional material or graphics that they can easily share.
5. Collaborate on Social Media Campaigns:
– Plan and execute social media campaigns in collaboration with your street team.
– Create specific hashtags, graphics, or challenges for the campaign.
– Assign team members different tasks, such as sharing posts, creating original content, or engaging with comments and questions.
– Track the progress of the campaign using analytics and acknowledge team members’ contributions publicly.
6. Coordinate Blog Tours:
– Organize blog tours where team members can write guest posts or reviews on their own blogs or websites.
– Reach out to relevant book bloggers or websites to participate in the tour.
– Provide team members with the necessary materials, such as excerpts, author interviews, or discussion questions.
– Coordinate the tour schedule and promote it across various platforms.
7. Host Book Launch and/or Author Take Over Events
– Organize a launch or take over party through Facebook or other platform. You can have a theme or just a general party. You can do it through your Facebook street team group (if you have one), another FB group, or as an event on FB.
– Invite other authors to join in
– Promote the event in your group and outside it, and ask the other authors to promote it as well.
– On the day of the event, post fun stuff, have a few giveaways and have fun!
Effective execution of these activities requires clear communication, proper planning, and timely coordination with your street team members. Stay engaged with them, provide support and guidance, and express your appreciation for their efforts.