Street Teams: Reader to Reader Promoting

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Recently, an author friend brought up the subject of street teams and honestly, it was something I envisioned more established authors doing. I mean who would join the street team of an unknown? Then I started researching the origins of street teams and learned that the concept is as old as show biz itself.  Street teams usually consisted of young people who were commissioned to put up posters, fliers and even hand out buttons to their friends.  It was done to build local buzz for concerts, plays and even movies.  So what did they (the street team) get out of it?  Usually they were paid with freebies like tickets, or an autographed copy of an album.

There are no exact numbers on how well indie authors are doing with street teams but hopefully, we won’t measure this in dollars and cents but in how a street team eases the promotional burden. It’s nice to have someone out there tweeting and sharing your books on your behalf even if it’s only your mother.

Running Your Street Team Like a Boss:

A street team can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you decide to run things.  They can personally hand out your swag to their book worm friends or blog about your latest release.  Though it may not amount to much publicity wise, you have to start somewhere.  I’d rather share excerpts for free where readers are actually happy to see me, than have to pay someone to talk about my work.  The cool thing about street teams vs publicists is that they’re not on the payroll!  All the feedback and hype will be 100% organic.

Where to Begin:

• Create a page, or group where your street team can gather. Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest all allow users to create private pages/groups/boards. Trust me, you’ll want to keep things private in order to keep out the spammers, and trolls.

• To build your team, let people on your email list and social media page know that you’re looking for a street team. If you have any free books, you might want to put a request at the end of those as well.

• Contests and freebies (swag) are the basics of an effective street team.

• Book covers, trailers, banners, memes, excerpts and shareable content are a must for a social media blitz. I actually created a board for this on Pinterest.

Bestselling hybrid author Hugh Howey created his own street team by making witty Youtube videos and holding interesting giveaways.  It would be to your advantage that you study authors who have created successful street teams and no, it doesn’t matter if they’re indie authors or not.

A Fair Warning:

Be wary of the freebie fiends who only participate when there’s a giveaway but contribute nothing to your promotional efforts. This is why it’s a good idea to create a page or group you control so you can easily kick out people who are only there looking for a handout.

To prevent freeloaders from robbing you blind, make your street team earn their swag. For example, the first person to like your new book trailer gets a poster or keychain.  Keep it fun and give them a reason to want to help you.

Okay, now back to you, have you tried starting your own street team?  If so, was it effective or just a waste of time?