The lowdown on Street Teams—just the FAQs ma’am…

Jumping cheerleader girl isolated on whiteWhat is a street team? Do you need one? What do they do? How do you recruit members? How large should a team be?

After last week’s post on why some ebooks sell and others don’t, I was asked to talk about street teams. I’m no expert on street teams, but I’ve had one for about a year. My team is small—only 17 members—but other authors I met at RT had teams of hundreds of people. (They also sell more books than I do. Correlation? Hm…).

What is a street team?

A street team is a group of fans who help to create the “buzz” around your books. They “take it to the street” and talk about your book. Why? Because they like your book!

Do I need a street team?

Need? I don’t know. But teams are very helpful because as I’ve learned, it takes a village to promote a book. Your street team is your village.

What do street team members do?

It depends on what you want. Your team can write reviews of your book, share information on Facebook and Twitter, bring bookmarks/other SWAG to bookstores and libraries—or just talk to their friends about their book. Decide what your greatest needs are and then develop your team around that.

How do I recruit a street team?

You could do it one-on-one, inviting individuals you know. Or write a blog, post on Facebook, etc. Your team members should be people who genuinely like your books, are connected to social media, and who have the time (or can make the time) to help. Once you have a team, you can ask members to suggest people.

What is the benefit to street team members?

Believe it or not, the biggest benefit is that they love your books and they genuinely want to help. However, most authors provide ARCs of their books so street team members get to read your books before anyone else. And many authors give their team members SWAG. I haven’t done that because I haven’t created any SWAG (but that will change), but I do award random monthly gift certificates, and my team members earn points toward certificates as well.

How large should my team be?

Depends on what you can manage, how active your members are, and how well connected they are. As I mentioned, I have 17 team members. I’d like to have 25. Other authors have hundreds (I can’t imagine that).

What else do I need to know?

Communicate with your team. Give them the inside scoop before anyone else. I’ve found the best way to communicate is to use a closed Facebook group. A closed group allows only members to see posts. That allows you to communicate with your entire team all at once and everybody knows what’s going on.

If you have a street team, do you have any advice about teams? Please share.

* * * *

As I mentioned, I am looking for a few more Team Cara Bristol members. I write erotic romance, including sci-fi and contemporary domestic discipline (spanking romance). Join now and receive 10 points toward your first gift certificate. If you’re already a team member, refer someone who joins and you’ll both receive 10 points. If you’re interested, email me at carabristol50 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

 

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38 Responses to The lowdown on Street Teams—just the FAQs ma’am…

  1. Thanks for opening up this conversation. A street team has been on my to-do-one-day list for a while, but it’s always felt a bit daunting, and your post today is the first time I’ve seen it explained and explored so straightforwardly.

    Do you know if those authors with hundreds of people on their street teams give ARCs to all of them? I can’t imagine many publishers getting onboard with that.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      The authors I know who have hundreds are indies–so giving away all those ARCs isn’t a problem. But a publisher would definitely frown upon that–and it would be a contractual violation.

      I give ARCs to those members who are willing to write reviews. Not everyone does for every book.

  2. S.J. Maylee says:

    A street team is definitely on my wish list. Until then I’ll concentrate on releasing better and better books. I’m on 3 teams for a couple of reasons. I love the authors and I think lots of readers will too. I also love having access to the author. That part is pretty cool. 🙂
    The three teams I’m on are on all different. One is just email (mainly notifications when her books become available on NetGalley <- That's not how her team started. Her career has exploded. Another has 17 members 😉 and the third has 246 members, both of these teams are closed FB groups. The big group has lots of fans who don't blog. They can enter into drawings for her books. Those with blogs who review are offered the ARCs.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      You must be very busy reading, SJ! The author who has 246 members–is she/he published by a house or is she/he indie?

      • S.J. Maylee says:

        Yes, busy is my middle name, but supporting my fav authors is so much fun.
        She’s published with a small house. I don’t think there are even a dozen of us that blog/review for her. So, that part of her team is pretty small.

  3. Annette says:

    Great post 🙂 it is true that Street Teams do help. I have two authors with teams over 100 members but most are like you are and keep them small.

  4. Jen Wylie says:

    Thanks so much for doing this post, Cara! 🙂
    Lots of great information here and I think I’m going to give it a try. Now to figure out a cool name… that might take a while 🙂

  5. Great information. I’ve been pondering whether I should do this or not. My primary problems with it are that my publishing contracts have a limit on ARC giveaways, and besides, my fans (the same ones who’d be on the street team) are the ones who BUY the books. There is a potential sales loss there, which has to be balanced by potential sales gain with the street team promotions. And secondly, I don’t have swag and would find it awkward and expensive to send stuff like that from Canada.

    I’d love to hear more about your points system, Cara.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I’ll email you, Trish, but basically I award so many points per review (different sites have different values). Members keep track (we’re on the honor system) and then let me know when they’ve reached the magic number that earns them a gift certificate. I went with gift certs in large part because of mailing costs associated with SWAG.

  6. Glenda Horsfall says:

    Thanks for posting Cara. It was informative and useful for helping to make my mind up. I think I need to see about sorting out a Street Team – I just don’t have time to do all the promotion myself.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Street Teams can help tremendously, but promotion still remains a large part of an author’s job. Perhaps what you need is a virtual assistant–who can do some of the promotional activities for you.

  7. Corey Harper says:

    This was a fantastically informative article, Cara–thank you for sharing this information. I’d been hearing this term for awhile, but hadn’t really begun to focus on it till recently, so see it “unpacked” in such a straightforward way most likely saved me hours of head-scratching. 🙂

    And like Patricia, I also would love to hear more about how your points/GC system works.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Basically, I assign weighted point value to the key things I need my team to do. When they reach a certain number of points, they receive a gift certificate.

      • Corey Harper says:

        Thanks very much, Cara. I found your “Street Team” page here on your site, and it has a tremendous amount of info on running a street team, including your weighted point system towards GCs.

        Now to think of a name for my team. 🙂

  8. Kayla Lords says:

    I learn something new about being an author every day. Adding Street Team to my list.

  9. Thanks for sharing, Cara!
    When I get bigger, I def want to consider one.
    🙂

  10. Sabrina York says:

    Cara,

    Thanks for a great article. I have a street team and, heavens, I love these women. We have a secret group on Facebook where we can chat privately and get to know each other. That has been very powerful in enhancing the relationships.

    I am lucky to have reviewers and bloggers as well as other authors and rabid readers on my team. Diversity is a wonderful thing.

    I found it useful to share my expectations with them clearly. Your street team is representing your BRAND when they speak for you; make sure they understand your standards. It is said there is no such thing as bad press, but if a street team member represents you poorly, you could lose readers you never knew were out there.

    That said, I highly recommend to authors to make the time investment and launch this powerful tool!

    Sabrina York

    • Hi Sara. I would like to invite some of the bloggers that write good reviews for me when I set this up but do they see it as a conflict of interest? Thank you

      • Cara Bristol says:

        Hi Patricia. I don’t know that I would approach a blogger who has written good reviews. I think you would be better served to allow that blogger to continue to review your book and seek out friends and fans who love your work–unless a blogger volunteers to be on your team. That’s just my two cents.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Good point, Sabrina.

  11. Thank you for a great article Cara. I’ve been published 4 years and this is the first I’ve heard of street teams. Great information and thank you Sue Brown for sharing the article with me

    • Cara Bristol says:

      You’re welcome. Now that you’re aware of it, I’m sure you’ll notice more and more mention of it.

  12. Thanks for blogging about this Cara. Like David, I found the street team concept to be exciting yet overwhelming. I mulled it over for months and did research on how various authors set theirs up. I made a list of things I wanted to do, came up with a name (Normandie’s Nymphettes) and got stuck. Along the way I made notes every time someone who I knew was active on social media went out of her way to show my books some love. I also noted reviewers who wrote stellar reviews (the kind that said “I love all Normandie’s books”) and I added them to a list.

    Finally, with a new release on my hands, I reached out to my little list and sent invites to my street team. I believe 80% agreed to join, and I’m so excited! I don’t have the t-shirts ready yet or the cute logo button, but if you wait for everything to be perfect or until you have a certain number of rabid fans it may never happen. I’ll get it all sorted out and in the meantime I have some lovely helpers spreading the word about my book.

    The concept is similar to that of Seth Godin’s Tribes. (He’s a HUGE expert on marketing and social media if you’re not familiar) He says that you don’t need volume when it comes to fans/followers/readers, instead you need people in your tribe with passion who will spread your message exponentially. So a smaller number of people who are tremendously excited to tell people about your books is better than ten times that number who are just a little excited and probably won’t go out of their way for you.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Exactly! I personally think one is better with a small devoted group of fans than a huge group who rarely get involved.

  13. I knew I would learn something. Thanks for all the advice and help.

  14. Hi, Cara. Thanks for the helpful information in this and other posts. Maybe you can do one on creating a book trailer. 🙂 That’s the next project I need to tackle. In addition/instead of street teams, some authors have review teams. Catherine Anderson, for instance, sent out I think 200 print copies of her latest book to fans who volunteered to read it and post honest reviews on three sites. She recruited people through her e-mail list. Obviously, sending out that many free books is no small feat or expense. Susan Mallery also has an extensive review team. She puts out a call for volunteers when spots open up and they’re picked randomly. As long as you read the book and post reviews, you stay on her team from one book to the next.

  15. Hi Cara,

    Thanks for sharing this information! For the authors who want help, there are companies out there who can and will help you create a new team, manage the team and even revitalize a current team.

    Check out Wickelyinnocentpromotions.blogspot.com
    or
    Smexyfabfour.com

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thanks, Jennifer. That is certainly an option for authors who are uncertain how to get a team together or who don’t have the contacts.

  16. Thanks for the post on this, Cara. I’ve asked around in some of my groups, because I’ve found street teams to be annoying, thus why I haven’t set one up. Over-posting, spamming and the like is what I’ve been faced with, therefore, I haven’t wanted to have one attached to my name.
    I like what you, and others have suggested, about how to set one up, so your team isn’t spamming people all the time. Thanks for this.

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