by Craig Wilson
Why is Media Hunter taking an interest in an American author of a "lifestyle design" book? Well, apart from being an interesting person, famous for his contrarian thinking, radical work-life philosophy, Tim has also become a social media phenomenon.
I asked Tim to explain how much social media has contributed to his success. He felt it had been a major factor in driving the 4-Hour Work Week up the bestseller ranks where it eventually hit number one on Wall St Journal, New York Times and Amazon lists.
Tim explained how he had been interviewed on the Today show in the USA with Matt Lauer and fellow guest Donnie Deutsch as part of his book promotions. This is America's most popular breakfast program, so the publisher ordered extra copies and arranged for premium store placement nation wide. Sure enough, the sales took off and the book reached approximately 15 on the NYT list in the next week.
However, a little later Tim was interviewed by Robert Scoble on his popular geek web TV show. This is a much narrower audience than Today and obviously can be viewed at any time. Within a few days the book hit approximately No.5 on NYT.
A geek-focussed web TV show delivers a bigger result than America's most popular breakfast television show? Unthinkable a year or so ago, but now proof of the burgeoning power of the web.
Tim actually developed a very clever social media marketing strategy for the 4-Hour Work Week. He identified "thought leaders" who had big web followings (such as Scoble) and approached them to discuss his broader topic of an overworked, overstressed, over-informed workforce. He also managed to speak at a series of tech seminars and gatherings such as South By Southwest in Austin Texas. Tim recorded (both video and audio) his presentations and made sure they began circulating on various blogs and sites.
The result was a groundswell of interest and anticipation for the book prior to its release.
Tim launched his blog site and immediately drew a large audience. He mobilised this audience to buy the book in large numbers during narrow windows of time in order to drive it up the Amazon rankings.
Before long the mainstream media couldn't help but notice the buzz coming from the web about the 4-Hour Work Week and sought Tim out as a guest, interviewee or commenter on various topics. His fame was cemented and the rest was history.
Since then Tim has faithfully maintained an ongoing dialogue with his online audience. The sales of the book in the USA have been amazing. He has had an immediate audience and fan-base in every country where the book has been released and has been able to secure media coverage to follow his releases.
Refreshingly, while Tim has pursued a clever strategy of employing social media to sell books and leverage his fame, it also appears to be a natural extension of the guy's personality. Tim is friendly, accommodating and genuinely keen to meet people and talk candidly.
This, I feel, is an important factor in any social media agenda. Phonies are not welcome. True and honest personalities are much more likely to succeed.
Tim Ferriss has presented a blueprint for smart marketers looking to launch products in the Web 2.0 era.