Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Social Media . . .

. . . ain’t what it used to be.

Sharon Wildwind

One of the things I learned at Bloody Words is that I thought I knew about social media—and I was wrong. There is so much new stuff out there.

Unlike the other two panel reports I’ve done from Bloody Words, the Social Media and Marketing was a mini-workshop of three back-to-back panels. Essentially the panelists changed and the audience stayed glued to their seats. Attribute the comments to the moderator and ten other panelists, got too bulky, so I’m just giving the gist of the discussion. If you want to know who made a particular comment, send me e-mail and I’ll tell you.

The Bottom Line
All marketing should be based on a cost/benefit analysis of how much time and money you have to spend on social media versus how much name recognition and/or sales do you expect to generate from what you do? If you are a writer, spend the majority of your time writing. Don’t jump on every technological bandwagon. You can attempt every new thing, but should you? It is more effective to spend your time optimizing the search features of 1 to 2 platforms that you feel comfortable with rather than create multiple platforms are poorly indexed. Sixty percent of your connections with other people will come from searches.

The Big Three
Provide quality posts and people will come to you for the good content. Fun comes across on the web; so will boredom. If you are doing something because you have to do it, your readers will know it. Tailor your content and your form to each platform.

Limit, limit, limit personal information. If you wouldn’t want what you’ve posted about yourself to be on the front page of a national newspaper, don’t post it on the web. Be quirky and innocent in what you post. That you have a passion for strawberry shortcake is a good thing to post; that you have two grandchildren, the city where they live, their names and photos is a dangerous thing to post.

If you make a fool of yourself on the web, the reputation sticks. Once information, tacky comments, or dubious photos are on the web they are there forever.

What is a platform?
A way that information is presented on the Internet. Different platforms have different functions and attract different kinds of audiences. Platform choices are personal preferences.Try different platforms. Give each a six-months trial and assess how well it works for you. If a platform isn’t meeting your needs, stop using it. Don’t just abandon it, close it down and remove it from the web.

Multi-platform postings often turn people off, so the content on each of your platforms should be different and geared to the function of that platform. You should build links from one platform to another.

Web Site and blog
This should be your essential go-to site. You should build one even before your book is published. Facebook makes a poor substitute for a web site. A blog can be used as a web page, but it needs to be updated on a regular basis. 1% of the blogs on the Internet have current information and are up-to-date. Blog posts should be about 600 to 800 words because blog readers are under all kinds of time pressures. Think of the word limit like short stories and poems: make every blog word count.

Plan to post somewhere between one daily and once weekly.
Professional Page: avoid self-congratulations. Praise other people who connect with you. Readers want to be friends with an author, not fans. Some authors choose to treat their friends page as professional page. They strip the personal information from it and treat it as a fan page under another name.
Fan Page: Because fan pages don’t have back-and-forth exchanges, some people avoid them. The most popular use of fan pages is for characters. Have the characters give advice. Do a running comment on how the writing is going.

Think of this as a living resume. If you’re looking for opportunities to do workshops or to ghost write, this is the place you should be. Balance out how much information you post versus how much information you’re posting that could lead to identity thief.

Far more useful than Facebook for marketing and promotion because you can build a following 140 characters at a time. Tweet at least once every couple of days. If you tweet daily, limit your tweeting to no more than three to four times a day. Don’t post exclusively self-promotion. Share resources. Build up other writers. Do mini-book reviews. Create a community feeling. You can participate in Twitter without having any followers. Use hash-tags instead. A hashtag is the # character. #books is a great place to post; #mysteries is not as good because there are far less people on it. #amwriting has a high noise to information ratio, but you can mind gold there about writing, if you spend a little time looking

Piggy-back on to book and reading sites
Use sites other people have set up. Have your own page. Do book reviews. Promote other writers. These sites are particularly good because they target the niches where the readers are. Sites you might want to check out include
Books N Bytes

Reading multiple sites
If you choose to participate in multiple platforms, checking them every day can become a hassle. Try Hootsuite which is a site that will let you view multiple sites at once.

Social Mention
Yes, you’re on the Internet, but are you reaching anyone? What's your reputation out there in web-land? On this site you can plug in your name, or the name of your book and get a quick scan of four areas: strength—how many times is your term mentioned; passion—how passionate are people when they do mention you; sentiment—is that a passionately good or a passionately bad mention; and reach—how much of the social network are you reaching.

Quick-response codes and Microsoft tags
These are portable hyperlinks that can be embedded in print or electronic formats and accessed by phone applications. And they are popping up everywhere.

This is (I hope) the QR tag for my web site. It tool me all of 3 seconds to create it on line.


Sheila Connolly said...

Now you've scared me.

Thank you for starting out by saying "writers, write!" If you have nothing to promote, what's the point?

Next, many of use wrestle with how to judge the benefits from any of our promotional efforts--there's no test, no report, no feedback. A lot of us do promotional things that we hope will work, mainly because we can, not because we know they're effective.

And it's hard to stress often enough: don't say anything negative on the web, because it will haunt you. Never criticize a fellow writer, an agent, an editor. They're watching.

And last, what the heck do you do with a QR code? Why on the website? Can you tell I'm out of the loop on tech issues?

Frithjof said...

Very nice summary thank you!
I disagree with the frequency of the Twitter updates though. If you have lots to say, say it! The only people that might be annoyed are the ones with few followers and it's the one that share the most that will help you.
Sheila, the beauty of using Social Media is that you can actually get some analytics of how many people you reach.

Finally - QR codes are cool anywhere but on a web site (hyperlink works well) but put them on anything you print and you will drive traffic to your web site/ blog. Oh and make sure you have a mobile theme on your blog :-)

Anonymous said...

If you have nothing to promote, you promote other writers. This gets you good vibes or karma, and we can all use a little kindness.

A lot of people are now putting QR codes on their business cards, business letters, etc. I saw some on posters in Victoria.

Frithjof, lots of different levels of participation is part of the beauty of Twitter. You can choose what works for you today. Tomorrow you can choose again.

Barbara Scott Emmett said...

Great article! But I'm curious about these QR codes. How do they work? Do people read them with their phones or something?

Clueless! please explain.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Barbara, they are intended to be read by a cell phone or personal data device application. Suppose I see a poster advertising an upcoming event I'd like to go to. What I do now is copy down the www. address, go home and look up the event on my computer. Or the more techie person would enter the www. address into their cell phone or something-pad and go to the site.

These codes eliminate the need to enter anything. Point your phone/pad at the poster, click a button, and you're at the web site.

Barbara Scott Emmett said...

Brilliant! Thanks for that.