Monday, September 30, 2013

Social Media for Writers: Facebook Is Not Your Friend

When you post something to Facebook, only a fraction of your Friends or Fans actually see it. For your Personal/Profile page, it's been estimated that you reach about a third of your Friends. For an Author/Fan Page, you may reach 10 percent of your Fans. Want to reach more of your people? Facebook wants you to pay. (Yes, even to reach your Friends.) As with all social media, writers need to ask themselves: Is this a good use of my time? (It may not be)

This article discusses the ins and outs of Personal Profile Pages as they apply to writers and authors. A future article will discuss Fan/Author Pages and Groups Pages.

Personal Profile Pages: Where Your Friends Are

A Profile Page is your personal page, typically used to keep in touch with "Friends" and family. Many writers use their Profile for keeping in touch with readers. Either way, you need a Profile page to join, comment, and post links to groups. Groups are like online clubs for people with similar interests. Connecting with group members is one of the best ways to find potential readers on Facebook.

How Many Friends See Your Posts?

According to a recent study, when you post something on your Profile page, about a third of your Friends will actually see it. If some Friends "Like" the post or comment on it, 35 percent of your friends may see it. If no one Likes or comments, the percentage can drop to 29 percent. (This may be significantly higher than the number of people see Posts on an Author Page. More on this in future articles on this site.)

Profile Page Terms:

- Newsfeed: The constantly updating list of posts from friends and Pages that you follow on Facebook. Your Newsfeed includes status updates, photos, videos, links, etc. Friends can choose how much of your stuff appears in their Newsfeed. (and vice versa)

For example, go to a Friends profile and click the Friend button (top red arrow in screenshot below). You will see a list with the following options that prioritize posts from Friends:

- Close Friends: You'll see all of their posts in your Newsfeed. You'll also be notified of their activities when you log into Facebook. You can even be notified via e-mail or even text message. Click on Settings and you can specify what types of posts you'll see. Label someone an Acquaintance, and you'll see fewer of their posts.

Settings for a "Close Friend's" Profile Page, discussed above

Note: You can also prioritize what you see from Author/Fan Pages you've Liked. Below I've Liked actor Jack Black's Page. By default, I will see his posts in my Newsfeed (see the checked item in upper right-hand corner of screen below). 

By clicking Settings, I can choose whether I want to see All, Most, or Only Important Updates. By default, I will see Most of his updates. What "Most" means, is one of the sweet mysteries of Facebook. 

Note: If you have an Author page, these settings affect whether your Fans are seeing your posts.

Settings when I Liked Jack Black's Fan Page discussed above

- Notifications:  Click the little down arrow in the upper right hand corner of your Facebook Profile Page. The result will be the following list of options:

To adjust your Notifications: Click little down arrow in upper right-hand corner to produce this menu. Then click Settings.

 Then click Notifications and you'll get the page below. Here, I've chosen the following options:

- Under How You Get Notifications, "On Facebook" I've selected to receive "All Notifications, sounds off." Facebook notifies you different ways: The little globe in the upper right-hand corner (below) and with onscreen pop-ups (see arrow in lower left-hand corner in screen above). "Push Notifications" sends an alert to your cell phone. For the e-mail options, I've selected Most Notifications and receive a periodic e-mail letting me know my friends have added updates.

- Under What You Get Notified About, I've chosen to receive e-mails about "Close Friends Activity."

- Note: for some reason there is no general option for receiving updates to Author Pages I've Liked. I have to adjust these settings for each Page I Like. (See Jack Black slide above)

Notification options in your Settings menu dictate how you'll be notified of updates from Friends and Groups.

Paying Up

Want to reach more of your Friends? Click the "Promote" button under a recent post and you'll get the following:

Note: Paying to promote a post means it will appear higher in Friends' Newsfeeds, but Facebook does not list how many people will see it. Also, the post will labeled as "Promoted."

Profile Page Instead of an Author Page?

Some authors use a Profile page instead of an Author Page. Others use both. Some use a Profile page as their main base in Facebook and create separate Pages for their books. If you're just starting out, you may want to build up your Profile page before you consider an Author Page. (Also, you can convert a Profile Page to an Author Page at any time.) Better yet, you may want to focus on connecting with potential readers in Facebook Groups. (If these people like you, they'll ask to become Friends.)

Pros of using your Profile Page to promote your writing
- It is easier to add people than it is with an Author or Book Page
- You need a Profile anyway to post in groups.
- It appears that you reach more of your people than you do with a Author Page.
- It's one less page to manage and post to.

Cons of using a Profile Page
- In the past, you could only have 5,000 Friends. But additional people can "Subscribe" to see your Posts.
-Fan/Author Pages have analytical tools for measuring the popularity of your Posts, which types of Posts reach the most people, and some demographic info on your Fans (age, sex, location).
- Supposedly, Profile Pages are not for businesses.
- Some people consider an Author Page more professional.

Next Week: Facebook Author Pages

More On Facebook for Writers:

Book Marketing: Is a Facebook Fan Page Useful?

10 Quick, Dirty Facebook Tips for Writers

Attribution for top art (Facebook logo): By Veluben (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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Monday, September 23, 2013

Social Media for Writers: One Thing That Works

One of the best places to connect with potential readers is the groups -- essentially online clubs -- offered by social media sites. Groups lets you to post comments and links to relevant Web articles, including those you've written. However, posting links willy-nilly is a type of spamming known as "link-dropping"  and can get you banned from the group, or even the site. This article includes both basic and more advanced tips working with online groups. (Advanced folks should skip to "Posting," sections III and IV, at the bottom of the page.)

I) The Basics

Facebook, Linked In, Google+, and Goodreads provide some form of group feature that allows people interested in a particular topic to congregate. Twitter doesn't have groups per se, but instead uses a feature called hashtags that lets users follow a particular topic. Likewise, many popular Web sites include forums and discussion groups to which you can join and post links.

How to Find Groups

Search for groups by entering your topic of interest in the social media site's search bar. If you're writing about travel, search for groups related to travel. If you join a writing group, you probably don't want to post links about your travel.

Once you join the group, you can begin commenting and posting links. As with most social media features, this is trickier than it sounds because the sites keep changing their rules.

For Linked In
- Enter your topic in the search bar (top red arrow below)
- Then narrow your results to only groups (second red arrow)
- Note: Linked In only allows you to join 50 groups at a time.
- Note: Linked In is a business site, so their groups are generally for people who work in a particular industry. For example, a search on "travel" will not produce a lot of travelers, but will produce a lot of people who work in the travel industry: travel agents, travel bloggers, etc.
- See "Tips" section below before you begin posting. Linked In added a feature that allows group owners to black-ball you from posting in their groups or other people's groups. (Yes, it's very screwy)

Linked In

For Facebook
- Enter your topic in the search bar (top arrow below)
- You'll get results that includes groups, pages, and people.
- Narrow the results only to groups (second arrow)
- Note: Some Facebook Pages created by businesses will let you post comments and links to your blogs. I have not found this useful for driving traffic.
- Note: Facebook will allow you to join up to 300 groups.
- Note: You must use your Profile page to join a group, to comment, or to post links for group members. You can't do this from an Author, Fan, or Business page.


For Google+
- Go to your "Home."
- Click on "Communities" and search by topic.
- Note: I'm not sure if Google+ limits the number of Communities you can join.  I belong to 46 and can still join more.
- Note: Google+ has a lot of oddball groups. If you're having trouble finding relevant groups on the other sites, give Google+ a try.
- Note: You can join and post in Communities from a Google+ business page. (If you don't know what a Google+ page is, don't worry about it.)


For Goodreads
- Similar to the others.

Web Sites in General
- Search Google for your topic
- Look for Web sites that have a "group" or "forums" option.
- For example, my novel-in-progress is about a chronically-single guy. I searched for dating and singles sites. Here's one I found that has forums. I joined and post links to dating scenes in my book. (I have not gotten any dates, but I'm getting some traffic.)


II) Now What?

 When you find groups of interest, weed them out by considering the following:
- Number of members
- How active the members are (Are the posts recent? Are posts from different people, which is good, or from just one person, which is bad.)
- Content: are people making intelligent comments or are the posts spam for products and services unrelated to the topic.
- If you are looking for readers don't spend time promoting your work to groups for writers.

A word about Twitter:
- With Twitter you can post to groups of people interested in a particular topic using hashtags. One way to find appropriate hashtags is to Google: "best hashtags for <insert your topic>" For example, you might Google: "Best hastags for travel" 
- For this blog, I have found Twitter virtually useless for enticing people to click my links and visit my site. Maybe I'm doing something. Maybe I'm an idiot. Maybe for topics related to this book marketing blog, Twitter is a waste of my time.
- I have a fair amount of followers on Twitter (4,000), some of them retweet my stuff -- so I'm getting interactions, but few of my followers visit my site. But my Twitter activity is responsible for much of my Klout score of 54. I assume that my Klout score will of interest to an employer or publisher, so I keep using Twitter.


III) Tips for Posting Links to Your Blog in Groups

As mentioned earlier, joining a group and then immediately posting links to your blog, can get you banned from the group and maybe even the social media site.

Getting Started

- If the owner of the group, posted rules of engagement, read them. (Some groups on Google+ do not want people posting links to blogs.)

- Spend some time commenting and reading other people's posts. "Like" good posts. Re-post good ones to your followers on Twitter, Facebook, or Linked In.

- See what other members are doing. Are they posting links to other Web sites and their own blogs? Great, you'll be in good company. Is the group very chatty and informal? Then make your posts chatty. For example, instead of just posting the link, lead in with a comment. For a chatty travel group: "Here are some travel sites that I thought were cool" then add a link to your blog.

Formatting Your Blog Posts

Format posts appropriately for social media: Include a simple image at the top of the blog followed by a summary paragraph describing the content of the blog. Cutesy, clever, or complicated images and leads won't cut it because group members only see a snippet of your article.

Here's what they saw on a recent post I made on Linked In

And on Facebook

Note: Google+ recently changed it's rules and no longer pulls any text from your blog -- you should add it manually. You can even include the first few paragraphs of your blog as I did here:

IV) Posting Problems

 1) Linked In made some changes that make it easy for you to get black-balled if you piss off the moderator of one of your groups. If you are posting on Linked In and your posts -- and even your comments -- produce a note that says something, like this, you've been black-balled.

This note means that many of your posts will sit in a Pending folder until a moderator approves them. Your posts may eventually go live. Or they may not. But it's easy for you to check. In the past, I've sent a nice note to moderators and asked if my posts were Pending because I had done something wrong. Most said "no" and my post went live. Others didn't respond. Read more about this issue. There is even a Linked In group about this problem.

2) Sometimes, Facebook will fail to grab the top image from your blog. In that case, look for the little pointers next to the image -- you may be able to choose another image.

 3) Wasting too much time on this? It's easy to measure whether you are connecting with readers in social media groups. 
- Are you getting positive comments from other group members?
- Are people visiting your Web site? Signing up for your blog?
- Are group members asking to be your Facebook friend or Linked In Connection or adding you to their Google+ circles? 
- Some groups will work for you, others won't. Leave the groups that don't appreciate your unique genius.

4) Social media sites change their policies constantly. Be sure to verify that your posts are going live.

More Self-Promotion for Writer's Articles

Attribution for image at top of this blog: By RRZEicons (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  




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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Social Media for Writers: Confusing Twitter Terms in Plain English




Confused by even the most basic Twitter terms? Me, too -- and I've been using Twitter for five years. Twitter Help was only of modest help. This article took several hours to piece together. Comments and corrections appreciated. Also, the end of the article includes links to sources I used.


Twitter Terms:

Home timeline (Little birdhouse icon in image at top of this blog post)
Twitter inbox. (First thing most people see when they sign in to Twitter.)
- Tweets from people you follow.
- Mentions of people you are following.
- Mentions of you from people you are following.

@ Connect
(see image below)
- "Interactions," all of your activities, including Tweets you favorited, plus any mentions of your Twitter handle. (see Mentions below)
- "Mentions": Mentions of your Twitter name and replies to any of your Tweets. I have this set up so that any Mentions of me on Twitter are forwarded to my e-mail inbox

Me (Little icon of a person's head and shoulders)
(see image below)
- Your profile page, which includes your bio, photo, and list of any Tweets you've sent. (your Twitter sent or outbox)
- Generally, anyone who looks at your profile can see Tweets you've sent.
Note: be sure to fill out your profile with a professional-looking photo and descriptive words and phrases about your writing and topics of interest.

Putting it All Together

Normal Tweet:
- In the "Compose a new Tweet box," you include a description of something you wrote with a link to it, and then click Tweet to send it.
- A copy of the Tweet is stored on your Profile page and Home timeline.
- The Tweet appears in the Home timeline of anyone who is following you.

- A Tweet that mentions another person's Twitter name, preceded by the "@" symbol.
- For example, You might create a Tweet about this blog post that mentions my Twitter name, rsquaredd:
Hey, @rsquaredd, great post about Twitter! Can I send you some money?
- A copy of the Mention is stored on your profile page. Anyone looking at your profile can see this.
- The person you mentioned (rsquaredd) will see this Tweet under their @Connect tab, in their Interactions and Mentions. Depending on how they configured Twitter, a copy may also be sent to their e-mail inbox.
- If the person you mentioned is following you, the mention will also appear in their Home timeline.
- Anyone following you (the sender), will see the mention on their Home timeline.

- You receive a Tweet and click the "Reply" command under it.
- This creates a Tweet that begins with the sender's Twitter name. For example, if I sent you a Tweet linking to this blog post, you might click the reply command and write:
@rsquaredd Great post! Can I send you a check for all your hard work?
- As with a normal tweet, a copy of your reply is stored on your profile page.
- The recipient, @rsquaredd, would see this in Interactions and Mentions. If they are following you, they will see it in their Home timeline and possibly their e-mail inbox.
- Anyone following both the BOTH the sender (you) and the recipient (rsquaredd) will also see this in their Home timeline.

Tweets that Begin with Someone's Twitter Name
- If you visit someone's Twitter page, whether you follow them or not, you will see a little box that says, "Tweet to…", the @ sign and their Twitter name.
- If you write something in this box, it will behave similar to Replies above. (The recipient would see it in his Interactions and Mentions.)
- A great way to connect with someone who is not following you, such as big shots who normally wouldn't give you time of day, much less their e-mail address.
- Example:

- When see a Tweet from someone else -- whether you follow them or not -- you have the option to Retweet it to your followers. (Hover your cursor over the Tweet and you're see the Retweet option)
- The Retweet appears in your follower's Timelines, like a normal Tweet you created.
- If you Retweet something from one of your followers, say, a Tweet you saw in your Home timeline, a copy will be saved in your Profile.
- If you Retweet something from someone you are not following -- say, you were perusing Big Shot Author's profile and saw something your followers might like -- a copy will be saved in your Home timeline and your Profile.

Advanced Tip: .@
- As noted above, if you send a Tweet that includes someone's name, preceded by the @ sign (@rsquaredd), they will see the message in their Interactions and Mentions. People who follow both of you will see this message in their timelines.
- Using .@ instead of just @ before the name means that all of your followers will see this post in their timelines.
- Impractical use for .@  Say, Mr. Big Shot Author tells you not to contact him again? You could respond to him using .@ and all of your followers would see your response and know what a bastard he is.
- Example:

 How to Use This Stuff to Brown-Nose and Stalk People

- Offer shout outs to people you don't know by including their Twittter handle in your Tweets. This includes Big Shot Authors and other people with some juice who may be able to help you out in the future.

- Retweet posts from people you want to butter up (whether you follow them or not).

- Some experts say you should be posting seven posts promoting other people's content for every post that promote's your own. (Not sure where the "seven" came from, but you get the idea -- promote others and maybe they'll promote you.

- Don't be afraid to ask someone with whom you have Twitter rapport to Retweet your stuff. (Don't over do it!)





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Monday, September 9, 2013

Six More Twitter Tips for Writers: Brown-nosing, Apps Update

This article discusses: how to use Twitter for online brown-nosing, the .@ command, plus a slick tool for analyzing followers (followerwonk) and new limitations to an old favorite tool (manageflitter).

Note: If you're as confused by Twitter terminology and features as I was, see this simple -- I hope -- Twitter glossary I created.

I) Twitter Brown-Nosing

Twitter includes several features that allow you to get someone's attention even if they're not following you.

1) Use the @ to include someone's Twitter handle in a Tweet.

For example, in this Tweet, I'm flattering Author Who Can Help Me.

He could see this Tweet in his list of Mentions, under his @Connect menu, whether or not he is following me. Depending on his settings, he may also receive an e-mail letting him know that's he's been mentioned. In addition, people who follow both of us on Twitter will see this.

2) Use .@ to shoot this Tweet to your Followers and further flatter your subject.

Adding the "." in front of @Authorwhocanhelpme means that all my followers -- including those who are not following Author Who Can Help Me will see this Tweet. This is another way of adding content to my Twitter stream and boosting Author Who Can Help Me's reach on Twitter.

3) Retweet Tweets from Author Who Can Help Me   

If I'm following Author Who Can Help Me, I can also Retweet his posts to my followers and he will know that I've mentioned him. 

Notes: Yes, these three tips are Twitter crapshoots.
- If your target is very popular, they may not check their Mentions.
- But, if your target is a Twitter addict, they may have all Mentions forwarded to their e-mail.
- I have received thank-yous from popular folks for Retweeting a popular person's posts.

4) For More on Online Stalking...

This is an old, but great article on techniques and strategies for engaging others to help boost your Web traffic and online presence: Stalking for Links

II) Tools Update

1) Followerwonk

The free version of this tool supplies some useful data on your followers. I'd read somewhere that the best time to Tweet was before and after work. The Followerwonk chart below shows that most of my followers are checking Twitter during work or on their lunch breaks (if they're on the East Coast). Time to readjust my posting strategy?

2) ManageFlitter

This was a great tool for finding and dumping up to 100 people a day who were not following you back. A graphical feature allowed you to click and dump quickly. But recent changes to the tool, mean that you have to manually click each person you want to ditch. Bummer.

More Social Media Tips ... and Caveats

- Blogging Tips for Writers: 5 Ways to Boost Traffic 


- Self-Promotion for Writers: Dump Social Media, Embrace E-mail 


- Nine More Twitter Tips for Writers Confounded by Twitter


Just for Fun


 Top Secret Work Habits of the Successful Novelist


Art at top of blog: By Paola peralta (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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