Tuesday, March 25, 2014

11 More Great Twitter Tips for Writers

These Twitter tweaks for writers and authors show how to: unfollow people who are not following you back; automatically Tweet posts from your blog, Linked In, and Facebook accounts; suck up to important people; and use your Twitter profile to drive traffic to your blog. 

The tips are organized into three categories: Followers, Tweeting, and Miscellaneous. If you missed last week's Twitter article, here is is: Twitter for Writers: Strategies for 2014


I) Followers


1) Follow influential people and writers in your industry
- Use Twitters search tool and search on key terms and hashtags
- Use Twitter's List feature to create lists of only your best, most important followers. Retweet their Tweets. More on this.

2) Follow their followers
- You should be able to follow 10 to 50 new people a day, depending on how many people you have following you. 
- Twitter will warn you if you attempt to follow too many people: Heed the warning and stop following people for 24 hours. Twitters frowns on people who have few followers and follow lots of people. Try to maintain a similar number of followers to people you are following
 - I have 4,000 followers and have been able to have follow about 4,200 or 200 more people than people who follow me.

3) How to unfollow people who don't follow you back.
Free tools such as Manageflitter used to make this process very easy. Recent changes to Twitter, which discourage bulk following and unfollowing, have made these tools trickier to use. But it can still be done. Here's how to do it with Managerflitter:

Step 1: After signing in to Manageflitter, click "Not Following Back." Go to the last page of the results -- people who have been ignoring you for the longest period of time. (arrow on upper right)

Step 2: Click the little box next to each person's name. Managerflitter let's you dump up to 100 people per day.

Step 3: Click "process now"

Step 4: Reclick the boxes on the left next to each person's name. Then check your Twitter profile to verify that you've dumped some people you were following.

II) Tweeting 

4) Use images and photos -- correctly -- in your Tweets. Here's how.

5) Brown nose
When you retweet important people of folks with whom you want to curry some favor, include their twitter handle -- including the @ sign -- in your Tweet.

6) Tweet more often 
- People "with 15,000 plus tweets have between 100,000 to 1 million followers," according to a post by social media expert Jeff Bullas. 

7) Save time by prescheduling posts 
Try a scheduling such as Hootsuite. Be sure to install Hootsuite's Hootlet, which lets you capture and Tweet Web pages while you're browsing the Internet. To find Hootlet: In Hootsuite, click the wrench icon on the left column to open the Tools menu. Then click on Hootlet.

8) More automation: Have your posts to Facebook, Linked In, Google+, and your blog automatically added to your Twitter feed.
- Google/Twiter integration: Sign up for a free account at Manageflitter. Select Engagement from the top menu, then Google+ integration and follow the instructions.
- Linked In: Add your Twitter handle to your Linked In profile. Go to your Linked In home page, enter a status update in the "Share an Update" box. In the "Share with" box below your update, select "Public + Twitter."


III) Miscellaneous Tips

In addition to the link at the end of my profile (randyrossmedia.com), I added a second link to the body of my profile (theloneliestplanet.com). For the body link, use the full url with http:// etc.

10) Are your Twitter efforts paying off?
One of my goals with Twitter is to drive traffic to this blog. This easy to measure with a Web analytics tool. Statcounter is one of the simplest, cleanest Web anaytics tools

Another goal is to beef up my Klout score, a measurement some employers and literary agents consider important. In my experience, adding followers and tweeting regularly boosts my Klout score more than my activities with other social media. More on Klout scores.


More Social Media Tips 


- Building a Writing Platform: My Results for 2013 

- Quick, Dirty Blogging Tips for Writers and Authors

Art attribution: Top image "Twitter" by Esther Vargas Attribution-ShareAlike License

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Twitter for Writers: Strategies for 2014

Twitter can be a good tool for finding new readers and connecting with influential people you don't already know. It can also be a colossal waste of time -- even more so because the site recently changed some policies that can affect writers promoting their work. This article discusses recent changes -- both bad and good -- and includes work-arounds and tips. As with any type of promotion, be sure to measure your results. For example, is the time you're spending on Twitter driving people to your Web site or Amazon page? You're checking your Web traffic stats regularly, right?


Recent Changes

1) Twitter is now encouraging you to include photos and images with your posts. This could be a good thing if you're handy with graphics software. If not, your posts may get lost in a tsunami of dopey pet photos other people post.

Note: Encouraging users to post photos is a social media trend: Facebook recently implemented policies encouraging its users to do this. Read about Facebook's tweaks and how to make the most of them.

2) It is now easier to add a stream of Twitter posts to your blog or Web page.

3) Twitter clamped down on tools, such as Manageflitter, that automate the time-consuming processes of following and unfollowing people. (Next week's blog will include a work-around for this.)

1) Adding Photos and Images


Research suggests that people are more likely to click on a post featuring a "picture" than one feature just a link or straight text. In October, Twitter added a feature called Image Preview that displays pictures in followers Twitter feeds. Previously, followers had to click on a link to see the image, now it just appears -- if it is properly formatted.

Two images I uploaded to Twitter and how they appear in a Twitter feed.Notice that the text post in between the two images gets lost.

- What counts as a picture? Anything that is saved as a graphics file such as a .jpg. So you could take a quote from your book, add a border to it, save it as a .jpg and that would qualify as a picture. A good article discussing pictures and images.

- How to format pictures so Twitter will accept them for Image Preview
* Images can be no larger than 3 MBs. (the images in my example are 50KB and look fine)
*As with Facebook, pick images that are rectangular. Some experts recommend formatting images that are twice as wide as they are high. That isn't always necessary: In my example above, the top image, a screen capture of my Twitter profile, is 440 pixels wide by 220 pixels high. The second image of me with the sheet measures 600 by 400)

- How to upload pictures: When you click on the "Compose a New Tweet" box, a camera icon appears. Click the camera and you'll be prompted to upload a file from your computer.

- Twitter also lets you add youtube videos to your Tweets. However, these will not show up as large images the way photos do. (To include a video, enter the youtube link into the "Compose a new Tweet" box. Include a snappy headline or other text to entice followers to click.)

- Images, as well as videos, inserted into Tweets are collected in the "Photos and Videos" box on your profile page. To remove items from the box, click on the arrow, click on the item, and then click delete, which removes the Tweet from your Twitter feed. Note: If you create a Tweet using a tool, such as Hootsuite, the image or video will not be added to the "Photos and Videos" box

The Photo and Videos box displays six recent items. To remove an arrow indicated by my red arrow.

- Simple tools for creating pictures and images: Items created in Powerpoint can be saved as .jpg files. Irfanview is easy to use and let's you crop, annotate, and resize images.

- For more detail than you want on adding images to Twitter

2) Embed Your Tweets onto a Web Page or Blog

My Twitter stream (recent posts) added to my Web site.

This capability isn't new, though Twitter has beefed up the features. To add your Twitter to a Web page.

On your Twitter page:
- click on Settings (the little gear in the upper right corner of the pages)
- click Widgets
- click create New
- Once you've finished, Twitter will generate somme code that you need to copy and paste onto you Blog or Web page.
- More on embedding your Twitter Timelines (your Tweets).

More Social Media and Twitter Tips for Writers

- Confusing Twitter Terms in Plain English
Note: the two posts above are older: some of the Twitter interface has changed, but the strategies still work. 

Art attribution: Twitter image by Dennis70 (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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Monday, March 10, 2014

Facebook for Writers: Part II

This article discusses how to make the most of recent changes to Facebook. The tips include: reaching more friends and fans by creating better posts, using photos properly, and tweaking Facebook to increase your the Web presence (SEO) of your blog or Web site.

(Last week's post reviewed recent updates to Facebook and their impact on writers.)

Most of the tips below I have tried. Some I haven't but make sense. Others will work depending on Facebook's mood that day. Sorry -- there may be some trial and error involved. Fortunately, most of the tips are not that time consuming to implement.

I) Posting Tips



The goal of any Facebook post is to reach more of your potential readers whether through your Profile (personal) page, Author (Fan) page, or in groups to which you post. You also want to entice potential readers to your blog, Web site, or Amazon page.

My goal is to drive readers to recent blog posts, where they will hopefully sign up. That way, I know they're interested in my work and I can contact them directly without going through Facebook. (Facebook holds your friends and fans hostage, and forces you to pay to reach all of them.)

The Tips

1) Creating a Facebook-Friendly Blog or Web Page:

- Use at least one large image in your blog post or Web page you are promoting. Typically, when you post a link in Facebook, the social media site snags the largest image on your page to create a preview.

- Make sure that image in your blog or Web page has a rectangular shape and is about 560 pixels wide. (Facebook prefers images that are 560 wide by 292 high. Cropping and resizing can be time-consuming.)

Why you should care: If Facebook likes your image, it will appear larger on your page, Friends/Fans' newsfeeds, and in posts to groups. (Note: the resizing doesn't always work -- I resized the top image on this blog at 560 by 315 and it isn't displaying large enough in Facebook. Oh, well.)

How a blog with a large rectangular image displays in a Facebook preview.

If Facebook chokes on your image, you'll get a smaller, less attractive square-sized image.

How a blog post with a small, square image appears in a Facebook preview. Which post do you think a friend or fan would be most likely to click if they saw it in their Newfeed?

- A good, free tool for cropping and resizing images: Irfanview

2) Posting to Facebook:

- Whenever possible create Facebook posts that include an image as discussed above. Text-only posts will supposedly be seen by fewer people.

- Use the full url for links to your blog, Website, or Amazon page. Do not use a shortened version created with Bitly.com, Tinyurl.com, or any other url shortener. (I have not tested this, but it makes sense.) More on this from Social Media Examiner.

- Posting strategy 1: The Link Share
Post a link, wait for Facebook to create a preview of the post, erase the link text from your status update, and then write a description of the post. This is supposed to be the most effective way to reach more people. It also takes more time, particularly if you are posting the same link to different places: your Profile page, your Author page, and some Facebook groups.

- Posting strategy 2: Copy and paste a short description of your post and a link to the blog or Web page you want to promote. This is what I do -- it saves some time. The preview also looks nice -- ie includes a large image -- if you follow a large rectangular image as mention in Tip 1 above.

- Posting strategy 3: If your image still appears small when Facebook creates a preview of your post, try uploading the image as a photo, then add descriptive text and your blog or Web page link. The drawback to this strategy: When friends or fans click on the image it will take them to the image. They will need to click the link to visit your blog or Web page.

Option 3: A more enticing post created by uploading an image from my hard drive to Facebook and then adding the link.

- Measure what works! For Facebook Fan pages, you could check the Reach. For Profile (personal pages), you could check how many Likes and Shares your post received. But the only measure that really matters is clicks to your blog post -- the number of visitors who came from Facebook as indicated by your Web analytics, traffic measuring tool.

II) SEO (Helping More People Find You When They Search the Web)


I have serious doubts about whether search engine optimization is still a good use of time for the average writer. (Search engine optimization is a slew of techniques designed to trick search engines, such as Google, into displaying your Web site more prominently when people search on topics related to what you write.) 

Still, here are some quick ways you can use your Facebook Profile or Author pages that may boost your presence on the Web.

- Include links to your blog and Web site in the About sections of your Profile and Author pages.

- Include links to your sites in your photo descriptions in your Author pages.

More SEO tips for Facebook from Social Media Examiner.

 III) Misc Tips to Get More Out of Facebook

- Using your Profile page instead of an Author Page? Divide "friends" into lists, so real friends don't see business stuff and vice versa.

- Let people who are not friends see your business-y posts by enabling the Follow Button on your Profile page. This is another feature that lets a Profile page act like an Author page -- and another reason you may not need an Author page.

- Post to Facebook on Thursdays and Fridays. Some experts claim that toward the end of the week, people spend more time on Facebook. 

- Ask your Friends or Fans for their e-mail addresses. This way you can contact them directly without going through Facebook. Manage their e-mail addresses with a free tool such as Mail Chimp. Then send them a quarterly e-mail with major updates regarding your work. More on collecting and using e-mail addresses from Jon Loomer.

More Articles on Self Promotion for Writers

- Good article from Jane Friedman on Building a Platform and Connecting with Readers.



Art attribution: Facebook image at top of article by Michibeckmichal (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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Monday, March 3, 2014

Facebook for Writers: Gripes, Tips (Part1)

Recent changes to Facebook make the social media site even less useful to writers looking to promote their work for free. This article includes an overview of the changes, plus some tips on how to use them to your advantage.

Full disclosure: Because of these developments, I'm spending less time promoting my work on Facebook.

Next week's post will focus on free tips and tricks for getting what you can out of Facebook.

Recent Developments on Facebook that Affect Writers


1) It's Harder to Get Your Posts Under the Noses of Readers
Most of your friends, fans, and readers see your Facebook posts in their Newsfeeds. Facebook has been restricting what appears in Newsfeeds. Posts from Pages, such as your Author or Book pages, may not show up at all.

Note: I have 2,000 Fans on my Author Page. A typical post once reached 300 of my Fans. Now it reaches about 50. More on Facebook reach for writers.

2) Casual Users Are Leaving Facebook
By contrast, heavy Facebook users are being more active. Upshot: Those individuals who post a lot of dopey photos and live their lives on Facebook are more active than ever. Think about your audience and their usage of Facebook. This could be another reason why your posts are reaching fewer people.

3) Facebook Is Using Scare Tactics to Keep Mobile Users from Seeing Links You Post
My goal on Facebook is to entice people to visit my blog. As a result, I post links to my blog posts on Facebook. Facebook users who click on my links may receive a warning that says something like "This link might be malicious ... Follow it with care."

4) A Profile (personal) Page Might Be More Useful than an Author Page
For years, the conventional wisdom was that you needed an Author Page. But Facebook has added features, such as a Follow feature, that let people you don't know or friend see posts on your Profile Page. By dividing up your friends using the Facebook List feature, you can make certain posts available to the general public or just your closest friends. A recent post on Profile vs. Author Pages.

5) New Posting Rules: Facebook Prefers Pictures to Videos or Text Updates
Use large, horizontal images in your blog and your Facebook posts will appear larger in people's Newsfeeds and probably get more clicks. Use smaller or vertical images in your blog, and they will appear as thumbnails that will be easy to overlook. Another workaround, is to upload the picture image to Facebook and then add a link going to your blog.

This blog post used a small image. Here's how it appeared when I posted it to Facebook

This blog post used a large. rectangular image.

In this example, I uploaded an image to Facebook and then added a link to my blog. The drawback here: If people click the photo, it goes to the photo. In the examples above, a click on the photo sends people directly to my blog. Next week, more options for making your posts look better.

More on Facebook Changes and Social Media

Six Reasons Your Facebook Postings May Not Get Responses

Why Facebook is Not a Writer's Friend

Sick of Social Media? Other Options for Writers

Building a Platform: My Results in 2013

Art Attribution: Top Facebook image by Maxi Gago (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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