Friday, February 10, 2017

Using Social Media Effectively

Do you know the term hashtag?  Further, are you aware of its purpose and how to effectively use them?  How about retweeting?  Or tagging someone on Facebook and Instagram?  These are just little but important tools to enhance your social media marketing strategies.  Whether you are selling a book, offering a service or want to become a prominent influencer, you’ll want to pay attention, and begin to practice using these techniques. 
Hashtags:
·    The metadata tags have been actually been around for quite some time, first being used in 1988 on a platform known as Internet Relay Chat or IRC. They were used much then as they are today, for grouping messages, images, content, and video into categories. The purpose of course, is so users can simply search hashtags and get all the relevant content associated with them.
o   Metadata is defined as the data providing information about one or more aspects of the data; it is used to summarize basic information about data which can make tracking and working with specific data easier.[
·    By July of 2009, hashtags were formally adopted by Twitter and anything with a # in front of it became hyperlinked.  Facebook and Instagram more recently adapted with the usage. 
·    For most people, the hashtag is used for fun. Others help organize news stories around major events. Sometimes they're just made up on the fly to make a Tweet sound funnier. The most basic function of a hashtag is to create a single, organized feed of Tweets or updates around each topic.  Popular hashtags are related to sports, names, charities and politics .  They should be words or terms that are familiar, already trending and not outlandish that nobody will ever search for them.  Examples: #POTUS  #nfl  #BreastCancer  #GeorgeClooney.
·    Popular hashtags related to writing:  #AmWriting  #AmEditing  #WordCount  #WritersLife  #LitChat  #WritingParty  #IndieAuthors  #NaNoWriMo  #SelfPub  #WritingPrompt  #BookGiveaway  #MustRead  #FlashFiction (do not use punctuation, and they must read as one word)
·    You may also use genres, and you should always create your own with the title of your book, or your name, or brand with the hope of going viral.  For instance, mine are #Bridges, #KymberlieIngalls, #WriterOfTheStorm, #RainfallPress, and #neuroticy.  Some of these are generic terms or easy to misspell, but over time when people search for me or any aspect of my work or social media posts, these tags become familiar to them. 
·    Tweets or posts that include a link and a hashtag show the highest engagement of any others. 
Hashtags have become more than just a way to categorize posts or add a narrative to your updates. Marketers have found new, innovative ways to use hashtags as a means to drive conversation, harness the public support, and garner attention to their brands.
Retweeting:
·    A Retweet is a re-posting of a Tweet. Twitter's Retweet feature helps you and others quickly share that Tweet with all of your followers. You can Retweet your own Tweets or Tweets from someone else.
·    Retweets look like normal Tweets with the author's name and username next to it, but are distinguished by the Retweet icon and the name of the user who Retweeted the Tweet.
·    To see Retweets of your own posts, go to your notifications tab. There you will see all activity concerning your Tweets—including which have recently been Retweeted and by whom.
·    If you're familiar with Facebook, then you may have already seen a friend reshare a post that was originally posted by one of their own friends or one of the public pages they've liked. Facebook sharing is basically the same as Twitter retweeting. You'll have the option to add a message of your own with the retweet before it's reposted to your profile, or simply leave it blank and retweet it just as it is. That user's tweet will then be automatically embedded in your profile and they will receive a notification.
·    When you retweet, you're essentially interacting with them. Unless they get a ton of interaction from thousands of followers and have a hard time keeping up with notifications, they'll notice your retweet and they may decide to connect with you or possibly even return the favor. You're also introducing valuable information and suggesting new voices to follow, to your own followers. Retweeting is what spreads good information fast and makes things go viral.
·    If you tweet something really great and a big influencer decides to retweet you, their followers will see and they may end up retweeting you as well or even following you. It's really the best way to get the word out about anything worth sharing and the build your own engagement.
Tagging:
·    Instagram has revolutionized how we experience visual content. It allows people and businesses from around the world to connect through pictures, graphics, and video.
·    Tags are a convenient way for individuals and businesses to expand the reach of a message or photo on Instagram. They allow users to find content like pictures and videos that they would otherwise not seen, helping to increase the reach of visual marketing materials..
·    Adding tags on Facebook allows you to create a link to their profile in your status update. People you tag will receive a notification so they can see your post. The post may also go on the person's profile and appear in their friends' newsfeeds.  Because of this, be aware of what you are including them in.  Don’t post offensive material or any kind of hard sell without their permission at the risk of losing that connection. 
·    Tagging a page is a different than with a person.  To tag a friend, you simply type in their name and Facebook presents you with an option to tap or click that person and automatically links their profile.  Pages have a different formula, more like Twitter.  Type "@" followed immediately by the name of a Facebook Page. Do not include the quotes or a space between "@" and the name of the Page – just the same as a hashtag.  Click the name of the Facebook Page when it appears below your cursor. This automatically inserts the name of the Page and turns it into a link.  You must know the exact title of the page.  For instance, to tag me on Facebook, typing in Kymberlie will bring up my personal profile if we are connected, or anyone can type @writerofthestorm and tag my professional page. 
Once you’ve become familiar with these techniques, you should find you’ll have more activity, engagement and traffic to each of your social media sites.  Most sites employ similar tactics, a simple search will turn up specific applications.  They’re essential tools to have in your utility box for effective marketing and branding, so get started now because it will take practice and time to develop.  Don’t be frustrated if you don’t get immediate results.  Patience and continued effort will get you far. 
Sources: Twitter, hashtag.org, lifewire.com, Facebook, digitalli

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Platforms Are Made To Stand On

Anyone can write.  The purpose of this post is to presume that you’d like to make way into monetizing your work.  The percentage of authors who make a consistent living from their writing alone is quite slim.  It’s good to have that goal but very helpful to have other things to offer such as speaking skills, professional services and expertise that is of interest in the industry.  This is where platform building is best done, but it’s a daunting task so let’s try to make some sense of it and how to create a plan that will work for you.
Building Blocks of a Platform
·       A website and/or blog with a large readership
·       An e-newsletter and/or mailing list with a large number of subscribers/recipients
·       Article/column writing for the media—preferably for larger outlets within the writer’s specialty
·       Guest contributions to successful websites, blogs, and periodicals
·       A track record of strong book sales
·       Individuals of influence that you know—personal contacts (organizational, media, celebrity, relatives) who can help you market through blurbs, promotion, or other means
·       Public speaking appearances—the bigger, the better
·       An impressive social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, and the like)
·       Membership in organizations that support the successes of their own
·       Recurring media appearances and interviews—in print, on the radio, on TV, or online
Statistics of an author platform:
·       Expertise – 25%
·       Contacts – 10%
·       Social media – 10%
·       Previous media – 10%
·       Previous books – 10%
·       Personality – 10%
·       Existing readership – 10%
·       Ability to execute – 15%

ü  Statistics provided by Brooke Warner, She Writes Press
What editors and agents typically mean by platform:
They’re looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience.  Let’s break this down further.
·       Visibility. Who knows you?  Who is aware of your work and where does it appear?  How does it spread?  What communities are you a part of?  Who do you influence?
·       Authority. What’s your credibility and credentials?   (This is particularly important for nonfiction writers; it is less important for fiction writers, though it can play a role)
·       Proven reach. It’s not enough to SAY you have visibility. You have to show where you make an impact and give proof of engagement. This could be quantitative evidence (e.g., size of your e-mail newsletter list, website traffic, blog comments) or qualitative evidence (high-profile reviews, testimonials from A-listers in your genre).
·       Target audience. You should be visible to the most receptive or appropriate audience for the work you’re trying to sell. For instance: If you have proven reach to orthodontists, that probably won’t be helpful if you’re marketing vampire fiction.
What a platform is not:
·       Self promotion
·       hard selling.
·       It is not about annoying people.
·       being an extrovert.
·       being active on social media.
·       It is not something you create overnight.
·       It is not something you can buy.
·       It is not a one-time event.
·       It is not about your qualifications, authority, or experience, although these are tools for growing or nurturing a platform.
·       It is not more important than your story or message (but hopefully it grows out of that).
·       Platform is not about bringing attention to yourself, or by screaming to everyone you can find on or offline, “Look at me! Look at me!” Platform isn’t about who yells the loudest or who markets the best.  It is more about putting in consistent effort over the course of a career, and making incremental improvements in extending your network.

ü  Source: Jane Friedman

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Guest: Alon Shalev - Authors Are Funny People

Book Signing Games of BerkeleyAuthors are funny people. Really. Some are socially awkward. We take that for granted given that they sit alone behind a keyboard for long hours and live in alternative realities. Still…

I recently participated in an authors’ fair and, to be clear, most presenters were lovely, social people. I think I just happened to be sandwiched between the um…more interesting ones. I could just see the sympathetic looks I received from other authors around the room safely ensconced behind their tables.

Here is a list: What Not To Do at an Authors’ Fair.
  • Don’t hog the microphone. Seven minutes of Open Mic might be 10, but they sure ain’t 20.
  • Don’t walk up to someone’s table and lecture them how they really must read your book, especially if it is not connected to their genre. Actually, just don’t do it.
  • Either compliment their book covers or don’t say anything. This is a book fair, not an art show.
  • If you say you accept credit cards, make sure you can. Have the app open and ready (and don’t ask the author at the next table to swipe on their phone for you).
  • Do not ask an author to put your promotional material on their table even if you write in the same genre.
  • If you get a phone call when another author is presenting, take it outside. Better yet, if you need someone to tell you that, don’t come back!
  • We understand why you need to eat during a long event, but go wash your sticky fingers before you fondle our book covers.
  • “I’ll swap with you.” Don’t offer to swap books with an author who is making a living from this, especially when there is no genre connection. Go to a Swapmeet.
  • Don’t spend your time telling us how really successful authors in your genre don’t know what they are doing. Sell a few million books first. Then we’ll listen … maybe.
I remember reading a collected work of the musings of Sir Terry Pratchett, who passed away last year. I have to admit never experiencing what he did. During a Book Show, he went to the bathroom and someone passed a copy of his book under the cubical door and asked him to sign!

Guess I have nothing to complain about, eh Terry?
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Alon Shalev is the author of magical realism, fantasy and social issue themed fiction.  Click here to explore his work and here for Shalev's popular blog.  He can be found on Twitter at @elfwriter