Sunday, November 12, 2017

It's Time To Face Up

Facebook For Authors
Kymberlie Ingalls, Rainfall Press - kymberlie@rainfallpress.com
                                   
Of all the social media giants that pass over the internet – AOL, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat – one thing is common; information overload.  Advice was once given to anyone looking to sell and connect to buyers or a fan base to be on all platforms all the time.  This is no longer the case.  It is best to choose one or two mediums and focus.  It is simply unrealistic to think we have that kind of energy to invest, and people have grown fatigued with social media in recent years.  Find the two that you feel most comfortable with and that you enjoy, and don’t worry about the rest.  Insincerity is easily detected, and people respond more when they feel ‘you’ come alive.
Statistics to know:
·       There are currently more than 2 billion active Facebook users
o   85% of those users come from outside the US/Canada
·       Age Demographics are important to know:
o   88% of those 18-29
o   84% of those 30-49
o   72% for those 50-64
o   62% for those 65+
·       Gender demographics are just about equal
·       Highest traffic times:  mid-week between 1-3pm, or evenings around 7pm.  What this means: You have the potential to reach more consumers and drive higher traffic to your site during peak usage times but people may be more likely to be more engaged in the evenings, especially on Thur/Fri when engagement is 18% higher on average.
·       Photo uploads total 300 million per day
·       People aren’t spending as much time as they used to on Facebook (average 35 minutes per day) but they are checking it more frequently (average 8x per day)
·       More than 60 million businesses have a page
o   40% of Facebook users have never liked a page
·       The sharing of original, user-generated content such as status updates and images declined 21% between mid-2015 and mid-2016.  At the same time, sharing of news articles and other outside links increased. 
Auto or cross posts –  
·       another thing we’ve been instructed to do is sit down and schedule out multiple posts in one session so that they roll out over time.  Here’s why that doesn’t work as well as it might seem: spontaneity is more appealing.  It’s pretty obvious when someone has scheduled a post as it usually reads as a rather dry, canned announcement or proclamation of some sort.  Cross-posting is also obvious because it is labeled as such and is generally more suited to the original platform, thereby falling flat on other sites.  Plus you can’t tag properly and tagging can be an important part of audience targeting.  The bottom line is that if you’re not willing to put the time in, it’s probably not the platform for you.
Groups –
·       Facebook groups can be a fantastic way for writers to connect, trade advice, swap war stories and find new opportunities. Knowing there are other people out there who “get” what it’s like to be a writer can be a huge comfort, and the chance to share experience and tips with people on all stages of the writing journey is invaluable.
o   The Write Life Community
o   Calls For Submissions
o   Indie Author Group
o   Write On! Online
o   Writers Helping Writers
Stories –
·       Camera-First Communications – this means that video and visuals are king.  The camera is beginning to replace the keyboard.  Don’t be discouraged, however.  Nothing should stop you from talking about your writing! 
·       Stories has been a hit on Instagram (also owned by Facebook), but has yet to take off on Facebook.  Not recommended at this time.  It is something they are trying out, so unless you have a radical idea that will shake up the concept, don’t put too much energy into it yet.  It may come and go as quickly as book trailers. 
Facebook Live –
·       Use it, but don’t abuse it!  Studies have shown that people will engage with a live feed but will be turned off if done too often. 
·       Use Facebook Live to talk about an event, let readers see you performing a reading, or perhaps give lessons or talk about your writing processes.  They can comment in real time, so the idea is to interact with them also in real time.  Let them ask questions and answer them as you go – Q&As are always popular.
·       Practice makes perfect.  Become comfortable with the camera before putting it into use.  Learn the ins and outs, use a tripod for your phone or device, invest in a decent and clear-picture webcam
Personal page vs Professional –
·       Know your etiquette – don’t over-saturate your friends by only promoting your work or selling them things.  This isn’t your audience, because it’s a limited market with little room to grow. 
·       Don’t be afraid to be personal on your professional page, but have boundaries
·       Facebook has set up ‘shop’ with the Pages – you can design your own store with photos, buttons for shopping, following, etc 
Branding –
·       Not every post needs to be the same, but have some kind of consistency because familiarity draws people in.  Toss in the occasional surprise to keep people on their toes.
In summary, use social media for what it was intended – to be SOCIAL! 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Video Killed the Literary Star

Did you know that video has been the #1 search engine for some time?  YouTube has become the largest search engine behind Google.  My husband swears by it; every time I ask him how to do anything he comes back with "Look it up on YouTube" and darned if he isn't right.  There is a video on how to do just about everything. There are even videos that tell you how to sell a book.  Or how to blog
  • In 2017, video content represents 74% of video traffic
  • 4x as many users would prefer to watch a video about a product than read about it.
  • up to 85% more emails are opened if "video" is in the subject line - including a link to your video channel is a way to engage.
But what is there for an author to blog about?

Several years ago, someone came up with the idea of a book trailer.  On paper, it completely made sense and was the perfect way to get in on the video craze that was just beginning to take hold.  For whatever reason, they never caught on.  Quality was most likely that reason.  While authors were thrilled to have a visual for their words, readers not so much.  So, if anyone is trying to tell you to invest time or money into a book trailer, please save both.

This doesn't mean that authors can't have a video page.  There are possibilities, even if you need to create them yourself.  What activities are you participating in?  Have you done any bookstore appearances?  Library lectures?  Readings or open mics?  If you haven't, ask yourself why not?  All of these are opportunities to record.  It's rather simple in these times, with our phones ready to use.  Invest in an inexpensive tripod of any size for those times when a friend or colleague can't help out.  If you're appearing in a bookstore, ask an employee to record you.  Be sure to include their signage if any is displayed.  Simple editing apps for a computer or your phone can clean up these videos and make them easy to post.  If it's something you don't wish to do yourself, check online to see about hiring someone.  Inexpensive help can be found just about anywhere.

If you're not being included in these events, people may not be aware of you or your work, so ask.  Better yet, create your own!  Organize an event, or even do something easy like have a friend interview you.  Videos shouldn't be more than a few minutes at a time.  Let's face it, an attention span isn't what it used to be.  Especially in lectures; people don't want to skip through a half hour to find the nugget that they want to hear.  They should be edited to no more than 5-10 minutes.  Be sure to title them appropriately with a description so that they know just what they're getting.  Interviews are a great way to get information to the public that you want them to have about you or your books. 

If you are trying to promote an audiobook or a podcast, you can create video with audio by using a still background - a great use of your book cover.  Again, it's either easy or inexpensive. 

These are only a few ways to make the most of the internet, and should be a large slice of your online platform.  It may seem daunting at the moment, but like anything else it just needs some roping lessons to control it.




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