Jul

5

2012

A Few Tips on Social Media

by Tamela Hancock Murray

This may seem like an interruption to my series on writing proposals, but it is not. I plan to address the Marketing section of a proposal in the near future. However, before writers can think about marketing in general, they need to understand social media because an author who has mastered social media will be more attractive to a publisher. They want to partner with savvy authors. Thomas Umstattd addressed some of these in a blog in February called “Seven Ways Agents Measure Social Media.”  So the tips below may be a quick review for many, but it bears repeating since it has become such an important piece of the marketing puzzle.

Google

Find out how you look on Google. Do a Google search on your name on a regular basis to see what appears. You won’t be able to control everything that comes up under your name, but work with your webmaster to be sure your web site appears at the top. This is especially helpful if you had to purchase a domain that’s not entirely obvious such as, “ImaWriterWrites” because your name alone was already taken. A regular search will also help you identify anything slanderous, libelous, or (more likely) just plain inaccurate so you can take action to have those links removed. Searching your name should also reveal if there is another author with a name similar to yours. If you find this is true, I recommend simply mentioning the fact in your proposal to make the agent aware so the two of you can decide whether or not to choose a pen name.

It’s a good idea to set up Google Alerts on your name (instructions here). Google will send you an email any time a new page on the Internet mentions you or your books.

Your Web Site

Invest in a good web site. Our web site was designed and is maintained by Authormedia.com. A web site makes several important statements:

  1. I am serious about being an author.
  2. I have established an easy-to-find place where potential readers can learn about me.
  3. This is the image I hope to cultivate with my present and future readers.
  4. This is how I am working to brand my writing.
  5. This is a place where readers can easily reach me by email.

Your Blog

If you have a blog, be sure it is kept up to date. An abandoned blog, no matter how pretty, is not compelling. Unfortunately, we see this quite often when researching a potential client.

Yes, a blog is a lot of work (we know this firsthand), but a quality blog presence is worth the time investment. Imagine if The Steve Laube Agency discontinued our blog after today and you stopped getting our posts via email. Aside from the loss of what we hope is good information for you, if you stopped hearing from us, you’d stop thinking about us as often. That loss of our presence in your business day would make you wonder what happened. You would wonder if we had gone out of business. In many ways your blog is a form of regular advertising.

As a minimum, pick two days a week and be consistent with those two days. Use Google Analytics to discover if your blog is getting a lot of readership. By this, we don’t mean 50 readers, no matter how much they love you. I won’t name a particular number because the measure of success does vary, and a super blog is more important to some type of authors than others. But a consistent blog presence does demonstrate that an author is equipped to grow a solid following. Please make sure the look and content are professional, friendly, and in keeping with the type of books you write. Make the commitment, and again, be consistent.

Twitter

If you don’t have a Twitter account, open one. I recommend a mix of:

  1. Personal updates.
  2. Retweets.
  3. Interaction with your followers.
  4. The occasional promotional tweet for yourself.
  5. Tweets that are of direct benefit to the reader, such as links to free books.
  6. Tweet links to fascinating articles.

You don’t have to tweet all six types of tweets every day, but do try to tweet at least once or twice a day. Have fun! Give us your Twitter handle and we’ll check you out. We might even follow you! My Twitter handle is @Tamela_Murray.

Don’t pay for followers, though. No need. Stay active, follow others, and you’ll get a following. Once you do, I recommend Twitcleaner to help maintain your account. An especially valuable feature here is, “How do I look to Twitcleaner.” This feature tells you if you are posting too many links or doing other boring things that can lead you to lose followers. As for other maintenance sites, be sure to watch for automatic tweets because they may say, “Here’s who unfollowed me,” as one of your tweets. This type of automatic tweet calls people out and makes you look like a jerk. There are lots of great freebie sites and they all have paid upgrades. You can decide what is right for you.

Facebook

Most authors have a Facebook account so you already know this is a fun way to share with friends and fans. I have two accounts; a personal page and a business page. If you decide to open a business page, be sure not to delete all your friends from your personal page because you will then no longer be able to see their updates. Please visit and “like” my Facebook page.  I keep my two pages different from each other by sharing writing and publishing news on one and giving the other a more personal touch. This way, I hope that people will be interested in both pages because I like to interact. Feel free to share how you keep your pages interesting!

I like the Facebook advantage of being able to make longer comments than on Twitter, which limits you to 140 characters, and the ability to share photos. As with Twitter, jump on at least once a day to be current and keep current.

Klout

I recommend joining Klout  because it has become a measure of social media influence. You will also see how you are interacting on social media and how you are being received across the board. Another measure is Kred which also provides an activity chart.

Pinterest

People either seem to love or be indifferent to Pinterest. I have a page (click here), but haven’t pinned much. This is mainly because of my packed schedule, and when Pinterest first came about, the media reported problems with image copyrights. However, recently much of this has been resolved, to the point that if I shop online, most retailers offer to allow me to pin images of my purchase. So now that a good portion of fear and problems have been removed, Pinterest has been declared the next big thing in social media. I recommend that writers explore this option. Because it is so visual, it’s a great place to pin book covers and images related to your stories. Many of my authors are already using this great new tool. Go for it and have fun!

“Fun” is the key word. Social media is just that — social. True, you want to be careful not to post in anger or moodiness. Think of social media as attending a big party with friends, family, and business colleagues. You want to be pleasant, personal, and on target.

Stay tuned for a future post about how to work your social media efforts into your proposal.

Your turn: 

What is your favorite social media? Why?

Are you avoiding some or all social media? Why?

How do you think social media can be used effectively?

30 Responses to “A Few Tips on Social Media”

  1. Diana Harkness July 5, 2012 at 4:34 am #

    I already blog about twice/week http://solitruth.com and also post it to a local newspaper http://www.chillcothegazette.com so it appears on their website. I cross-post the blog and post new comments and links on Twitter @dhrknss and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Diana-Harkness-writer/280989925255269. I can’t do any more than that and live my life! Between getting a house ready to sell, running my computer business, and managing my vacation rental, I don’t have time to write anything other than my blog.

  2. tcavey July 5, 2012 at 5:01 am #

    Thanks for the tips! I need to Google my name- haven’t done that in a while.
    I don’t use FB, don’t have the time at the moment. However it is on my To-Do List as I do think it is a valuable social media tool.
    I recently started a monthly Newsletter through my blog and am getting encouraging feedback.

  3. Laurie Alice Eakes July 5, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    What I’ve learned in three years of working on social media:

    Regarding Facebook: interact with others. Don’t just post and run.

    Don’t simply post a Bible verse or quote. FB is for social interaction, for being upfront and, to an extent, personal.

    Be careful how personal. LOL

    So far, Pinterist just seems annoying to me, but, like withTwitter, I expect I’ll succumb. I find I love Twitter and the brevity. Trying to be interesting in 140 characters is a challenge I intend to conquer.

    A few months ago, my blog ran into technical difficulties at the same time as my web mistress’s area got hit by a tornado and she had a couple other disasters so got behind. I have felt a burden of guilt about its dormancy ever since. But that is soon changing.’

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 5, 2012 at 6:47 am #

      Very good points, as always, Laurie Alice! What happened with your blog illustrates the value of being on different social media. You can use Facebook and Twitter to let fans know the blog is down for a bit. And, there’s a huge difference between a two-week or so absence and a six-month abandonment. So no worries! :)

  4. Nancy B. Kennedy July 5, 2012 at 5:34 am #

    Great ideas! Thank you. Other ideas: members of the Authors Guild can use its templates and hosting services to maintain a very professional website at little cost. Their tech team is top notch and can talk you through anything! Also, it’s good to make sure your books are fully represented on goodreads, librarything, shelfari, openlibrary, etc. Most are “wiki” type of sites, where you can add information, images, links, and even excerpts. The reading sites are another way to build a community by reviewing books, friending other readers, following their reviews, commenting on discussion boards, etc. Authors can host Q&As on goodreads at no cost to create interest around a newly released book.

  5. Debby Mayne July 5, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    I agree with all of this, Tamela. I check Facebook and post (almost) daily – and sometimes two or three times a day if time allows. I try to tweet daily. Unfortunately, my blog posts have seriously fallen off, but I hope to pick that back up soon.

    Pinterest has turned into more than social media for me. It’s also a virtual recipe book, scrapbook of things I like, and board with characters and settings in my books. Not only does it help me keep them straight, it shows readers my perspective.

    One thing that I think is important with all social media, and that is to be careful how much we promote ourselves. I like a balance of sharing my personal experiences and reading about what others are up to. When I have a new book, that’s part of my personal experience, and it’s organic to the discussion with FB friends. I like the back-and-forth that Facebook allows, as long as it stays positive. If I’m not sure about how a post will be perceived, I walk away for a minute before coming back to read what I’ve written before I click the button. And if in doubt, I delete.

    I don’t know anything about Klout, so now I’m off to check it out. Thanks, Tamela!

  6. Kimberly Rose Johnson July 5, 2012 at 7:37 am #

    Fantastic post, Tamela. Thanks for the links to these helpful sites and for the info!

  7. Michelle Lim July 5, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    Great Post, Tamela! Thanks for the tips!

    I think my favorite is blogging. Never knew that I would find it so rewarding.

    Life has gotten much simpler since I learned how to use Hootsuite to schedule twitter posts and chart your influence. My Twitter is @MichelleLim24. Klout is fabulous and has charts like you said to help you see your influence as well.

  8. Terry Whalin July 5, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Tamela,

    Great tips in this article. I appreciate it. I often teach on this topic and have a two-page handout at: http://terrylinks.com/social On the second page in particular I have a free step-by-step process that can be used to automate your twitter posts using key words. Also TweetAdder which I mention on page two has been a terrific tool for building a twitter following on a steady but sure basis. It’s one of the reasons that I have over 38,000 followers.

    Thanks again,

    Terry

  9. Jennifer Dyer July 5, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    I admit social media feels overwhelming, but years ago when I started writing with a group of mom bloggers, my editor told me I had to get over my fears. I strive to stay connected, but motherhood often leaves me feeling like a rubber band stretched too tightly. The other problem I have is reconciling the different types of writing that interest me: mom stuff/special needs parenting vs. fantasy/speculative genre fiction. Any suggestions?

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

      Jennifer, I visited your blog and you are doing a great job with the parenting categories. The blog looks pleasant and professional, and a quick skim of the entries shows warm and personable writing. These factors show you are an experienced and caring blogger, which publishers appreciate.

      I didn’t see mention of fiction – though I could have missed something. If I did not, then I recommend that you use a separate page on your web site to talk about that. Or, if you really want to keep your identities separate, pull together an entirely different web site for your books. Frankly, I recommend the latter, although it will be more expensive to do so. Keeping up with two web sites and blogs will also be time-consuming. You may end up having to decide which is more important to you — keeping in close touch with your Mom audience, or keeping in close touch with your fantasy fans. As your career progresses, use your agent’s suggestions on how to balance these two audiences. You probably feel close to your Mom readers and don’t want to lose touch with them completely. What I anticipate will end up happening for you over time is that you will need to focus on your career so you will be writing a blog for those readers twice a week and writing the Mom blog once a week or every two weeks. Hope this helps. :)

  10. sally apokedak July 5, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    I love Facebook, but end up going over to post a link to a blog post I like, and lose two hours reading my newsfeed and catching up on cute pictures of my friends’ children. ARGHHH

    I don’t do Twitter well. I don’t feel like I can keep up with any conversations that it bothers me to drop in out without understanding the context of what’s being said.

    I apent several hours pinning a few pictures and wondered how anyone had time to find the links, and post the comments that went with the pictures.

    Blogging and Facebook are my favorites, simply because I like to have a little bit more space for talking and arguing. I don’t like to try to understand others or express myself to others in 140 characters. It seems too hard to have meaningful exchanges that way.

    But, then, perhaps my meaningful exchanges aren’t always the best. I’ve had three people call me hateful in the last month. Hateful Pharisee, hateful homophobe, and the most hateful and evil person ever. :)

    Help! I think I failed at social media 101.

    • sally apokedak July 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      Shucks. I just got a response to this thread in my email box, which told me that my comment, which had been lying in the spam folder, had been approved by some kind person at the Steve Laube agency. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice and approve it, because after I hit ‘submit’ I read it back and saw that it made no sense. I must have inadvertently deleted a line or something. And a couple of words, here and there.

      It’s just a little funny that I say I can express myself on blogs better than on twitter and I post a comment that makes me look like I’m on drugs or something. :)

      • Steve Laube July 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

        Merely confirming the rumors. :-)

        Steve

  11. JennyM July 5, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    I agree with Jennifer Dyer about motherhood and elastic bands. There’s a reason the mom in The Incredibles was called Elastigirl!
    I sat down and mapped out my social media priorities for now, as a pre-published author. As my kids age and my juggling act changes, so too will those priorities.
    My favourite is Facebook, simply because of the “all together in one place” factor.
    I blog hop each day and TRY not to take on more than I have already. I try to stick with blogs that teach me something.

    But so far, the only thing I’m teaching anyone on my blog is that Last of the Mohicans is my 2nd favourite movie and I’m going on a research trip in two weeks.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

      Jennifer, mapping your priorities is a great idea! At this stage of your career, your blog subjects sound fine. You are building an audience who cares about you as a person, and that’s a good thing.

  12. Rhonda Gibson July 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    Hi Tamela!

    I’ve been gone all day and just got home to see that you have posted a subject that I love. Social Media. I am on Twitter, FB, Google +, My Space, Pinterest (I love this one because I can pin historical clothing, facts, and like others have said just fun stuff! People who read my books can learn alot about me on my ABOUT ME board.)Sorry I got carried away with Pinterest. I visit the harlequin boards as much as possible and spend time there chatting with readers and other authors. Great fun! I haven’t joined KLUT… I’ll go check it out here in a few.

    I also have two blogs, one is just my everday life and writing stuff, the other is a recipe blog.

    For me social media is great because I’m a talker. I love visiting with readers, authors and on FB and Pinterest I have reconnected with family that I haven’t spoken to in a long time.

  13. Becky Doughty July 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Hi Tamela,

    I think this ties in neatly with your proposal series as these are some of the places you agents are looking AT when are looking FOR more info about us writers!

    Great post – I’m one of the “indifferent” about pinterest folk. I have an account but it is pitifully devoid of me-stuff. Which makes me wonder… Should I close it so that it doesn’t look like I’m an inactive, no-fun-ever person? I keep up my FB and I’m a faithful blogger and I tweet too. Do I have to have Pinterest to prove I can have fun?

    Thanks for your words of encouragement today!

    Becky

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

      Becky, I’m sure you’re lots of fun on other Social Media so no worries! But rather than closing an account and then having to re-open it later, I recommend just going in every now and again and pinning something, even if it’s the blouse you just bought. At this stage of the game, everyone understands that not everyone is pinning every day, so I wouldn’t stress over it.

  14. Kathi Macias July 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Great stuff, Tamela! I totally agree. I got dragged into social media kicking and screaming, and still can’t say I’m in love with all aspects of it. But I do like Facebook (seems to the most personal and interactive), and I’m warming up to Twitter and Pinterest. Have tried a few others along the way but now those three (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) seem to be the ones I use most often and regularly (every day for Facebook and Twitter, as often as I think of it for Pinterest). I think what sold me was when I landed a few really great speaking engagements as a result of social media, and have sold quite a few books that way too.

    Here’s my newest experiment in all this: http://www.anymeeting.com. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I encourage you to do so. It has a few more options that Skype (though I like Skype for speaking to book clubs, etc., and having them enter in to the conversation. Anymeeting not only allows that but you can record presentations, including Power Point, for bookstore owners and others to play in their store/venue. There seems to be no end to the new technology I’m forced to learn for all this, but once you nail it, it’s not so bad. In fact, I’m excited about the possibilities!

  15. Sega July 6, 2012 at 2:15 am #

    Facebook and twitter are working very well for me. My challenge is how do I get people who are not my friends to “Like” my book’s fan page?

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 6, 2012 at 9:49 am #

      Sega, I don’t know of any way except to promote your page, and I haven’t tried that. I hope someone else who reads this blog can weigh in, because it’s a great question.

  16. Sundi Jo July 6, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    I’m not sure I agree with Klout. I think it’s overrated and don’t think a website should be used to gauge our popularity.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 6, 2012 at 9:54 am #

      Sundi Jo, I understand how you feel. However, Klout is merely a tool. No one I know lives or dies by it. Like all other sites, Klout has its strengths and weaknesses. It’s a good idea to log in from time to time to see how it thinks you are doing. Use the information to help you be more effective. That’s all.

  17. Gail @GodGirlGail July 6, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    I never dreamed I’d love twitter as much as I do! Haven’t jumped onto Pintrest yet but Facebook is my must do to keep up with everyone. Haven’t looked at Klout at all. Shall check it out. Thanks for the list.

  18. tcavey July 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Been reading through everyone’s comments- very enlightening. Helps me to see I am not alone in feeling a little overwhelmed with all the options and time constraints.

    I really enjoy blogging and reading others blogs but I feel I am stretching myself thin as it can take hours to go through and read the blogs of all those I follow. Instead I am trying to focus in on building relationships with the ones who regularly comment on my blog as well as reading blogs that are helpful but may not necessarily participate on my blog (such as this one!).

    I started a Newsletter to help make myself more personable. It’s a great deal of fun.

    I feel pressure to do FB but I really don’t have the time or energy at the moment so I am avoiding it.

    I don’t understand Klout. When I first signed up I was at a 40, now I’m down to 36 (with it bouncing in between)- not sure what I do to make it go up or down. In fact, I think the less I am on it, the better my score is.

    Pintrest sounds amazing! I think I could get addicted. Which is why I am avoiding it. I have to have time to write!

    • Tamela Hancock Murray July 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

      tcavey, I’m glad you find our blog to be worth your time. We do our best to be a source of excellent and current information. So thank you.

      I think you should give Facebook a try. At least open an account and post your picture. You can make your profile as brief as you like. Your friends will find you and it’s one of the best ways to build a base of people interested in you. You can even encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter. Just a thought! :)

  19. Kirk July 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Thanks for a great post, Tamela. My favorite modes of social media are currently Twitter and blogging. It’s taken some real effort to blog regularly and I’ve been trying to focus a lot of my efforts there. It’s challenging but it provides great experience working with deadlines and word limits. Twitter is very useful because so many in the publishing industry spend a lot of time there and are so willing to share. Facebook would come in third.

    I don’t know that I’m necessarily “avoiding” them but I haven’t gotten into Google+ and Pinterest. I’m doing my best to focus my efforts and not spread myself too thin. I do want to WRITE after all, and it’s easy to burn up all the useful hours in the day with social media.

  20. Beth July 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Interesting topic. I find that FB is the best way for me to interact. I’ve been working on my Blog more and feel more comfortable with it after working on my publishers Blog. Twitter doesn’t engage enough for me but I do tweet now and then. But what I do most is write! None of this matters without enough writing time;)

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