Entries Tagged 'Social Networking' ↓

Is Social Media Marketing Really That Hard?

By now, you’ve probably all seen this infographic from Buddy Media floating around on the interwebs:

 

(Click to embiggen.)

Your palms start to get a little sweaty, and then you realize you don’t know what 90% of this stuff even is. And then you panic and declare, “Holy mother of holiness, how will I ever manage my social media marketing all by myself?!” And then you realize that there’s no way this infographic is complete, because (OH GOD!) Pinterest isn’t even on here! Give me a paper bag to breathe into, quick!

Take a chill pill. Breathe. Do some yoga. Whatever. And then when you’ve managed to get your heart rate back down to a reasonable level, let’s talk.

Marketing is, and always will be, about reaching the specific group of people you want to reach. When you look at that giant selection of social media tools, it might make your stomach turn a little, but as you start looking closer, I think you’ll find that the people you really want to reach are concentrated in only a few of those platforms.

If you’re an author, maybe you want to focus on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads (which, by the way, isn’t on that infographic either– OH GOD!). If you’re an artist, it’s going to be a different set of platforms.

Furthermore, a lot of the things on that infographic are pieces of software meant to help you manage your social media networks– they’re not actually social networks themselves. You don’t need to know how to use TweetDeck, HootSuite, and Seesmic (eek! Seesmic isn’t on the infographic– OH GOD!). You just pick the one you like the best and use that one. Just because you have the choice of them doesn’t mean you should use all of them. You’d go nuts if you tried, and it would be in no way efficient.

So, let’s try not to panic, folks. Yes, there are many social networks and many ways to reach people, but this is, ultimately, a good thing. Play around. See where you have some engagement. And then focus on that and have fun. Don’t be skurred. It’s all going to be ok.

Facebook for Authors

I’m going to assume, since you’re reading this, that you’re an author. I’m also going to assume, since you live on the planet Earth, that you have a Facebook profile, stalk Facebook using someone else’s profile, or have at least heard of Facebook. If both of these things are true, this should help you. (If not, go back to your cave dwelling. The modern world will only make you cry.)

Profiles vs. Pages

The first thing we have to cover if we’re going to talk about Facebook as a marketing tool is the difference between Profiles and Pages. If you log in to Facebook and chat with your old college buddies, stalk your kids or exes, and “Like” stuff (hula-hooping and Jell-o wrestling, say), you probably have a Profile. Your Profile is your personal presence on Facebook. It’s the real you: your real name (not your pen name), your real photo making an ass of yourself with a nearly empty wine bottle in one hand (not your publicity photo), and your real friends that you know from real-life interactions (not random fans).

You don’t want to use your profile to market yourself as an author. Why? I shall tell you.

  • If you don’t use your profile for marketing, you don’t have to say yes every time someone sends you a friend request. You can be friends with only your actual friends. Nice how that works, huh?
  • There’s a limit to how many friends you can have on Facebook. There is no such limit on Pages.
  • Depending on the privacy settings du jour, people may not be able to find you.

None of this is to say that you can’t tell your actual friends about your books. Of course you can. But you also need a separate place for your fans-not-friends to interact with you.

That’s where Facebook Pages come in.

Pages are the business version of Profiles. You can set up a page as your pen name, or really, your business name if you felt like it, or the name of your blog. But since this post is for authors, let’s assume you’re going to use your pen name.

The Set-Up

Visit any Facebook page. In fact, start with mine: Sonja Foust. At the bottom of the left column, you’ll see an option to create a page.

Click it.

From here on out, it’s all pretty self-explanatory, but let me give you a few pointers on what you should definitely include:

  • In Your Settings, make sure your notifications are turned on so that you can interact with your fans.
  • In Basic Information, set up a username. You can only do this once, so pick a good one! This makes it easier to link to your page because it will give you a url like this:  http://www.facebook.com/AuthorSonjaFoust instead of a bunch of random letters and numbers. (I would have just picked SonjaFoust, except I’d already picked that for my Profile and it wasn’t available for my Page. You may run into a similar problem– just do the best you can.)
  • If you have a blog, be sure to import it to the Networked Blogs app and then add the Networked Blogs app to your Page (go to the Apps section in the editor).

Interacting With Your Fans

You can actually use Facebook as your Page rather than your Profile. Go up to the top right corner of your Facebook window and click Account, then Use Facebook as Page and click the appropriate Page, in this case your pen name Page, that you want to use.

Now you can traipse about Facebook “Liking” and commenting as if you are your pen name. No one ever has to see your real-life profile. You can Like other authors’ Pages, for example, and they will then show up in the left column of your pen name Page. (If you then edit your Page and go to the Featured section, you can decide which of your Liked pages show up there.)

There’s really no limit what you can do…

RRRRR! (squealing brakes)

… That’s a lie. You can’t comment on other people’s Profiles if they have their privacy settings so that only friends can comment on their walls. But you’ll survive. That helps keep the conversation on your Page wall anyway, which is a Good Thing.

Experiment, play, look at other authors’ pages, and ask questions if you see something you want to do but you can’t figure out how. Lots of authors, especially those of us who know how challenging doing all of your own marketing can be, are friendly and willing to help. Drop me a line in the comments or on my Facebook Page if you have questions!

5 Marketing Resolutions You Should Make

1. Look at your analytics.

If you don’t have analytics installed on your website/blog, you’re doin’ it wrong! Get some Google Analytics or StatCounter, or whatever floats your boat– just get something! Then look at your data and make decisions on what to add and take out of your site, what to do to make your site easier, and where to try to get links, all based on your analytics data.

2. Research social media.

I’m not saying social media is necessarily the right thing for you to jump into, but you can’t deny that social media is the thing right now. You at least need to know what’s out there, how other authors are using it, and what might be the potential benefits for you. Then if you decide that it’s not worth it to dive into Twitter or Facebook, you will be making an informed decision.

3. Learn something new.

Marketing, and online marketing especially, is an ever-changing expertise. You won’t have any trouble finding a topic to learn more about. Make it a goal (and a regular habit) to learn something new about marketing.

4. Try something crazy.

Go waaaaay outside the box and do something really new and different. Put up a free read. Get a guest blogger. Share some photos. Anything, as long as it’s something you’ve never done before. It’s ok to try because you’re looking at your data, and if your idea bombs, you’ll know– and you might surprise yourself with a great result!

5. Make friends with someone who’s not an author.

Have lunch with a web designer. Chat with a developer. Find an analytics guru and buy them coffee. The people around you are your best resource for marketing ideas.

Do you have any new marketing goals for 2010? I’d love to hear what they are! Please share in the comments.

Twitter Advice Round-up

Over the months, I’ve written quite a lot of advice on getting the best out of Twitter. There are a LOT of supposed social media experts out there, and I in no way claim to be one of them, but I love learning how other people use different tools, so I’m sharing in the spirit of collaboration. Please share your Twitter tips with me, too!

Here’s a round-up of all the Twitter advice I’ve ever given (at least in writing):

You DO Have Time to Tweet: 5 Time-Saving Twitter Tips — This is my first ever post for our shiny new company blog. I’m pretty psyched about it! (My day job is at Brooks Bell Interactive, a super awesome direct online marketing agency.)

Helpful Stuff Update: The Best Free iPhone Apps — I mention a Twitter iPhone app that I love in this post, called TweetDeck.

Helpful Stuff: The Best Free iPhone Apps — This is the original Best Free iPhone Apps post. I list Ping.fm as one of my favorite apps. It’s a Twitter/Facebook/Brightkite/whatever else updater.

Powering Up Twitter — This article outlines how I take advantage off all the things Twitter lets you do, and how I make it do more than it was ever really intended to do.

Interview on the 15secondpitch BlogTalkRadio show — I talk quite a lot about Twitter in this interview, so take a listen.

Twitter as Recruiter — How I landed my current job via Twitter.

Ok, your turn. Share your Twitter tips in the comments or leave a link to your Twitter tips blog post. I’d love to see what you think!

Shelfari, Unbound and You

Probably all of you have heard of Shelfari, based on their early spamming of all your friends’ address books. Yeah, ok, that was kind of bad, but Shelfari has managed to come into its own, and I think the most exciting feature about Shelfari is its Unbound section. It’s basically a huge author wiki (a web page that can be edited by anyone and everyone) where you can find out all about your favorite authors. TechCrunch described it as possibly becoming the IMDB of authors.

So what does this mean for you, the author?

Your options:

1. Edit your own Unbound page. You’ll have to sign up for a Shelfari account, but you never have to use it except to edit your Unbound page, if you don’t feel like it. Just add all the info you want to add and you’re done!

2. Link your Shelfari profile to your Unbound page. If you like the idea of Shelfari and think you’ll be able to connect with your readers based on what you’re reading, go ahead and create an actual in-use Shelfari profile and link it to your Unbound page. Look for the small, “Are you the author?” link at the bottom of your Unbound page.

Have fun!

Managing Your Life on the Interwebs

If you’re like me, sometimes you get a leeeeetle carried away with promoting yourself, especially when it’s so easy to do. I mean, really, it takes 20 seconds to create a profile on the newest social networking site and BAM! that’s more promotion for you (and your Emeril for the day).

Do not get me wrong: You will never hear me say “promotion is bad.” That will not pass the lips of the Promo Ho. But you still need to be able to manage your promotion without giving up all your writing time. After all, writing a great book is the best form of promotion.

[“Yeah yeah,” says the peanut gallery. “Everyone always says that, but we came here for promotion ideas and we don’t want to hear, ‘write the best book you know how, rainbows and sunshine and kisses.'” So ok, moving on.]

In reality, setting up a profile just about everywhere is easy, and probably won’t hurt anything, as long as you’re not going to be obsessive about being uber (that was your German for the day) involved in every community. Par example (that was your French for the day), I have a MySpace page which I rarely check. I slapped up the profile years ago and updated it when I started my writing career, and I haven’t paid much attention to it since. Every week or so, I log in to delete the comment spam from hot chicks trying to get me to take surveys, accept friend requests, and generally do on-site clean-up. I used to cross-post all my blogs to MySpace too, but I’m lazy and not of infinite time allowances, so I don’t do that anymore. The point is, it’s free marketing, I have a presence on the site, and it takes next to no time to maintain.

The trick is figuring out where your home base is online and directing people to that. Par example (again), my MySpace page has a link to my main page and my blog. My main page is where you find all my writing info, and my blog is where you find everything you ever wanted to know and more about little old me. All my profiles around the web link to my main page and my blog.

And on my blog, I have links to all my social network sites and various other profiles in my right-hand sidebar, thanks to Profilactic.

Lifestreaming is a new trend in social networking. Basically, the goal of lifestreaming is to get all your social network “feeds” (the pieces of info you update regularly, like your blog) in one centralized place. That’s next to impossible, but Profilactic does a really decent job and is my lifestreamer of choice. Others out there are FriendFeed and MyBlogLog and there are a bunch of others I haven’t tried.

Think of organizing your online life as creating a treasure map. You can leave little pieces of you all over the internet, but your ultimate goal is for people to return to your home base and find the real good stuff.

Good luck! Leave your tips on social networking and lifestreaming in the comments.

Web Resources For Authors

Author Alexandra Sokoloff has put up a great article on web resources for authors. She includes links for writing communities, professional organizations, email loops, blogs, and links on how to set up your own website and blog.

Read the article!

Working the Social Net

Social networking sounds like a hard concept, but I promise, it’s not. In fact, you’re probably already doing it. Have any profiles anywhere on the web? MySpace? Friendster? LinkedIn? Then you’re already networking. Following, I’ll provide a list of social networking sites and my general impressions of them. I know this is a little more opinion-driven than I usually get on Promo Ho (and for good reason– YOU should be making your marketing decisions, not me!), but I feel like I have something of value to add. So take it or leave it, but I’ll put it out there just in case.

MySpace – It’s a safe bet that most of you have heard of MySpace, probably on the news in the context of some criminal-minded teenager putting his plans for world domination on his MySpace and then getting caught. Admittedly, MySpace seems to attract a younger crowd. On the other hand, it’s a big, biiiig crowd, and they’re not all teenagers. My friend KyAnn Waters puts it this way: Another way to see MySpace… it doesn’t take much more than checking it once a week. Spend thirty minutes a week requesting friends. Think of MySpace as a bulletin board. One of the best things it does is increase your presence in a Google or Yahoo search. It isn’t that you’ll necessarily be looking for ‘real’ friends, (although I have made a few, and sold books I wouldn’t have) but if your cover, reviews, where your book is sold, where you’ll be signing is there, anyone who Googles your name will see your MySpace profile. Easy exposure. I want 10 pages of my name in a Google search so I saturate the net with my name any way I can. Another thing to think about: use as many key words about your writing in your heading and in your content as you can. For example, if you write suspense, when someone does a MySpace search for an author who writers suspense, you want your name to pop up. Suspense, auther, writer, and any other word that helps distinguish you as an author– these are key words that need to be in your profile. If MySpace is your marketing tool, make sure it is working for you.
Pros: Big pool of people
Cons: Tough learning curve, lots of annoying sparkly pictures
Sonja’s MySpace

Facebook – This started off as a network for college students but has now expanded to include anyone. Since it started off as something for college students, there’s a large population of 20-something-and-under people there. Not too many older folks yet. The privacy settings on main profile pages are tough, so I recommend creating a Product Page to advertise yourself. That way people can be your fan on Facebook without you having to let them stalk you. Facebook in general is good for reconnecting with classmates and old friends, especially if you are in the 20-something-and-under demographic. (Old classmates make good book buyers.)
Pros: Clean look, fun to use
Cons: You pretty much have to really know your contacts, unless you’re willing to put yourself up on a product page.
Sonja’s Facebook Page

Bebo – I’m pretty sure Bebo is trying to position itself as MySpace For Dummies, which, frankly, insults me a little… But it’s kind of true. It’s MUCH easier to set up than MySpace, but if you’re web savvy at all, you’ll find the lack of controlability frustrating. It’s also a much smaller network. There’s a pretty slick author area where you can pimp your book and give your book its very own Bebo page.
Pros: Easy peasy, author-friendly
Cons: Not very customizable

Ning – Reader Charlene pointed out Ning for me. I dutifully tried it out this weekend. Seems like it has a lot of potential. The thing about Ning that makes it different from, say, MySpace is that you can join a lot of specific networks, or even make your own network. This has potential if you’re looking for a place for your fan base to gather. This, of course, assumes you have a fan base. Hee.
Pros: Really customizable especially if you want to make your own network
Cons: I imagine you’d have to have a pretty big fan base already to make your own network.

cr8Buzz – This a newish, smaller community that has just opened up for public use after some Beta testing. It encourages user participation by a ranking system wherein you rank people and they are placed within their communities as well as on the site as a whole. Interesting idea, and pretty addictive.
Pros: Easy to use (unless you want a lot of customization), friendly community
Cons: Time-suck! If you’re really obsessed about your rank, you’ll have to do a lot of visiting to the other folks in your community at cre8Buzz.

Eons – For the over 50 crowd, Eons is a cool place to try. MySpace gets the teens, Eons gets the Boomers. Heck, it almost makes me wish I was over 50 so I could hang out there. Almost.
Pros: Super easy, really pretty interface
Cons: If you’re not over 50, you’re out of luck.

Yahoo!360 – The most important reason for setting this up is because this is what people see when they click on your Yahoo! profile link and if you are on any Yahoo! Groups, people will click your profile link. That said, I have to point out that Yahoo!360 is still in Beta, which means they haven’t quite got all the kinks worked out yet.
Pros: Lots of visibility if you’re on Yahoo! Groups already
Cons: Buggy
Sonja’s Yahoo!360

LiveJournal – Yep, most of us just think of LiveJournal as a blogging platform, but if a lot of your friends are already on LiveJournal and using LJ to read their blog feeds, this is a big opportunity for you. You can take your blog RSS feed and turn it into a LJ feed so that your LJ friends can read it. I would recommend doing this if someone hasn’t done it for you already. (Ask one of your LJ friends for help– they know all kinds of cool stuff.)
Pros: More than just a blog platform
Cons: Steep learning curve– Ask a LJ buddy for help
Sonja’s LiveJournal
Sonja’s LJ Blog Feed

LinkedIn – This is mostly a professional networking site, so if you’re working to keep your day job and your author stuff separate, be careful. But why not create a Linked In profile for your pen name? Your writing is a career too. Again, you have to know people to make connections here, but you’d be surprised how many people you know when you think about it.
Pros: Professional networking opportunities
Cons: Life and writing might merge
Sonja’s LinkedIn Profile

43Things/43 Places/43 People/All Consuming – I think these sites are so much fun and I spend way too much time noodling around in here. If you’re a sucker for cool, fun stuff like me and you’re worried about adding more time sinks to your life, back away quickly. But, god, it’s fun. A word of caution: If you’re putting up reviews or entries on any of these sites, be sure you’re only saying stuff that you want associated with your author persona. That goes for all these sites, but it’s easier to forget when you have all these opportunities to post snarky little bits here and there.
Pros: Fun fun fun
Cons: Less networky, more just for fun
Sonja’s 43 Things 43 Places 43 People All Consuming

Amazon.com – We usually don’t think of this as social networking, but if you’re posting reviews and adding friends and being active at all, it’s a social network. Again, be careful what you post in your reviews and make sure it fits with how you want to present your author face to the world.
Pros: You’re probably doing it anyway.
Cons: Easy to say something you shouldn’t in a review
Sonja’s Amazon Profile

Flickr.com – Yep, another one of those sites that you don’t really think of as a social network site, but you can post blogs and add friends, so it technically is a social networking site. I basically use Flickr to store images for my website, but I can see where it might be a good tool if you wanted to give readers some insight into your life. Be sure to set up those privacy settings for the pictures you don’t want them to see though!
Pros: Dual-purpose networking and photo sharing
Cons: Depending on how comfortable you are about your pictures being all over the internet, this could be a bad, bad thing.
Sonja’s Flickr

Fame Source – This one’s still in beta and doesn’t have a specific category for authors and books, but I think it could be made to work for you, with one large stipulation: You’ll need to have media to upload, which probably means a book trailer.
Pros: Looks like it’ll be the go-to spot in a few months
Cons: No specific author marketing, you have to have some kind of media to upload

Gather – Another social networking site, which looks like it’s trying to combine social networking, professional networking, and some kind of online dating service. Whatev.
Pros: I’m not sure how this site is different from any other, but if you’ve already got friends there, it might be good to have a profile.
Cons: The site is buggy. It’s very frustrating.

Whew! Ok, I’m tapped out, but being the Promo Ho that I am, tell me about any social networking sites I’ve missed and I’ll dutifully check them out and report back to you!