The Myth Behind Social Media – Guest Post by Judy L. Mohr

As my loyal blog followers know, I’ve never had a guest post. Well, that is all changing right now. 🙂  Judy L. Mohr has been following my blog and commenting her useful tips on many of my posts. When she offered a guest post, how could I refuse? With all the help she’d already given me, I hope she can pass some of the knowledge on to you. –Joy

The Myth Behind Social Media by Judy L. Mohr

I remember quite clearly the thoughts that went through my mind when I started down the path toward publication. Time and time again, I would see a reference somewhere saying that all writers needed a platform. The jargon was bounced around every which way, and I was so lost.

Publishers and agents alike constantly pushed the concept of an online presence. The concept of building a following was just too much, and there was very little solid advice on what to do.

Then I learned the truth.

A writer’s platform is not a website or social media — for that matter, it’s not your books. A writer’s platform is everything that you do to connect with your readers.

This is where those building an online presence tend to fall down. Many writers push their latest book until people are sick of seeing the ads. For those who have yet to publish, it will be blog post after blog post. However, the connection with the readers is lost.

Social media is called social media for a reason — because it’s meant to be social. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. are all about interacting and fostering connections that could be beneficial in the future.

Social Media is About Fostering Connections

Without those connections, you will struggle in a big way to get the word out about your projects. We need help. We can’t do it alone.

To be successful in your social media marketing efforts, the first thing you need to do is stop thinking of social media as marketing, because it’s not. Think about it as an opportunity to meet others, making those contacts that could lead to other opportunities.

The next step in building a presence on social media is to focus your efforts on the networks that you actually enjoy. Choose only the networks that will suit your style and main objectives. Everything else is a waste of time.

Every time I turn around, there is another social media site that many seem to think is a good idea for writers to use. However, if I was to sign up for every site in existence, I would either come across as a fully automated bot, or I would spend so much time on social media that I would never get any writing done.

There is an old saying that couldn’t be truer when it comes to social media and an online presence: it’s better to do one thing well, than to do a half-assed job on multiple things. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Navigating Through the Social Media Maze

When looking into different social media sites, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my personality fit this site?
  • Will the site fill a need that my other ones don’t?
  • Do I actually have the time required to service and maintain an account for this site?
  • What is the plan for content on the account?
  • How often do I need to post to the account to build a following and gain attention?
  • Do I have the budget to build the account?
  • What is the goal for the account? How will I know if it’s successful?
  • Why should I spend time on this particular site instead of other marketing activities?

So, what are some of the more common social media sites, and what are they actually useful for?

Facebook

Facebook is designed for longer messages, using complete sentence structures. The site is ideal for networking with other writers or those with similar interests. Because of its longer post format, you can get help on an issue and share your knowledge with others. The sites networking features alone make Facebook a valuable social media site for writers.

Twitter

Twitter’s short message nature (140 characters) has made the site ideal for those who don’t have a lot of time to carefully construct a full post. A quick hashtag search will narrow your feed to just the information you want to see, but you are not limited to just those you follow.

The writing and publishing community is strong on Twitter. Agents hover on the site, posting information about their manuscript wishlists (#MSWL), and any other tidbits of information that they might have. For writers, Twitter can be a valuable resource, even if you do nothing but lurk around gleaning information.

Instagram

Instagram is the perfect playground for anyone who takes lots of photos and wants to share them with the world. Photos have short captions and are tagged to gather attention. That’s what the site was designed for: photos, photos and more photos.

If you are a budding photographer, then seriously look into this site. It could be a brilliant way to showcase your work.

Google+

Google+ was meant to be an alternative to Facebook, however, the community just isn’t there—not really. However, if you frequently use Hangouts, YouTube or any other Google-related product, you will want to ensure that you take a look at your Google+ profile, just in case.

Tumblr

Tumblr can be better thought of as the social media site for bloggers. It’s designed for the longer format posts that are light on copy but heavy on images. It is assumed that users of this site have a blog hosted on Tumblr.

Pinterest

If you are working on a book about crafts or a cookbook, then Pinterest might be the perfect site to connect with your readers. Many of the users on Pinterest gather crafty ideas and others posts of that nature. However, the ability to share posts is limited; it’s designed for sharing photos.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a networking site for professionals, such as engineers, businessmen, doctors, editors, etc. This is where professional freelance writers and editors can connect with potential clients. However, fiction writers are unlikely to connect with their readers on this site.

DeviantArt

This site is designed for photographers and illustrators. If all you do is write, and nothing else, then DeviantArt is not for you. Saying that, if you are looking for an illustrator for your work, many of the illustrators on this site have portfolios that showcase their awesome talent.

Snapchat

Snapchat is a newer beast, designed for teasers. Messages are sent to followers, then disappear after a short period of time. The lack of longevity of posts means that followers might not see your messages. Unless you intend to have fun with teasers, I would be leery of incorporating Snapchat into any online platform.

Reddit

The biggest attraction of Reddit is the feature revolving around asking random questions. This feature makes this site good for general public publicity. In addition, there are writing communities where you can get advice about publishing, etc. Exactly how this might work within your own platform—only you can answer that.

Periscope

Periscope is meant to be Instagram for videos. The site is still in its infancy and is struggling to gain a hold. It is interesting to note that the live features on Facebook and Twitter came about because of Periscope.

Sites NOT Suited for Networking

While there are many sites out there for making new connections and fostering working relationships, there are many sites and apps that are NOT intended for networking.

ANY site or app designed for dating was never intended to advertise your writing. Do yourselves a favor: don’t go there.

Programs and apps like Skype, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger are great tools for having private communications with people on the other side of the world. However, these were designed to foster connections that already exist.

 

I know that it can all be overwhelming. At the end of the day, all I can really recommend is to start with only the sites that attract your attention. Build your network and following on those first. Don’t jump on the trend wagon because everyone else is going. Focus your efforts on the sites that will help you achieve your ultimate goal, whatever that goal might be.

Remember, social media is about making connections. Use the right site for making the connections you need.

 

About the Author

Profile_JudyLMohrKiwi Judy L Mohr is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is also a freelance editor with Black Wolf Editorial Services (http://blackwolfeditorial.com), working on projects from writers around the world. When she isn’t writing, editing or doing something for writing within the local community, she is hosting her own radio show about science on KLRNRadio (http://klrnradio.com/shows/conversations-in-science/). Judy is the author of Hidden Traps: A Writer’s Guide to Protecting Your Online Platform, which is slated for release come August 2017. You can follow her crazy adventures on her blog (http://judylmohr.com) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/JudyLMohr ).

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1000 True Fans – Providing Value

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March’s focus in the 1000 “True” Fan blog series is KEEPING FANS. Last week, we talked about newsletter content. This week, we’re moving on to what’s value added and non-value added content.

Review of Past Week (Mission 9: Newsletter Content): Success

I still can’t come up with a catchy title, so I developed a contest in my April Newsletter, asking for help. If anything, I hope to engage a few people with the request. Also, I reformatted my newsletter for April and developed a welcome email for new subscribers, telling them who I am. I think both of these will work out nice.

I’m still participating in some newsletter building cross-promos, so how is it going?

Drum Roll…Ready?

Current Mailing List Subscriptions: 686 fans / 1000 true fans (Up 197 from last week.)

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This Weeks Mission: Keeping Fans – Value Added vs. Non-Value Added Content

Okay, my years in management are coming out. Value added? Non-value added? What the heck is that?

As a manager, anytime we wanted to improve a process (typically, simplify it to save time), we first identified our customer (or audience, in this case). Then, we determined if what task we were doing added value…or didn’t.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this in regards to writing/blogging/social media-ing. Does my content add value for my audience? Am I doing too much? What can I stop to simplify things? What’s just annoying to everyone involved?

So, who is my audience? It’s you. Who are you? A writer. A reader. Just somebody who is trying to waste time and stumbled up my excessively wordy blog post? I have a mix of all the above. Do I have “fans” of my fiction writing following me? Very few–but this is expected for a newly published author. Each platform I use has a different audience, though some of you cross between a few of them.

  • Blog: Mostly writers–mostly NEWish writers. Writers trying to develop their skills, platform, or finish their first book. Some readers / book bloggers sprinkled in. (Tell me if I’m wrong, please.)
  • Facebook Page: A mix of readers, supportive writers I’ve stumbled upon, and some obligatory following of friends and family.
  • Twitter: Pretty much all other writers, trying to promote their own writing. Some writing friends I’ve met through Kindle Scout and other writing adventures I’ve done.
  • Newsletter: Mostly READERS. By giving away a free book in exchange for a sign-up, this has populated with readers.

What does my audience want? What does anyone want. They want to be entertained. They want to learn something. They want ??? I’m still learning this.

Knowing who my customers are and what they want, my next step is to determine if each task I do adds value to the customer. Does it give them what they want? Its a way to keep a loyal audience and to make sure I’m not wasting my time. The nice thing is each platform can tell you what topics bring audience engagement…by number of clicks, likes, opens, etc.

Example for each platform:

  • Blog: I looked at my most popular posts and pages. I learned something interesting. My “About” page was at the top. Does that mean people want to know more about who I am? I don’t really talk much about what I do outside of writing. (i.e. carting my kids to whatever sport/birthday party/school function they are going to or whatever vacation we’re going on–next week it’s 12 days in Europe on a Mediterranean cruise.) Perhaps, I should sneak this in more, but I’m just not good about talking about myself…not that I don’t like to share. 🙂 Other popular posts were my Lessons Learned With Self-Publishing and this 1000 True Fan Series. Writing tips were way up there too. My book reviews/spotlights–not so popular.
  • Twitter: I tweet…and I tweet…and get minimal engagement. My tweets have to be NON-VALUE ADDED for my audience. I need to either change my tweets, change my audience, or just send Twitter to the bird house. (Though, my blog posts that flow to twitter get some interest, I think I may focus on these some before I give it up.)

My goals this week: Focus on my audience and simplify my routine. Review each task I do and ask if it is giving my audience value. Save time to be able to focus more on writing my current novel (Secret Lives of Superhero Wives.) Go through each social media and ask if what I’m doing actually adds value. (Noting that some add value to ME, and that’s okay.) Also, I’m going to schedule some of my historical blog posts as tweets this week–let’s see if I can get my engagement up.

Want to read more? Here’s a webpage to check out.

Next Week: I’m on VACATION! I won’t be blogging again until the 21st or 22nd. I’m coming up with a checklist for daily value added tasks to do to save time when using social media.

If you want to get caught up on 2017’s journey to find 1000 fans, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

1000 True Fans – What to do with a Facebook Author Page?

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In my quest to find 1000 “true” fans, February’s focus is social media. If you want to get caught up, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

Review of Past Week (Mission 5: Is Twitter a Waste of Time?): My answer…perhaps yes?

Let me explain. Twitter is great for interacting with people (or other authors in my case.) I learn from posts, especially following hashtags. My take on twitter: If you like it, use it. But use it like it’s intended–social…with chatting, interacting, and helping others the best you can.

My BIG DISCOVERY this week: Hootsuite. It makes twitter so much more user friendly. It’s free software that lets your organize your streams (you can do Facebook too.) I have it set up simple, with three tabs/organizational areas. Having Hootsuite lets me interact more meaningful…and quickly. All I do is open it up, scan all my streams/tabs (interacting with whatever pleases me) and then move on. Here’s how my tabs are organized:

  • Tab 1 (Account Overview): Includes: mentions, messages, and new followers.
  • Tab 2 (Hastags I follow): Includes: Writing hashtags (#amwriting, #writerslife, #indiepub, etc), Reading Hashtags (#amreading, #whattoread, etc), Market hastags (specific to my next novel — #urbanfantasy, #vampires, etc) and blogging hashtags (#bookblogger, #blog, #sundayblogshare, #mondayblogs, etc.)
  • Tab 3 (Lists): I have a few lists I follow. Two I made… One is public of all the awesome people I’ve run across on multiple other platforms. The second is private, of those people who I’ve interacted with on twitter and want to follow-up with or interact again. I also follow two other lists, put together by other twitter users… Fantasy writers and Sci-Fi writers.

So…How did this week turn out in terms of mailing list growth (my measure of success)?

Drum Roll…Ready?

Current Mailing List Subscriptions: 38 fans / 1000 true fans (Up 7 from last week…but hold your horses, they weren’t from twitter. I am trialing instafreebies with mailing list integration for one month. I’ll blog about this when the free trial is over.)

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This Weeks Mission: What to post on my Facebook author page…and passive growth of “fans”

Facebook is a FANTASTIC way to connect with other writers. I’m in multiple groups that I actively participate in. In addition to this, I love using it to create a smaller private group to coordinate events. My advice: Find a group, request to join, and BE ACTIVE! This is how you make connections.

Back in September, I decided it was time to create a Facebook author page. (Blog about that here.) Since then, I’ve posted 38 times…and struggle every time with what to post. What content should I share on my author page? My blog…and twitter function under my “platform” of discovering how to write…together. My Facebook author page is different. It’s about me as a writer.

Who do I want to be? I’m a little quirky…ridiculous at times. So, I decided to share funny reading (sometimes writing) cartoons. I need to remember that while my blog caters to writers, my Facebook page is more for readers.

Like always, I did some research. Here is some ways to use your author page to connect with and grow your audience. I’m hesitant to just randomly ask people to like my page, I’ve read that this impacts the magical Facebook algorithms on who see’s your posts and who doesn’t (i.e. if less people are engaged, the less likely it is for your post to be displayed.) So my goal isn’t to grow in number of followers, but to grow in quality followers. Because of this, I’m not going out asking for some random page likes.

Here’s some suggested content for an author page: Goal – KEEP IT RELEVANT and ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE. (Also, a big rule of thumb: 20% promotion and 80% non-promotion)

  • Ask questions: I’ve had great success with asking for help with taglines, novel covers, and other things relating to what I’m stuck on. I think it would be good to engage your fans to…such as, “Who’s your favorite villain?” “What was the last book you read?” “Which novel made you cry?” Hmmm… I’m going to have to try these.
  • Photos of books / book events / relating to writing. I think sharing personal photos, not stock images, is the best way to engage the audience.
  • Book quotes: I usually do this in conjunction with a new release or a special deal…Or share a quote from a book you’re reading.
  • Upcoming events I’ve posted cross promos and release dates.
  • Book trailers / other videos I haven’t posted a video yet, but I know videos are taking over social media.
  • Really good or important blog posts. Not everything, but the ones I want everyone to see. I know my facebook followers are not loyal blog followers, but do check out the posts I direct them to.
  • Inspirational / Funny quotes & comics: Yeah, that’s just my quirkiness coming out. I have some of this in my newsletter too. I like to do more of these than anything else.

How often should I post? This is another question I struggle with. Twitter you can post a lot. Facebook requires some moderation. (Just as blogging does.) I know I don’t post often enough–once per week…maybe twice if I have a promo coming up. I think a good goal would be three times a week. (With at least two of them NOT RELATED TO MY WRITING OR BOOKS. I don’t have any science behind that, but that’s just my thought. Perhaps daily would be better? I’d love to know your thoughts. I personally think the frequency is individual based on the page owner’s own personality.

Facebook Author Pages have some challenges. For one, you can have 1000 page likes, but when you post, Facebook has some behind-the-scene algorithms as to who sees your posts. (Maybe only 10%?) You have the option to PAY for a post boost, where it’ll go out to all the people who like your page. Yeah, I hate that. That’s why some people use a personal page instead of an author page. I figure, if I have something that important to say, I’ll share it on my personal page and ask my fans to share it too.  (Or bite the bullet and just pay to boost the post if it’s THAT important. Facebook has to make money, too, right?)

And remember: If you get ANY INTERACTION AT ALL, make sure you interact back!

My goals this week: My goals are pretty simple.

  1. Post 3 times. One promotional post and two fun posts. (I’m heading over there now…as soon as I hit publish.)
  2. Come up with a daily routine to check twitter and interact in Facebook groups — without it sucking ALL my writing time away from me.

Next Week: Blogging!

Let’s learn from each other. What do you enjoy seeing on an author’s Facebook page? What do you post on your own?

(P.S. My Facebook Page is here if you want to watch me get a handle on it.)

 

1000 True Fans – Is Twitter a Waste of Time?

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We’re jumping into month two of my quest to find 1000 “true” fans, focusing on social media. If you would like to get caught up on last month, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

Review of Past Week (Mission 4: What’s your Platform?): ??? Success.

Last week was all about determining your platform. The homework was to go out and make some contacts, do some guest blogs, basically, network. It’s hard to say if this was successful or not, since the payoff is in the future.

What I have lined up:

  • January 30th  – Spotlight on Amateur Sleuths for Mystery/Thriller Week
  • February 19 – Guest Post for Mystery/Thriller Week (Article I wrote on “Medications as Murder Weapons (in fiction writing, of course)”
  • February 26th – Author Interview
  • March 10th – Author Interview
  • March 17th – Author Interview

We’ll see if it turns into much of anything–at the very least, I really enjoyed writing the article “Medications as Murder Weapons (in fiction writing, of course)” Okay–before you judge me, remember, I’m a pharmacist.

How did this week turn out in terms of mailing list growth (my measure of success)?

Drum Roll…Ready?

Current Mailing List Subscriptions: 31 fans / 1000 true fans (No change from last week.)

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This Weeks Mission: Optimizing Twitter I’ve been using Twitter for less than a year. I never really understood what this crazy blue bird meant. Everyone’s tweeting–well, so what? It wasn’t until I attempted my first Kindle Scout campaign that I created an account and tried for some followers…which quickly grew into 2000+ of them.

I thought, GREAT! Two-thousand people will hear my message. I should be able to get votes for my campaign…or sell my book…or get mailing list sign-ups, right?

Wrong.

I had formed the opinion that twitter is useless…a waste of time…BUT many people are saying that it’s quite effective. My conclusion can only be I have no idea what I’m doing. I began doing my research.

So, what is twitter’s purpose? Twitter is more of a social gathering. A blogger friend of mine gave the analogy that twitter is a bar. (Check her blog out here for more twitter information.) I’ve also heard it’s like a party. You go to meet people. Make connections. Many writers (unfortunately, me included at times) tweet promotional tweet after promotional tweet. If somebody showed up at the bar or party and sat besides you, chatting nonstop about the product they were selling, you’d get up and move pretty quickly.

How can I use this to my advantage? Think of those people you want to hang out with. What makes them attractive? Common interests? Humor? Great charisma? Full of useful information? You want to capture this in your twitter posts. I’ve read multiple opinions on a good ratio of promotional information vs. quality content, anywhere from 5% to 50% of tweets can be promotional. I think this depends on what you have going on at the time.

How much time will this take? I don’t want social media to take over my life…but, at the same time, I do enjoy the connections and learning new things. My struggle that I want to overcome this week is effectively using my time to create QUALITY interactions…MEANINGFUL conversations…TRUE FANS. Plus, I want time to write…and enjoy my family…and maybe the outdoors, if summer ever comes back.

My goals this week: After reading through the books listed in the “learn more” section below, I’ve come up with the following game plan for myself. My goal is to get a handle on twitter, begin to form some relationships, but don’t get caught up in a time sucking adventure. I want to form a sustainable method to continue to grow my reach. There are so many things that can be done, but this week, and into the future, I just want to focus on a few easy steps.

  1. Grow quality followers: I guess you can follow 1000 people a day before twitter jumps in and wonders if you’re a robot or not. I can’t imagine the time this takes. You don’t want to randomly follow people. Ideally, connecting with people with similar interests or those that will be interested in what you have to offer. So…how do you find these people? There’s many ways, but I’m going to start by looking at the lists others have added me to. I know I’m on some scifi/fantasy lovers, indiepublishing, and blogger lists. Those are the people I’m looking to connect with. I’ll follow some…with hopes of meeting somebody new. Perhaps the goal of befriending 30-50 people per day. (Goal: Spend 5 minutes per day on this.)
  2. Engage in quality conversations: Start building a list of those people you want to watch and frequently converse with. I’ve learned, with 2000 followers, my twitter stream is a mess and that’s not the best place to go. I’ll create my own lists, perhaps: Fans, Writing Buddies, Fun People. (It’s a good enough start.) Also, follow certain hashtags. I’m starting a Kindle Scout campaign, so I’ll follow that hashtag. I’ll also watch #writetip, #indiepub, #twittertip THEN, I’ll get chatting. Perhaps a goal of starting 3 to 5 conversations per day. (Goal: Spend 10 minutes per day on this. Don’t have to do it all every day. Just some here…and there.)

Of note, twitter is an interesting platform with lots of little nuisances (like setting up your platform, who can see conversations, visibility of lists, etc.) If you don’t know anything about it, I’d recommend diving into a how-to guide to get the basics.

Key takeaway: I had been tempted to do some account automation to make this whole process easier, but I’m glad I didn’t. I don’t even look at Direct Messages, so why would I expect my followers to? I’m very genuine and wish to continue that platform.

Learn More: You can find out more about twitter in these books I read to get a handle on what the heck twitter was.

Next Week: Facebook!

Let’s learn from each other. What twitter tips do you have?