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Improbability is in the Details
Abra Staffin-Wiebe's Journal
Social Media for Writers 
13th-Jun-2010 04:56 pm
This is the overview (with links to useful articles etc.) of the "Social Media for Writers" presentation we did for my writing group this afternoon.
Topics
  • Benefits of Social networking for authors
  • Your website / base of operations
  • Is social networking effective?
  • How to pitch your writing on social media
  • Is it a time suck?
  • Different social media platforms
  • Dos and don'ts
  • List of Social Media
  • List of Resources
  • Useful Articles


Terms
  • Social networking - Sharing content and "connecting" to others, Blog Comments, User Forums, mailing lists?, websites
  • Organic - Growing your audience through the natural process of discovery and addition, as opposed to adding "friends" via services, friend runs and list purchases.
  • Viral - Spreading exponentially through virtual word-of-mouth
  • SEO - Search Engine Optimization - I know this isn't really part of social media, but the question did come up. The art of  raising your ranking on search engines by focusing on keywords and links which make your content "relevant" to searches. If people are interested, I have an example I can show of my own website using google analytics and google trends.
  • (see AP stylebook terms in links)

How can Social Networks be used by Authors?
  • Make a facebook group out of your works (Ex: Dana's Spell Keeper series)
  • Contests, Polls, Requests for info. It might be fun to try this in realtime by throwing a question out on Twitter during the meetup...
  • Blogging to build up author credibility on a subject
  • Building community of readers and connecting to fans (via forum, maillist or enabling comments)
  • Leaving a link on your forum posts and e-mail signatures
  • Look at what other authors are doing. Neil Gaiman is an example of an author who really has embraced many social networking communities. (Note that he uses a "web-elf")

Social Networking and Your Website
  • Still need an author website as a main hub for people to go to in order to find things.
  • Can embed blog/other social media in your website (even filtering certain posts only)
  • Make sure there's an RSS feed available--so many people just do RSS readers.
  • Need one place (your website, or a profile service) to coordinate all the different social media places you're in, so that people who are your fans can find you.

Is Social Networking A "Time Suck"?

  • I'd suggest that one should weigh off the time spent on Social Networking as an investment in marketing. Some might be better served by working extra hours and paying a marketing firm or buying e-mail lists. At the very least, people should consider the time it takes to setup and maintain a social media presence, and how that time might be better spent.
  • Were you spending time on social media anyway? Do you enjoy the process or not?
  • Automating some content to reduce the timesuckiness. Cross-posting may alienate readers. Consider what kind of content cross-posts well and what doesn't (i.e. Twitter to a blog format--not so well, Twitter to Facebook status--pretty well)
  • At what point in the writing process should you focus on networking? Beware spending more time on networking than on writing.

Is Social Networking Effective?
  • Consider your purpose in using the social media. What do you want people to do? Link back to your site? Join your mailing list? Buy your book? If you don't know what you want people to do, there's no way to gauge if your time online is "effective" or not.
  • Consider your target market. Are they likely to be online? An author of computer books should have a heavy online presence. An author of gardening books...not so much. Younger fans are more likely online than older ones...
  • Consistency and quality of content will affect your effectiveness
  • It isn't the number of your followers that matters, it's how often they talk about or link to your posts.


How to Pitch Your Published Writing on Social Networks
  • Don't expect people to click your link (with no description) just because you post it.
  • Post or link to a free excerpt to read, and a quick one-sentence pitch as to what it's about and why somebody would want to read more (e.g. A ghostly love story that fans of Titanic will enjoy.)
  • Include a cover picture, if possible. People pay more attention to posts when there's a picture
  • Don't post it during internet dead times. This means Friday evening or most of the weekend.
  • If the story's a quick read, mention that. If the story's free to read, mention that. If the story's pay to read, mention that--but only at the bottom of the free-to-read excerpt.
  • Ask people to post about/share/retweet the story/link to it if they like it.

Dos and Don'ts of Social Networking

  • Don't overshare--use filter groups or decide that you'll be presenting a purely professional approach.
  • Don't have it be just about selling your book/story. People will feel used and will leave.
  • Don't attention-whore by constantly posting polls or demanding feedback. Sure, it will temporarily raise interest levels, but people can find it tiring, and if you're not actually giving them something, they will go away.
  • Do give something back. What are people getting from you? What are you offering--not selling, giving away for free. Entertainment? Information? Some other service?
  • Do remember basic email scams--they happen in social networks, too. Check snopes.com and your friends before you believe everything you read.
  • Do decide what approach you're taking--wholly professional, a blend of personal and professional, or very personal (warning: overshare alert!).
  • Do comment on and link to other people's info--VERY important.
  • Make sure to subscribe to your own feeds and monitor them for problems. Especially if you are using automation. View your own blog after posting, view your own rss/twitter/facebook and check for problems. Is formatting correct? Are links working correctly? Are the feeds right? Is the text coming through properly (Some punctuations don't turn out well...)
  • Don't expect to make money from it (ads, etc.). That very rarely works, and when it does, it's because you're writing very prolifically and well, to a niche audience.
  • Do friend back everyone who friends you (see again, filter lists) as long as they're not a spambot.

List of Social Media:

  • Generic social media: Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Ping.fm, Google Buzz,
  • Social media useful for authors/readers: Goodreads, Shelfari, Librarything, etc..
  • Blogs: Livejournal, Blogger, Wordpress
  • Podcasting: FarPointMedia

List of Resources:
  • The link from the Publisher's Weekly about Social Media for Authors
  • Mashable.com - Social media news blog
  • Problogger.com - Blogging guru

Useful Articles:



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