Follower Count: How to Stop the Obsession – Part Two

Today we’re continuing our excerpt of social media consultant Andrea Dunlop’s article Stop Focusing on Follower Count: 5 Better Approaches for Improving Social Media Use . In our previous post, we highlighted her first two tips, which focused on market research and finding “influencers” in your field. Now onto her final three tips:

3. Network with other authors

Authors as a collective community are crucial to all of our careers. We need support when we’re starting out, and often, we rely on each other for things like blurbs, joint events, spreading the word, and even just support and commiseration in this difficult and often lonely business. It’s easy to reach out to fellow authors on social media: it doesn’t feel invasive, and lest you doubt the power of these connections, I will tell you that two of the guests at my wedding last August were fellow writers who I originally met via Twitter. It used to be that unless you lived in a big city, your opportunities for networking with authors and book folks was limited. Not so anymore. Use social media to support your fellow authors if you want them to do the same for you.

4. Create opportunities by just showing up

There is something I like to call the “serendipity effect” of being on social media. These are the difficult to quantify but very real opportunities created by being a regular contributor to the social sphere. Because I’m active on social media, I get many more opportunities than I would otherwise. Clients, speaking gigs, introductions to people who’ve made my professional and personal life better in myriad ways, have all come my way simply because I’m on social media and being myself. Being on these platforms makes me approachable. Likewise, when I’m looking for speakers for an event I’m working on, professionals to collaborate with, and authors to feature, social media is often my first stop.

5. Create fans and evangelists

Fancy tactics aside, I believe that the audience for a book is built reader by reader. Survey after survey shows that people mostly get book recommendations from their friends. So how do you make it happen? Here’s something I’ve observed in the year since my book has been on the market: the readers who I have some kind of meaningful interaction with on social media—for instance those who’ve been giveaway winners or even whose posts I’ve commented on—are much more likely to spread the word that they loved the book, post a review, etc., even if I don’t specifically ask them to do so.

When you’re wrapped up in the publishing world, it can be easy to forget what an accomplishment it is to be an author, and that it’s special to readers to hear from you personally. Many people on social media don’t live in New York or Seattle or any place they can go and see authors in person, so it’s meaningful to hear from someone whose work has moved them. And since connecting with readers is kind of the whole point of publishing books, it makes sense to use your social media as a natural extension of that work.

At Certa Publishing, we know that social media marketing can be intimidating and we are here to help! Let us know how we can assist you in any way.

Follower Count: How to Stop the Obesession

Within the space of ten years, a brand new metric for popularity and influence has been born: the follower count. Facebook followers. Twitter and Instagram followers. As a writer it’s easy to become obsessed with increasing our follower count, but social media consultant Andrea Dunlop offers a different perspective in her article Stop Focusing on Follower Count: 5 Better Approaches for Improving Social Media Use, which we have excerpted here:

As an author and social media marketer, I spend a lot of time thinking about the intersection of books and social media. I also know intimately the fatigue and overwhelm that comes from feeling like you have to be not only creating great work, but forever seeking new and ingenious ways to promote it. The quickest way to tire yourself out in this process is to set your eye on the wrong target, creating a Sisyphean struggle that is more likely to leave you feeling defeated than accomplishing even the most modest of marketing goals.

When I ask most clients what their goals are in hiring me, I usually get some version of “to get more followers and sell more books.” I encourage them to think both bigger and more deeply about social media. Here’s why: You know those folks you see on Twitter who have 20,000 followers, but are following 21,000 people? This is a perfect example of when follower count becomes absolutely meaningless as a metric. How could anyone have even the tiniest interactions with that many people on a regular basis? They can’t.

Numbers are helpful as a part of the picture; I’m all for tracking follow count, engagement, web traffic, conversions, Amazon ranking—these are all helpful indicators of progress. But becoming too obsessed with numbers ignores the social aspect of social media. Would you walk into a party with the sole mission of making twenty new friends? More likely, we go into social situations (even those specifically meant for networking) hoping to deepen our connections with our existing circle, meet some new and interesting people, learn some new things, and open the door to future opportunities and collaborations. Here’s how this translates to your strategic social media efforts as an author.

1. Conduct market research

In ye olden days before social media, more of marketing was guesswork. But now there’s so much data on who’s reading, buying, and talking about which books, it’s mind-boggling. Before your mind gets too boggled, here’s how to drill down and get some helpful insights:

  • Start with a list of ten or so books that fall into the category of what we industry types call “comp titles”—books that have a similar audience to yours.
  • Look up these titles on social media, as well as Amazon and Goodreads. This will give you a concrete idea of who your audience is and how they’re discussing the books, as well as what else they’re reading, and what else they’re interested in.
  • If you’re in the pitching stage, this can help you find and research agents and publishers (most of whom are active on social media).
  • Once your book is on sale, this can help you narrow your audience by looking at people who bought your books and seeing what else they bought, giving you real info on which books share an audience with yours: if you see several that pop up again and again, read them! It’s an amazing opportunity for insight into how readers are interpreting your books.

You have many more marketing tools at your disposal than authors in the past. Don’t overlook them.

2. Connect with influencers

You’ve probably heard of influencer marketing, but what is it and how can you use it? Influencer marketing sometimes refers to massive global brands paying thousands of dollars to an Instagram star with a million followers for product placement, but it can also work on a much smaller level. Many brands take advantage of the potential reach of bloggers, You Tubers, and podcasters who’ve built sizable followings, and authors should too.

First, let’s define an “influencer.” Really, it’s anyone on social media who has a following they’re regularly engaged with. One of the things I love about social media is that it makes “word of mouth” marketing—that much ballyhooed but often elusive magic—visible and quantifiable. You can see people getting excited about things their friends (or “friends”) love. Obviously, the bigger the person’s following—so long as it’s a truly engaged following—the more reach you’ll get, but don’t discount those who have a smaller but engaged audience. Check out places like the #bookstagram hashtag on Instagram to find a plethora of these folks. A word to the wise: These relationships are most meaningful when built over time, so be present by engaging (liking and commenting on posts), so that you’re not reaching out of the blue when you pitch them.

Check back soon for part two of this series as Ms. Dunlop discusses networking, increasing your social media activity and that old tried and true method of word-of-mouth marketing.

Periscope for Authors: What, Why, & How?

WHAT?

Periscope is a live streaming app for your smartphone that allows you to share and watch other live videos from around the world. It lets you get a “visual pulse of what’s happening right now” and “discover the world through someone else’s eyes.”

While there are two ways you can use Periscope – 1. Broadcast your own content 2. Watch others broadcast their content – this article will focus on why and how to broadcast as an author.

There are only two requirements to start broadcasting – have a smartphone & have something to say. As an author, you already have a message, so broadcasting is just another way of helping you reach and connect with more people.

WHY?

Periscope helps authors send their message into the world in a personal way. Who better to tell your story than you? Who better to share your content or your passion? When people SEE you, they also see your authenticity. If people like you, they’ll be interested in your books, your message, and your heart.

– Tricia Goyer

As a broadcaster, Periscope allows you to share your world with others. Whether you’re at home working on a new book, traveling for a book signing, on a family vacation, or just bored in your office, it opens up an opportunity for a whole new level of connection with your viewers. Viewers are also invited to engage by asking questions for live answers and tapping the screen to send hearts to the broadcaster.

Although it is fairly new, it looks like it is here to stay. In just a few months, Periscope reached over 10 million users – a number that has only continued climbing. It isn’t just another social media site to schedule posts for; it’s a new, unique way to engage with your current followers AND create even more fans.

SHOULD YOU START?

Here are a few thoughts on using Periscope to help you decide if it’s the right platform for you.

  • Broadcasts are live and great for interaction, but they only live on Periscope for 24 hours.
  • Although short lived, the videos can be saved, then posted on Youtube, and shared across your social media platforms.
  • Periscope is owned by Twitter, so that is naturally the main social media connection. If your Twitter following is large, definitely consider starting to broadcast.
  • If you Twitter following is not large, starting to broadcast could help build your presence on Twitter. Plus, you can always post on Facebook and any other social media platforms to invite people to join you on Periscope.
  • It still falls into the category of “social media” rather than a main source of content (i.e. a website, blog, Youtube channel, podcast station). This makes it an “add on” rather than a “necessity.”
  • Even if you’re thinking “I don’t know…My life isn’t that interesting. No one wants to hear me ramble about what I’m working on,” remember that people love “behind the scenes” and “on the go” video content. Every broadcast doesn’t have to be profound or long. Short and sweet is still better than nothing at all.

HOW?

Check out these helpful articles for more tips and tricks to getting started!

http://www.triciagoyer.com/periscope-how-to-for-authors/

http://www.danieldecker.net/periscope/

http://icessfernandez.com/2015/08/18/5-ways-writers-can-use-periscope/

http://theauthorbiz.com/periscope-will-it-be-a-blessing-or-a-curse-for-authors/

Watch this video tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyVv4ZxWCeU

Tricia Goyer’s 10 Ways to Use Periscope as an Author

1. Offer tips. I recently did a Periscope, “Writers: How NOT to give up on the book of your heart” – I shared tips, but I also talked about my book Prayers that Changed History. Think about what will be valuable a reader…don’t just think about selling a book.

2. Show Behind the Scenes. What does your desk look like? How do you research?

3. Talk about the topic of your book. This can work for fiction or non-fiction. Share background, research, historical data, or any fun stories from the writing process.

4. Use the “private” group section. Connect with book clubs or readers. This makes them feel special.

5. Answer questions live—about writing or about your book topic.

6. Start a group. Author Kim Cash Tate has built an awesome Periscope audience of women benefiting each other.

7. Set up daily chats. I know homeschoolers who offer encouragement during the weekdays at 8 a.m. and authors who do devotions every morning at a specific time.

8. If you have an online store, use promo codes. Give the codes during your scope and you’ll be able to watch the traffic.

9. Share LIVE events. Have someone hold your device for you while you speak or give a presentation.

10. Invite people to visit your website, blog or to sign up for your e-newsletter. Hold up cards to give the URLs, making it easier to write down.

Are you on Periscope? Share your experience in the comments! If you’re not already on Periscope, do you think you’ll give it a go? Let us know!

TIPS for Creating an Unforgettable Twitter Bio

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Whether you’ve been tweeting for years and need a revamp or you’re just getting started, there’s one thing you should focus on before anything else – customizing your profile. As the only static parts of your page, the profile picture, header image, and bio are incredibly important. The bio is a mere 160 character opportunity to convince people to click “follow” – so be sure to make it informative and catchy. People need to know who you are, as well as why following you will add value to their Twitter experience.

Below are a few tips to consider as you write – and rewrite – your Twitter bio.

  • Use keywords to target your audience. What keywords will your audience be searching for? Include those in your bio.
  • Use what you have – 160 characters isn’t much, but it’s enough to tell followers a little bit about why they should follow you.
  • Write & rewrite. You’re probably not going to be satisfied with your first draft – and maybe not your second or third. Your bio will go through many revisions, but don’t stop until it’s great.
  • Use your bio to tell what you do or what you believe in – or both! This will differentiate you from other writers, authors, books, etc.
  • If applicable, include the name of your employer or company. If their Twitter handle is in your bio, your profile will come up as a result when someone searches for that company or business.
  • Avoid outdated clichés and buzzwords. “guru,” “expert,” “ninja,” etc. They take up space and don’t mean much anymore.
  • Mention your accomplishments. If you’ve won an award, been recognized for something, etc., use it in your bio as social proof.
  • Include a little humor. It doesn’t have to be slapstick, but just something to make the reader chuckle and remember you by.

Need some inspiration? Browse some of the most creative Twitter bios and start writing. If you just created an account and need help with taking your next steps, check out “Twitter for Authors” Part 1 & Part 2.

Twitter for Authors – Part 2: Getting Started

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If Twitter for Authors – Part 1: Why Authors Should Tweet convinced you of the benefits to tweeting, this article contains all of the how-to. If the idea of making a Twitter account overwhelms you, take a breath and go to https://twitter.com/. Click sign-up, and follow the prompts. If you’re ever lost, the Help Center is an easy-to-use resource. Choose a username that fans will recognize – if you write under a pseudonym, use it.

After signing up, before you do anything else, customize your page with a profile picture, header picture, and short bio. These are the only static elements of your page, so make them count. The bio is a mere 160 character opportunity to convince people to click “follow” – so it needs to be both informative and catchy. They need to know who you are, as well as why following you will add value to their days. Read more tips for creating an unforgettable Twitter bio (link to other article). With your profile picture, header, and bio, try to be professional and appropriate without being boring, stuffy, or clichéd.

Once you’ve uploaded pictures, written a bio, and added a link to your blog or website, the next step is to start following people. You can start finding people by typing in the names of friends, family, celebrities, authors, books, topics, publications, publishers, etc. You can also upload contact lists from your email account. Last but not least, post about your new Twitter account on Facebook, your blog, and other social sites. If you have a blog, add a link to your Twitter account on the sidebar of the webpage. If you need help, try searching the web for “adding a twitter feed to ___” filling it in with the server you’re using (i.e. WordPress, Joomla, Blogger, etc.).

Okay, so you’ve started following some people, but how do you “tweet”? And what’s with all the # symbols floating around? To compose a message, follow these instructions. The main difference between Twitter and other sites is that a tweet can only be 140 characters. Composing tweets is a fun (and sometimes frustrating) exercise in conciseness. Cut the excess information, and write a short message, add a hashtag and/or link, and you’re good to go!

A hashtag is the # symbol followed by a word or string of words (with no spaces between them). They categorize tweets by keywords, allowing you to browse topics and profiles that you probably wouldn’t have found otherwise. Read more tips on using hashtags.

Now you know how to post, but what should you post? You certainly shouldn’t only post self-promotional content. Below are a few tips for keeping your followers interested and engaged:

  1. Promote upcoming events, releases, sales, and any other directly pertinent information you want people to know about.
  1. Share helpful links that will add to your followers’ Twitter experience. Did you come across an interesting article? Tweet a short excerpt and a link to it. Did you take a beautiful photo that can be related to your book or its topic? Post it with a short thought and a hashtag.
  1. A retweet (link: https://support.twitter.com/articles/20169873-retweeting-another-tweet) is a tweet that you forward to your followers. Think of it as “sharing” a post on Facebook or forwarding an email to a friend.
  1. Interact with your followers. Reply to mentions and thank new followers for finding you. Also, reply to tweets unrelated to you that people you follow post – join the conversation and get involved.
  1. Consider creating your own unique hashtag for you and/or your book. Then, your followers can use that hashtag when talking about your book, allowing others to get linked back to you and your profile.

These are just a few tips to help you get started on Twitter. If you get stuck, try typing your issue in the Help Center or a search engine – or ask someone you know to help you out. Social media marketing can be overwhelming, but it can also be fun and effective after the initial hard work of setting up the accounts and making connections. Push through and reap the benefits, authors!

Want to know more about writing a creative, memorable bio? TIPS for Creating an Unforgettable Twitter Bio will be posted soon!

Twitter for Authors – Part 1: Why You Should Tweet

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As an author, you’re always looking for ways to promote yourself and your book. Twitter is an effective tool for you to use as you market, connect, and try to sell your book. Although often referred to as a social networking site, Twitter is also used as a broadcast medium. Connections between users are great, but it is also important to simply join the voices and provide your fans and followers with updates, thoughts, and links, regardless of the interaction it may or may not lead to. Engage with fans, hold live Q&As, find other relevant accounts with which to engage, and update followers with author and book-related happenings, such as events, releases, and sales.

Perhaps the thought of adding another social media platform to your routine is overwhelming, but with scheduling tools like Hootsuite, posting across multiple platforms is easy. If you don’t have an online presence for you or your book yet, Twitter is one of the places you should start – and you should start. Through online outlets, you can target ministries, foundations, online publications, and other authors and readers that are related to the topic and purpose of your book. By creating a presence for you and your book on sites like Twitter and Facebook, your readers can easily know what is going on, helping you build community and loyalty and create new customers.

Already blogging, but don’t know how to get more traffic? Use quick excerpts from blog posts and links to the full posts to reach and engage more readers by using hashtags. Even if you have subscribers that receive email updates from your blog, it’s helpful to meet your fans on multiple platforms – the more they see things about your new post, the more likely they are to remember to view it. Think about commercials that you see on TV or ads on the internet. You might not pay attention to them the first time, but when the same ad keeps popping up on different webpages or during different shows, you start to pay attention.

Ready to dive in and start tweeting? Check out Twitter for Authors – Part 2Getting Started