Friday, October 5, 2012

Social Media

By now we all have our view when someone mentions social media. For you writers and authors out there, it's all about building your platform, but if you look at social media as a machine or even a car, you may understand it just a little better.

Lets take a car: Everyone knows that a car needs a little tender loving care on a regular basis. Oil change, new spark-plugs, a seasonal change of tires if you live where the roads get icy, or just checking the pressure from time to time if not. Such things will keep your car purring along for some time. And looks: a little Turtle Wax will keep it gleaming, and inside, there are all manner of products made for cleaning all the different surfaces inside your car. Keeping your car clean inside will make your trips near or far that much more pleasant for you and your passengers.

Why do I go into all that? Because giving your social media as much attention as you would your car is very important in building your platform. To keep your 'engine' running smoothly, your profile needs to be updated regularly, a new, or at least your best picture, preferably of you, is VERY important. Your readers want to see YOU, not your kids or your pets. It might even be worth your time and money to make the trip to the beauty parlor (yes, even for you guys) to get your hair all prettied up. And if you're anything like me with no facial color, see if someone might be able to work on your face too. Take special notice of your blouse or shirt - is the color flattering? In my latest picture I went out and bought a new shirt special for the occasion. Sadly, I chose white, and it wasn't until I had it posted up that I realized how pale it made my face. I'll do better next time. Live and learn, I always say. For me, the color of my shirt has always been an issue. Blue makes my eyes more hazel whereas green makes them lean toward blue, but not far enough for me. Black makes me look old, even when I was a young teenager. I remember once when I was around 16, just for fun I tried on a black suit set. It was one of the best-fitting suits I'd even worn before or since, I believe. However, I took one look in one of those three-sided mirrors and felt I should have been hunched over with a cane in my hand. I looked positively ancient. Now that I'm in my 50s, I don't need any help.

Back to your profile: Make sure the bio is up to date and interesting. Check it out often, just to make sure the information is relevant. Mostly, I copy and paste my bio from one site to another, but be careful doing that. What might be relevant in one place, may not be in another place. Most media sites have some sort of personal information to fill in. This is information your readers will look for in order to find out more about you. This too is important to keep up to date, and really important - make sure all your links work. Treat these like your spark-plugs. If they don't go anywhere, your reader will quickly lose interest and move on somewhere else. Be wary of contact information though. I have my email posted around everywhere - I want my readers to find it easy to contact me, but to the best of my knowledge, my phone number is nowhere. My phone sucks and I don't check messages very often. It is my means to call out. If you want to talk to me, I'm on Facebook a lot and chat works there just fine. My satellite connection makes most other forms of connection impossible or at best teeth-gritting.

Advertising: I just counted - I have 22 links I post around almost every day. I promote my editor because I think she's awesome. I promote an agent even though she is not mine because her blog is chocked full of the most awesome information on the publishing industry I've found so far. The rest is devoted to my books and where they can be found. Three of those links go to online bookstores where you too might be able to list your books. It's worth taking a look and getting your own book listed. The more places where your books can be found, the better. Another pair are the Freedo widget where a reader can read a sample of my books. It looks like a real book, plus I have control of how much a reader can read. I could allow a reader to read the whole book if I wanted to - something I will do with my blog novel as soon as it becomes officially published. All I'm waiting for is the perfect cover to show up. The rest of the links are where to find me - my fan page on Facebook, my website on Weebly, and my writing blog (here).

The order of my posts is important to me. Where all my first book can be found - where all my latest book can be found - where both books can be found - the latest news of what is happening to me and future books take you to different tabs on my website - and lately I'm pushing The Fortunes of Magic so there's a grouping of links where that can be found. > IMPORTANT < If you click on someone's name on Twitter you will see their latest three posts, so with that in mind, my last three posts for any given day are my FB page, my writing blog, and my website. From any of those three posts, one can easily find my other places.

Also, patience is a virtue. No platform is going to explode over night. There are groups on Facebook and on LinkedIn where members post their fan page for other members to like, and they all do. I stop by these sites once in a while in an effort to garner some new fans, but mostly I make myself as visible as I can and let fans find me. Those likes from those kinds of groups are kinda like a sugar rush. Suddenly dozens of people drop by, hit 'like', and move on. Yeah, they will now see your posts in their stream, but any real interaction drops off as fast as your link drops down the page. I want the honest interaction and friendship - it means more to me. As far as returning the favor, I do. I check out every liker's profile, if I can find your page (see profile update (your 'about' tab) - if your page isn't there, I can't find it anywhere else unless it's by accident), I'll like it if it interests me. I don't want to clutter up my stream with a bunch of stuff I have no interest in, and I expect no different from my fans. I want my fans to be real fans and friends, not empty likes. One time, I checked out a page from a recent liker from one of those groups. I don't remember what it was, but it was probably something techy - it's all Greek to me. Anyway, I left him a message thanking him for liking my page, but letting him know I wasn't going to return the favor, I just wasn't interested. He got all upset and asked me why I bothered to participate in the group if I wasn't going to like his page. He probably also unliked my page, which was fine with me. Like I said, I want fans who are interested in me, not empty likes. They simply have no meaning.

Another way you can get more notice on FB is to browse around AS your fan page. You'll see all the other pages you've liked if you've added them as your page's favorites. You can do this by going to the page and clicking on the little gear in the upper right-hand corner. As your page, you can't see your normal stream nor can you interact with normal profiles, but you can share posts and pictures from them - you'll have to go find them to do that though. You can, however, interact with all those pages you've listed over there. So remember, when you like a page, if it's relevant to your fan page (or not) add it over there too.

Facebook isn't the only place where I promote myself. Daily, I post on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Recently, I've posted my links on, Agent Query Connect and I figure I'll do those maybe once a month or so, or as things change. We'll see. I haven't decided whether I'll post them on Goodreads or not. I'm not as active there as I once was.

So polish your car and tune up your engine, and get out there and promote yourself. You would be surprised how many of my friends ask me for help regarding promotions. Sure, I'll help anyway I can, but there's only so much I can do, and frankly I'm a bit selfish. I work very hard promoting myself; I'll help you, but if you're not working on promoting yourself, your request for help is leaching from me pure and simple, besides my platform may not be what you need.

There are many other ways to get yourself seen. YouTube has become popular, as have Pinterest, and I'm sure there are many more. Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Don't be afraid to check them out and take advantage of them if they fit your needs. I don't do YouTube because I can't do videos, and from what all I've heard about Pinterest, it's all about pictures anyway.

Get out there. Do the work. If you don't, who will? And above all, don't be afraid to ask questions. I may not know all the answers, but just maybe I know someone who does. 


Mari Collier said...

Brown does that to me. I realized it when the people at work said, "Gee, you look tire." They were being kind. I was already close to 60. I certainly didn't need that when everyone else was decades younger than I.

Anna L. Walls said...

Ooh - I'll have to watch out for that too. I know I'll need to be more critical for sure.

sandra tyler said...

I do need to pay attention to my car. I never think to change my profile. And really interesting what you said about fB fan pages. I'll have tto check that out. great post.

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff and helpful.

William Kendall said...

There have been some sites I've used that haven't really felt useful-Pinterest for one. LinkedIn and Facebook have been very useful.

One that I abandoned months ago was the Book Marketing Network. They let a spammer run wild, despite objections of members, for months on end.

Anna L. Walls said...

Yeah, I've seen some places like that. Spam everywhere and no interference. I won't hang around there very long.

Willow Drake said...

Thanks for all the useful information. Good food for thought!

Marian Lanouette said...

So much useful information, Anna, thanks. This is a keeper.