AN IBPA ROUNDTABLE
Managing Social Media
How can you keep social media from eating up too much time? IBPA members have supplied a variety of answers to that question, as you’ll see.
Interestingly, the response rate to our email on the topic was relatively low. Maybe this is because many members have chosen not to get heavily involved with social media. On the other hand, maybe it’s because lots of you are into them so heavily that you barely have time to breathe.
Read on for specific social media time-management tips. More will appear next month. And see “A Social Media Marketing Plan” by Dana Lynn Smith in this issue for tips on how to make time for all your marketing tasks.—Judith Appelbaum
The Lobster Pot Pattern
I generally try to start my day with a blog post because I find it’s a good way to get the juices flowing. Usually, my posts are business related, so this also forces a business topic to the top of my mind at the start of the day. Then I’ll visit my favorite blog sites to see what’s cooking, maybe making a short comment here and there. After that, I’ll upload my newest blog link to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and spend 10 minutes checking links and commenting there, too.
I try to do that in 45 minutes to an hour. During the day, I’ll use a visit to my blog comments or social sites as a reward for finishing something on my to-do list. I look at it kind of like checking lobster pots—pull ’em up and see what’s in there.
I maintain several blogs, including a blog for ReadHowYouWant, and I recently started one for bookstores that carry large-print books, since I am beginning to work more with them as resellers for that format. I am planning yet another blog for readers of large print. We also have a group on FaceBook, and I try to at least monitor what is going on at Eons and Gather. I looked at MySpace, but it’s not our demographic.
I probably spend 30 to 60 minutes per day on this. To keep the time down, I repurpose a lot of the text. For instance, I may quote the same book review in several places or use essentially the same promotion several times.
A “Diversion” Brings Rewards
I do not have a set schedule for updating my Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, or Twitter listings, nor for participating in the Internet email lists of Sisters in Crime, Murder Must Advertise, or SEMWA, to name a few. Likewise, I post only to my own Web site, blog, and other author/reader Web sites when I have something new to announce or have a burning comment to share.
While at times it may seem that I have gotten carried away with these social media outlets, they provide a wealth of education, networking in the writing community, and free advertisement (hits on my Web sites have quadrupled since I got involved with them).
I work the social media as a diversion from long, frequent moments of writer’s block or exhaustion and usually get a lot of information disseminated and updating accomplished during those times.
Although I have taken no classes and received no formal instruction on social media–site navigation, many of the young employees at my medical office are familiar with the workings of these sites and are happy to help. And I have learned that one can put all these sites on an iPhone and use idle moments to post events, write short blog posts or tweets, invite friends, accept friend requests, and so on. Apple offers free downloads for many of the major social media sites, or one can bookmark the home page on an iPhone screen and create a homemade application. Wow, social media at your fingertips!
One helpful timesaver I stumbled upon the other day is that Plaxo provides an opportunity to link an account to Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter so that an event listing or comment on Plaxo is posted automatically on those other major sites and vice versa.
Ponder House Press
Preferred Routes to Target Markets
For the time being, I have opted out of using social networking sites. I am not convinced they will increase sales in proportion to the time they will require. And there are so many competing author blogs that I don’t see how I can add to what is already available.
I do participate in online discussion groups centered on mystery novels and historical fiction whenever time allows. Since they are targeted to readers of what Pemberley Press publishes, investing time in them seems a better idea than investing it in newer networking opportunities.
Mostly Twitter Tactics
I fit time for social media in between consulting clients, when there is a cancellation, and while I wait for a phone call or client. Since I enjoy Twittering, it is easy to do.
I try to vary the time of day I post to Twitter (different people read tweets at different times), and I am currently trying to entice readers into my books with disclosures about the story in a series of tweets and invites to read free chapters and articles.
I use the Share button on articles in which I am quoted to post on Facebook and Twitter and have the Share button on my blog.
Twitter generates the most traffic to my site, according to my stats. Because my Amazon.com book orders do not come to me, and many of my sales go to my distributors, I can’t tell yet whether the visitors buy my books, but I hope to see an increase in sales as payments come in.
Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem
Happy with a Handy Little App
When I published my fourth book recently, my publicist recommended I get on Twitter. I was already on Facebook, Plaxo, and LinkedIn, and I have a blog. Luckily, a friend told me about HelloTxt. This handy little program allows you to write an update and email it to an account that then automatically updates all the social network sites you specified. It has helped me tremendously.
Baby Hearts Press
The Time and the Talent
I blog every morning at 6:00 a.m., and I’ve hired my grandson to post scholarships on my Web site (my book is about searching for scholarships).
Eve-Marie Andrews Publishing
Techniques and Tools
Here are a number of tips for using social media for book promotion:
• Sharing starts with RSS feeds. Google Reader is easiest way to share content, and it also allows you to add notes onto the content you share.
• Don’t try to add as many followers on Twitter and Facebook as possible. Try to network by establishing real relationships with people in your field. Your network should be connected to the subject matter of your blog, and you can add a blogroll to your blog that lists sites related to yours and lets you share comments and links to each other. Find other bloggers you read on Twitter and subscribe to them. Retweet, and promote their content using bookmarking, Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Technorati, Google bookmarks, Yahoo! bookmarks, and so on. If you really like a post, let the blogger know on Twitter or leave a comment on the blog. Take it a step further, write a blog post, and positively link to the post you admired. This is how you establish and build an online network.
• Twitter is a powerful way to broadcast a message in real time. The power is in the listeners and responders in your network. New content often breaks first on Twitter, so listen and retweet as often as possible.
• FriendFeed is the glue that can keep it all together. FriendFeed aggregates the content you generate from any of the 49 different types of services it supports into one central location.
• Tools can help you add Twitter followers.
TwitterHIT lets you enter keywords that relate to the people you’d like to connect with and then click to follow all those listed in the results. The basic service is free.
Twollow is a simple, keyword-based autofollow tool that monitors the public stream on Twitter and automatically follows people when conversations contain keywords you specify. The seven-day free trial tracks five keyword phrases for you.
EasyTweets allows you to operate up to 100 accounts at a time, and it has a very nice autofollow feature that will let you grow your follower base with ease.
TweetDock offers similar autofollow features; it also gives you the ability to send @replies to people who match your keywords automatically. For example, if you run a publishing business, you could send a personal message whenever the term publishing is mentioned.
Hummingbird is known as the leading software of its kind and will help you generate thousands of followers across multiple accounts.
Twollo is very similar to Twollow, and not just in the way the word sounds. You enter keywords for conversations you wish to track, and it will autofollow all the people who are talking about the subjects you are interested in. There’s a free basic version.
A key thing to remember here: Building a huge following on Twitter is not a quick trip to riches. What these tools will do is take a brand-new account from zero to thousands of followers in a matter of weeks, but you will still need to actively twitter to your followers, as a real person having real conversations.
Ignore that simple piece of advice and your followers will simply fall away.
Saunders Learning Group
Quality Is Key
You can successfully use social media in as few as 10 to 15 minutes each day. It’s about quality of value provided, not quantity of time. Keys to that quality include: be interesting, be a source (provide valuable information), put others first (offer solutions to people’s questions/concerns), and be real.
PUBLISIDE Personal Publicity
The Three E’s Imperative
Since I have been in the publishing world for less than a year, I am certainly no authority on the subject. What I can say is that social networking has increased my workload tremendously, that it increases traffic to our site, and that, so far, I cannot tell whether it has had much effect, if any, on sales. However, I intend to give it more time before rendering judgment.
I have limited my social networking to roughly an hour two or three days per week. When I choose to post to multiple sites simultaneously, I use TweetDeck. At the moment, I am focusing most of my professional efforts on Twitter and using Facebook for personal social networking, although I’m confident there are ways that we can utilize Facebook for business purposes as well.
To get up to speed, I hired a 30-year-old Internet genius and Web programmer who is a professional photographer on the side and has been using social networking to promote his photography for a few years.
One conclusion I have drawn is that social marketing requires offering what I like to call one of the three E’s—we have to educate, enhance, or entertain in some way. I lose interest very quickly in folks I follow who don’t offer one of the three E’s.
Another conclusion is that since there are only so many hours in the day, anyone I hire to help with publicity must offer social networking publicity campaign options.
Carole E. Tapp
How It All Adds Up
Social media can consume at least half my workday. I work on it between answering the phone and shipping out orders. We’re now on Twitter and Facebook. I spend about an hour each day composing and publishing an article for our blog (our blogging software is WordPress, which is easy to use and free). After blogging, I check to see if I have any posts on my forum that I need to address. Since more than 300 teachers across America use our Auto Upkeep products, I started a Wiki for them. When I still have time, I work on creating and editing a video for our YouTube channel.
We have learned to use social media most often by just jumping in, but also through online training (I recommend Lynda.com).
Rolling Hills Publishing is a small company, just my wife, Linda, and me. We do everything from writing to book layout to Web design. It takes lot of work, but by not having additional staff, we are able to survive this economic recession. I like to tell people when they ask how our company is doing that Auto Upkeep is more profitable than GM, Ford, and Chrysler combined. Bigger isn’t always better!
Michael E. Gray
Rolling Hills Publishing
Grouping Gets Results
I have been blogging for a few years and recently became a big fan of Twitter, which can be a major time drain but has a potential to reach a large audience. My best tip is to use an application such as TweetDeck or Seesmic Desktop to organize and group people.
This takes a while but makes it easy to change hats as you converse with different groups you belong to. For example, I follow many mommy bloggers because I am one, and this is one of my target demographics for sales of my children’s book. I also follow some experts on social media; some writers, agents, publicists, and publishers in the book world; and some people who offer news or fun. Being able to group them and see what is up in a particular community is helpful.
As for time management, I am still working on that.
Monkey Barrel Press
Courses Can Help
Two members noted that advice from Deltina Hay is helping them manage social media. Her guidance is available via courses she offers at Publishing University, IBPA Webinars, and elsewhere, and it’s also in Independent articles archived at ibpa-online.org. Click on Newsletter Articles in the navigation bar on the left side of the Home page to find them, and see especially “Streamlining Your Presence in the Social Web.”