Social Media and Writing

Social Media Writing

Social media writing? No, I mean both of them. Not the combo.

Janet-Gershen-Siegel-Adventures-in-Career-Changing-Social Media Writing
Social Media Writing

Social media and writing go together.

Kind of.

I read Chuck Wendig’s post on the two and I want to comment on it.

Basic Info That Can Help Anyone (Really!)

Let’s start with the basics.

Social media will not save a bad book

Unfortunately, it’s true. We have all seen the Twilight tropes, e. g. “still a better love story than Twilight”. My apologies to Stephenie Meyer, and to the people who enjoy her work. She caught fire because she hit a particular market extremely well. Social media did not fuel her success, at least not in the beginning. Although it probably did later, as people shared their joy on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Rather, her work did well, at least in part, because it hit the teen/tween girl market like a bull’s eye. Ever wonder why Bella Swan is so undeveloped with such a bare bones description? It’s so any young girl can dream of being her. Any girl of any race or height or weight or hobbies.

Her publisher, Hachette Book Group, also marketed the Twilight novels very well. At the time the fourth one came out, I received it (it’s called Breaking Dawn) as a bonus because I was working for Hachette in their IT department.

Some people get Thanksgiving turkeys. Some people get ….

Er, sorry, Ms. Meyer. I don’t want to turn this into a bash session.

Rather, the point I am dancing around is: what if Ms. Meyer had blasted everything on Twitter and Facebook? What if she hadn’t had a good marketing department behind her? Then she probably would not have gotten so far.

Social media did not improve her works. It did not worsen them, either. Her success arose, for the most part, outside the realm of social media. And it did not save critics from savaging her work.

Converting from one platform to another is exceptionally difficult

You may be fantastic on LinkedIn but stink on Twitter. You may be killin’ it on Wattpad but limping along on YouTube. Or you may even have tons of Facebook friends but few followers on your Facebook page.

True story. I read a lot (duh!). It’s all sorts of stuff. I read fanfiction, I read original writing, I read free stuff, I read NaNoWriMo novels. And I read the classics. What often interests me is seeing works which are highly rated on GoodReads with so few sales on Amazon that they don’t get recommendations. But with enough sales, your book gets mentioned in those, “If you like __, you might enjoy ___” kinds of notifications.

I see people who are Wattpad gods and goddesses, cranking out tons of super-appreciated chapters and adored by hundreds of thousands of (presumably) screaming fans. Then they try to monetize their work, and it falls flat. New York Times bestselling authors, for real, only sell a few tens of thousands of works in any given week and they make the cut. So why don’t these Wattpad writers with phenomenal read counts to an order of magnitude ten higher than that end up on bestseller lists?

Social media is a daily tsunami

Part of the reason? This right here. We are all inundated, every single day. Users upload over twenty-four hours of new YouTube content every second of every day. They have over one billion users. Facebook has over 1.7 billion registered users and over one billion of those people access the site on a daily basis. Therefore, Facebook considers them ‘regular users’. The average number of Facebook friends currently hovers at around 150 or so. Twitter’s users also number in the hundreds of millions.

Given all of these big numbers, you can’t blame organic reach decline on a platform trying to hide posts so you’ll pay for the privilege of advertising (although that’s part of it). It is also a sheer numbers game. If you have 150 friends on Facebook and it’s your sole platform, you still can’t keep up with it all. If you go on Facebook for 150 minutes (e. g. two and a half hours), that won’t be one minute per friend, as you will inevitably read a headline, take a survey or quiz, like a comment, post a picture, or watch a video.

How does this apply to you, the indie author? Does social media writing matter? Stay tuned; I’ll cover it in part 2.

Advertising on Facebook

Advertising on Facebook

Have you tried advertising on Facebook? It’s easier and more affordable than you might think.

Keep in mind that Facebook is constantly A/B testing (e. g. checking to see if any new layouts or color schemes, etc. will make you click more), so these instructions might be a little out of date after a while. This is what currently works. Caveat emptor.

Getting Started

About half the time, Facebook will just come to you and suggest you start advertising. I can’t say what their algorithm is for selecting a post to promote, although they usually suggest a popular one. If they are not suggesting a post you want to promote (e. g. you would prefer to promote another one), or you are new to promotions and there are no suggestions, or you just want to see how to start one from scratch, go to your Author Page and go to Publishing Tools, then, on the right, pull down on Help and click Advertiser Support. This will get you to the Facebook for Business page. In the upper right corner, click Create Ad.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll choose Boost Your Posts as our campaign.

Selecting an audience for a post

Audience is important; you do not want to just send to everyone, as even failed clicks are going to cost you money. You will do a lot better with targeting as that will help assure a greater percentage of your clicks are meaningful and helpful. Click Set Audience and Budget. You can choose an audience from demographics, or from preferences or from lookalikes, who are people similar to those who like your page. If you are just getting started, and a greater percentage than normal of your likes come from friends and family trying to help you out, do not use this option!

Select a location by navigating around the map and dropping a pin in your preferred location. The age ranges are also pretty self-explanatory. You can even exclude some people.

Setting a budget

Start small. You can always add. The minimum is generally $1/day. I prefer what Facebook calls a Lifetime budget, which sets a total. It’s a lot easier to rein in than a Daily budget, I believe.

Scheduling

Go to your analytics and take a look at when more people are on than usual. Select those days and times for your ads! Next click Select Ad Creative. I recommend allowing everything unless you absolutely know your targeted audience is not in a particular area.

Choosing which post to promote

Choosing a post to promote (if Facebook has not done so for you) is easy. Select a popular one, representative of your brand. If you have a limited time offer, that could be perfect. Just make sure your ads don’t run after the offer has expired.

Good luck!

Demystifying Twitter

Demystifying Twitter

What can Twitter do for you, the independent writer?

What’s the big deal about 140 characters?

Twitter is essentially a microblogging service. You broadcast your thoughts to the ether. Some of those thoughts, to be sure, are more interesting than others.

Many of us know someone who tweets about everything in their lives. It’s dull, it’s dumb, and you want to throttle them half the time. Their cheesecake is not fascinating. Their slow bus to downtown is not riveting. You don’t much care why they didn’t buy a particular pair of sneakers.

We may also know someone who’s a lot more fascinating. I’m not talking about celebrities, who have other sources for their cachet. Instead, I am talking about people who just seem to be more interesting, or at least their tweets are. Or at least they are funny or relevant.

Guess which one you want to be like?

Two lives

On much of social media, when you are an independent author, you lead two lives. There is your personal life where you have friends and family, but there is also your professional or semi-professional life. Even if you never sell (or never want to) a syllable of your work, if you want to improve, you’re at least in the realm of semi-professional.

Two accounts?

That might not be such a bad idea. One for yourself, for your political opinions, your questions about the universe, your tweets to customer service when something goes wrong ….

The other? For writing. This can be for talking about what you’re doing, and even teasing it a bit. For reporting your NaNoWriMo progress, if you like, to your cheering section. Also, for #PitMad and #MSWL. For the hashtags #amwriting and #amediting, too.

There is more, of course. I’ll get to it soon. So stay tuned!