Social Media - Friend or Foe?

The need for writers to have an online presence in the 21st Century has never been more evident with the introduction of Social Media.

I’ve been asked many times why don’t I conduct a course and teach people all I’ve learnt about the highs and lows of Social Media. It got me thinking; why not put together some pointers for Creative Kids Tales followers.

Here are some dos and don’ts I have painfully discovered about Social Media.

When I started Creative Kids Tales in 2011 all I had was a personal Facebook account started years earlier that had become stagnate. Basically I signed up for Facebook after my last school reunion as I figured it was the only way to stay in touch.

Already our thinking has been reconditioned from picking up the phone to opening up Facebook, Twitter or YouTube and bearing our soul on a daily basis in an open environment.

Once Creative Kids Tales was born I wondered how to spread the word? The answer: Facebook.

I quickly discovered it was useful in creating a presence and getting out there, not just locally, but all over Australia and the world.

The all-important promotion of new authors and existing ones no longer rests with publishers. If you already have a presence in Social Media this is going to favour well with publishers signing up new authors. As for established authors, this is great because generally you have been talking about your upcoming book for some time and you've already created a buzz about it. Publishers know you will be working to promote your book and already half their job is done.

You need to think of yourself as a business. You have a product to sell. You!

Remember Publishers will give you a small window of promotion. They will then move on to the next author and their new book. If you already have momentum with promoting your brand, in other words you, by adding information about your first or a new book should give you added exposure.

It’s become a daily ritual for authors to check out Social Media before they commence writing. A good practice to put in place is allowing up to 30 minutes in the morning and about the same for the afternoon/evening to promote yourself, find out what’s new, who’s talking about what, any upcoming events that may benefit you etc.

If you are starting out you may want to allow yourself a little more time to familiarise yourself with it. The best sites to visit regularly etc. Getting to know Social Media etiquette can take a little while.


Here is a little look into some of the different types of Social Media:

(Click on the name to reveal tip)

  • - Facebook

    Let’s face it if you’re not on Facebook there is only one question. Why not?

    Create an author page. Create a page for your character. Whatever you create just create one!

    The golden rule with Social Media is whatever pages you create you need to maintain them. Too many pages can be too hard to manage especially when you are trying to write as well. If that means only creating one page, then so be it. There is no need creating two or three pages and only actively updating one.

    Joining 'groups' requires approval from the administrator of that group. It's a bit like sending a friend request. 'Liking' groups is much easier as no permission is needed. Like as many pages in the areas you are interested as you can. Look at other author friends pages and see what they like, undoubtedly this will lead you onto other pages and so on. Just remember, if you like a page when you first see it hit the 'like' button. Trying to navigate your way back to it can sometimes be a nightmare.

    Promote yourself on ‘like’ pages or groups but do not bombard them with constant posts. But with that said if you follow hundreds of pages and space out your posting you shouldn’t upset anyone, unless of course the material you are posting is offensive. Be sure you post within the guidelines of Facebook; visit their site for more information. Don’t post more than 10 posts collectively in one day as you will attract the attention of Facebook and be seen as spamming.

    Some people or organisations choose to have posts blocked. If you are adamant about getting on their page send them a private message. It can't hurt; they may post information about your page if they believe it to be worthwhile.

    If you post on other authors pages they will probably want to post on yours too. At any time you can delete a post if you feel they are posting too often or it is not appropriate for your page.

    Remember you are creating a brand name and once you put your information or comments out there it's very hard to remove it from cyberspace.

    When posting on pages Facebook register how many posts you make in a day. Too many posts can attract bans, be careful. My first ban was for ‘posting spam’ even though it was promoting reading and writing. Facebook don’t care and they don’t differentiate between posts it is merely the fact you have posted that registers. If you are banned you can’t contact them to discuss, you just have to wear whatever ban they impose.

    The second time they come down on you a lot harder, my ban was 60 days. They also issued me with a warning if I re-offend once the ban is lifted I will be removed from Facebook permanently. When you are under a ban you are unable to post anything, including commenting on other posts or even wishing someone Happy Birthday.

    The only way around this is to pay for advertising on Facebook. Be wary I have heard this can be a slippery slope. Once you hand over your credit card details all sorts of charges start to appear not to mention you can never be sure how many people have actually seen your ad. As for cancelling your payments I believe this is also next to impossible. Again, I've heard some have had to cancel their credit card in order to stop the charges.

    One little trick I’ve learnt is in addition to posting your page you can also share your page. This gives you more exposure and appears to avoid the too many posts rule.

    Another great way is ask your friends to share your page and so on and so on. Create a snowball effect; remember it only takes one snowflake.

    Be careful to not over promote! This is a good way to loose followers fast if you are constantly in their face telling them about your book or achievement.

    If you have a book launch remember to create an ‘Event’ page on Facebook. Invite all your Facebook friends and ask them to share with others.

    Giveaways are also a good way to generate interest. Everybody loves getting something for nothing and generally they'll tell their friends to like your page if there is a chance of winning something.

    You can make Facebook work in your favour you just need to be clever about it.

  • - Twitter

    Twitter is not unlike Facebook it just goes a lot faster. It’s great for sharing the right here, right now. For instance you’ve probably heard many news reports stating it broke first on Twitter. Twitter tweets are more likely to spread like wildfire than any other social media outlet.

    On Twitter you can follow, favourite and retweet others tweets.

    The @Connect option allows you to see who has recently followed you. Who has favourited or retweeted one of your tweets. The #Discover key shows you tweets that are applicable based on the types of people you are following. Eg. If you follow predominantly authors the #Discover option will show you tweets from the more popular or most followed authors.

    Your tweets are character limited, which can be a bit of a pain especially if you have a lot to say. It's a good way to learn editing or you will need to tweet several messages to get your information out there.

  • - LinkedIn

    According to Wikipedia LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site.

    I like to think of LinkedIn as a live business card holder.

    I have dabbled in LinkedIn but when it came to needing to pay membership in order to send someone a message I opted out. Don’t get me wrong I understand this to be a beneficial tool to those in the business sector wanting to make contact with others from their area. It just doesn't suit me right now.

  • - YouTube

    Again I consulted Wikipedia for a definition of YouTube.

    YouTube is a video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view videos.

    This is becoming increasingly popular for promoting book trailers; info videos (are they still called that?)

    I do follow some authors on YouTube who produce short news stories or updates on the book industry. Some share tips you may or may not be able to use on your journey to publication.

    You can also look up old music clips from your youth.

    If you feel confident promoting yourself on camera rather using your keyboard, go for it!

  • - Blog

    The Blog: another forum where a writer can reveal one’s soul.

    Having your own blog is almost as important as being able to breathe without a respirator.

    Here, you are your own boss and don’t have to comply with rules and guidelines set by others. You can say, post or talk about whatever you would like to talk about. Again remember the once it’s out there rule.

    In the end it all comes back to advertising your blog and you undoubtedly will need Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube to do that to get you started. Once you have built up a name this will bring others to you. It’s a bit like Field of Dreams - Build it and they will come.

  • - Pinterest

    Pinterest is a giant photo album. Before Pinterest whenever you came across a photo or picture you liked you would save it and/or print it and most likely stuff it in a draw somewhere. Perhaps you scrapbooked or put it in a folder well with Pinterest you can create different groups for different types of photos or pictures. You simply pin the one you like to your album and it stores it all for you. You can then access these files anywhere you have internet access.

    You can create albums for anything. House renovation ideas, favourite books, and creepy crawlies the potential is limitless.

  • - Google+

    Google+ is a great resource for sorting your contacts into groups or circles. You may only want to share a particular content with one circle. You can have live video chats and display photos. It’s kind of like Facebook and Twitter put together.

    I am not a huge user of Google+ and it’s only because I haven't been able to give it as much time as I have Facebook and Twitter. I try to stick with the platforms I am most comfortable with.


Summary

Don’t get me wrong, I still make mistakes and I am by no means an expert, but I have learnt a hell of a lot. It’s all about networking.

Social Media is just a simplified way of promoting yourself rather than standing on the street corner with a big sign.

Be in control of your own page. One trend that is becomingly popular is to put your name to a site and have the bots take articles from the most popular sites put them all together and produce a blog or newsletter using your name. Big mistake!

We recently found a site doing this and linking our articles to their site. Apart from the fact they did not seek our permission to reprint, they also had some very sexually explicit content on their page. When we contacted them they told us they were not in control of their page. Arghhh!!! In the end our content was removed and we’ve since blocked them but just be wary. This is not something you want to get linked to.

Whatever you do is never going to be enough. Your followers will always want more. Create at your own pace and don’t be dictated to by your followers. But with that said, if you commit to a daily blog and deviate from what your followers expect, be prepared for the backlash.

It is said in order to succeed you need to be everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Blog the list goes on and on. My advice is to stick with the ones you are comfortable with and can manage without them taking over your life.

Some people use Social Media to air their grievances. Not a good idea when you are attempting to build a presence or brand name, unless you are going for a negative persona.

If you have nothing to say then don’t. People don’t want to read you have lost your socks. Really they don’t.

When people comment on your posts, respond back. You wouldn’t ignore someone if they came up and spoke to you in the street. Don’t ignore them on Social Media.

Finally, your page is your ad! The purpose is to persuade people to follow, like, subscribe to you.

Good luck and don’t worry, it does get easier as you go along.