Social Media for Authors: Week 4 of 4

This is the final of a four-part series of class notes from the Social Media Bootcamp course, whose lessons I’ve adapted for authors. Whether self-published or traditionally so, you will be responsible for your own promotion, and this course has been an invaluable resource on how to use the Internet’s no-cost social media networks wisely–in other words, (1) without mindless cruising, (2) without resenting the Internet for eating your writing time, and (3) without the frustration of posting stuff that people ignore.

Week 4 was all about tying together the first three weeks’ lessons on how to find your audience, discover what they care aboutenter the conversationgauge your success, and correct course. The big takeaway should be a Plan-with-a-capital-P, in other words, a simple but specific schedule of what you’ll post, when, and where. So, you can put a checkmark by (1)–no mindless cruising. At the end of this post, I include Exhibit A, the schedule that I developed for myself so that you can work on one of your own.

In adapting the course for authors, as an author, I will be the first to confess my initial view of social media marketing as a hybrid monster-cross of bleak duty and embarrassing self-exhibition. Therefore, I am now a vehement advocate for Goodreads as the most under-appreciated social network for writers.Facebook and Twitter have their place, but as a network that actually gives me energy, Goodreads is my home base. My self-promotion there is limited to occasional book giveaways and a portal to some of my free resources (like YouTube tutorials and this blog). I spend the rest of my time enjoying its smart and active forums (such as the one on Middle Eastern and North African literature), and taking book recommendations.

That’s to say, Goodreads makes me strike a balance between social media participation and quiet hours offline. So, you can put a checkmark by (2)–no resenting the Internet for eating your writing time.

Finally, one of the most annoying and dispiriting aspects of social media marketing are the crickets. You know, the ones that you hear chirping after you update your status, post to Twitter, or write something on your blog. By building an intelligent plan for social media engagement, you can eliminate some of this silence. Not everything I’m trying right now is working, but my consistent attempts to improve has almost inadvertently increased my Twitter followers and blog traffic. The byproduct of an imperfect plan is information, and ultimately, more success.

Here are the three lessons I will live by for the rest of my social media life:

  1. ALWAYS LISTEN FIRST!
  2. The operational definition of social media is “a conversation about what my audience wants, on networks they go to anyway.”
  3. Be creative! I’m a writer. This ought to be at least a little bit fun.

For my detailed breakdown of what I learned and how I made my plan, see below. Note, too, that I scheduled time to take a three-day break from the Internet every month. I’ll leave you with this parting thought from the course planner, Penelope Trunk, whose advice I paraphrase here with apologies:

Blog on the border between your expertise and your curiosity. Don’t write about what you already know. You’ll come across as condescending rather than vulnerable.

+++++++++++

EXHIBIT A: SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY AND SCHEDULE

October 1, 2011

Networks, purpose, metrics

  • Blog (SC.com), to create a thoughtful and entertaining corner of the public forum that welcomes fellow web-savvy readers and writers. Measure success by hit count, comments, and invites to guest blog.
  • Blog (3PE), to provide a warm and understanding resource for unpublished writers, and promote EdLex. Measure success by hit count, Editor’s Lexiconsales, RFIs, client successes, and new clients with really great manuscripts.
  • Blogs (others’) via Google Reader, to connect with like-minded readers, writers, athletes, MENA thought-leaders, and queer women. Measure success by response to my comments, hit count on SC.com, subscriptions to my blog, and number of real connections through blog visits.
  • Goodreads, to share the passion of reading, to offer giveaways, interviews, and exclusive content. Measure success by growth of friend numbers, SC.com traffic, comments on my reviews and forum thoughts, and my own continuing desire to participate.
  • YouTube, to share knowledge in short tutorials, promote Editor’s Lexicon and 3PE. Measure success by number of views and shares.
  • Google+, to post the most interesting material from my other networks. Measure success by circle adds, engagement.
  • Twitter via Hootsuite, to stay part of the book industry conversation, share resources, find new blogs, and promote material in other networks. Measure success by followers, Klout score, engagement, share of blog and YouTube hit count.

Goals

  • Sell Editor’s Lexicon copies: (5-7 per week)
  • Improve engagement across the board
  • Get great clients: (1-2 RFIs per week, projects I love, client successes)
  • Establish a consistent, smart presence: (3-4 guest blog invites per year, steady increase in engagement everywhere)
  • Enjoy my reading and writing life: (Manage my time well, 1-2 hours of reading per day after writing and work)

The Schedule (8 hours 40 min per week)

MONDAY (1h 50)

  • Blog (mine): Resource or relevant thoughts, 1.5 hours
  • Twitter: 20 minute cruise and sharing, scheduled blog mention if applicable

TUESDAY (1h 40)

  • YouTube: Record 1-2 lessons, 1 hour
  • Blog (3PE): Share video and/or Monday’s resource, 20 min.
  • Twitter: 20 minute cruise and sharing, scheduled random weekend finds if applicable

WEDNESDAY (1h 00)

  • Blog (mine): Book review from Goodreads, 10 minutes
  • Goodreads: Write book review, post YouTube video, cruise forums, 30 min
  • Google+: Share cross-posts, 10 min
  • Twitter: 10 minute cruise and sharing

THURSDAY (0h 40)

  • Blogs via Google Reader: 40 minutes

FRIDAY (1h 40)

  • Blog (mine): Literary or thoughts, 1.5 hours
  • Twitter: 10 minute cruise and sharing

WEEKEND (1h 50)

  • Goodreads: Fun participation, 1 hour
  • Blogs via GoogleReader: Find, read, comment, 30 minutes
  • Twitter: Find and schedule for Mon. and Tues., 20 minutes

MONTHLY

  • Guest blog post or interview on SC.com
  • Three-day social media blackout, stay offline for sanity’s sake (Wed. through Fri.)

Random Observations:

  • Twitter: posting interviews with popular novelists is almost always successful.
  • Goodreads giveaways give a book a HUGE exposure advantage over any other tactic.
  • SC.com blog visits on Saturdays lowest of week; don’t waste my time blogging. Go outside and have fun.

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