I’m over at Wicked Lil Pixie Reviews today talking about social media and word of mouth and one of my favorite commercials from the eighties. Most importantly, I’m saying a big thank you to readers who’ve been spreading the word about Release Me. And giving away another copy of the book!
So come on by for this stop on the Release Meblog tour!
P.S. - If you enjoy romance with a magical twist, my award-winning THE CAT'S FANCY is currently on sale for only 99 cents! And it's also in the top 10 of several of the Kindle romance charts! Woot!
And as a cool bonus, it's the prequel to my fun series of superhero romances that began with the USA Today bestseller Aphrodite's Kiss!
I’m blog touring today, and I’m thrilled to have author (and martial arts instructor…cool!) Stephen L. Brayton guest blogging today, and talking about making contact with readers through social media.
We all understand, or should understand, how social networking is essential to marketing and eventually, producing sales. We also understand the problem of spam, Internet viruses and other harmful software, and identity theft. Let me address these issues in reverse order.
Everybody knows about Facebook, Twitter, and many other social networking or community sites. Most of these places have privacy settings. You are allowed to show the public exactly what you want to show. If you don’t feel like giving your birth date, then don’t. If you don’t want to even add a picture, you aren’t required. Especially for a place such as Facebook, You can provide as little information about yourself as you desire. Facebook gives the option of not allowing any stranger to view your information unless that person is accepted as a friend.
This same information holds true for your personal website or blog. You may give as much or as little information as you are comfortable giving. I am a member of several .ning sites and they have many options when it comes to posting blogs. There’s one option that allows only the poster to see the blog, which doesn’t make much sense unless you just want to create an online journal or diary. (Again, this doesn’t make too much sense because these are social networking sites.) You can allow anybody or nobody to comment on your blog. And of course, we’ve all seen some of the hoops we have to jump through in order to comment on some blogs, including discovering HOW to comment.
I understand the need to keep personal information private. I’m certainly not advocating giving out your social security number, the name of your bank, and the whereabouts of your children at any given time. I think responsible parents should monitor all activity your children have on the Internet. If they want to have a diary, fine, buy them one. You can still purchase diaries and journals with actual paper pages. I know, I bought one for my niece last Christmas. I mean monitor ALL Internet activity. This includes Facebook and MySpace friends if they are allowed those pages. It includes knowing about and monitoring postings, message public and private, and any presence in chat room. Your child does not have but very limited privacy when living under your roof. Look at it this way: You wouldn’t allow your child to walk up to a stranger on the street corner and start talking about personal things. It is no different than the people in these chat rooms. I know, I’ve been to many chat rooms and talked with strangers. Let me tell you, they are not shy and can be very devious.
If you are an author with a website and an active blog, you DO want to be seen and interacted with. You need to have ways for the public to contact you in regards to various matters. How to buy your book. How to inquire about interviews or guest blogging. How to inquire about book reviews.
If you do not want people phoning you, then don’t list your phone number. If you want to only have people email you list the address. You can even list the address in broken form so it’s not as easy for spammers to send their crap. What I mean by broken form is this.
My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Go ahead, contact me. I love email. If my system doesn’t recognize you, then it’ll throw you over to a spam file website where I regularly check and dispose of the garbage. If you end up there, chances are I’ll recognize you and give you an ‘okay’ with the system. A broken form listing might be: slb (at) mahaska (dot) org. I’ve seen plenty of sites with this type of listing and it’s fine.
If you are a book reviewer or a blogger who accepts interviews or guest posts, do your public a huge favor and make it easy for them to contact you. Don’t bury your email in an obscure location where people have to wade through the muck to find it. If you have an ABOUT section or a CONTACT page on your website/blog, then either of those would be an excellent place to list your contact information. Make it prominent. We’ve all seen cluttered websites and blogs. There is too much information coming at you either with advertising or other material. Sometimes it’s very difficult to enjoy the site and its offerings. If it is a site you’d like to connect with, then finding the contact information might be difficult.
What I’m saying is, if you don’t want people to contact you, that is your prerogative. But if you are accepting reviews or interviews, don’t make the contact process difficult. Recently I’ve run into several sites where I’ve given up because even though it is a pretty cool place to visit, and the owners accept interviews / guest bloggers / book reviews, I couldn’t find contact information.
I attended a seminar regarding martial arts websites. My website has a page for my taekwondo club. I came back from the seminar and immediately changed the format of the page. No, currently I am unable to do all that I want to do with the page, but you will notice my phone number and email address are listed at the top of the page without the reader needing to scroll down. My website’s contact page lists my email in large bold letters. My blog and review blog list my contact information either on the home page or the ABOUT section.
This post is not about visiting my sites (although if you would, I’d be grateful. Sorry for the BSP). This is about making sure YOUR sites are as user friendly as possible. This is about making sure people can reach you if you so desire.
It is a fast-paced Internet and people lose interest quickly. If they don’t see what they’re looking for within a reasonable amount of time (and that time varies from person to person), they’ll move on and you lose.
Stephen is a Fifth Degree Black Belt instructor in the American Taekwondo Association. He started martial arts training in 1991, earned his black belt in 1993, and gained my instructor certification in 1995. His Mallory Petersen series features a private detective who is also a martial artist!
JK here again! I think Stephen is right on. So many times I’ve been frustrated by an inability to find simple contact info on a website that obviously welcomes contact!
How about it, folks? Is your website up to snuff (for that matter, is mine?). Does this grip resonate with you?
Let’s face it: Twitter can be daunting. Especially if you follow a lot of people. Maybe you’re an author and follow other writers, fans, publishers, agents, celebrities, whoever. Maybe you just enjoy the conversation on Twitter and so you follow a bunch of different folks from celebrities to local businesses to family members.
Whether you follow fifty people or fifty-thousand, using Twitter lists can make the experience much saner! (Also, a lot of folks don’t realize that you can add someone to a list without actually following them!)
This post will teach you how to use Twitter lists to organize Twitter and to better navigate Twitter.
Let’s get started. Lists are a way that you can sort through the stream of conversation that is the world of Twitter. I have thousands of people I follow. If I had to find my friends’ or family’s tweets in that stream, I’d be dead meat. But if I put everyone in a private “Family” list, all I have to do is go to that list to see what everyone is up to.
Similarly, I can keep all my publishers in one list, celebrities I follow, local stores I frequent, etc. etc.
Not only that, but I don’t necessarily have to create the list! Lists can be either public or private–and you can subscribe to the public ones! That’s how I keep track of people in my local writing group chapter. I subscribe to the Twitter list that a member of the group created. Sweet!
Creating a List
What you see when you arrive on Twitter when you’re logged in.
First thing you want to do is go to Twitter and log in. Once you go, you should see something like the image on the left (my Twitter page).
Let’s say that you want to put your five best friends into a list called “Besties.” First, you need to go to where you set up the lists in Twitter. That is in the top right of the screen–the little gear next to the blue writing prompt icon.
When you click and pull down, it will look like this:
The “gear” on Twitter drops down to a menu that includes “lists”
Now, click on “lists”.
This will take you to a page that looks like this:
This is what you see when you click on Lists. If you don’t have Lists, the “list” portion will be empty. But we’ll soon fix that!
See the “Create List” button to the right of “Lists Subscribed to/Member of”? Click on that!
You’ll get a new box that looks like this:
We wanted to call the List “Besties” so you’d type that in the List Name. You don’t have to have a description, but you can add it if you want.
If this list is just for you to organize your Twitter life, you may want to keep it Private (just click that button). If you want other people to be able to see (and subscribe) to your list, then keep it on the default Public setting.
Once your list is created, Twitter will prompt you to add people to it. Navigate to the people you want using their name or their Twitter handle (i.e., @juliekenner). Their information will pop up in list format. (In the image below, I searched for my buddy Dee Davis.)
Beside the person’s name will be a little icon that looks like a person with a drop down arrow. Click on the arrow to get another menu. It will look something like this:
The first step to adding someone to a list. Click the little person icon!
As you can see, the third item on the drop down menu is Add or remove from lists. Click that.
You will get yet another screen. This one will show you all the lists you have created with little check boxes beside them. Check the box you want to add your friend to (in our example, you’d check “Besties,” but since I hadn’t created that list when I took the screenshot, we’ll just say that we want to add Dee to “my new list”).
It will look a bit like this:
Check the appropriate box and voila! you have a list!
To add more people, simply search for that person, click on the little “people” icon and repeat the process!
Once you have lists in place, when you navigate to that list, you see only the tweets made by the people in your list. A much more manageable chunk!
But how do you navigate to the list?
Just click on the “me” button at the top of your screen. The bottom item on the top left box is “lists”. Click there, and you will see all of your lists pop up underneath your profile box.
This is the Box on the Me Screen
So there you have it! That’s how you set up (and find) a list!
But what if you want to subscribe to someone else’s list? Or tell them how to subscribe to yours?
When you arrive, you’ll see the box in the top left with “Lists” as the bottom option. Click on that, and you get to what I’m calling the “List View” page.
One of those is Trident Agents. If you click on that, you’re given the option to subscribe. (See, it’s in the top left about where it used to say “Lists”). Just click!
Now back at your own profile, when you go to your List View, Trident Agents will be in your lists. Not as one you created, but as one you subscribe to. Click on it, and you will be seeing only those tweets! Groovy!
So there you go! I hope this intro to using Twitter lists was helpful!
Next Twitter How-to: Using hashtags (#)!
Did this help? What Twitter topics would you like to see covered?
I recently set up a Twitter list for a group of traditionally published authors (myself included) who are selling new and backlist copy in digital format. (You can find us at https://twitter.com/juliekenner/kindleklatch-authors - come on, follow along! You may find an author you love!)
In the process, I learned that Twitter is a confusing little birdie for a lot of folks. And I figured if there were a few people who were still finding their way around Twitter in my very small sampling, then there are probably a lot more people out there in cyberspace who want to figure out this whole Twitter thing, but are still a bit baffled by it.
So this series of posts is for you! I’m starting with the basics and I’ll move on to cover more complicated stuff (like using apps like Hootsuite to organize hashtag searches and lists — don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense yet. It will!)
Right here is a video I did on how to set up a Twitter account. I, however, hate blogs that put all the information in a video, so I’ve also set it out with text and pictures below. So if you’re a video person, fab. Enjoy! But if, like me, you want to strangle instructional videos posted without transcripts, then read on. It’s not a transcript, but the information is the same!
Getting Set Up On Twitter
First of all, you need a Twitter account. Go to http://www.twitter.com and set one up. Right now, the page looks like this (see where it tells you to set-up a new account? Just follow those instructions.
Once you have a Twitter “handle” (mine is JulieKenner) then you’re ready to rock-and-roll.
Put in all the info and it will take you to another page that lets you pick your userID. I just created a silly one (Me_And_My_Id) but you want to use the Name You Publish Under so that readers can find you. (An exception to this is if you have multiple pen names. I do, and for a while I tried to manage multiple twitter accounts. It’s a pain in the butt. I finally decided that I tweet as me (Julie Kenner) about all the names I write as (Julie Kenner, J.K. Beck, J. Kenner). MUCH easier. And, hey, I call it cross promotion!
This is the screen you’ll see when you’re setting up your Twitter username
Once you have your username set up, you will go to a screen that will walk you through the next few steps. First of all, it’s going to suggest some people for you to follow. (You have to add a few people before it will show a grayed out box at the bottom of their suggested list. Then you can — finally — skip to your profile).
The Profile Section
When you get to the “Add a Character” page, let’s pause. There, you want to upload an image. If you’re a writer, upload a nice, clean image of yourself (not your book). Twitter’s about hanging out. Selling your books is a nice side-benefit, but mostly you want to think of it as hanging out at a cocktail party.
The page where you add your website.
Your bio is important. You only have 160 characters. Make it entertaining, but also make it be about who you are and what you do. I did a silly one for My Id, but my real bio on Twitter is Author. Mom. Homeschooler. Love film, coffee, wine, chocolate, books. I also write as J.K. Beck & J. Kenner. My erotic romance, Release Me, is coming soon!
But you want them to get to your website, right? And learn more about you! So you need to add the website link. Go to the little gear-looking thing in the top right of the screen. Click the arrow and pull down to “Settings”. Once there, you can add a link to your site (see the image above for what the page looks like).
This is where you set up your profile
Here’s a tip, though, that I took from Michael Hyatt. Instead of leading to my site’s main page, I created a specific landing page for Twitter traffic. That allows me to expand the 160 character bio to something longer and more engaging. You can see my About J.K. Twitter landing page here. (And there, you can also see that I’ve blinged up the background for my Twitter page.)
Now, this post isn’t going to delve into doing special wallpaper for Twitter (it’s easier than it sounds, but I’ll save it for later), but you do want to pick a design. Again, use that pulldown menu to modify the various elements of the look of your twitter site.
There you go! You have a basic Twitter site! Congrats!
Yeah, well, so what? What now?
Well, that is the question of the day, isn’t it? There are a lot of topics to cover ranging from how to follow people, how to Tweet, how to reply, how to insert links and pictures, how to follow a list of people, how to create a list, how to use an application such as Hootsuite to make all that easier, how to organize and find things using hashtags (#), how to interpret all the acronyms such as RT and DM.
Never fear, it’s not as overwhelming as it sounds. We’re going to take the easiest ones today and save the others for later. On board right now:
how to Tweet
how to follow somebody
how to “talk” to somebody specific
how to reply
how to share Cool Stuff with your Twitter world using “retweet”
First off, Twitter makes a lot more sense if you think of it as a giant cocktail party that is so big that even though you know a decent number of people there, you probably aren’t standing right next to them. You want to move through the party and get your buds within earshot distance. Keep that analogy in mind as we go through this.
How to Tweet
You arrive at the party. You’re so thrilled, you just want to shout out “Hello, everyone!”
You do that by “tweeting”. Folks who are “following you” (near you at the cocktail party) will hear you.
At the party, you holler. On Twitter, you click on the little box in the upper right that looks like a piece of paper. A box opens. You say your hello in 140 characters or less. You click the button that says Tweet. (On some pages on the Twitter screen, there is also a “Tweet here” box. You can use that, too. But the blue paper is always in the top right of your screen.
How to get involved in the conversation: Follow somebody!
Folks are friendly on Twitter. Many will follow you back if you follow them. You can use the search box at the top of the page to find friends (or celebrities or anybody) and follow them. Once you’re following people, all the tweets from all the people you’re following show up in your “twitterfeed”. (I follow a lot of people; it’s too much. I can’t keep track of the folks I want to know about at any particular time without using lists. We’ll talk about those in the next post in this series.)
To follow somebody, just click on the button on their profile that says “Follow”. Try it for me. Put Julie Kenner or @juliekenner in the little search bar at the top of the page. See my profile come up? Now click the box that says “Follow” (after you do, Twitter will helpfully recommend other folks for you to follow!) (I do not autofollow people, so I won’t see that you’ve followed me unless you Tweet to me, which I’ll show you how to do below. Tweet me with something like: Hey, @juliekenner. Liked the blog post. Follow me?
Once you are following folks, your stream can get crowded. The image is what my twitter stream page looks like:
This is what your Twitter feed looks like
How to Talk to Someone or Reply to someone:
So, once you have followers, chances are you want to engage them in conversation. (This is even more detailed in the video, so if any of this doesn’t make sense, try that route before you pull your hair out.)
All you need to do is hover over a tweet by someone in your timeline. Options pop up beneath. You want “reply”
Click that. See how Twitter fills in @Person for you? Don’t delete that! That’s they’re address on Twitter (mine is @juliekenner. yours is @YourUsername)
Leave that at the beginning and type your short message. Click to send. Voila! Technically you are replying to their tweet, but you can also use that opportunity to start an entirely new conversation.
If someone you want to talk with isn’t in your stream, use the Blue Box Up Top to simply start a conversation: Hey, @juliekenner. What’s up? (The @juliekenner means the message will come to me).
So where do you find the messages that come to you?
See the list on the top of your page? There is Home, @ Connect, # Discover, and Me
Home: Your twitter stream (everything from everyone you follow). In otherwords, all the folks at the cocktail party that you’ve bumped into.
@Connect: Stuff folks are saying to you.
# Discover: specific conversations at the party that you can eavesdrop on. Maybe #amwriting or #ameating or #ebooks or #vampirediaries — the list is huge (and we’ll talk more about hastags later)
Me: essentially everything that you’ve posted.
How to share cool stuff using Retweet
Sometimes, neat stuff will come into your stream and you want to share it with your followers (remember, they don’t see your stream). You want to “retweet”.
Just click on “retweet” instead of “reply” and it goes out from you, so your followers see it!
(There are actually two ways to RT, but we’ll talk about that next time).
So there you have it! You’re no longer a Total Newbie! We’ll move on next time and you’ll be up to Journeyman user…woot!
Feeling full up with the knowledge? Has it helped? Got specific questions or comments? Leave them below and I’ll try to address them in the next day or so!
Found this fascinating post over at Kristen Lamb’s Blog. Kristen always has such great things to say about social media … if you don’t already follow her blog, check it out!
As the Social Media Jedi for Writers, I am very blessed to be able to speak and teach around the country at various writing conferences. I am always open to learning new methods, and I love hearing other perspectives. Yet, with the good, comes the bad, the ugly and the downright—in my POV—boneheaded observations about social media. My favorites?