Have you noticed Facebook Stories when checking your News Feed? They're usually to be found top right on a computer (under your profile photo, as per screenshot below) or across the top with a phone app.
What are Facebook Stories?
Short slideshows which include one or more of: photos, videos, and sometimes short pieces of text on a blank background. For the purposes of this post, I'll refer to each 'slide' as a photo.
What’s the Story with Facebook Stories?
According to an article via TechCrunch, published in May 2018, Facebook Stories had 150M daily viewers in May 2018 (compared to 300M for Instagram Stories in November 2017), and Facebook's goal is for Stories to be the place where the ads are: bad news if you don't want to see ads, good news if you're looking for a new way to create ads on Facebook.
In February 2018, Mark Zuckerberg said:
"We expect Stories are on track to overtake posts in Feed as the most common way that people share across all social apps."
Facebook Stories seem to be taking off more slowly. Perhaps this is because it’s easier to type something quickly than to upload photos or videos, adding text, stickers and gifs to make them look pretty. You can add a text post to a story though, by ticking 'Your story' when posting where you usually would. And you can share your Instagram Stories to Facebook Stories, meaning you don’t have to create a story twice. One benefit with Instagram and Facebook Stories is that you can see who has seen them, which means you know who your engagement is with, and whether it’s who you’re aiming to reach.
How do you create a Facebook Story?
Directly on a personal profile or page-by finding Stories and clicking '+', or by creating a post as you usually would, but ticking 'Your story' or 'Your Page's story' as well as or instead of News Feed. Or you can share an Instagram Story to Facebook.
They disappear after twenty four hours, although remain in your archive. There's likely to be an option to add a story to your profile soon though, as with highlights for Instagram Stories (see Social Media Today article linked at end of this post).
Facebook Stories get attention:
With Facebook Stories, as with Instagram Stories, your profile is at the top of a News Feed, and therefore is easier to see. The profiles you see first (i.e., more towards the top of other profiles on a computer, or on the left with a phone app) are likely to be those Facebook Friends you interact with the most. Sometimes, Facebook will notify you to say one of your Friends has added to their story (I can imagine many people find this a bit annoying though, and with more Stories, I expect it will stop). So, a key reason for using Stories is to get attention.
Is anyone using Facebook Stories? I asked my Facebook Friends what they thought about Facebook Stories, and-of those who commented, many didn’t know what they were. Of those who did, many never viewed them and had no interest in creating them.
Some of my Facebook Friends are creating and viewing Stories, but they're in the minority. Some use them on pages as well, but not many. Thank you to all my Facebook Friends who took the time to comment (I haven't shown likes and comments here as the privacy setting was Friends only).
So, it will be interesting to see if the feeling about Facebook Stories changes. It's certainly happened with Instagram Stories in the past year or so.
Trial and Error:
I've been playing around with Facebook Stories a little over the past couple of weeks-creating them directly in Facebook: on my profile and on my neetsmarketing page; and sharing them from Instagram Stories. At the moment, I don't get as many views as with Instagram Stories (7-11 rather than 30-50 and 100+ when in nice locations such as Italy), but different people in my network are viewing them. So, it's a way to expand my reach and I expect with more Facebook Stories, more viewers will appear. This is what happened with Instagram Stories, and as with all social media, the more regularly you post, the more engagement you're likely to get. The content needs to be right as well, of course: not too much in-your-face-buy-this; more what you get up to behind the scenes.
That first photo:
Often you'll find you get more views on the first photo of a story than on the photos that follow-this is likely to be because someone clicked on the story by mistake (I've done this in Instagram many times), or their attention wasn't grabbed enough. That first photo is important-how do you entice someone to carry on viewing the story? Use a good photo, add text, stickers, gifs. Make the story interesting. This all comes with practice, and by observing those who know what they're doing. At first, I found Instagram Stories tricky, but after around six months of posting regularly, I've got the hang of them-although there's still plenty to learn. I'll keep experimenting with Facebook Stories, and will update you if I discover anything new.
I'm Anita Chapman, a Freelance Social Media Manager with clients in the world of books. I train authors one-to-one (phone/Skype/face-to-face in London/Surrey) on how to prepare for that first book launch or how to take their online presence to the next level. I also run one day Social Media Courses for Writers in London. Find out more and contact me via my website. You can follow me on Twitter @neetsmarketing, Instagram @neetswriter, and my neetsmarketing Facebook page is here.
At the moment, there’s a lot of talk in the media about those who choose to give up their mobile phones; and a couple of days ago I heard about the new Apple digital detox initiative, where the goal is to help Apple users monitor and limit time spent on iPhones and iPads. There's more info in this article via The Evening Standard.
I don’t need to tell you that authors and bloggers need to use social media to be effective, and publishers expect authors to have a social media presence; plus if you're an indie author, being on social media is a great way to raise your profile.
But sometimes, doesn’t it all get a bit much?
The smart phone really has made life easier. When I first set up my neetswriter blog and social media accounts back in 2011, I used to spend hours at my computer updating everything and ended up with back and neck ache. Then I got an iPad and loved it so much, I got an iPhone not long after that. This meant I could do some of my social media stuff while sitting in a comfy chair, rather than at my desk, or at the kitchen counter while waiting for things to cook, in the car while waiting for the kids to come out of school etc.
Having an iPhone meant I could leave the house and reply to notifications, plus keep up with important emails. But I've always left my phone in the kitchen in the evening-when sitting in the living room or upstairs-although I do still check it when loading the dishwasher or making a cup of tea. At night, my phone remains downstairs. One habit which is not good for you, I've heard, during a talk I attended last year about screen use and social media for teenagers-is to use your phone as an alarm in the morning.
I still love my iPhone, but I keep myself aware (or rather my right hand does) of how much I’m using it. There may be occasional days when I’m using my phone almost continuously because there's a lot going on, and my right wrist begins to ache, as well as my brain. That’s when I remind myself to stay off it more.
But this post isn't just about phone use. Social media is available on our computers and tablets too. And sometimes there seems to be no escape.
Why take social media breaks?
You’re not enjoying it: Social media should be fun; that's my view. On my courses and with clients, my aim is to find a way for writers, authors and bloggers to enjoy using social media. There can be days or short periods where there is a lot of negativity due to events in the news, or because some of the friends in your network are not getting on. A key reason for not enjoying social media is because it’s not working-i.e., you’re getting little or no engagement on what you post (see below-Using the break to try something new or come up with a new strategy).
It makes you feel drained and irritable:
This can happen when you reach for your phone as soon as you wake up, and you're attached to it at times when once you might have spent time thinking or reading: on the train, in the waiting room at the dentist, if you arrive somewhere early and you’re sitting outside in the car. I’ve recently started a new regime of walking to the local shop in the mornings at 7am to get the paper, and milk when I’ve forgotten to buy it (often), while waiting for the kids to come down for breakfast. Who knows how long this will last?-but it means checking my phone isn't the first thing I do when I get downstairs.
It’s stopping you from writing:
Sometimes the only way to get the book finished or the edits/re-write done is to take time off from social media. It's OK to do this-as long as you don’t have a book coming out in the near future-in which case, scheduling can help, and a date in the diary for a break when things calm down.
You can incorporate social media breaks into your daily life or week, and/or you can take longer breaks. I try to do both when I can.
Finding a way to switch off the phone or put it away during parts of the day can be helpful.
One reason I love yoga classes is because I’m getting away from my phone.
I recently started taking a book to hairdresser appointments-just like in the old days, and put my phone in my bag. I used to sit there skimming through my phone, feeling irritable afterwards. See my neetswriter post, Not Wanting the Book to End, inspired by Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
Longer Breaks: a few days, a week, a month:
If the time is right-i.e., you don’t have anything important going on, it’s worth taking a longer break, and you’re likely to return to social media with renewed enthusiasm, refreshed and ready to go again.
I take longer breaks during school hols. Going to a place where there is no phone reception and WiFi’s only available in one place in town is always nice.
Southwold, where my phone rarely works
Using the break to learn something new or come up with a new strategy:
My longer breaks help to clear my head. During these times, I often still think about the way I use social media and teach myself how to do something new. At half term, I taught myself how to make an iMovie with the help of my kids (ha!), and I’ve been playing around with video in general and Instagram Stories. This keeps your social media interesting and less predictable.
If you’re getting little or no engagement on your tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram posts and stories-ask yourself why. What can you do differently when you return?
Pancake video for Instagram Story
A kind of break:
During my longer breaks I still post on Instagram (which is undemanding), as I’m usually out and about doing lots of lovely things like visiting country houses and eating cake; and I keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook, checking once a day or so. I can’t miss a big discussion in the media about a book prize, a viral article about commercial fiction versus literary fiction, a new publisher with a different business model, a big change to Twitter etc. Because I’m teaching and training clients on social media in the book world, I need to stay up-to-date with this stuff. I still mostly take a break from managing notifications (as I'm not posting on Twitter and Facebook), which I like to keep a close eye on when I’ve fully active on social media. Sometimes (well, usually!), someone will tag me in a Facebook group when I'm away, asking a question about Twitter or something. In that case, I reply quickly and get back to my break.
Scheduling: If you really can't take a break, try scheduling tweets (I use Tweetdeck) and Facebook Page posts. This helps to take the pressure off, and you can then check notifications at certain points during the day.
You may disagree about taking longer breaks:
But I think it’s better to take a break from something than to abandon it altogether. I’ve seen a few authors disappear from social media and blogging completely because they’ve had enough.
Returning to social media after a longer break:
Do bear in mind that if you take a longer break, when you return, it can take a bit of time to build up engagement again-tweets on your first day back for example might not get much attention. Those in your network have got used to you not being there, and if you haven’t been supporting others in your network during your break, you'll need to start doing that again.
Are you planning on taking a social media break this summer? It may be just what you need.
During my last ten week course, Social Media for Writers and Bloggers at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College, I put a slide together for my students on how to promote a blog post, which gave me the idea to write a post on the subject. This post may be useful if you're new to blogging and social media or if you've been blogging for a while and you're looking for ways to get more page views.
Social media promotion is essential for driving traffic to blogs, especially early on when the blog is unlikely to come up in a Google search. Most of my page views are via Facebook (through groups or a post boosted on a page-see more below), Twitter; and Google searches-but both of my blogs have been around for a while now, so that's more likely to happen with time.
Firstly, write an engaging blog post, i.e., one that someone would want to read. With my neetswriter blog (on writing), I always try to make the post about the reader as well as myself, and the aim of my neetsmarketing posts, as you’ll know if you follow this blog is to provide useful information. Try to find a different angle on a subject that everyone blogs about and use a succinct title which will grab attention and entice-you can ask a question, or posts with numbers work well too.
Think about how you can encourage someone to click through to your blog rather than all the others being promoted on social media. There’s more info in this post, 9 Ways to Engage a Blog Audience, and there are links to other posts at the end (including to those explaining what to do when you are a guest or host on a blog).
Remember to word the promotion of your blog post differently, depending on the platform. When you have more space, you may want to go into more detail and some platforms or Facebook groups/online forums may be more chatty and informal than others.
When you publish a blog post, tweet the link immediately, using wording which encourages clicks through to your post, and ideally with a suitable graphic or photo from the post. Videos can be used too (more on graphics and videos below). And of course use hashtags. Research hashtags relating to the subject of your post, and there are blog sharing hashtags too. Find out more in my post, What are Hashtags, Why Use Them, and How? Think about your audience, and set up tweets for other time zones apart from your own, where relevant. Tweet at least once a day for a week (more on the first day), at different times using different wording and hashtags (you can vary photos and graphics), then every now and again after that. I save versions of my blog post tweets (as well as other promo tweets) so I can copy and paste them into Twitter or Tweetdeck when I need them.
If someone sets up a tweet linking to your post, do retweet it. This helps them and you. If the sharing buttons on your blog don't produce a tweet with your username, you can search for the title of the post to pick up who is tweeting about your blog, or better set up a column in Tweetdeck (or similar platform) with the url of the post.
2.Facebook: Facebook profile:
Post on your personal Facebook profile, although don’t expect to get much engagement here. It depends on the topic of the post and whether your Facebook friends are particularly interested in it as Facebook doesn't usually put posts with links high up in the News Feed. You'll probably get more engagement if you set the post up to be viewed by Public (rather than Friends). This also makes the post shareable which is important. Don't forget, if you usually post to Friends only, and you want to make links to blog posts Public, check the setting on your next post-as often Facebook assumes you want the same again.
Sometimes blog links posted on Facebook profiles get hardly any engagement at all. However, with a popular post, this can change. My recent neetswriter post about the The Write Stuff gained more attention than usual on my profile-although still not much-because lots of my Facebook friends followed what happened on the day.
If you have a guest or are a guest and you tag the other person, this can make the post go further on a personal profile, especially if that person opts to add the post to their timeline.
Facebook page: If you have a Facebook page, post the link to your blog there. It’s unusual to get much engagement on a Facebook page though unless you have a big following already (i.e., lots of Likes and regular engagement), or unless you pay to boost a post, or to create an ad via Ads Manager. I boost all of my blog posts on my Facebook pages. If you make a graphic for a Facebook post to boost, use the Text Overlay Tool (you are only allowed a small amount of text) as otherwise it won't work.
Facebook groups: If you’re a member of any Facebook groups, post the link to your blog in the groups where you think members will be most interested-and always remember to check rules with Facebook groups which are usually at the top in a pinned post. Some groups don’t allow any promo, or only at certain times. It’s not good form to post links in groups and run if you don’t interact or show interest in news from others the rest of the time. If there are common members in your groups, try to avoid posting in each group one after the other. Leave a bit of time between each posting (and you don't have to post in all groups you're a member of), otherwise when these common members log into Facebook, they'll see your post in several places all at once (especially if you're friends and they've liked your page as well). This can give the impression that you are a bit too present, which isn't always good on social media.
If someone shares your post to their profile or page (you can't always view where the post has been shared to, depending on privacy settings), do click through via [3 shares]:
and like or love the post and thank for sharing. It's always good to say thank you on social media when you can, and this adds to the engagement which is likely to take the post further (i.e., Facebook shows it higher up in the News Feed):
You have a few choices with Instagram: photo, graphic, screenshot, stories. You can use more than one option.
Links aren't clickable in Instagram, so it's common to put 'link in bio', and amend the link in your bio to a new blog post. The link in my bio is for my website which has tabs for my blogs, so I usually put 'link in bio, writing blog tab', or 'link in bio, social media blog tab'.
Don't forget to use hashtags. Find out more about hashtags and Instagram in the posts I've linked to at the end.
i) Use a photo from the post. I used to do this, but now use a graphic or screenshot instead. The reason for this is that I found myself re-posting photos I'd used already (as I often use my most popular Instagram photos in blog posts), and it wasn't obvious without looking at the text that I was linking to a blog post. It's still better than not posting on Instagram at all though.
ii) Create a graphic especially sized for Instagram using a photo from the post.
Instagram Stories take a while to put together at first, but are growing in popularity, and they are effective, as your profile appears at the top. Your story may not appear on the left (ideal place) initially, but once certain users engage with your stories, they're more likely to appear on the left when those users login to Instagram. You could use a few photos from your blog post to create an Instagram story, and add text and stickers etc too. There's a lot of useful info re Instagram Stories in this article via CNET,Everything You Need to Master Instagram Stories.
One of the students on my course, Social Media for Writers and Bloggers at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College, Alessandra Cervetti creates wonderful Instagram stories to promote her blog, and the rest of the time too. Her photos are also amazing. See more here @pennaaspillo.
It’s worth sharing all of your content on Google + as it increases the likelihood of this content coming up in Google searches.
If you’re a member of any forums (e.g., Yahoo etc) where there is the opportunity to promote your stuff, then it’s worth posting a link to your blog (if the rules of the forum allow it).
6.Photos and Graphics:
Usually my neetswriter blog posts include a bit about what I’ve been doing-e.g., going on spring walks, visiting art galleries and country houses; taking part in The Write Stuff at The London Book Fair, being interviewed on Brooklands Radio. I post photos as I go on Instagram and use them in blog posts; and if I have to choose between lots of photos, I pick the most popular ones. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that Instagram is a great testing ground for photos-to see what works and what doesn’t. If a photo really takes off use it to promote a blog post! A recent example is the photo of me holding a microphone, with the agents standing behind me, just before I pitched at The Write Stuff, The London Book Fair, which got 100+ likes on Instagram.
Instagram photo from The Write Stuff at The London Book Fair
Over the past few months, I’ve created graphics to go with my blog posts, and they work well. I create graphics in different sizes for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using Canva.com, but there are other apps you can use.
If you are on Pinterest and LinkedIn, it’s worth adding the link to your blog post on these platforms too if you have time. I'm seeing more authors post on LinkedIn, but still it’s nowhere near as busy as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for authors.
I keep hearing that Reddit is the next big thing, so will be interested to see what happens. Find out more in this article via Social Media Today (20 April 2018), 'Reddit Now Has as Many Active Users as Twitter and Far Higher Engagement Rates', and note that Instagram is no.2 after Facebook on the list of major platforms in order of monthly active users. Also that Reddit is on a par with Twitter as no.3.
If you have a newsletter, include your recent blog posts in it somewhere.
If you’re brave enough, you could make a quick video about your blog post, and use the video to promote it on social media. Or you could make a video of something relating to the post. Videos get a lot of attention on social media.
I added 'proper' sharing buttons to my neetsmarketing website and blogs last year, and find them really effective. If a button shows that a post has been shared on Facebook 200+ times, it gives the post credibility and others are more likely to share. I use Shareaholic, but there are lots of options.
11.Link in bios:
Don’t forget to include the link to your blog in bios, where possible. If you only have one option-e.g., on Twitter, you may want to include the link to your website or latest Amazon buy link instead.
That’s it!-will update if I think of anything else. Now, I guess I should go and use some of these ways to go and promote this post...See what I've been up to below:
Me arriving at Brooklands Radio
My recent interview on Brooklands Radio:
Last Tuesday (17 April 2018), Jackie Mitchell interviewed me as part of the Just Women Show on Brooklands Radio. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed meeting the other guests, Petrina Johnson and Victoria Dorman.
L-R: Petrina Johnson, Victoria Dorman, me (Anita Chapman) with host, Jackie Mitchell at front
In the interview, I talk about my former commuting life, writing, my experience of being a finalist in The Write Stuff at The London Book Fair (from 3:20), my courses; and Jackie asked a few questions about social media. I have to say, it’s different answering questions on the spot compared to having chance to think about them, and there’s a lot more to say about social media than I said here! Anyway, the link is here, in case you’d like to listen:
I'm a freelance social media manager with clients in the world of books. I run my own one day social media courses for writers in London and York (28 April, 19 May, 6 October 2018), and I'm a tutor at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College (Surrey), where I run
Instagram is less demanding than Twitter and Facebook, with hardly any need to keep an eye on notifications, and it doesn't eat as much time. If you've already mastered Twitter and Facebook, Instagram is a doddle in comparison.
With Instagram, you can (almost) post and walk away. I still use Instagram during social media breaks (school hols). Now and again, someone may comment on an Instagram post, and I 'like' (where appropriate), and reply to that comment but there's less urgency than with Twitter and Facebook. Instagram is a handy testing ground for photos too, and I use those with the highest number of likes elsewhere.
You are likely to find people on Instagram who aren't on Twitter and Facebook (or who you wouldn't be friends with on Facebook), so it's a way to reach more readers.
I have blogged about Instagram before in relation to events and hashtags, (links to those posts at the end). This is more of a general post which covers the basics, and a bit more; inspired by questions asked on my courses.
1.Posting a photo:
Set up an account by downloading the app or you can set up an account on your computer. You post photos using a phone or tablet, and content is mostly instant, happening now. If you don't want to give away where you are when you're there, post after you leave a location. You can edit photos re brightness, contrast etc and add a filter. Where possible, add a location-there's no need to turn on Location Services to do this. It's possible to post more than one photo at a time, although I rarely do this. See 3.Brand and Following for more on what to post.
Hashtags are important on Instagram, and you can use a lot of them (unlike on Twitter, where I'd only use two max). See my post on hashtags for more info, and examples: What are Hashtags, Why Use Them, and How?
You can now follow hashtags on Instagram (only since the end of 2017) which is a useful development, although Instagram will show you the most popular posts under the hashtag first, ie those which often have hundreds of likes, so it's not usually a way to find new followers (as these users are unlikely to follow back). However, it's a great way to see how to use Instagram well, and you're likely to be inspired by some of the amazing ideas found under popular hashtags such as #currentlyreading.
3.Brand and Following: Use photos of where your book is set and add related hashtags to your posts. Think about your brand, taking photos of what is associated with your book such as food, shoes, hats, furniture, paintings. During the week of a book release, you could post a daily series of photos on Instagram related to your book. Photos from around the house of pets, cooking/baking, flowers and crafty things always go down well, and are a way to raise your profile and gain followers (if you use the right hashtags). Pictures of coffee, cake and a notebook or laptop with #amwriting are usually a hit too. Post photos of what you're reading-either one book or a TBR pile with all the reading hashtags.
Follow authors, writers, potential readers, librarians, book bloggers, others who are interested in subjects and themes from your books etc. I've spent a few years building my brand online as a writer for that day if/when I get a book published-posting photos of places and things related to what I write about.
Selfies work well, and usually get a lot of engagement. Take them on the way to, and at events; on your own, and with others. Your followers want to know what you look like, and it means people recognise you when they see you!
5.Video and Boomerang:
Video is being used more on social media. You can see the number of views and who has viewed.
A post shared by Anita Chapman (@neetswriter) on Nov 4, 2017 at 10:26am PDT
Boomerang can be effective-I've seen a few posts with the opening and closing of a book, and many other clever ideas.
This works well if you visit a place and tag it (using the correct username)-eg a restaurant or pub, museum, country house etc. Usually their social media manager will like the post, increasing engagement and potential reach. Tagging a product works in the same way.
Note that if you share a post to Twitter, usernames are sometimes different (a reason for you to keep your usernames the same where possible)-See 8.Sharing to Facebook and Twitter.
7.Like (where appropriate)and reply to comments:
Because it's polite, that person is more likely to comment again, and doing this (like with all social media) increases engagement and potential reach. ie the post may be shown to more people. See my React, Reply, Reciprocate post.
8.Sharing to Facebook and Twitter:
This will help your Instagram post go further with minimum effort. Sharing to Facebook does get engagement (Facebook owns Instagram) and is a time-saver if you're in a hurry. However, I've found that posting a photo directly to Facebook usually gets more engagement than sharing the photo from Instagram. This photo from a trip to Siena, Italy is shared from Instagram to Facebook, but I'm sure (from playing around with other photos) that if I'd posted it directly to Facebook, the post would have received even more engagement.
As mentioned above (under 6.Tagging Others), when you share an Instagram post to Twitter, the username of anyone tagged may be different on Twitter. Also, the photo itself isn't shared to Twitter, just a link to the photo on Instagram. Instagram posts shared to Twitter don't seem to get much engagement. You're better off posting the photo directly to Twitter with words and hashtags to go with it. One benefit I've found from sharing the occasional Instagram post to Twitter, is that it's brought me Instagram followers over from Twitter. I now include my Instagram username in the bios for both Twitter accounts (@neetsmarketing and @neetswriter) too.
There is a way to get the photo to share to Twitter from Instagram by creating an IFTTT Applet. It's easy to create an Applet, which means that whenever you include a specified hashtag in your Instagram post, it's automatically shared to Twitter with the photo. Again, I've tried this and found it didn't do that much-but I've seen it work for those who are big on Instagram and who post frequently. Find out more here: IFTTT.
9.Creating Graphics: You can create Instagram posts in, for example Canva (there are other apps), which works well for book events, blog tours, blog posts etc. Here's one I made recently for a post on my neetswriter blog about writing routines. Instagram doesn't have clickable links (unless you pay for an ad), but you can amend the link in your bio, and say 'link in bio'. I usually say 'link in bio/writing blog tab' etc, keeping the url as my website.
You can screenshot the first part of a blog post.
10. When to Use Repost for Instagram:
This is the Instagram equivalent of retweeting, and it doesn't happen often.
A few organisations repost, for example, if a visitor posts a good photo, then they may repost with #repost tagging the original user.
For an author, you could repost a post by your publisher about your book, or one by a blog tour organiser. If unsure, always ask permission before reposting.
With this app, you can manage following numbers by seeing who isn't following back, and who unfollowed you. You can then easily pick up users who follow, then unfollow once you've followed back (just like on Twitter!).
I work as a Freelance Social Media Manager with clients in the world of books, and run my own one day courses in London and York. Recently, I started teaching a ten week course at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult and Community College. Find out more via my website.
There is one place left on my Social Media Course for Writers in London, 19 May 2018, and there is another course on 6 October 2018 (early bird until 23 May).
Bestselling author, Sue Moorcroft has taken part in a few Facebook Live videos recently, and I invited Sue to write a guest post about her experiences. I've known Sue for a few years and we often chat on social media. I'm also a member of Sue's fantastic street team. Sue has been a guest on this blog (and on my neetswriter blog) previously, and I've linked to the other posts at the end. Thank you, Sue for visiting with another really informative post, and over to you!
Sue Moorcroft on Using Facebook Live as a promo tool:
I’ve been involved with four Facebook Live (FBL) videos — all different and mostly fun. Engagement ranged from 488 views to 2.4k. Here’s a summary:
Purpose: Ben in The Little Village Christmas looks after a rescue owl. Jo and Icarus helped me with the research and invited me to their premises for joint promo. Device: smart phone
How did these experiences compare?
Alone in my study was my first ever Facebook Live and I approached it with trepidation. The digital media manager at Avon Books UK talked me through the process before I went ahead. I received a lot of questions and comments but I’m sure I came across as a rabbit in the headlights. I didn’t find it a particularly natural process, although I’m usually happy at events or on the radio and have been interviewed on camera. Not knowing where to look and talking to myself felt foreign in comparison.
With author Bella Osborne at the News Building, London was a big improvement. Bella and I are friends, both writing for Avon. The team at Avon set the whole thing up for us and organised the flow of questions. Because we talked to each other it felt natural, and I think the product was better. Because Avon has a wider reach on its Facebook Page than I do, we got great engagement. It was fun. It meant a trip to London - a plus for me, but not for everybody perhaps.
With author Maggie Sulllivan at the News Building, London was a repeat of the above positive experience. Maggie is published directly by HarperCollins UK and their reach is even greater than Avon’s, so the viewing figure was larger still.
With Jo Askew at Icarus Falconry, Holdenby House, Northampton. I was beginning to see possibilities for FBL by now! Jo and I chatted about The Little Village Christmas and owls while manager Tom Morath filmed us on my phone. Engagement was more modest but it was another great experience.
What do you need for a Facebook Live video?
• A Facebook page to host. The more followers that page has, the greater your engagement is likely to be.
• A device such as a computer, tablet or phone, that has a camera and the capability of connecting to Facebook on the Internet.
• A stable internet connection so you don’t vanish ahead of schedule or break up.
• Advertise the FBL ahead on all your social media channels. Mention the time you’ll be live and provide a link to the relevant Facebook page. Say how long you’ll be live. Ask people to have their questions ready. If you can get your publisher/agent/anyone else with a large social media platform to do the same, do it.
• Schedule social media posts to go out at the time you know you’ll be live to say something such as ‘I’m live now over on XXX. Come on over! Ask me something fun’.
• Plan ahead. Do you want to use props? Or something to talk about if there’s a lull in the questions? Have what you need within easy reach.
• Look good! Think about hair, clothes, make-up (if you wear it). Maybe dress up - a sun hat for a summer book or a Santa hat for a Christmas book, for eg.
• During the FBL, keep inviting the audience to ask questions in the comments section. Say the question aloud before you answer, so everybody knows what you’re talking about.
• Make it fun for those watching. Try not to be too solemn.
• If something goes wrong, laugh it off. FBL isn’t meant to be too polished and a dropped prop doesn’t matter.
• If you can get someone else involved to operate the device, it can help.
• If you’re going to FBL when there are others around, tell them what’s going on. You don’t want one of your loved ones barging into your study to talk to you while you’re broadcasting. Especially if they tend to chill at home in their underwear. Or birthday suit.
• Remember that if you swear a lot of people could hear you!
• Sharing an FBL with someone you know and trust can feel more natural than being alone.
A couple more thoughts:
• Facebook Live is a free service. There might be connected costs though, such as travelling to a venue.
• The video remains on the Facebook page even when you’ve finished the live broadcast so you can continue to use it for promo.
A quick overview of what to do:
Fancy doing an FBL of your own? It’s quite easy. Go to your Facebook page. Click on Start a live video.
You may need to allow FB to use your camera and microphone.
Then fill in the relevant boxes. This is an opportunity to hook people in.
When you’re ready, click Go Live. A countdown appears on the screen and then … Go! You’re live. Talk! Smile! Watch the comments section for questions.
When you’re ready to end, say goodbye and click End Broadcast.
That’s it! Now, that wasn’t hard, was it?
I can’t guarantee book sales but it’s a great way to engage with readers and be accessible to them which, to me, can only be a good thing.
Anita: Thank you, Sue for taking the time to write this wonderful post, which will be very helpful to anyone thinking about dipping their toe into the scary world of Facebook Live! Find out more about Sue below:
Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary, and has been nominated on several other occasions, including for the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards.
Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared all over the world.
UPDATE! Twitter changed to 280 character tweets for all users on 7 November 2017! Here are two articles which explain it all (will update this post accordingly soon): Twitter's Rolling Out its Expanded 280 Character Tweets to All Users, via Social Media Today Tweeting Made Easier, via Twitter blog And UPDATE (2) in December 2017, Twitter introduced a new Tweetstorm/thread feature. Find out more here in this article via Social Media Today. I first wrote this post in January 2015, amending it a year later. Now, in January 2017, I’m re-writing the post to incorporate changes to Twitter, and to add answers to questions made by clients and course attendees. Since Twitter updates in 2016, images no longer take up any of the 140 character limit, and a user has the ability to retweet themselves. Both of these changes are beneficial. For authors, the option to include book covers, blog tour graphics etc without impacting the character limit is helpful. The option to retweet your own tweets is worth making the most of too (and you can also Quote Tweet yourself, although this isn’t done much).
1) @usernames no longer count towards the 140 character limit.
2) '.@' no longer works if you wish for a tweet to be seen by all your followers when replying to someone. The Twitter Help Center explains in this article how to achieve the same effect, and here's an excerpt:
"If your Tweets are not protected, then all replies are public, but only relevant people, such as those who follow you and someone who is part of the conversation will see your reply in their Home timeline, even if you begin your reply with ".@". If you would like all of your followers to see your reply, the best way to do so is by Retweeting or Quote Tweeting your reply." Added 19 April 2017: I've noticed with changes to the way replies work, that when replying to a group tweet, users don't always realise they're replying to everyone. It's easy to remove @usernames from your reply, as per the screenshot below, by removing the tick for who you don't wish to include. Be careful not to copy users into tweets they wouldn't want to be copied into.
In this beginner’s guide to Twitter for writers, @username means the handle (eg I’m @neetsmarketing) of who I'm talking about in an example and RT means retweet.
Please note, I’ve written this guide from a UK user’s perspective, which tends to have a hint of the personal touch. Other markets may be more open about self-promotion than the UK one. The assumption in this post is that you already have a Twitter account set up. To set up a Twitter account click here, and to set up Tweetdeck, which allows you to use columns for lists and searches, click here. You may prefer Hootsuite, but I find Tweetdeck works better for me.
Use a handle which matches your author name:
Sometimes your name will be taken already, but you can add author to your name or: writer/writes, books, UK, or by including an initial etc. Underscores can be used, but I’d use them as a last resort, mainly because they're more difficult to remember (and you want your network to get to know your @username). And if @egusername is taken and you use @eguser_name, someone may use @egusername by mistake when mentioning you, meaning tweets meant to be seen by you appear in someone else’s notifications. I also find that unless someone is already well-known, usernames with underscores don’t always come up in Twitter searches.
Profile photo and header photo:
When setting up a Twitter account, add a profile photo that looks like you, if possible (!). Ideally, use a profile photo which makes you recognisable when meeting someone in real life, at a writer’s event or book launch etc, as then you’ll find someone you know online is more likely to approach you. Sometimes authors change their profile photo to their latest book cover (if the book is about to be, has just been released), which can be worthwhile. Use the same profile photo on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram etc too, if you can-this way everyone will always know it’s you and follows/friending will probably be automatic whenever they see you.
A header photo should fit in with your brand, and could be a Twitter banner created by you or a graphic designer to include one or more of your book covers. Or it could be a photo of a location in your latest/upcoming novel.
Put enough in your bio to make someone want to follow you as they’ll make their decision in a split second. If you’re a member of an organisation like the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) include this and other RNA members are likely to follow you back. Include as much about your brand as possible: if your books are set in Italy, include this and Italy fans are likely to follow back. If you write 18thc novels, include this so those writers and historians follow you back.
Pin a tweet to your profile:
This is useful for gaining new followers as they’ll see this when viewing your profile, along with your bio; plus it saves time for those in your network who wish to reciprocate when you’ve retweeted one of their tweets.
Who to follow: Follow writers, readers, agents, publishers and people who know about/are interested in what your book is about eg: country houses, cooking, Italy, gardening, art. To search for accounts with words mentioned in the bio (or similar accounts), eg librarian, book blogger, reader; key words relating to your brand: use the search bar and click on People.
Aim to follow others like you, and look at who your peers and idols are following. Some writers say that having other writers as followers isn't going to help them, but writers can be incredibly supportive of each other. They're more likely to read your blog and share your posts; and writers read. They might buy your book, and write a review or tell friends (who are likely to be avid readers) about it or book clubs. Plus if a writer in your genre is raving about your book to their followers, they are introducing you to their readers.
When you follow 5000+ people (this used to be 2000), the following can become tricky if your Follower/Following ratio isn't right. Find out more here, and via Social Media Today here
If you're nearing the 5000 Following mark, it’s not worth using up a follow on someone with 25,000 followers if they’re only following 200 people (ie: they won’t follow you back). If their tweets are essential to you, you can add them to a Twitter list. You don’t have to follow someone to add them to a list, and you don’t have to follow everyone back. See more on lists below.
Check and control the number of people you follow by using a website like Crowdfire. I don’t use Crowdfire for anything else, and wouldn’t advise tweeting updates via Crowdfire such as ‘120 people unfollowed me this week’. Replies (see more at beginning of post re recent changes):
If someone mentions you (eg beginning tweet with your @username):
Reply in some way (unless they’re spammers, or tweeting dodgy photos: see point below on how to block/report spam). Clicking on Like is an acknowledgement and is the equivalent of clicking the Like Button (or reacting) on Facebook, but it's better to reply saying something, if you have time (I also use Like to monitor what I've actioned in my notifications). If someone RTs your blog post or a tweet you constructed, try to say thanks-you can save up and mention lots of people together. It’s OK if you miss the odd one, but it can look unappreciative if you never acknowledge a retweet (and it's unlikely they'll do it again). Sometimes though if your tweet receives a phenomenal number of retweets as part of a popular hashtag, a general thank you which includes the hashtag works.
If someone mentions you in a tweet without including your username, you won’t see the tweet unless you search for it. Search for your name in Twitter often to find these tweets, or add a column in Tweetdeck/Hootsuite to catch them.
Use hashtags to reach beyond your followers. If you compose a tweet without a hashtag, only your followers (or those subscribed to a list with you included) will see it, or someone searching through your tweets (if they’re not protected-I wouldn’t advise protecting your tweets if you’re an author and want to build your profile).
Using a hashtag means your tweet is more likely to be seen by others following the hashtag eg #amwriting #amreading #histfic #romance #chicklit #crimefiction. I’d only use two at the most, three at the absolute max. Using the wrong hashtag can make you look as though you don’t know what you’re doing, so research one before using it. Use hashtags for popular TV or radio programmes etc which you enjoy, or which are part of your brand eg. #thearchers #invisiblecities. Use hashtags for #coverreveal #preorder #kindledeal etc too. There are so many out there, with some being more effective than others (look at what your peers and idols are using), it’s worth investigating what would be useful to you. If you attend a writing event, use the (right) hashtag to find other attendees or to report from the event. Eg London Book Fair #lbf17.
Find readers through common interests by looking up hashtags for subjects you’re interested in, and find hashtags which are related to your book(s). If your book is set in Cornwall, find readers through #Poldark, for example (see Liz Fenwick's guest post for more on this).
Make the most of blog sharing hashtags such as #MondayBlogs and #wwwblogs to promote blog posts (not book promo though). Bear in mind that you should only take part in these hashtags if you’re going to reciprocate by retweeting other tweets which include the hashtag.
Twitter chat hashtags: there are a lot of these such as #askagent, and they can be fun to join in with, plus they’re a way to grow your network.
Make sure links work (they currently take up some of the character limit).
Include @usernames for anyone mentioned, rather than actual names-unless they’re not on Twitter
Use relevant hashtags to expand your reach (ideally no more than two, three max).
Make some tweets more personal:
Photos of your outings and baking, general observations about the frost on the lawn or a woodpecker on the bird-feeder. These tend to be some of my most popular tweets. Share content by others and interact to build relationships:
Especially by those in your network or relating to your brand.
And make the most of the Quote Tweet option when retweeting, by adding your comment when you have something to say. Share content from others like you, otherwise how can you expect anyone to share yours? If you write romantic fiction, you could tweet links to blog posts by other writers of this genre. If you write Georgian historical, you could tweet links to posts on Georgian stuff. If you create your own tweets to share content, include the writer’s @username where possible rather than their name. This means they’ll definitely see you’ve shared their post (and they might RT it too). And if someone RTs your tweets, try to RT theirs, not necessarily immediately, but at some point. More on this in my post, 3 Ways to Retweet on Twitter.
Interact to build relationships, and to make being on Twitter more interesting. Congratulate peers and idols on their writing achievements etc.
Making friends/building your network:
I've made so many friends on Twitter, many of whom I've met 'in real life' at RNA, Historical Novel Society, Society of Women Writers and Journalists’ events, and other events such as at the London Book Fair, and book launches. Other pros of being on Twitter as a writer are learning more about the craft of writing and the publishing industry.
Don’t thank someone for following you, if you’re not following back (such a cheek): They will probably then unfollow you.
Don’t include ‘Please RT’ in any Tweet: It looks desperate and will probably have the opposite effect.
Don’t mention @username someone with information about your book, blog etc, expecting them to RT this.
When to use Direct Message (“DM”):
For me, Direct Message is best used when you talk to someone online often and want to ask something like ‘Would you be interested in writing a guest post for my blog? If yes, DM your email address’ etc. Or if someone’s won a giveaway competition and you need to ask for their postal address. You can usually only DM someone if they’re following you, unless an account has enabled the option to receive DMs from anyone (more likely for a business). I prefer Facebook Messanger for these kinds of exchanges, although you need to be Facebook Friends with who you’re talking to, otherwise your message could be filtered and they might not see it. Some people do ignore Twitter DMs too, which is worth bearing in mind. Direct messages can also be sent to groups and you can find out more here.
Don’t DM new followers with spam, asking them to like your Facebook Page, visit your website, buy your book etc. This can lose you followers, or get you reported for posting spam. And it’s annoying.
How to block someone and/or report them for spam: Go into the @username profile, click on the wheel and the option to block or report will appear.
If you know someone professionally/personally and they do a lot of promo and/or over-retweet, you can opt to mute them without causing offence. Read more here.
Put a Twitter button and feed on your blog and/or website:
Why write a fabulous blog post, but not promote it on Twitter? (and Facebook). Why not have links to your Twitter @username (and Facebook Page) on your blog? Sometimes I see a great post that I’d like to share on Twitter, but I can’t tell if the writer of the post is on Twitter (usually they are), and sometimes I can’t find their name on their own blog. This is a missed opportunity to have your work shared. Put a Twitter Button, and if you can an embedded timeline on your blog and website.
Set up Twitter lists for groups of people in your network such as members of RNA, HNS, CWA; writers, readers, book bloggers and reviewers; plus for subjects relating to your brand. Twitter lists are great for when you don’t have time to look at all tweets by those you follow. If you want to stay on top of blog posts/writing news written by, for example RNA members, you can scan the tweets in your RNA list. You don’t have to follow someone to add them to your list. Set up private lists rather than public ones, as if you set up a public list, everyone you add will receive a notification. Find out more about Twitter lists in my post, 'What Can Twitter Lists Do For You?'
Subscribe to Twitter lists created by others in your network/relating to your brand as well, if those lists are useful to you.
Schedule tweets to get ahead with Tweetdeck/Hootsuite:
With scheduling, you can spread out professional tweets such as a link to a blog post, promo for a book etc and you can tweet in different time zones.
If you publish a blog post, schedule it for a few days with different hashtags, images and wording. Same for cover reveal,..
Here’s a round-up of 2017 with a few pics, plus my top three posts (most page views) of the year, and since the launch of this blog.
On my way to the London Book Fair 2017
In March, I went to the London Book Fair (see my #lbf17 tweets here), which I always enjoy attending as I get to catch up with author friends and listen to the informative talks at Author HQ. This year, I pitched my novel to an agent, and received positive feedback which was lovely (still working on that novel-see neetswriter blog...new post out soon!).
My talk at RNA London and South East Chapter, April 2017
I was invited to give a talk at the London and South East Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) in April, which was an honour as I’ve been a member of the RNA since 2010, and have attended a few London and South East Chapter meetings in the past (see tweets from my #neetsapr17 talk and Twitter exercise here).
Lizzie Lamb and Adrienne Vaughan looking through my kitchen window at RNA Conference
Della Galton mentioned my writing and social media blogs on her Dear Della advice page in the October 2017 issue (192) of Writers’ Forum, and in October, Elaine Everest invited me to run a one day Social Media Course for Writers for her writing class, The Write Place in Kent.
@neetswriter have just recommended your excellent blog in October issue of Writers' Forum (192), on sale 14 Sep.:) in my Dear Della page.
Also, I ran my first Social Media Course for Writers Part II (due to requests from former course attendees). Two Part II/Refresh courses are booked with the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury in 2018, and I’ll be emailing former attendees who have expressed interest in this course in January.
A lovely bunch on my first Social Media Course for Writers Part II (Nov 2017)
The RNA Winter Party/ Industry Awards returned to an old (and favourite) venue at the library, 1 Birdcage Walk in London-a beautiful room; and I enjoyed catching up with lots of friends.
Me and fab friend, Jules Wake at RNA Winter Party/Industry Awards, Nov 2017
I’ve worked for some interesting and lovely clients this year, doing training on social media via phone/ Skype or face-to-face and drafting social media plans for some. In 2017, my clients have included J.F. Kirwan(Nadia Laksheva series), Anna Belfrage (The Graham Saga Series and The Kings Greatest Enemy series), Helen Matthews (After Leaving the Village), Sue Bentley(Magic Kitten series for children age 5-8, and YA dark psychological thriller, We Other), Alice Peterson (A Song for Tomorrow), Emma Burstall (The Cornish Guest House-Tremarnock series).
Having fun with Alice Peterson and Emma Burstall-doing social media training, Nov 2017
My courses for 2018:
Find out more about my courses and book via my website (where there are also quotes from former attendees and endorsements from clients). Dates are below:
Authors often contact me to say their novel is being released soon (usually a debut, but not always), and they don't know how to go about promoting it on social media. After I've researched their online presence and book(s), we speak via phone/Skype and I write a social media plan tailored to the author and their book(s).
My social media plan isn’t just about social media though: as an author needs to have the foundations in place before they can use social media with success. Some publishers do more than others in relation to the below so not all authors will need to get so involved; and of course self-published authors need to do everything themselves.
Here follows a checklist of 20 things I think an author needs to do (if they can) before launching a book, under headings: The Foundations, Guest Posts and Reviews, Print and Talks, Social Media Accounts, Find Your Network.
1.Website and blogset up in your author name, if you don’t have them already. Domain names can be bought from companies such as Godaddy, and there are some great website designers out there. 2.Amazon Author Central Author Page-this needs to be completed separately for each Amazon website, but usually for a UK author, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com are the most important. See Author Central for more info.
4.Marketing materials such as bookmarks, postcards and business cards need to be produced to hand out at talks, signings and a book launch etc. Don’t forget to include your social media links on these and where possible details of how to sign up to your newsletter. I asked for advice on Facebook, and thanks to some lovely authors, here are examples of where to get these done: Vistaprint for postcards and business cards (I use for flyers); Moo for business cards (I use) and postcards; GotPrint, printed.com, Fanfare, solopress, eHHelloPrint.
5.Set up a newsletter, linked to your website (usually through the Contact page), so you can build your list of loyal readers, and keep them updated with new releases, cover reveals, giveaways, talks, signings etc. If you have loads to do before the launch, this can be done afterwards, but it’s really important. Mailchimp is quite popular, but there are lots of alternatives. There's more info on author newsletters via Liz Fielding’s guest post on this blog from 2016.
Guest Posts and Reviews:
6.Blog tour to coincide with when the book is launched-usually for a week after launch date, sometimes before and after the launch too (they can run for a month). This blog tour would include guest posts and reviews on book blogs; plus perhaps guest posts with authors in your genre and websites/blogs which would be followed by your potential readers.
Your publisher may organise this for you, but if you need to organise your own UK blog tour and reviews, you can email book bloggers, or ask if anyone in the fantastic Book Connectors Facebook group would be interested in hosting you, or reviewing an ARC (see no.7). Book bloggers need lots of notice for reviews (ideally three months or more); less notice for a guest post. Do your research re which genre a book blogger reads etc, and carefully check their blog before approaching directly to ask anything.
There is a spreadsheet of UK book bloggers, and a list of blog tour organisers under files in the Book Connectors Facebook group. Find out more reBook Connectors in Anne Cater’s guest post on this blog. Re: US book bloggers, there are lots to be found on Twitter.
Don't forget that book bloggers are unpaid, and very generous with their time spent reading so they can write reviews, and setting up guest posts.
Be ready with lots of content for your own blog, and for the tour-make a list of subjects and themes from your book and note ideas for interesting posts you can write; plus be ready with answers to interview questions. Guest posts will need to be promoted on social media, and if your publisher isn't already designing a blog tour banner to be used online, you can ask a graphic designer, or do it yourself on a website like Canva (see no.14 for more on graphics). An important point about being hosted on a blog/website is that backlinks (links to your website/blog from another website/blog) and mentions online can move you up the old Google ranking.
7. Sending Out ARCs(Advance Reader Copies). Your publisher would usually do this a few months before the book is released, and often your book will be added to NetGalley. If this hasn't been done and there are copies available, you could ask your publisher to send paperbacks or a mobi file to book bloggers who have agreed to review your book. Some book bloggers only read paperbacks, and some only read ebooks; lots of book bloggers only read certain genres and some don’t read self-published books. Do your research before approaching book bloggers by checking the review policy on their blogs. Quite a few book bloggers add their reviews to Amazon and Goodreads too. Reviews on Amazon are really important as with more reviews, Amazon is more likely to recommend your book.
Print and Talks:
8.Articles in print. Some publishers use PR agencies to organise these for you, but if this isn’t the case: you can send press releases to local newspapers and you can pitch articles about you and your brand to local magazines; writing magazines and to other magazines which may be interested.
9.Talks and readings.Your publisher may organise these for you, but otherwise you can approach bookshops and libraries etc yourself. Promote these on social media as you would for no 20. Physical Launch.
Social Media Accounts:
10.Set up a Twitter account under your author name, if you don’t have one already. Otherwise, check that the header photo, profile photo and bio are the best they can be. See my Beginner’s Guide to Twitter for Writers for more detailed info. If you already have an account, you can amend the name and @username, without having to create a new account (as long as you no longer need the other name). Learn about hashtags in my blog post, What are Hashtags, Why Use Them, and How?
11.Set up a Facebook personal profile, if you don’t have one already. A personal profile should be in your author name, so you can like, react and comment on Facebook under that name. This account is mainly for building relationships. The occasional post can be about your book(s), but be careful: Facebook can ban you if you promote using your Facebook personal account all of the time. Most promo should be on your Facebook Page (and in some Facebook groups, depending on the rules of the group).
12.Set up a Facebook Page under your author name, if you don’t have one already. This is a good way for readers to follow your news without you having to accept them as a friend on your personal profile, and you can boost posts or set up Facebook ads (this is the only way to get significant attention on a page, but it can be effective).
13.Join Facebook groupsrelevant to you and your brand: writing, reading, and groups about the subjects and themes from your book(s). Check the rules carefully-these are usually specified in a pinned post (at the top of the page when you go into the group). Interacting in groups is a fantastic way to build relationships and they can be a source of valuable information.
14.Get the graphicsfor your Twitter header, Facebook header and Twitter shareables from your publisher; or get them made by a graphic designer, or design them yourself on eg. Canva (not too difficult to use). Get a professional author photo done (also to be used for your website etc), or find a good one to use (ideally one that looks like you so you're recognised at events).
16.Set up a Google+ account, and +1 content relevant to your brand (plus your own blog posts). Using Google+ in the right way can move you up the old Google rankings.
Committee packing the goody bags at last UK HNS conf, Oxford 2016
Extras (can be done later):
17.Set up a LinkedIn account and ‘connect’ with other authors and those in the book world.
18.Set up a Pinterest account and build a board for each of your books. Secret Boards can be used for books which aren't published yet. Plus set up a board for your blog posts and add them as you go. Find me on Pinterest here.
19.Find Your Network:
Depending on the genre of your book(s), join organisations where you can make friends with and learn from other authors. Here are a few examples of organisations for authors, and there are many more (feel free to mention in the comments):
The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA)-I’m an Associate Member and can’t praise this organisation enough-it's very friendly and there are many opportunities to meet members at events.
The Historical Novel Society (HNS)-I’m a member, used to be Social Media Manager and was Publicity Officer for 2016 UK conf in Oxford. There is a fantastic Facebook group too, and you don’t have to be a member-do check the rules first though (or my pal, Alison Morton will tell you off).
20. Physical Launch You don't need to have a physical launch, but if you do have one: make the most of it! Take lots of photos and post them on Twitter and Instagram before (share to Facebook from Instagram, or post directly to Facebook if time), during and after the event, using a hashtag for your book. If you're speaking/reading, you could ask a friend to video you, and post on social media. Afterwards, post properly edited photos on Facebook, and perhaps write a blog post about your launch.
This is just the beginning:
You can do quite a lot of the above before you get a book deal, then you’ll have a head start when you are published.
It takes a while to build a social media presence online (6-12 months), and starting a couple of weeks before your debut is released is leaving it a bit late. Although better late than never, and if that’s the case, just start with the above and move forwards so you’re in a better position when book 2 is released.
And if your book has already been released but you haven't done much to promote it, you can still organise a blog tour, reviews or guest posts after the release date; and build your online presence before your next release. This checklist should put you in a good position to find your readers, (and help them to find you)...wishing you the best of luck!
Hope you're having a good summer, apart from the rain. I've been away in France and Italy (Instagram pics here), and I'm dropping in to tell you some exciting news! From November 2017, I'll be a tutor at Richmond Adult Community College (Surrey), teaching a new course: Social Media for Writers and Bloggers. This is a five week course, and will be a ten week course from January. Booking is via the RACC website.
The course will take place on Thursdays, 11am-1pm, starting on 9 November 2017 and it will cover Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and blogging for writers and bloggers. Students will learn how to write engaging blog posts and develop an online presence.
I'm really looking forward to meeting my students, and can't wait to get started.
UPDATE: This post has been amended, as the course was postponed from September to November 2017. More details, and booking here via the RACC website: Social Media for Writers and Bloggers. This is a five week course, and will be a ten week course from January 2018.
Thank you so much to you all for your support. Back soon.
These days, hashtags are everywhere, but why use them and how?
Many of my course attendees, and clients have said they find hashtags confusing, so I've written this post to explain what they are, how they work, and why it’s worth using them. Of course, it's not a good idea to fill tweets with an abundance of hashtags-a general rule is two in a tweet, three at the very most (if you really have to). Any more and your tweet looks like it wasn't produced by a real person. You can use several hashtags to promote a book or blog post etc by creating a few tweets, varying the hashtags in each, spreading them out over a few days.
Don't forget that social media is about building relationships and sharing content which fits with your brand, rather than bombarding followers with only promo tweets.
Whilst drafting this post, I asked the following question on my Facebook personal profile-read comments here, and there's more info under 'Which Hashtags?' below:
In this blog post, I'll be talking mainly about using hashtags on Twitter, with a little bit on Instagram and Facebook (see end of post), from the point of view of writers/authors.
What is a hashtag?
Twitter Support says: "A hashtag is any word or phrase immediately preceded by the # symbol. When you click or tap on a hashtag, you'll see other Tweets containing the same keyword or topic."
If Twitter Support's explanation of what a hashtag is (above) doesn’t make much sense to you, my explanation would be:
Think of a hashtag like a reference, a way to reach beyond your followers; a way to find those with the same interests or attending the same event as you. Including hashtags relating to your brand in tweets (and searching for them) helps to increase discoverability. There is a lot more to hashtags, but I'll explain below.
Before I go any further, here’s an explanation of how brand and discoverability work when you use social media:
Building a Brand, and Discoverability:
Brand:think about what defines you and your books, and aim to focus on those subjects and themes when posting on Twitter and Facebook. Use relevant hashtags on Twitter so people interested in those subjects and themes can find you (and use other hashtags to build relationships through shared interests). This is a way to gain potential readers as followers.
Discoverability:find the places where people interested in subjects and themes from your books hang out. Join Facebook Groups, follow and use Twitter hashtags, follow and comment on blogs based around those subjects and themes. Liz Fenwick wrote a post for this blog, Using Twitter to Connect with Readers which gives great examples on how to find your potential readers using Twitter. Ask book bloggers (nicely) if they’ll review your book (check their review policy first), and/or host you on their blogs. Ask authors to host you on their blogs too. The more content you post online, the more likely you are to come up in a Google search. And backlinks are great for improving SEO ranking (a backlink is a link to your blog/website from another blog/website; especially great if that blog/website has lots of followers/page views). So, what's so great about hashtags?-main points.
When searching for a hashtag (more below): you can find new people to follow: check hashtags which are relevant to you and your brand and you will find followers, and potential readers there.
When adding a hashtag to tweets: your tweets will reach beyond your followers, and new followers will find you.
Events: see who is attending an event in advance, raise your profile while you're there by tweeting updates, and tweet photos during/afterwards. Find out what's happening when you can't make an event. From experience, when promoting events-if an event is promoted well on Twitter (and Facebook, Instagram, with post-event blog posts etc), it helps to promote the next event. I've often received tweets when promoting an event along the lines of, "Wish I could be/could have been there. Must book next time/ Can I book for next time?"
Build relationships through common interests. I've found new followers relating to my brand as a writer through hashtags like #invisiblecities #SecretsoftheNationalTrust and #thedurrells-TV programmes. Alison Baverstock talked about using #thearchers and other hashtags to build relationships through common interests at the RNA Conference 2015-see my post here.
Don’t just add hashtags to tweets and Instagram posts; search for hashtags too. An easy way to search for tweets using hashtags you want to keep an eye on is to add the hashtags to columns in Tweetdeck, or Hootsuite ((I'm a Tweetdeck fan, and have lots of columns for hashtags). With both Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, you can include more than one hashtag in a column by typing OR in between each hashtag, which can be useful if you want to monitor hashtags which are similar.
Which hashtags?-a few examples:
Thank you so much to all who took the time to comment on my Facebook post with favourite hashtags: Emma Darwin, Mary Anne Lewis, Karen Aldous, Linda Green, Terri Nixon, Jenni Keer, Rebecca Lang, Phillipa Ashley. I've included names after those hashtags mentioned which I'd missed from my list.
Here follow a few hashtags, especially used by writers/authors. I can't include them all, but do let me know if I've missed a popular one. The best way to find hashtags which will be useful to you is to look at tweets by your peers and idols-which hashtags are they using, and are those tweets receiving much engagement, ie likes, replies and retweets? Hashtags are not case sensitive.
#amediting #writing (thanks Rebecca Lang!) #writingtips (thanks Emma Darwin!)
#bookblogger #bookbloggers (I asked the Book Connectors Facebook group back in March which hashtag members used more and the general consensus was #bookblogger)
As the main character in The Christmas Promise, Ava is a milliner, members of Sue's Street Team posted photos of themselves wearing hats on social media with #TheChristmasPromise (that's where my profile photo comes from).
Also, Sue gave street team members the option to add wording to a banner with #MyPromise, to mention something they planned to do; silly promises included! Being near Christmas, there were a lot of promises to not overeat etc.
With Sue's recent release, Just for the Holidays, Sue came up with the idea for members of her street team and followers to post old holiday photos on Twitter with #JustfortheHolidays.
This proved to be a popular idea, and here I am with Sue at the RNA Summer Party on the day Just for the Holidays was released in paperback.
Left: Sue and Catherine Miller. Right: me and Sue.
These allow you to have a conversation about a particular subject, usually during set times. They can be an opportunity to ask an expert for advice, to chat generally, or for an author to answer questions from readers.
Sue Moorcroft has also kindly allowed me to use her Twitter chat from 9 June 2017, 12.30-1.30pm UK time: #AskSueMoorcroft as an example. Click here to see the tweets.
#askagent: now and again, certain agents will answer questions within a set timeframe. Check the hashtag to find out more.
Pitching and agent info: #tenqueries: by @TheEricRuben, New York literary agent at The Ruben Agency. This hashtag gives an interesting insight into how agents make decisions on query submissions.
#pitchcb: an opportunity to pitch, run by agencies, Curtis Brown and Conville and Walsh. Find out more here.
TV, radio, film-think of those relating to your brand:
#Poldark (used by Liz Fenwick, Phillipa Ashley, Terri Nixon).
Days-here are a few which often trend: #MondayMotivation #TuesdayThoughts #WednesdayWisdom
#ff. Meaning Follow Friday, where you can recommend who to follow (or others may recommend you).
Seasons, locations, gardening, food etc...: There are so many more hashtags out there: relating to season, location, gardening, food; everything you can imagine. Use hashtags for locations where your book is set, eg #Cornwall is used by Phillipa Ashley and #Tuscany by Karen Aldous (thanks both!).
If you use one of these hashtags, there are usually rules and you are expected to reciprocate by retweeting other tweets using the hashtag.
This sharing news hashtag is used on Tuesdays by members (only) of the Romantic Novelists' Association, and reciprocation is expected in the same way as with blog sharing hashtags. Members usually share news of cover reveals, pre-orders, special deals and giveaways, new releases, new contracts, blog posts, upcoming talks and launches etc. It's a really effective hashtag, and sometimes I receive 70+ retweets when I use it. Don't forget to use @RNAtweets as well as the hashtag-RNA members know to search for both as per below. This is to avoid picking up other #TuesNews hashtags-sometimes there are a few of those. Use #TuesNews @RNAtweets (click on Latest in Twitter.com when searching to catch them all).
Me en route to London Book Fair #lbf17 on Instagram
Events-a few examples of past events: #HNSOxford16: Historical Novel Society conference, September 2016. I was publicity officer and Social Media Manager (handed over to Elaine Powell after the conf, 4 Sept 2016). See tweets here. #lbf17: London Book Fair, 2017. See my tweets here. #rnasummerparty: Romantic Novelists' Association's Summer Party. See my tweets here. #neetsapr17. I created this hashtag for my talk to the RNA London chapter in April, so attendees could practise. See tweets here. #neetspring17. I created this hashtag for my May course in London so attendees could practise. See tweets here.
Upcoming: #rnaconf17 (this Romantic Novelists' Association annual conference will be soon, and I can't wait!)
What happens if you use the wrong hashtag?
Those who you’re trying to reach are unlikely to see your tweet. I have seen this many times when promoting and following events on Twitter, and it's a shame for anyone who uses the wrong hashtag, as their tweets become redundant. Use the right hashtag! (do your research).
How do you know which hashtag to use?
Do your research. For example, if two (or more) are being used for an event, find the official hashtag being used by the person/organisation running the event; or if you can't find that info, which hashtag is being used the most and by those who usually know what they're doing on Twitter.A lot of the time, I see confusion between 20 and  for events, meaning that two are used eg #neetsapr2017 and #neetsapr17. If you organise an event, make it clear to your followers what the hashtag is way in advance of the event (include on flyers/banners/website etc), so by the time the event arrives, the hashtag will have been picked up by many of your followers. Don't make it difficult for followers to find the hashtag. I've attended events where a hashtag isn't being used or is created hastily during the event; a wasted opportunity. There is no point in using a hashtag which no-one else uses or searches for. Unless you're creating a hashtag of your own, in which case initially you'll probably be the only person using it. (been there, it can feel a bit lonely!)
A couple of websites which may help with hashtag research and tracking: Hashtagify (research) and Keyhole (tracking)
When you login to Twitter.com, you will see what's trending in your network. Twitter will tell you who in your network is tweeting using a trending hashtag. Find out more here, via Twitter Support.
Using a trending hashtag can be a way to expand your reach, but sometimes these tweets can look unnatural, ie. it's obvious if someone's jumped onto a hashtag..