Social Media

4 Steps to Selling More Books with Less Social Media

30 November 2016

From Digital Book World:

When I ask new email subscribers to tell me their number one book marketing challenge, the answer is overwhelmingly the conundrum that is social media: it takes too much time, and the results are difficult to measure. I agree.

Without a solid understanding of how social media does and doesn’t work, authors resort to the splatter method. But trying to hit every social media channel is a poor marketing strategy. On the contrary—you can successfully sell more books with less social media in four steps:

1. Find, build and target your proprietary audience.
2. Choose a primary social media channel for engagement and selling based on five specific criteria.
3. Designate social media outpost channels to direct potential fans to your primary social media channel.
4. Create a content system designed to foster engagement first and sell books second based on authentic author interaction with fans.

. . . .

Finding your readers shouldn’t be like playing Where’s Waldo. Here are a few tactics to find out where your readers are on social media.

• Survey your own readers. If you don’t know the social media preferences of your readers, ask them. You can send out a free survey on Survey Monkey or Google Forms to all your readers via email and social media posts. Find out who they are (demographics), where they spend their time on social media, and what other authors they read.
• Check free general use statistics on Pew Internet and other free data sites. Pew Internet provides the most reliable and extensive data on social media use worldwide. There are reputable marketing sites like HubSpot, Buffer, Marketo, Nielsen, Social Bakers and others that also publish free periodic data reports on social media use.
• Check your social media channel data. Most major social media channels will give you data about your followers.
• Check with your professional associations. Some writer organizations, such as Romance Writers of America, offer data about the genre’s readers to members.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Facebook’s Stumbles Expose Flaws in Its Plan to Rule Advertising

28 November 2016

From Wired:

The internet was supposed to mean a whole new world for the business of advertising. Gobs of data let advertisers become wildly efficient in who they target and how they measure results. Consumers also ostensibly win: If you’re in the market want a quality winter coat, the thinking goes, you’re not going to be annoyed if you see an ad for one.

In this new world, Facebook is on top. It knows so much about its users that it can deliver ads precisely calibrated for virtually any demographic you can dream of, from suburban grandmothers to millennials living abroad. But lately, Facebook has faltered, exposing cracks in the basic assumptions about the superiority of digital advertising—the business model on which so much of the internet has run for the past 20 years.

Last week, Facebook said it found flaws in the metrics it reported to advertisers—the measurements by which those advertisers judge the success of their ad campaigns on the platform. The company said it overstated the reach of Facebook Pages and Instant Articles, as well as its count of referrals to apps from ads. This admission of miscounting came just a few months after Facebook said it had inflated how much time on average viewers spent watching video ads for two years.

Facebook has promised more transparency. But in media and advertising circles, some critics are starting to ask whether they’ve been spending their money wisely on Facebook. Were they duped into making costly business decisions based on wrong information?

Link to the rest at Wired

The Price We Pay for an Ad-Powered Internet

17 November 2016

From The New York Times:

We don’t usually think of Timothy Leary as a consumer advocate, but in his zealous promotion of LSD, the iconoclastic 1960s psychologist was searching for what today we would call an ad blocker — though his tiny tabs relied more on messing with our sensory receptors than dropping code on our mobile phones.

In his new book “The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads,” Tim Wu reminds us that Leary pushed acid in the pursuit of “a complete attentional revolution” in which his followers would reject the growing external stimuli of commercial media in favor of an inward, spiritual journey.

It’s more than a bit ironic, then, that Leary felt compelled to resort to a classic marketing trick, the jingle, to press his case. His “Turn on, tune in, drop out” was so catchy that, though failing to smash the attention economy, it was ultimately complicit in contributing to it, showing up in a campaign for Squirt, a grapefruit-flavored soda: “Turn on to flavor, tune in to sparkle, and drop out of the cola rut.”

This gets at the heart of the compelling thesis of “The Attention Merchants,” namely that the age of mass media and mass marketing is characterized by an arms race between those who seek to capture the valuable commodity of our attention and capitalize on it for gain and those who resist this harvesting of time either through drugs; regulation; or most effectively, collective boredom, distraction and indifference. Wu’s argument is that each boom in commercial media in some way went too far and provoked an either minor or major revolt, pushing the advertising industry to adopt more sophisticated or extreme methods to monetize our time.

. . . .

 There is little sign of this trend slowing, only accelerating. Facebook and Google represent the largest and most successful advertising-funded businesses in history. They are busy developing technologies that track not only our attention but also every aspect of our online behavior and, in Facebook’s case, synthesizing it with what is known as our “social graph.” That graph is the circle of colleagues, acquaintances, families and friends we connect with online and determines as a result what type of advertising and even what type of news or other content we see. We are largely unaware of how the hidden tracking technologies operate and are complicit in how much we surrender.

From his historical perspective, Wu can see that often a moment such as this one, in which our eyeballs are so thoroughly monopolized, is followed by resistance. But his concern is that we have not individually or collectively paid enough attention to the commercialization of every part of our lives: “Our society has been woefully negligent about what in other contexts we would call the rules of zoning, the regulation of commercial activity where we live, figuratively and literally. It is a question that goes to the heart of how we value what used to be called our private lives.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times 

PG will note that we pay a similar price for an ad-powered New York Times and an ad-powered NBC.

To Understand Facebook, Study Capgras Syndrome

11 November 2016

From Nautilus:

We start with the case of a woman who experienced unbearable tragedy. In 1899, this Parisian bride, Madame M., had her first child. Shockingly, the child was abducted and substituted with a different infant, who soon died. She then had twin girls. One grew into healthy adulthood, while the other, again, was abducted, once more replaced with a different, dying infant. She then had twin boys. One was abducted, while the other was fatally poisoned.

Madame M. searched for her abducted babies; apparently, she was not the only victim of this nightmarish trauma, as she often heard the cries of large groups of abducted children rising from the cellars of Paris.

As if all this pain was not enough, Madame M.’s sole surviving child was abducted and replaced with an imposter of identical appearance. And soon the same fate befell Madame M.’s husband. The poor woman spent days searching for her abducted loved ones, attempting to free groups of other abducted children from hiding places, and starting the paperwork to divorce the man who had replaced her husband.

. . . .

In 1918, Madame M. summoned the police to aid her in rescuing a group of children locked in her basement. Soon she was speaking with a psychiatrist. She told him she was the direct descendant of Louis XVIII, the queen of the Indies, and of the Duke of Salandra. She had a fortune of somewhere between 200 million and 125 billion francs, and had been substituted as a toddler in a conspiracy to deny her this money. She was constantly under surveillance, and most, if not all, of the people she encountered were substituted doubles, or even doubles of the doubles.

The psychiatrist, Joseph Capgras, listened patiently. It’s delusional psychosis—disordered thought, grandiosity, paranoia—he thought. Pretty standard fare. But then again, no one had ever described the particular delusion of a loved one being replaced by an identical double. What could that be about?

. . . .

Later, describing Madame M. in a case report, Capgras and his intern Jean Reboul-Lachaux wrote, “The feeling of strangeness develops in her, and it jostles with the feeling of familiarity that is inherent in all recognition. But it does not totally invade her consciousness; it does not distort either her perceptions or her memory images.” To Capgras, this was extraordinary. Recognition and familiarity elicited different emotions in Madame M. Her problem was she couldn’t reconcile the two emotions. The delusion of doubles wasn’t a sensory delusion, “but rather the conclusion of emotional judgment.”

“Capgras delusions,” as psychiatrists eventually called the belief that loved ones have been replaced by identical imposters, are not just archival oddities. Our modern understanding of the disorder tells us much about how the brain has separate modules for analyzing the cognitive aspects of recognition, and for feeling the emotional aspects of familiarity. It shows us that while cognition and emotion can be neurobiologically dissociated, behavior makes a lot more sense when they’re left alone to intertwine.

. . . .

When it comes to decision-making, particularly in a social context, what we view as appropriate behavior reflects a balance between emotion and cognition. What Capgras delusions show is that a similar balance occurs when it comes to identifying those whom we know best.

How do we identify a loved one? Well, he has eyes of a known color; distinctive hair texture; a particular posture; that scar on his chin from when he was a kid. Things we know. This is the purview of a highly specialized part of the primate brain, the fusiform gyrus, which recognizes faces, particularly those of significance.

. . . .

For 99 percent of hominid history, social communication consisted of face-to-face interactions with someone you’ve hunted and foraged with most of your life. But then the recognition and familiarity components got pried apart by modern technology. By “modern technology,” I mean a newfangled invention that came along a few millennia ago—you could communicate with someone by putting scratches of ink on a piece of paper, and then sending that paper a great distance where they’d decode it. Wait, you know someone by their microexpressions, their pheromones, their totality—not by implicitly assessing word frequency in their letter or the scrawl of their signature. This was a first technological blow to the usual primate sense of familiarity. And the challenges have accelerated exponentially from there. Is this text message from my loved one, does it feel familiar? Well, it depends. What emoticon did they use?

Thus, not only has modern life increasingly dissociated recognition and familiarity, but it has impoverished the latter in the process. This is worsened by our frantic skill at multitasking, especially social multitasking. A recent Pew study reported that 89 percent of cell phone owners used their phones during their most recent social gathering. We reduce our social connections to mere threads so that we can maintain as many of them as possible. This leaves us with signposts of familiarity that are frail remnants of the real thing.

This can lead to a problem; namely that we become increasingly vulnerable to imposters. Our social media lives are rife with simulations, and simulations of simulations of reality. We are contacted online by people who claim they know us, who wish to save us from cybersecurity breaches, who invite us to open their links. And who are probably not quite who they say they are.

By any logic, this should induce all of us to have Capgras delusions, to find it plausible that everyone we encounter is an imposter. After all, how can one’s faith in the veracity of people not be shaken when you sent all that money to the guy who claimed he was from the IRS?

But something very different has occurred instead. This withering of primate familiarity in the face of technology prompts us to mistake an acquaintance for a friend, just because the two of you have a Snapchat streak for the last umpteen days, or because you both like all the same Facebook pages. It allows us to become intimate with people whose familiarity then proves false. After all, we can now fall in love with people online whose hair we have never smelled.

Link to the rest at Nautilus

Quit Social Media

27 October 2016

An interesting view about the benefits/detriments of social media use. 13.5 minutes.


10 Things Authors Need to Stop Doing on Social Media Immediately

27 September 2016

From Digital Book World:

Almost every author has been told at some point, “You gotta get online and promote.” But only a small percentage of authors have actually been coached on social media best practices, resulting in hundreds of authors using social media completely wrong and turning readers off rather than attracting them.

If you are guilty of any of the following social media practices, for the sake of your readership, please stop immediately.

1. Overusing hashtags. A hashtag is not the secret to getting discovered, and no one meaningful is going to follow you based on a tweet in which eight out of 10 words are hashtags. Instead of trying to game the system and latching on to various trending hashtags, consider posting meaningful content that would attract your target audience.

. . . .

3. Auto-tweeting Facebook posts. We’re all looking for ways to save time, but this isn’t one of them. If your Facebook posts automatically aggregate to Twitter, you’re not using either platform effectively. Facebook posts tend to me longer and meatier; tweets, on the other hand, are short and pithy. If your lengthy Facebook content is tweeted, those tweets will be cut off with an ellipsis, and followers won’t understand your content. If you post shorter, pithy content to Facebook, that content won’t perform as well. Take an extra few minutes and translate your content for both platforms.

. . . .

9. Only sharing other people’s content. The purpose of social media is to establish your online brand and create relationships with potential readers and influencers. How can you do that if you’re only re-tweeting and sharing other people’s Facebook posts, not posting any content of your own? When I see authors only sharing other people’s content, it’s usually because they’re unsure of what content they should be posting. Which brings me to the final social media don’t…

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Learn from the Pros

5 September 2016

From The Writing Cooperative:

Medium is truly a godsend — especially for those who just started writing on Medium to share snippets of their lives, build their business, or simply inspire others to change. What’s even more fascinating about Medium is that anyonecan bring their ideas and life stories and break into the wall of fame (aka. Top Stories).

You don’t need 10,000k followers, or 100. You don’t need to be in a publication. You don’t even need an English major or write a best-selling novel to be a big star here.

If you want your name embedded across the entire Medium community and people to recognize your work, pocket these tips I’ve taken from some of the most inspiring writers on Medium. They’re tips I personally believe that can completely transform your writing and make you the writer you’ve always wanted to be.

. . . .

It has always been stressful for me to release my thoughts on screen, because I wanted my 1st draft to be perfect. But then I realized, there’s no such thing as the perfect draft, just wasted time. It’s more important to get your main message out than edit your grammatical/spelling mistakes and fix the flow.

. . . .

 Your headline and opening image are the only things people have to judge your story on. Before they can even read your story’s first paragraph, they must answer a question. It’s the same question that we all ask ourselves every day: is this going to be worth my time?

. . . .

You can pour 100 hours of your life crafting your best masterpiece, but if your headline and image echoes mediocre, no one’s going to click your story. There are too many boring headlines and generic images. So change your game — tweak your headline until you believe it sounds mind-blowing. Get your own photographer to contribute their high-res images for your stories. First impression means everything when it comes to broadcasting your story. Take some time to do this right.

. . . .

 Now it’s time to write. Turn off the television, disconnect from the internet, and take away all distractions. Listen to music if it helps you concentrate, but not if it’s distracting (I have a special playlist of wordless music I like to write to). My most productive writing sessions took place on long flights. There’s a reason for that. (Internet-enabled airplanes will ruin me.)

Link to the rest at The Writing Cooperative

For those who are not familiar with Medium, here are today’s editor’s picks.


Make Your Blogging Time More Efficient by Batching Posts

4 September 2016

From How to Blog a Book:

I have one word to offer when someone asks me how to manage blogging time efficiently. That word is “batch.”

If you aren’t batching your blog post production, you soon will feel burned out and resentful. And you’ll always feel like there’s a blog post hanging over your head waiting to be written and produced…because there will be!

. . . .

When you have as many blogs as I do (three active sites with one or more posts per week and one active site that I post to occasionally), time management becomes a huge issue. There have been times when I felt like all I did was write and produce blog posts. Indeed, that was my primary task each day.

. . . .

I batch. From a time-management perspective, this is the easiest and most efficient way to keep up with a blog schedule—whether you publish one or seven posts per week.

Think of batching this way: If you want to have a homemade cookie, you don’t mix up and bake just one. You make a batch.

Batching blog-post production uses the same concept. Write and produce a month’s worth of posts in a few days per month rather than one per day or week.

Here’s how to batch:

  1. Go to your calendar and schedule one day per week or a few days per month that you devote to blogging.
  2. Block out time on those days to write posts, shoot videos, create visuals, or anything else required to get your posts ready for production or publication.
  3. Block out time on those days or on different days to upload your content to the site, design the posts, add the visuals, and proof the posts.
  4. Schedule the posts for future dates. Remember, WordPress offers this option!

Link to the rest at How to Blog a Book

Publishers fearing Facebook dependency: fight for your future, reinvent RSS

17 August 2016

From Medium:

Right now Facebook accounts for over 40% of all traffic for U.S. news organizations, making many dependent on the social network for ad-revenue-driving traffic, even as Facebook makes moves to bring publishers’ content more wholly onto its platform (where it has control over monetization options).

. . . .

Let’s start by accepting a few fundamental realities about modern publishing:

  • No single publisher will ever have a monopoly on readers’ attention again. Digital distribution is free / extraordinarily cheap, multiple niche / focused sources will hit what people care about way more often than single / broad sources, and curation (algorithmic, platform editors, or social) that can draw from multiple sources will always have an advantage over curation that only draws from a single source (their own org’s content).
  • People want to consume content where they’re spending their time already, not spend time going to a bunch of different sources to consume content. Publishers can compete to be a worthwhile destination for the readers most closely aligned with them, but publishers whose content reaches users where they are (right now Facebook, email, Google News, YouTube, Snapchat) will always have a massive reach advantage over those who solely insist that readers must come to them.

. . . .

Facebook’s situation is pretty simple. Keeping users on the site longer / more often = more ad views = more revenue. Content (and the discussion / engagement it drives) does that.

For every other platform, it’s not just a matter of keeping already-engaged users even more engaged, it’s a matter of keeping users active at all — providing something new & interesting every day (if not every hour) is the only way for a platform to keep users coming back. User activity isn’t enough, especially for new platforms. They need content.

. . . .

This is key: by Facebook determining the technical specification for publishers’ syndicated content, Facebook determines the formatting possibilities, constraints, and monetization options of that content. And by the way, they’ll let you provide content matching that specification through RSS.

. . . .

10 years from now, publishers can live in one of two worlds: one in which they’ve stepped up to influence the ecosystem being built around their content, creating options for themselves, or one in which they’ve continued to let that ecosystem develop on its own and dictate to them the options they have available. If publishers don’t start working to reinvent and innovate on a standard of their own for content syndication, they will be letting Facebook dictate a lasting standard that serves its interests foremost.

. . . .

Publishers should create a new open standard for content syndication, and it should be built on RSS / Atom.

I can hear some developers groaning about the creation of ever more tech standards as a solution to tech standard problems. But the reality is, this isn’t a situation of many competing standards in an already-mature, already-fragmented ecosystem. This is a situation of a single, limiting standard about to dominate a still-emerging resurgence of distributed content. And the only way to fight that is to build something better.

We need a content syndication standard that accounts for things like:

  • modern kinds of content, in their native form (text enhanced with rich layouts, embeds, etc.; video in different formats; audio; photo series; interactive media)
  • different monetization options
  • analytics integration
  • richer meta data (e.g. preview photos, named entities, video / audio length)
  • getting the syndication version of a specific piece of content (replace Twitter card / Facebook open-graph markup)

If publishers worked together to create and support this standard, it would not only allow adoption from other major platforms (increasing publishers’ leverage in getting Facebook to adopt it), it would enable entirely new platforms to be built off of the plethora of newly-accessible content. And with publishers building in monetization options from the beginning, they can turn syndication from a begrudging competitive necessity to a value-building revenue channel.

Link to the rest at Medium and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

AdBlock Plus: Facebook Ads Can Still Be Blocked

12 August 2016

From PC Magazine:

Editors’ Note (8/12/2016): Facebook is, once again, back on top—for now. According to TechCrunch, the social network is rolling out an update to disable AdBlock Plus’ workaround. Our original story is below.

Well, that was fast. Just two days after Facebook announced plans to start forcing ad-blocking users to see ads on its desktop site, AdBlock Plus has already beat the social network’s new system.

In a Thursday blog post, AdBlock Plus’ Ben Williams announced that users can update their filter lists now, and start re-blocking ads on Facebook.

“We promised that the open source community would have a solution very soon, and, frankly, they’ve beaten even our own expectations,” Williams wrote. “As many of your know, the filter lists that ‘tell’ Adblock Plus what to block are in fact the product of a global community of web citizens.”

“This time that community seems to have gotten the better of even a giant like Facebook,” he added.

AdBlock Plus users can check out the post for instructions on how to manually update their filter list. If that’s too much work, just wait a day or so and the filter will be updated automatically.

Link to the rest at PC Magazine

TPV isn’t going to become a technology blog, but, in light of the strong response a previous post about Facebook’s determination to force users to look at advertisements, he thought this followup would be useful.

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