Social Media

Goodreads Is Finally Cashing in on Its Devoted Community

21 May 2016

From Wired:

The premis of Goodreads is simple, as it has been since the service launched in 2007: Track the books you read, leave ratings and reviews, and network with fellow readers. In practice, though, the platform has grown to be a sprawling literary social network, equal parts Facebook, Yelp, and Reddit. Message boards, recommendations, and listicles have helped created enough space for any bookworm to find their niche.

Not surprisingly, all of that activity has also generated a lot of data on reading habits, and this week, Goodreads began harnessing of that data to sell books. It’s the first time that the platform has directly pushed commerce, and while the move might seem inevitable, it’s proof that Amazon, which owns Goodreads, has wised up to the power of the platform.

. . . .

Goodreads Deals, which launched on Tuesday, emails users when relevant ebooks go on deep discount. (Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for $2.99, for instance.) It’s an opt-in proposition, and isn’t limited to the Kindle; users have their choice of outside e-book retailers, from Google Play to Apple to Barnes and Noble, and even Kobo. The company has worked for years with publishers on giveaways, and the hop from recommendations to promotions is even shorter. Yet, our reading choices are more than a window to our tastes and experiences—they’re an uncommonly honest one, so much so that Goodreads is arguably more honed in to our true selves than any other social-media platform.

The more you read, and the more you track what you read, the more your choices begin to fill in the complex sketch of who you are. There’s a reason why, when we visit people’s homes, we almost always look at their shelves: the spines there are an intimate inventory of their experiences. Yet, before Goodreads, and apps like it, our reading habits were largely private; we put our books inside our purses and bags once we stepped off the subway, kept them close in cafés. For those of us with e-readers, our habits were even more anonymous; book covers are no longer billboards. (You’re welcome, everyone who read Fifty Shades.) That privacy came with a price. Unless you were in a book club, you were likely deprived of discussing your latest read.

Link to the rest at Wired

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PG answers a question

19 May 2016

Sometimes tipsters sending post ideas TPV will ask PG if it is OK for them to send PG links to one of their own blog posts or something they’ve written and put on a website.

The answer to this question is . . . Yes.

If you think your post will interest visitors to TPV.

With one qualification: That you won’t become upset with PG if he doesn’t use your suggestion.

On quite a few weekdays, PG receives more tips than he can use (because he strives to have a life outside of the blog plus Mrs. PG appreciates it when he practices a little law and gets paid for doing so). On such days, PG still scans the tips, but passes on almost everything except reports that Jeff Bezos just paid cash for Manhattan.

PG’s hot tip about tips is that all things book biz slow way down on weekends. Items he might ignore on a Wednesday may get posted on Saturday or Sunday. PG tries to keep the quality up at all times, but he believes it’s important for some visitors that he posts every day. He won’t post garbage, but sometimes spreads a wider net on the weekends.

So, send those genius links in, even if you’re self-conscious about being a genius and while you were growing up, a person of authority told you you shouldn’t beat your own drum or blow your own horn.

PG thinks it’s great when indie authors beat their own drums. Or when other people blow their horns for indie authors.

Just promise you won’t feel crushed if PG doesn’t accept everything you send. Just keep on sending.

You can send tips via the Contact Page or email them directly to the address where Contact Page items are sent: PG [[that “at sign” thing]] thepassivevoice.com

How one year of daily blogging changed my life

2 May 2016

From Medium:

A year ago from today, I was creatively dead. Frustrated. Coming off of three years as a freelance copywriter, being the father of an almost two-year-old, and the husband of a wife who was in the throes of starting her own ed consulting business — I was exhausted.

I was taking work as it came in. Hustling, squabbling over rates, and trying to collect on long past-due invoices. I can feel the knots in my stomach to this day.

I had no platform. My personal blog had 30 email subscribers, mostly composed of family and friends. I was burned out. My muchness was gone. I needed to get it back.

. . . .

It was around this time that one of my favorite internet people — Casey Neistat — had started his daily YouTube vlog. On his first episode, he explained how he was tired and busy as ever… Which is why he needed to (wait for it…) create something every day. In his case, a vlog.

I was inspired. Seeing that, combined with years of reading Seth Godin’s prodding to blog daily, I reached a point where something gave way. I had to do it. I had to stop complaining about my lot and start creating.

Every. Single. Day.

. . . .

After a month, I decided to write about my month-long daily creative experiment. I hit publish. Went to bed. And woke up to a vibrating phone full of tweets, recommends, and shares. The post went viral (not mega-viral, but viral enough for me).

I was getting tweets and emails from publications like The Daily Dot, The Observer, and Huffington Post.

. . . .

All those years of writing in notebooks, untitled Google docs, and for thankless clients had actually shown a result. My personal brand had started growing. After years of rot, something had taken hold.

And just like that, I was all-in. The momentum was too much to stop. I was a daily blogger.

. . . .

To date, it’s grown to almost 17,000 readers with posts having been translated in 4 languages. I’m the sole writer and editor. I did this on purpose because I wanted it to be a collection of me. A digital footprint of my evolution as a human and creative over the course of time. By doing so, I started a body of work. My body of work.

But the road over a year wasn’t all rainbows and unicorn dumplings. It damn near killed me.

. . . .

But, on planes, trains, and in the passenger seat cruising down the autobahn, I wrote. During the windows of time that my wife and kid slept, I made it my priority to get a post out to the world. I had to get it in during the nooks and crannies. Sometimes it was easy. Often times, it wasn’t.

. . . .

 I woke up after our first night’s stay at sunrise before everyone else (as usual) just to be able to honestly tell my readers, once we’d returned to civilization, that I’d not missed a day — that I’d earnestly written this post, but could not share it with them. I wrote the post on my iPhone ‘note’ app. And somehow, just like that, my phone was graced by the Swiss gods above with two bars of cell reception. Just like that, a beam of telecommunication had shot over the alps and showered my cell phone in its glory. I was able to keep my obligation, stay true to my mission, and post.

Link to the rest at Medium

PG says that sometimes keeping up a daily blog (even one that involves searching and reading more than writing) benefits from a modicum of OCD (or perhaps giant heaps of OCD).

Social networking is over

2 May 2016

From TechConnect:

It was great while it lasted, but social networking is going away.

The idea was that you could sign up for a social network like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr or Reddit and connect with old friends and acquaintances, make new ones or even interact with strangers about your life.

Except that Twitter was really a “micro-blogging” site, LinkedIn was about finding a job, Pinterest was a pinboard site, Instagram and Flickr were photo-sharing sites, Tumblr was a social-blogging platform, Reddit was a social bookmarking site and who knows whatGoogle+ ever was?

Let’s face it: Facebook was the only true major social network.

. . . .

But I’m not talking about the site, but the behavior. Social networking used to dominate all of those platforms.

And the social networking idea existed on all of those sites: conceived broadly, social networking sites were places for people to connect with other people and share their ideas, dreams, opinions, gossip and cat photos.

. . . .

What’s happening is that social networking is being replaced or supplanted by three things.

The first is messaging. Those darn millennials we’re always hearing about increasingly reject social networking on sites like Facebook in favor of messaging via apps like Snapchat.

Unlike social networking, messaging is private, temporary and immediate.

. . . .

The second is the general world of online distractions, including YouTube videos, games, articles, podcasts and more.

And the third is social media.

Confusion about the difference between social networking and social media is why most people haven’t noticed the decline of social networking. People don’t stop to think about the difference.

Social networking is personal content. Social media is professional content.

The sharing of social media — professionally produced videos, articles, podcasts and photos — is gradually replacing the sharing of personal content about one’s life.

For example, as you read my column, this article is being shared on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other so-called “social networking” sites. But that isn’t social networking; it’s social media.

. . . .

Micro-blogging, micro-schmogging. No matter what you call it, Twitter is included in every roundup, comparison or article about social networking. It’s universally included in the “social network” category.

That’s why it’s telling that Twitter last week reportedly recategorized itself in Apple’s App Store. The company removed its app from the “social networking” category and put it into the “news” category.

The move transformed Twitter from the No. 5 social networking app in the App Store to the No. 1 news app. The move also redefines Twitter: It’s no longer a place where people connect with other people to talk about their lives; it’s now a place where people get news.

Twitter is telling us that Twitter is no longer about social networking. Twitter is now about social media. And Twitter probably wouldn’t have made the move if the social networking category was burning with relevance.

Link to the rest at TechConnect

Facebook Branded Content Policy Change and What it Means for Bloggers

1 May 2016

From ComoBlog:

Facebook defines branded content as

any post — including text, photos, videos, Instant Articles, links, 360 videos, and Live videos — that features a third party product, brand, or sponsor. It is typically posted by media companies, celebrities, or other influencers.

and branded content on pages as: content originating from the Page owner that features third party products, brands, or sponsors that are different from the Page owner.

The Branded Content Policies

As it stands currently (April 28th) the policy language states that branded content on pages is “only allowed from Verified Pages (with the blue badge)” and that they must also follow very specific guidelines.

. . . .

What this means in black and white

  1. ONLY pages that are verified (with the blue badge) are allowed to post anything for anyone else (whether or not you’ve been paid to do so).
  2. If you are a verified (with the blue badge) page, you may ONLY post branded (sponsored) content when it meets the Facebook requirements.
  3. If you are a verified (with the blue badge) page, and you do post branded content, and tag the owner appropriately, the owner will be notified of your post, have access to all the stats of your post, have the ability to share your post to their page, and pay to boost your post. They will not be able to edit or delete your post.

. . . .

Q: Does this really apply to me?

A: If you own a facebook page, yes, it applies to you.

Q: How do I verify my page on Facebook?

A. If your page is not yet verified on Facebook, and you’d like it to be, this post outlines how to request verification. or you can download the free printable checklist at the end of the post.

4/29/16 edited to add a quote from a chat with Facebook Rep:

We’re (Facebook) only accepting verification requests from Pages that represent celebrities, public figures, sports teams, media and entertainment. Our Pages Team is extremely backed up with Brand Requests at the moment and need some time to catch up, that is why we are unable to accept them at the moment.

. . . .

Q: If I want to share a friend’s post (no money or affiliate links involved, I just love her stuff or found it encouraging), can I?

A: Technically, if you enjoyed an inspirational piece that you read and wanted to share it with your follwers by posting the URL and a comment on your blog page, you would need to disclose and tag the source of that article and it is 3rd party because it’s not content owned by you. Using the share button to share her content from her page to yours is acceptable.

(updated 4/29/16 to add) However, if you’ve applied for verification one Rep has said that you may “share branded content on a non-verified page” while you await verification. (I assume this means share by using the share button).

What concerns me then is that Facebook has the potential power then go to that blog owner and say “Katie promoted your post and x0,000 people saw it, so you owe us $x00.00 for advertising on our platform.” Even though the 3rd party did not ask for, or pay you to promote them.

. . . .

Q: What is Facebook’s reasoning behind this?

A: Well, they haven’t included me in the board meetings or strategy meetings, and I’m not very good at mind reading, but if I had to speculate….

(updated 4/30)  Posting content that you do not own to your facebook account (including to profile, page, event and/or groups) is a violation of the Terms of Service (TOS) you agreed to when you opened your account. (See TOS here). Facebook has not been enforcing this policy, but appears to have decided to do so from here on out.

It appears that Facebook is tired of not being able to control the small bloggers and small companies whose posts are becoming more ad-ish, and they also don’t like to not be compensated for the promotions those bloggers do using their platform. It also appears that this was their intention all along. Ads may be used to promote content not your own, but posts of content you don’t own are not allowed.

By prohibiting unverified pages to post branded content and/or prohibiting your page from getting verified, Facebook is denying you permission to post any ads at all, clearing out A LOT of ads that were previously being shown to Facebook’s audience. Now, Facebook may only allow pages to be verified (and I am speculating here) if the page works with larger BIG companies who have more Facebook friendly advertising budgets or who already have advertising accounts with Facebook making it easier to charge the brand when someone promotes the brand. In my opinion, this is Facebook’s way of broadcasting the message that if it’s anything but purely social chit chat, someone is going to pay for it to be shown on their platform.

. . . .

Q: Will my Facebook post get seen at all if I don’t verify my page?

A: I can’t say for sure, but it doesn’t appear that Facebook plans to show anyone’s posts at all, unless you pay. I get the feeling that if you’re self promoting only, they may leave you alone, and you’ll just be left to organic luck. But if you want to be seen or if you want to continue to promote others – someone’s going to pay for that and this is Facebook’s way of enforcing it.

There is no current information on what will happen if an unverified page continues to promote 3rd party content. You can assume if you’re not compliant and the review team finally reaches your page, they are capable of just turn off views for your page altogether. I can’t imagine they will have the manpower to monitor individual posts from thousands of bloggers daily, but it would be very easy to simply shut you down for non compliance to their stated policy.

Link to the rest at ComoBlog and thanks to P.D. for the tip.

It seems like almost every news item PG has read concerning Facebook lately moves it closer to his MTTIW classification.

MTTIW – More Trouble Than It’s Worth

Facebook: The World’s Largest Bookstore?

28 April 2016

From Digital Book World:

A month or so ago, Facebook reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015, and let’s just say they crushed the ball. Knocked the cover off. Pointed to the bleachers and then hit it out of the park.

The big moneymaker was its burgeoning video ad business. Facebook states that people are watching 100 million hours of video per day on its social platform. More than 500 million people watch Facebook video every day. Just let that sink in. Facebook isn’t simply a video discovery platform; it’s becoming the video discovery platform. And it’s still growing.

. . . .

While people in the publishing industry may find this interesting, most won’t find it particularly relevant. To ignore this news, however, would be a monumental mistake. Don’t underestimate what Facebook is and what it is becoming. Facebook is the world’s best discovery platform, and it makes money by going after digital content that keeps people spending more time on Facebook. And after video, there is a clear line to ebooks.

As dominant as Amazon currently is in ebooks, the retailer’s major weakness is discovery. More often than not, users have to find a book somewhere else and then go to Amazon and purchase it. There are additional, unnecessary steps in their process, and the company has no easy way to remedy it.

. . . .

Facebook has more than a billion users on its site every day. Friends and family are sharing everything they are watching and reading, and Facebook is getting better and better at finding ways to keep people on the site. Articles are short reads and people can leave quickly. But if Facebook had a reader for ebooks, the amount of time people would stay on the site would climb exponentially.

. . . .

The bookstore of the future is not centralized. It is decentralized, and it will give readers the ability to buy their books wherever they are, whenever they want. Readers will get their ebooks over wifi at Starbucks as a reward for buying their Under Armour running gear from the local community college, in the Target check-out line, in their McDonalds Happy Meal, or on Facebook—and it will all be readable on one e-reader. Perhaps the Facebook e-reader. And it will give users the ability to read and share in one location.

While Facebook getting into ebooks would not decimate Amazon’s bottom line—as most of the retailer’s revenue comes from various others sources—it would be an emotional kick in the groin. Bezos built his business on the foundation of books. And Zuck could usher in a changing of the guard.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

A reminder: PG does not always agree with items he includes on The Passive Voice.

Facebook Live: Now You Can Never Leave

10 April 2016

From The New Yorker:

It’s often difficult inside a closed system to see the boundaries that surround you. Sometimes you think you can see the whole of the universe. This is how closed systems like it: their inhabitants looking out through a distorted curvature that gives shape to space that is not there. This is how Facebook, Apple, and other technology platforms hope to trap and keep you. Sated, oblivious, and well fed. But human beings are not good with closed systems, and so, eventually, we see the fences, and then we run our hands along them to feel for shape and structure. We study how the fence weaves into and out of the trees. And one day, when the sun has gone down and the guards are asleep, we catapult over to the other side, and see all the things we couldn’t see before.

I wrote several years ago that Facebook’s dream is not to be your favorite destination on the Internet; its desire is to be the Internet. It would prefer that when you connect in the digital realm—an increasingly all-encompassing expanse—you do it within Facebook, which now includes Instagram, Whatsapp, and Oculus VR (in addition to its robust news feed, its Messenger chat app, its Moments photo-sharing platform, its video-player platform . . . well, you get the idea). This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon; for years technology companies have waged platform battles, hoping to lock in users with hardware, software, or services that only function inside a proprietary venue. Closed systems make your patronage simpler and more consistent, and it is through a closed system that a company can most readily own and control your data, which is then converted to revenue.

Facebook has been particularly focussed on three areas lately: publishers’ content (that is, all the stuff that makes Facebook worth reading), video (the thing every creator on the Internet must do right now), and the youth market (all the people Facebook will need tomorrow). In all three places, the company has been playing a haphazard game of catch-up, trying to concoct a mixture of services, partnerships, acquisitions, and outright steamrolling that will insure ownership and control of these three crucial axes.

On Wednesday it launched a service called Facebook Live, which simultaneously takes aim at the trifecta. The new feature—essentially a riff on Twitter’s Periscope and Snapchat’s native video sharing—hopes to keep you plugged in to its news feed with live, streaming video not only from the people you follow and regularly connect with but from news organizations and celebrities around the world.

. . . .

The company has taken a similar brute-force approach in its attempt at dominating and controlling the mechanism through which we read our news. Obviously, the service has tremendous value as a layer of distribution for news outlets and media producers, including The New Yorker. But, increasingly, Facebook has moved to control more and more of the actual experience of reading and viewing news with tools like Instant Articles and an aggressive approach to leveraging its video platform for publishers. It used to just link readers to publishers’ Web sites. Now the company is focussed on having publishers present their stories wholly inside of Facebook.

. . . .

If anything, Live further exposes Facebook’s active, seemingly unquenchable thirst for more ways to become the middleman in your digital interactions. It literally wants you to broadcast your life on the platform. But, as noted earlier, being caged doesn’t come that naturally to humans. In fact, the mass proliferation of new social networks, apps, and experiences over the past decade shows our innate hunger for variety and surprise.

Link to the rest at The New Yorker and thanks to Julia for the tip.

Facebook periodically aggravates PG enough so he generally minimizes his use of the platform. If 5-10 of his family/friends stopped using Facebook, PG would be gone forever as an interactive participant. He would continue to send out TPV posts to FB for those who like to read TPV content on FB because he doesn’t want to cut them off, but the use would be pretty much one way – like an email list.

15 Instagram Book Marketing Ideas from Publishers

31 March 2016

From BookBub:

Why are publishers using Instagram to promote their books and brands? According to Socialbakers, the top brands on Instagram have a 47x higher average post engagement rate than the top brands on Twitter. And then there’s the scale. As of September 2015, Instagram had 400 million monthly active users, more than Twitter’s 316 million. So while Instagram isn’t an ROI-driven marketing tool, it can have a big impact on book branding.

If you’re looking to use Instagram for book marketing but aren’t sure what kinds of pictures to post, take a look at what publishers are doing. We’ve compiled some great ideas for Instagram content thanks to the stunning photos they’ve been posting!

. . . .

4. Showcase books in relevant, interesting settings. (Bloomsbury Publishing)

A common trend is to post photos of books on a table with an assortment of props. Instead, try placing the book in a scene relevant to a scene from the book!

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. . . .

8. Make clever use of props, rather than having them just be part of the background. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In these examples from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the props are relevant to the book and tie in to a giveaway they’re running. It’s a creative way to get fans to engage.

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Link to the rest at BookBub

Instagram vs. Twitter Advertising for Indie Authors

28 March 2016

From Bookworks:

[W]ith over 284 million active monthly users you might also think about using Twitter to advertise your work.  But don’t stop there, because Instagram is in the fight for your advertising dollars as well.

Social Media in general has added a new dimension to the marketing game, not just for the big brands, but for small-to-midsize [SMBs] as well.  In the case of indie writers, this holds a lot of weight when you consider our usually less-than-beefy budgets.

. . . .

Indie authors who advertise on Instagram alone have the potential of 400 million users – and by utilizing Facebook’s ad technology, writers can easily choose whether or not to advertise on both platforms.

James Quarles, Head of Global Advertising at Instagram, said: “Having 200,000 advertisers gives us an ability to better tailor the ads that people see to their likes and interests.”

“The Facebook relationship has helped us grow our user base and attract advertisers,” Quarles continued. “People can be creative in using the two together and run things across both platforms. That really hasn’t existed much in the marketing world.”

. . . .

Facebook makes it fairly easy to set up a campaign on the photo app, as long as users have already created a “Business Facebook Page” and are using the Google Chrome browser.

On your “Business Facebook Page,” click Settings on the upper right of your page.  A drop-down within Settings will appear in a column on the left side of your page.  There you will see “Instagram Ads.”  To start, simply click on this tab and connect your Instagram account to your Facebook page.

As the next step, it’s important to note that instead of using “Facebook’s Ads Manager,” you download their “Power Editor” tool instead.  It is found at the top of the page, under the Ads Manager platform.

From that point forward, Facebook will prompt you through all of the remaining easy steps that are necessary to create your campaign.

. . . .

Many indie authors are already on Instagram and are self-promoting their work for free by simply posting regularly and building a following of fans.  So, why start spending money advertising?

Mainly, because Instagram ads are inexpensive and can generate targeted traffic to your website.  But there are other reasons, too.  For instance, Instagram posts don’t allow a website link in the body of your posts.  But Instagram ads do.

With a minimal $100 a month budget, you can easily test the waters.  Just make sure you set clear goals and always include a “call to action” – whether that’s to sell books, build mailing lists or promote a new discount that only Instagram followers can benefit from.

A Salesforce report last October revealed the following stats:

  • The overall click-through rate on its clients’ Instagram ads over was 1.5 percent, versus Facebook’s first-quarter-2015 figure of 0.84 percent.
  • Instagram’s global cost per thousand impressions was $6.29, about 90 percent higher than Facebook’s first-quarter CPMs.
  • The cost per click was $0.42 for Instagram and $0.40 for Facebook.

Link to the rest at Bookworks

I Am an Obsessive Instagram Power User And I Demand a Chronological Feed

17 March 2016

From Gizmodo:

Yesterday, Gizmodo and a multitude of other outlets reported on an impending change to Instagram’s chronological photo and video postings. “Watch Out, People Are About to Get Unreasonably Upset About The Order of Their Instagram Feeds,” reads a headline from Gizmodo’s very own Sophie Kleeman, a writer I personally hired who then proceeded to pierce a hole into the black, FOMO-filled core of my heart with this news blog.

I am people. And I am unreasonably upset about the impending changes to the order of my Instagram feed.

To back up for a hot second: Instagram, like so many other online networks, has decided to shift away from a chronological timeline—from most recent to least—in favor of an algorithmically determined churn of posts that will allegedly most appeal to a given user’s preferences and sensibilities. Facebook (which owns Instagram) made this switch in 2009, and Twitter offers an opt-outable “While You Were Away” algorithmic timeline as well. The rationale of the switch for Instagram, according to the New York Times, is to ensure that users don’t miss photos and videos they’d most like to see, from users they interact with most often.

. . . .

I follow 319 people on Instagram. And I don’t miss a damn thing.

You want to know why? Chronology. Chronology and a serious case of obsessive narcissistic voyeur’s disorder (ONVD; I made this disease up), coupled with profound insecurity and a desperate fear of missing anything within a contained digital environment that I have designed with the careful selection of 319 accounts I choose to compulsively track. Oh, did I mention that I like control and fear its opposite? If I don’t control some element of my life—some small element, no matter how trite or frivolous, some element like Instagram—everything falls apart. This only all sounds horrible if you aren’t used to it.

Link to the rest at Gizmodo

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