Social Media

Easily Add Books You Purchased from Amazon to Your Goodreads Shelves

16 April 2014

From the Goodreads blog:

Our members have been asking for a long time for a quick way to add their Amazon book purchases to their Goodreads shelves. So, we’ve come up with a new way to help: Today, we’re starting to roll out an Add Your Amazon Books feature! You can now add books you’ve purchased on Amazon – both print and Kindle books – to your Goodreads shelves. This will be available in the next few weeks to members in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

. . . .

How do you know if you have the feature? You’ll see the Add Amazon Book Purchases link in the Tools list on the left hand side of the My Books page (and a small announcement at the top of the page). Click on either link and you’ll be asked to sign in to your Amazon account. You’ll then see your Amazon book purchases. You can go through and rate each book and select the appropriate shelf for it. We give you full control over which books to add so you can avoid adding any books bought as gifts. Any book not rated or added to a shelf will not be added to Goodreads.

Link to the rest at Goodreads blog

The Chicago Sun-Times Shuts Down Their Comment Section

15 April 2014

From The Digital Reader:

It’s widely accepted that the anonymity of the internet can turn almost anyone into a troll, and nowhere is this more true than in the comment section. This unfortunate trend has led a number of sites to respond by either removing any aspect of anonymity or taking a more extreme step of killing their comment section entirely.

The Chicago Sun-Times is the latest media organization to take the latter path; they announced over the weekend that the comments were going to be temporarily disabled.

“The world of Internet commenting offers a marvelous opportunity for discussion and the exchange of ideas,” wrote managing editor Craig M. Newman this weekend. “But as anyone who has ever ventured into a comment thread can attest, these forums too often turn into a morass of negativity, racism, hate speech and general trollish behaviors that detract from the content.”

. . . .

This paper is not the first to to try to fix online comments, nor will they be the last. Many sites have adopted comment management platforms like Disqus as a way of managing the troll problem, but that solution comes with its own problems. Other sites require that commenters create accounts, but when the bar is set that high it tends to discourage casual commenters.

. . . .

South Korea first started requiring internet commenters use their real names in 2007. The rule initially only applied to sites with more than 300,000 users, but was later tightened to sites with more than 100,000 users.

The rule was scrapped in 2011 because it was deemed largely ineffective at curbing trolls.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

PG is grateful that The Passive Voice generally avoids troll problems and appreciates the many visitors who spend the time necessary to leave intelligent and insightful comments.

The 10 Commandments of Social Media Etiquette for Writers

14 April 2014

From author Anne R. Allen:

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.

That’s true even in a thread where a lot of people are being snarky and you’re simply going along with the crowd. I’ve done it myself and ended up hurting good people’s feelings. Remember when you’re online, you’re “in public” and anybody can see what you’ve written.

If you’re planning to publish traditionally, the reason to follow mom’s rule is simple. Editors and agents will Google you (often before they decide to read your pages) and if they find a bunch of nasty Tweets, forum flames, and bullying blog comments, your career is going nowhere.

Why do they Google you before reading your writing sample? The same reason any prospective employer Googles you. Most people prefer to work with level-headed, rational human beings who are not prone to drunk-posting, dissing their co-workers, or dancing naked with tighty-whiteys on their heads. Just the way it is.

. . . .

The tech world was invented by young, rule-breaking types, mostly males. So an early Internet culture evolved that tended to be adversarial, snarky, and intolerant of newbies—more like posturing teenagers than adults doing business.

But the publishing world is the opposite. It’s a business that has always been powered by the gentlemanly art of the schmooze.

Making people angry may drive people to your blog, and you may hear that “troll posts” and creating controversy is a way to get traffic. But it’s probably not the kind of traffic you want, even if you self-publish.

. . . .

1) Thou shalt not spam.

I realize I’m repeating myself, and some authors will continue to post endless book spam to every social medium until the whole thing has gone the way of MySpace, but here I go again:

What is book spam?

  • Repetitive links, blurbs, and quotes in your Twitter stream.
  • Compulsively posting your book blurbitude in 100s of FB, GR and Google+ groups and forums.
  • Putting somebody’s address on your mailing list when they haven’t subscribed.
  • Posting endless, non-news, non-informational promos for yourself or other authors. A little promo is good. Nothing but promo…is nothing but annoying.

People want news and personal connections on social media, not robotic advertising.

. . . .

2) Thou shalt support other authors.

Your fellow authors are not “rivals”. Authors who band together do better than antagonistic loners. In fact the number one thing a beginner should be doing on social media is getting to know other authors in your genre and subgenre and making friends.

One of the hottest sales tools in the business right now is the multi-author bargain boxed set with several titles by different authors. These boxed sets are getting on to the bestseller lists and raising visibility for all the authors. Yes. The NYT and USA Today Bestseller lists.

Another is the joint 99c sale. I participated in a 99c sale with other chick lit authors last year and it got my boxed set on the humor bestseller list where it stayed for 8 months.

Authors who band together get their books in front of the fans of all the authors in the group. Supporting each other is fun and profitable.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Google Search Winners and Losers

14 April 2014

From author Andrew Updegrove

Are you one of those bloggers that always has a nagging thought in the back of her mind that goes something like this: “I really need to do something about optimizing my site so search engines can find it”?  And are you also one that finds, when they do look into search engine optimization (SEO), that the whole process seems bewildering, laborious, and, well, dubious as well?

I’ve had a site since 2003 – you can find it here – that I launched when optimization was a far different animal.  Google’s algorithm was a lot simpler (get enough valid links in, and you’d start to rise in the rankings), and there were many billions fewer Web pages to compete with. Between that and the fact that the site focused on a narrow and fairly obscure topic, I was able to build traffic up to over a million page views a month within a year or so, and haven’t really had to give a thought to optimization ever since.

Now I’ve got this author site, and it’s a completely different story. Leaving for a later date whether you should even care, how in the world can just another genre writer expect to be found by a search engine today?

. . . .

Google’s algorithm has changed in ways that make it much more likely now to lead a user to the good, as compared to the simply optimized, stuff. That’s great news on several fronts. First, it means that most of those laborious, dubious, artificial, traditional SEO tasks, like liberally salting your site with keywords, are now a lot less likely to do you much good, so you’ve now got a great excuse to keep procrastinating. Second, it means that the playing field has become more level, with two sites of equal significance being more equally discoverable, regardless of the fact that one site owner is spending a lot of time and money on SEO and the other isn’t.

. . . .

What I take away from this is that if the success of three different book sites to maximize search visibility varies so widely, yours trulyisn’t likely to be able to do any better. So why spend my limited time trying to play SEO tricks, as compared to adding content and expanding direct connections with who are into books?

For my part, the answer is clear: I’ll stick to putting out quality content and establishing relationships. And when it comes to spending my time externally using the host of author sites that continue to spring up, I’ll continue to use Alexa as one source of data to help decide which three or four sites are most worth spending my time, effort, and sometimes small amounts of cash.

Link to the rest at Andrew Updegrove: Tales of Adversego

44% of Twitter Accounts Have Never Sent a Tweet

12 April 2014

From The Wall Street Journal Digits blog:

Twitter is having no trouble signing up users. But some new research provides an update on the size of an ongoing problem: getting people to tweet.

A report fromTwopcharts, a website that monitors Twitter account activity, states that about 44% of the 974 million existing Twitter accounts have never sent a tweet.

. . . .

To be sure, people don’t have to actively tweet to find the service useful. There’s more than enough stuff to read on almost any topic in the world on Twitter to keep users occupied.

But having engaged users–those who are active participants in the online conversation–are particularly valuable to Twitter. For one thing, activity tends to make users more inclined to continue using the service.

. . . .

Yet it appears Twitter accounts in general don’t say much. This could be because they are quietly reading the tweets or haven’t come back to the service. Twopcharts said that 30% of existing Twitter accounts have sent 1-10 tweets. Only 13% of the accounts have written at least 100 tweets.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Is Google+ Where You Should Be?

6 April 2014

From Indies Unlimited:

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about Google+. As Facebook loses the interest of many users, Google+ appears to keep growing. For me, the visibility value of time spent on Google+ is far better than the same keystrokes or time on Facebook. From a pure business perspective, you might find that Google+ is the place to be.

Think about your interactions on both platforms. Most people tend to spend a lot of time “talking” to the same people or groups of people on Facebook. What do you do on Google+? It’s not the same is it? Typically, you’re not sharing pictures of your kids and pets. Maybe that’s the secret to increasing your visibility. Go where people don’t know you!

. . . .

The potential for Circles on Google+ is enormous. As you build relationships, you have the ability to create content/event related Circles. For example, if you have two covers that you’re trying to decide between, we typically will go to our favorite Facebook group and ask them what they like the best. You’ll get lots of helpful advice from a closed group of “friends” that we always converse with. It’s not a bad method, and we usually get great feedback.

What if you took the same question to Google+? You can tap into a huge number of people through Google groups. Maybe you’re down to your final two science fiction book covers and you want to see what kind of input you would get from a science community. Bam, you can instantly feed your post to thousands of people in that group and get far different feedback than you would from a “book” group on Facebook. You could test your book covers in any number of communities and develop feedback—science fiction, space, astronomy—you get the picture. Now, you have Circle power at your fingertips!

Here’s the way to leverage Circles—as people respond, you place them in a newly created Circle (name it whatever you like) and now you can communicate directly to those folks. Send a message out to them when you have your final product thanking them for their help.

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited

Social Media Conversation Suite

24 March 2014

For context, PG was struck by the difference between between typical Big Publishing social media strategies, which have always seemed amateurish to him, and a serious social media operation.

From Digiday:

Mastercard Conversation Suite

Few would argue that embedding social throughout the company is not a worthy goal. The question is how to do so in far-flung companies of massive scale. For Mastercard, diffusing social in the organization, ironically, meant centralizing it.

Enter the Mastercard “conversation suite,” an open floor plan workspace where a dedicated team of four sits and listens to what stakeholders are saying about the brand. When this team is sleeping, its counterpart in Singapore, Dubai and Australia takes over. The tool is Web-based, so all 60 of Mastercard’s global PR staff have access to it. And some marketing and product specialists can access it as well. The main team (U.S.) of four collaborates internally with PR, marketing, product and customer service teams to better engage stakeholders.

. . . .

The command center is located at Mastercard’s Purchase, N.Y., headquarters. There’s a 40-foot LED display that shows all the conversations going on about the brand in real time, and Mastercard encourages employees to come check it out and even bring in partners to demonstrate the capabilities. There’s also a rotating group of people from PR, marketing and customer service who spend two or three hours a day in the command center.

The social command center team works with Mastercard business units on ad hoc reports for specific initiatives. For example, through a study of 85,000 conversations on mobile payments, Mastercard discovered early adopters express frustration over acceptance at point-of-sale and perceived lack of customer support, while non-adopters cite security and confusion over the array of options as core concerns and possible barriers to entry.

. . . .

Eighteen months ago, Mastercard conducted a study and found there are 30 million conversations happening a month on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, with people talking about Mastercard. The brand was part of less than 1 percent of these conversations. Today, the company is looking for conversations that mention Mastercard or topics relevant to the brand, like a world beyond cash, emerging payments and financial inclusion. The company puts together weekly and quarterly analytics and sends it out to a vast array of execs and senior managers.

Link to the rest at Digiday

Facebook Is Still Failing Marketers

18 March 2014

From a Forrester Research blog:

Our declaration last October that Facebook was failing marketers and that brands should focus their social efforts elsewhere created a lot of discussion. To no one’s surprise, most of the people defending Facebook were vendors that rely directly upon Facebook marketing for their livelihood.

Just four months later, the debate seems to be over. Is there any doubt now that Facebook has abandoned social marketing, and that its paid ad products aren’t delivering results for most marketers?

. . . .

Marketers can now reach just 6% of their fans organically. When we published our research, some brands were surprised to find that Facebook only delivered posts to 16% of their fans. In December a leaked sales deck revealed that Facebook was telling marketers they should expect organic distribution of posts to decline further — but few could guess how far and how fast that distribution would fall. This month, Ogilvy released data showing that the brand pages they manage reach just 6% of fans. For pages with more than 500,000 fans, Ogilvy says reach stands at just 2%.

. . . .

Marketers are worried many of their fans are “fake.” Many marketers and many publishers are reporting that huge percentages of their fans come from emerging markets where they didn’t expect to find an audience. The kicker? They’re saying many of those fans don’t seem to interact with people or with branded content — they seem to do little other than “like” thousands and thousands of brand pages. The conclusion some marketers are coming to: The paid ads Facebook encourages them to buy often lead to “fake” fans generated by “like farms.”

. . . .

All these marketers want Facebook to live up to its promise and to become a valuable marketing channel. They just don’t believe it’ll ever happen.

Link to the rest at Forrester Research

Are You Ignoring This Simple Platform-Building Tool? How to Comment on a Blog

10 March 2014

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog:

Whether you’re planning to self-publish or go the traditional route, every author needs a “platform” these days.

Some authors obsess too much about platform and waste time on pointless overkill. (More about how to skip the time-wasting stuff in my post, 7 Ways Authors Waste Time Building Platform.)

But others ignore it entirely, often because they’re not quite clear on what it means.

. . . .
But there’s something quick, easy and relatively painless you can do right now to raise your search engine profile that won’t take more than a couple of minutes from your writing time.

Ready for it?

Ta-da!

Comment on blogs. 
With your real name. (Or whatever name you write under.)

Yup. Comments on high profile blogs get your name onto that Google search page.

. . . .

2) “Why should I comment on Nathan Bransford’s (or Kristen Lamb’s, David Gaughran’s or The Passive Guy’s) blog? They never comment on mine.”

Nathan has well over 5000 followers of his blog. (He doesn’t post the widget anymore, so I’ve lost track: it’s probably over 10K now) He also has 100K followers on Twitter, and 10K in his Google circles. If he spent all day, every day, doing nothing else, even sleeping, he still could not keep up with all his followers’ blogs. And remember he’s doing it all for free.

But if you comment on his blog, Google will notice YOU, because his blog is on their radar and your name has become part of his “content”.

That means you get a bump in YOUR search profile. He doesn’t benefit that much from one more comment, but YOU do. The same is true of a comment here.

. . . .

But there are two simple things you can do that can give you IDs that allow you to comment on almost all blogs even if you have no Web presence right now.

1) Get a Gravatar ID

2) Join Google Plus

But before you jump in, make sure the name you’re using is the “brand” name you want for your writing career.

First Google yourself (put your name in “quotes” for a more accurate search.) This will tell you if your name is already in use. If your name is as dirt-common as Anne Allen, you don’t even need Google to tell you there are hundreds of thousands of women using that name too. There are three Anne Allens in my small town doctor’s practice alone.

To stand out, I added my middle initial. Everywhere I go on the Web, I’m annerallen. There are other Anne R. Allens but not as many, and at the moment Google gives me top billing.

Making your name unique is especially important if you share it with somebody famous. So if you’re called Rush Limbaugh, Lindsay Lohan or Justin Bieber, choose a pseudonym or trot out a middle name, initial, or use a nickname. Try Rushton Q. Limbaugh or Elle Lohan or J. Montague Bieber.

You want to make this decision before you start to set up your profiles, or you’re going to be adding to the other Justin Bieber’s platform, not building your own.

And don’t use a cutsie moniker. Unless you plan to write all your books under the nom de plume “scribblersally”, “pufferballsmom”, or “#1belieber” you don’t want to comment on blogs with that handle. Use your professional name, because you’re building a professional platform.

Gravatar (which stands for Globally Recognized Avatar) is affiliated with WordPress, so if you have a Gravatar ID, you can comment on any WordPress blog and your picture will show up with your comment. (A big plus—you’re trying to get visible, remember?) Lots of Blogger blogs will accept a Gravatar/Wordpress ID too. So this is where I’d start if you’re brand new.

It’s easy. Just go to Gravatar.com and post a profile.

. . . .

And please do use a picture of yourself. Not your cat. Not a baby picture or a cartoon. It needs to be a grown-up picture of you. With clothes on. Beachy photos end up looking like porn spam in thumbnails. Even if you write erotica, save the skin for your website.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Anne’s SEO suggestions should work to raise your Google search profile, but PG doesn’t think most readers run a Goodl search on an author’s name when they’re looking for a book, so this may not be gold for an indie author. It can’t hurt, but it may not drive book sales.

What can help is to make intelligent comments on a busy blog. PG has purchased books written by intelligent commenters on TPV and other blogs. Intelligent comments will tend to generate clicks to your own blog or website as well.

Needless to say, dumb comments or troll dumps generate pretty much the opposite response.

Social Media Part 2 – Have Fun

1 March 2014

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

Boy, there are a lot of misconceptions among writers about social media and a few of those misconceptions cropped up in last week’s post.

. . . .

The thing that cropped up—of course—is the fact that Facebook has “limited” your friends. Facebook says that only a subset of the people who friend you will see your comments. This means exactly nothing. Same with the boosting of the posts (the Facebook wants you to pay for). So what if only a fraction of your Facebook friends see your post? That’s how Facebook has always worked.

If you’re good at Facebook, then one of your posts will go viral. (Yes, the posts that go viral are usually about cats, and not about your latest book. Deal with it.)

People will respond in large numbers (over 50) to your viral post and those people move into your feed subset, for a while anyway. The fact that Facebook has limited who can see your posts, based on “interest,” is an algorithm, nothing more. In the past, the people who saw your posts were the people who either went to your page and looked at them, people with a small group of friends who saw everything, and the people who were online the moment you wrote the post.

Now, after the change and the “boost,” who sees your post? The people who go to your page, the people with a small group of friends who see everything, and a subset of the people who were online the moment you write the post.

Really, not a lot of variation there. So stop worrying about it. If you’re worrying about it, I would venture to say that you’re using Facebook incorrectly.

. . . .

Now, the overall misconception:

Just because you have 3,000 Facebook “friends” or 10,000 people coming to your fan page, just because you have 25,000 Twitter followers or the biggest community on Google+, does not mean that all of those people see or even care about everything you do.

On Twitter, you only see the posts of people you follow and even then, you rarely see ones from a few hours ago. It’s the same with the other social media sites.

That worry about Facebook’s limitation of the posts? It comes from the misconception that you’ll reach all of the people all of the time.

Not going to happen—no matter where you go.

Here’s how I think of social media.

It’s a party or a convention, depending on size. Treat it like a public gathering of some sort.

Going to the largest social media “convention,” Facebook, and complaining that it limits who sees your posts is like going to San Diego Comic-Con and fretting that the room you’re speaking in only holds 1,000 people. That means 129,000 people won’t see you! Oh, no!!!!

It doesn’t matter how big the convention you attend is in real life. I learned this long ago. Half the time, the fans who attend the World Science Fiction convention have no idea who the Guests of Honor are. Those are the people who theoretically the fans have come to see.

The theory isn’t true of course. The fans have come to the convention for a variety of reasons. Some fans arrive to play games, others to socialize with their friends in fandom, still others to go to the masquerade. A subset will come just to see the writer Guest of Honor, but only a subset.

Even the large media conventions like DragonCon won’t get 100% of the attendees seeing the big media guests. 90% of the attendees probably don’t even know who the guests are.

People go to social media for the same reason they attend conventions in real life. Some go to meet like-minded people. Some visit to see their friends. Others come for an education. A goodly portion come to promote something.

. . . .

Here are Kris’s rules of social media:

1. Have fun.

If you hate parties, do you go to them? Back in the day when your publisher forced you to go to conventions, did you spend most of the time hiding in your room? Do you hate the way that Facebook works and get annoyed every time you go?

Then don’t go.

It’s as simple as that. Participating in social media is truly not required. Remember Scott William Carter’s WIBBOW test. Would you rather be writing? Then write.

I really can’t stress this enough.

In 2010, I interviewed a group of people who were using social media very well at that moment in time. I did it for the Online Networking section of The Freelancer’s Survival Guide. While some of the information shows its four-year-old roots, other things stand out.

Everyone I interviewed stressed that they enjoyed what they were doing. Neil Gaiman said it best:

I’m not sure if any [of what I do online] is networking. I mean, if it is, I never did it to Network.  I did it because it was fun, and because writing can be a very lonely profession.  It’s fun to have people to talk to, fun to have people who talk to you, and great to have people who will answer your questions (even if they’re wrong).  I also feel that it levels the playing field, which I like.

It’s pretty clear, if you follow Neil on Twitter, that he enjoys this stuff. In fact, when he does do a marketing post or something about himself, he gets a little cute for my tastes. He always puts WARNING:Contains me  on the post. I would hope he posts about himself. That’s one reason I follow him.

The other reason? His tweets are always interesting—and clearly were four years ago as well.

I go on Twitter several times per day—not because I feel the need to or because I’m trying to hit a quota, but because I now use it as a news source and a way of seeing friends. Often, I don’t Tweet at all. Twitter is my favorite social media site.

Last week, others mentioned Google+ and Pinterest as favorites. I personally like Google+ and am afraid of Pinterest as a time-sink, so I avoid it. Those are my preferences. Those are the parties I want to go to, with the people I want to see.

I have fun there, so I visit out of enjoyment.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

PG will second Kris’ advice to have fun with social media. He has fun with The Passive Voice but he doesn’t have fun on Twitter (although he has over 50,000 followers). He spends time on The Passive Voice, but doesn’t on Twitter.

PG tweets a lot, but his tweets are tied to his blog posts and automatically created whenever a new blog post appears. The purpose of the tweets is to let PG’s followers know there’s a new blog post on The Passive Voice. He does the same thing with Facebook.

As he’s mentioned before, a significant minority of PG’s blog traffic comes via Twitter, so he makes certain the TPV to Twitter connection is working and he keeps tweets in mind when he creates blog headlines which is what comprise his auto-tweets.

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