Social Media

Facebook is Adding Buy Buttons to Ads – Do You Think They Could be Used to Buy/Sell eBooks?

20 July 2014

From The Digital Reader:

This crossed my desk yesterday:

Facebook is trying out letting you pay for ecommerce purchases from other businesses without leaving its site or app. For now it won’t be charging the few small and medium-sized businesses in the US to test this new Buy button on their News Feed Pages posts and ads. When I asked if Facebook would be charging businesses for the feature eventually, it said “it was not disqualifying that option” in the future.

Facebook is getting ready to take a cut of the retail sales made on their site, something I thought they would have done years ago.

. . . .

So do you think the new ads could prove useful for buying or selling ebooks?

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Social Media Fail to Live Up to Early Marketing Hype

23 June 2014

From The Wall Street Journal:

Businesses are looking more critically at social media and its influence on the bottom line. A majority of respondents in a Gallup survey said that social media had no influence at all on purchasing decisions.

. . . .

In May 2013, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. bought ads to promote its brand page on Facebook. After a few days, unhappy executives halted the campaign—but not because they weren’t gaining enough fans. Rather, they were gaining too many, too fast

“We were fearful our engagement and connection with our community was dropping” as the fan base grew, says Allison Sitch, Ritz-Carlton’s vice president of global public relations.

. . . .

After years of chasing Facebook fans and Twitter followers, many companies now stress quality over quantity. They are tracking mentions of their brand, then using the information to help the business.

“Fans and follower counts are over. Now it’s about what is social doing for you and real business objectives,” says Jan Rezab, chief executive of Socialbakers AS, a social-media metrics company based in Prague.

. . . .

Gallup says 62% of the more than 18,000 U.S. consumers it polled said social media had no influence on their buying decisions. Another 30% said it had some influence. U.S. companies spent $5.1 billion on social-media advertising in 2013, but Gallup says “consumers are highly adept at tuning out brand-related Facebook and Twitter content.”

. . . .

Gallup says brands assumed incorrectly that consumers would welcome them into their social lives. Then they delivered a hard sell that turned off many people.

More recently, changes in how Facebook manages users’ news feeds have hindered brands’ ability to reach their fans. Rather than a largely chronological stream, Facebook now manages the news feed to feature items it thinks users will want to see.

. . . .

Another reason companies are looking beyond fan numbers is that the numbers are easily gamed. Researchers say many fans are fake, or automated, accounts designed to inflate numbers.

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

Four Ways to Rock Goodread’s New “Ask the Author” Feature

16 June 2014

From Digital Book World:

Building relationships with readers is a valuable way for an author to grow book sales.

The Goodreads book recommendation site has recently extended its author tools with a new feature called “Ask The Author” that allows authors to answer fans’ questions.

The way Ask The Author works is that readers visit participating authors’ pages on Goodreads and submit questions to authors. When open for questions, an author can read the incoming queries and choose when to post the answers. The questions are all private to the author to you until the author chooses to make them public. That means, if you’re an author, you don’t need to answer every question that comes in. And you can control the flow of the answers.

The questions you (the author) choose to answer appear in the newsfeeds of all of your followers. Goodreads also directly informs the questioner that his or her inquiry has been addressed. A log of your questions and answers shows up on your Goodreads profile page.

. . . .

At the 2014 BEA Conference, Patrick Brown, Director of Author Marketing at Goodreads offered some tips for authors to get the most out of this new feature.

1. Set Expectations

Whether you are willing to answer questions for a day, or for a week, please let your readers you’re your parameters. Maybe you only want to answer questions about your new book—make that clear. You’re not obligated to answer all your questions, but you do need to be a good citizen and let your readers know what kind of questions you’ll take.

Goodreads suggests guiding your readers to ask following types of questions:

• The author’s writing process
• The author’s favorite writers or influences
• Questions about specific characters or moments in books
• Questions about author’s writing life (not personal life)

. . . .

3. Distribute Your Answers Over Time

The answers in Ask The Author get posted in a newsfeed. So if you put a little time between your answers they won’t all appear in a clump and your fans will receive them on a more consistent, regular basis.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to Jan for the tip.

The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post

9 June 2014

From Buffer:

The 7 essential elements of a perfect blog post

I can often get wrapped up in making sure that every little detail of a blog post is perfect. No doubt I could list way more than seven elements from perfect blog posts, but these seven seem to cover all the most important bases.

  1. Headline: the 6 words that count most
  2. Storytelling hook
  3. Fewer characters per line at first
  4. Featured image
  5. Subheads for scanning
  6. Content and the 1,500-word sweet spot
  7. Soundbites for sharing

. . . .

Eight out of 10 people will read your headline. Two out of 10 will read the rest of what you wrote.

. . . .

Readers tend to absorb the first three words of a headline and the last three words. These numbers via KISSmetrics come straight from usability research, revealing that we don’t just scan body copy—we scan headlines, too.

Of course, few headlines will be six words long in total. In those cases, it’s important to make the first three words and the last three words stand out as much as possible.

. . . .

Beyond those specific numbers, there is extensive advice on the techniques for writing a great headline. And I do mean extensive. At last check, there were 56 million results in a Google search for “how to write a great headline.” We enjoy pairing the workflow of headline writing with the science of human psychology. With that in mind, here are eight headline strategies that are backed by psychology.

  1. Surprise – “This Is Not a Perfect Blog Post (But It Could’ve Been)”
  2. Questions – “Do You Know How to Create the Perfect Blog Post?”
  3. Curiosity gap – “10 Ingredients in a Perfect Blog Post. Number 9 Is Impossible!”
  4. Negatives – “Never Write a Boring Blog Post Again”
  5. How to – “How to Create a Perfect Blog Post”
  6. Numbers – “10 Tips to Creating a Perfect Blog Post”
  7. Audience referencing – “For People on the Verge of Writing the Perfect Blog Post”
  8. Specificity – “The 6-Part Process to Getting Twice the Traffic to Your Blog Post”

You can also learn a lot from the headlines of high-traffic blogs. Lenka Istvanova developed a headline formula based on her analysis of best practices for headlines that get clicks. The formula goes like this:

Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise

Link to the rest at Buffer

Ask Your Favorite Author or Fellow Readers Questions on Goodreads

23 May 2014

From the Goodreads Blog:

If you could ask Margaret Atwood, Khaled Hosseini, or James Patterson anything, what would it be? Maybe you want to know their writing inspiration, what they read as a guilty pleasure, or you have a burning question about one of their bestsellers. Now’s your chance because these three are among the 54 major authors who are helping us launch an exciting new program on Goodreads—Ask the Author!

Ask the Author allows readers to ask questions and get answers from their favorite authors. At Goodreads, we believe the relationship between authors and readers is very special. Authors tell stories and create worlds that spark the imaginations of their readers. Now readers can deepen that connection by asking questions about the new worlds, ideas, and people they’ve discovered in books.

Starting today, you can submit your questions directly to any of the 54 authors participating in the Ask the Author launch. (Full list below!) If an author answers your question you’ll be notified, and every answer will be shared on the author’s page so that other readers can enjoy them, too. In the coming weeks, all of the 100,000+ authors in the Goodreads Author program will be able to opt in to the feature. (To check whether an author is participating, visit his or her author profile and look for the “Ask the Author” section.)

Link to the rest at Goodreads Blog

What Should We Do with the Online Undead?

21 May 2014

From io9:

The Internet has given us a kind of digital afterlife, where our online activities can be preserved and memorialized like fossils in a rock. We talked to an expert about how your friends, family, and complete strangers will use the Internet to remember you long after you’re gone.

One person who’s given this subject considerable thought is Sarah Cashmore, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. I contacted her to learn more about this subject — one that’s affected her quite personally.

io9: Tell us how you came to be interested in digital afterlives.

Sarah Cashmore: I sort of fell into this issue. My personal experience is that back in 2009, a close Twitter friend of mine, Mac Tonnies, passed away very suddenly. Mac was a science fiction writer and prolific blogger who left behind a lot of unique digital content and many friends who loved him. His blog, Posthuman Blues, was a collection of everything that interested him; it was a wonderfully weird curated collection of esoterica he scoured the internet for. After he passed away, there was a growing concern among his friends what would become of his online legacy; for many of us who hadn’t met him in person, his online presence was the only way we knew him, so it was very important to us to preserve it. His legacy consisted not only of his online materials, but also the friendships he had developed.

. . . .

 One friend, Mark, took it upon himself to back up Mac’s websites. This required him to collaborate with Mac’s parents, who were taking care of Mac’s affairs, because it took some figuring out where his credit card charges were going, and so on. But Mark bought some hosting space and archived everything so we wouldn’t lose it. Everyone appreciated Mark’s incurring that cost, because no one really knew what was going to happen to the site. I still don’t think the policies around blogs is very clear. Anything could happen.

. . . .

I, on the other hand, wanted to maintain the community of his friends. After news of his passing spread, there was a period of about a week where Mac’s online Twitter friends found each other through hashtagging his name, and we just introduced ourselves to each other, shared condolences and shared memories. I met dozens of people, each as grief-stricken as I was, many of whom had never met Mac in person but were very devoted to him and devastated by the loss of this friend. I started Macbots as an outlet for these friends I’d met to continue sharing, and hopefully heal through expressing themselves, creatively or otherwise, to a community of Mac’s friends who understood how it felt to lose this unique friend.

Macbots began as a tribute site that I thought might be geared toward his more artistic friends. I just thought that a site for posting fan art might be a fun way for his friends to commemorate such a special guy. But I never really pressed the idea; it was just a suggestion. I didn’t want to take ownership of the blog; I just wanted to set up a collaborative space for Mac’s friends. I added anyone who contacted me as Mac’s friend as an author so they could add to the site as they pleased. And whereas some people did create artistic pieces, there are also a lot of posts that are just messages from us to Mac, and us to each other. A really special day was when Mac’s mom Dana send me sci-fi pictures and short stories Mac had created as a child to post on the site. And it’s amazing, but all this time later, we still have visitors to the site every day.

. . . .

There are also some philosophical and metaphysical considerations to be had. What does it mean to have our digital echoes reverberate throughout the Web after we’re dead? And can that be seen as a kind of immortality?

I think the issue of using social media to bereave a friend points to a problem that goes for any cultural institution: as soon as you institutionalize a way of doing something, you open a possibility for responses to become artificial very quickly. For this reason, I don’t think there should be one way of bereaving a friend online. I think the lesson to be learned here is that the internet needs to be open, and that we need to stay free to create our own spaces and new ways of communicating, on our own terms. Without that, I fear we may become inauthentic.

. . . .

 Another philosophical question this raises is what is the nature of a person’s life? If you see a person’s cultural contributions as a literal extension of him- or herself, as advocates of meme theory do, a website such as Posthuman Blues, or the memories I share with the Macbot community, is as real a part of my friend Mac as his physical body. And if you believe our physical environment actively supports our memories, as proponents of the extended mind philosophy do, then people who are looking to these digital archives and communities may be doing more than just reminiscing — they may be engaging in a kind of socializing we’ve never taken seriously before.

Link to the rest at io9

Wordfence

21 May 2014

A few weeks ago PG added an additional security plugin to The Passive Voice. It’s called Wordfence and both free and paid versions are available at plugin world on the WordPress mother ship.

Wordfence does a lot of mundane things, but its most interesting feature is that it can be configured to send PG an email every time someone tries to hack into The Passive Voice.

The first surprise is how often someone somewhere tries to break in. Usually several times per day. PG knows this isn’t anywhere close to as frequently as people try to hack the NSA’s prime targets, but he was still surprised.

The second surprise comes because the emails include the IP address of the would-be hacker. As expected, there’s a lot of action from countries comprising the former Soviet block and from various places in Asia, but every once in awhile, PG will get an IP from Manhattan.

Now, PG doesn’t want to start any conspiracy theories, but, in addition to undoubtedly being the location of some garden-variety hackers, Manhattan is, of course, the capital of Big Publishing.

Anybody who looked like they were from New York would set off car alarms and make the dogs howl if they came to Casa PG, so maybe this is the best they can do.

Is Someone Being Annoying on Twitter? Now You Can Mute Them!

13 May 2014

From PC Magazine:

Have you ever seen an annoying tweet in your feed and wished there was a way to shut that person up without having to take the drastic measure of completely unfollowing them? Now there’s a way!

Twitter on Monday announced it is rolling out an oft-requested “mute” option for the Web and for its iOS and Android mobile apps. The new feature will be making its way to all Twitter users over the coming weeks.

“In the same way you can turn on device notifications so you never miss a Tweet from your favorite users, you can now mute users you’d like to hear from less,” Twitter said on its official blog. “Muting a user on Twitter means their Tweets and Retweets will no longer be visible in your home timeline, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user.”

Muting lets you have all the benefits of following someone without actually having to see what they say.

Link to the rest at PC Magazine

Judge tells father to stop emailing his children in all capital letters

9 May 2014

From The Telegraph:

 An “insensitive” father banned by the courts from seeing his children has been warned by ajudge not to type his emails to them in capitals – because it looks like he is shouting.

The Israeli father was fighting in the High Court for direct contact with the boy and girl, aged 13 and nine, after a collapse in their family relationship.

His marriage to their mother had broken down and a protracted legal battle has seen them moved back and forth between England and Israel.

. . . .

The children also felt that their father’s emails to them – written sometimes exclusively in capitals and others in large fonts – were “equivalent to him shouting”.

The judge said the emails were an example of the father’s “insensitivity” and that a family assistance officer should help him write more “suitable” communications.

“He needs help to make his messages appropriate and child friendly,” said the judge. “There’s nothing worse than an email suggestive that the sender is shouting at you.”

Link to the rest at The Telegraph and thanks to Randall for the tip.

7 Totally Epic Rules For Writing on the Internet

7 May 2014

Particularly applicable for sites with advertising from Patheos:

1. A prostitute has sex for money. Internet-writers write about sex for money. Try your utmost to remember the difference between your writing and prostitution.

. . . .

5.  An Internet-writer is judged on his ability to fulfill the promise of gratification hyperbolically stated at the beginning of his work. If you find it difficult to make your writing immediately gratifying, consider that it is the same thing as making your writing immediately forgettable. As a pear on the very verge of rot smells immediately sweet, as the lively kicking of the mortally ill is only an assurance of their final stiffening, and as the immediacy of the fashion trend is a promise that it will not transcend its own fashionability, so the immediacy of pleasure promised by an Internet-article is dialectically the promise that the article is on its road to death. If your writing is good because it gratifies a drive for novelty, promising “Things You Wish You Knew About ______,” then it must become bad in the reading which renders it old, the “Things You Wish You Knew” known.  No one re-reads their favorite BuzzFeed articles — they are killed in the reading, and a good Internet-writer is known by the popular corpses he leaves in his strut.

. . . .

7. Given a choice between stimulating the interest of a million people or ennobling the life of one, the former pays. Write then, for the crowd. To the extent a writer wants to engage not the particular person, but the crowd, is the extent to which he must destroy the personality of his own writing. For personality in writing is an invitation to personal relation, by which the reader encounters your writing as splaying outwards from an unrepeatable first-person perspective of the Cosmos. This encounter is not to be understood in an autobiographical sense, as when the reader leaves a work knowing things about the writer. To read Dostoyevsky is to encounter the unique person which is always the source of his work, a deeper encounter than any factual information about Dostoyevsky can provide.

Link to the rest at Patheos and thanks to Rick for the tip.

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