So Facebook Is Dead—Now What?

As the year winds to a close, one thing seems certain on the social media front: Facebook is breathing its dying breaths. If this is the first you’re hearing of Facebook’s decline, this article from Top Dog Social Media explains the situation pretty well. The upshot is that to get your content in front of your target audience—including people who have already liked your page—you need to pay for a “boosted” post, or promote your page. How ridiculous is that? Even your die-hard fans will no longer see content you’re posting, simply because Facebook wants more money. It’s hardly a coincidence that this is happening when Facebook’s userbase is in sharp decline.Does this mean you should stop using Facebook altogether? Should you delete your profiles and pages, close up shop, and never hit “like” again? Absolutely not! Facebook still has an incredibly large following, and it would be silly to stop using a platform that you’ve already built.

What’s an author to do now that Facebook is on its way out? These are my 5 simple suggestions:

1. Pay Up

This isn’t the best strategy for someone on a budget, but it does work. The nice thing about Facebook advertising is that they let you customize your budget, so your promotion can cost less than a fancy cocktail ($5).

2. Be a Real Person

Stick to using a profile, not a fan page. I know, I know, profiles don’t have the handy-dandy analytics that are built into fan pages, but Facebook has left us little choice here. This strategy does become problematic if you exceed 5,000 friends, so only use this if you currently fall short of that maximum by at least 1,000.

3. Get Smart About Content

Share more of the content that appeals to your audience. Yes, this sounds incredibly obvious and intuitive, but it’s all too easy to get so caught up in using social media to promote your message that you lose sight of what your audience wants. In my experience, images tend to get more views, likes, shares, and comments on Facebook than any other media. Try creating your own image that relates to your core message, but doesn’t directly promote yourself or your product. Here’s an example that I made for a Twitter campaign around Be a Good in the World:

 A good heart

4. I Like to Watch

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right? Look at what some of the most successful Facebook pages in your field are doing, and learn from them. Stalk Follow as many similar pages as you can, and find out what you could be doing better (and learn from their mistakes).

5. Greener Pastures

It seems that every year there are new social networks to join, and 2013 is no exception. This year saw the popularization of Snapchat (smartphone-based app) and Vine (like twitter, but for super short videos). It can feel overwhelming to join every single new social network that emerges, but it would be foolish to ignore them. Just think about those poor souls still promoting their books on Friendster. Don’t overwhelm yourself, but do take this opportunity to try out some new places and see what fits your personal style. Not every person, brand, or product is going to fit with every social network (ex: I personally don’t understand the appeal of SoundCloud), but you’ll never know until you try.

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Social Media Is Like Dating: How to be a Hot Date

I was briefly a dating coach, and have been noticing the crossover between good practices for dating and social media. Yes, really. We’re doing this: social media is like dating, so let’s go through what it means to be a hot date.

1. First Impressions

If you walked up to a ldxkluhza-980x2000ady dressed in sweats and sneakers for your first date at a fancy restaurant, you probably wouldn’t be particularly impressed. It isn’t necessarily about being shallow or looks-obsessed; it simply indicates that even on date number one, in which she is putting her best foot forward, she seems a bit disheveled. The same goes for your social media presence. Those descriptions/about pages/profiles? Fill them out IMMEDIATELY. Get some sort of profile picture, even if it’s just a placeholder, up as soon as you join. Nobody is going to follow/like/take an interest in a profile that has a boring bio and the default picture. So, spruce yourself up a little for the first impression! Create a custom background for your Twitter page, and make a nice cover photo for Facebook.

2. Good Listeners Get All the Play

Being a good listener is actually just important for life in general. It becomes especially important when you want to establish actual two-way relationships with your social communities. Watch for trending topics and join in the conversation. Someone says they’re having a bad day? Ask them what’s going on. Twitter is an excellent example of how to make yourself a good date through engaging conversation. So many accounts tweet 24/7, but rarely pause to respond to mentions, retweet other accounts, or engage with any tweets in their stream. This is the equivalent of talking solely about yourself all night without so much as asking your date where she’s from. Luckily, this is super easy to remedy. Just take a genuine interest in your fans and followers, and extend to them the same level of human compassion that you would to somebody you met in person.

 4. Ms. Manners

A little courtesy goes a long way on a date, and on the internet, it practically makes you look like a saint. This should probably go without saying, but play nice. See some drama happening? Do your best to stay out of it. It’s fine to disagree with people, of course, but there’s a way to do it that doesn’t make you look like a 13-year-old, I promise. It really does make you look unprofessional and unlikable if you are constantly engaging in flame wars. If someone is truly upsetting you, spouting bigotry, or otherwise making you uncomfortable, use that block button and move on. Sweet people on the internet are rare enough that they stand out and shine.

5. Keep it Short and Sweet

Ever have a date that just drags on and on? This is why the optimal first date is coffee, and the most successful posts tend to be short and to the point. There are definitely exceptions to this; Google Plus, for instance, favors in-depth and comprehensive text posts. But on the whole, the easier it is to digest, the more attention it will garner. There’s a reason that short form social media has taken off in recent years (Twitter, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest). Don’t be that guy who spends three hours yammering on about his exciting new project at work while his date slowly backs away. Just don’t.

6. Play the Field

Why stick with just one (or two or three … ) social platforms, when there is a whole host of them just waiting to be explored? Don’t be afraid to play around and experiment with your social sites. You wouldn’t get married after just one date, right? … Right? So don’t tie yourself down to one platform just because you’re used to it.

7. Size Matters Less than You Think

It’s not the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean. It’s not the amount of followers that counts, but how you’re engaging with them. I know people with over 100k followers on Twitter who get almost zero actual interaction with their multitude of “fans.” There’s a common misconception in social media marketing that the best thing for every account is to grow followers. While this is true to a certain extent, since you don’t want to be posting statuses for nobody to see, it’s arguably more important to form relationships with your current audience than to constantly grow it. After all, even if a million people like your Facebook page, if they all skip over your statuses without so much as a quick read, you aren’t actually spreading your message to anyone.

8. Looks Do Matter (at Least a Little)

No, not your looks, silly. Visual content is consistently shared more than any other form, and also tends to elicit more emotion than text alone. Part of the reason for this is that they require far less time to process than, say, a wall of text. People like to instantly “get” something. Try sharing some pictures, either original content or found online, and I can promise you’ll see an increase in engagement.

Questions? Comments? Want to know more about how you can improve your social strategy? Leave a comment, and sign up for my social media newsletter.

How to Find Fresh Content to Share on Social Media

eukibjpzI frequently say that a social media presence should be only 10% self promotion, and 90% interesting content. So, what exactly should you be posting for that extra 90%, and where do you find it?

PS – if you’re too busy to read an article right now, or you’d like a more detailed explanation, listen to episode three of Giving Books a Voice.

Reddit

It’s called the “front page of the internet” for a reason. Despite its (well-earned) reputation as a hotbed of controversy, racism, and sexism, Reddit is also a treasure trove of brand new content. Beat the crowds and find the hottest content before anyone else sees it by browsing “subreddits,” subsections of the site based around specific topics, for stories and content related to your interests. For generally bookish content, r/books is a goldmine, andr/news consistently links important stories before they hit mainstream media.

Phone a Friend

Okay, maybe you don’t need to actually call them, but do take a look at their social media accounts. Find your peers, colleagues, and even your competitors, and see who’s posting interesting articles and photos. Retweet them, share from their page, or at least tag them to give them finder’s credit, and it’s all kosher. For an example of a go-to social media account for bookish folks, head on over to Books Rock My World, a wildly popular Facebook page that shares mainly images.

Tumblr

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I do talk an awful lot about tumblr, but there’s a reason—it’s awesome. Tumblr is an incredibly rich resource, especially for visual content. It’s also incredibly easy to use and navigate. For bookish material, I check the “literature” tag frequently, as well as “books” and “reading.”

Scoop It

Scoop.It will deliver a hand-picked (okay, it’s algorithm-picked) selection of content directly to your inbox. The daily email gathers that day’s most interesting articles on topics of your choice, including books, business, and technology. There are also Android and iOS apps available for Scoop.it, if you’re more mobile-inclined.  You can just stick around for the content suggestions, or you can create your own channel and build a following of your own around a specific topic—essentially, you’re curating an online magazine that takes just a few minutes to create.

Buffer

Though Bufferapp is mostly thought of as a social media management tool, it’s also great for discovering shareable content. Simply navigate to the “suggestions” section, and find five ready-to-go pieces of content, including quotes, images, and articles. Personally, I prefer to write my own tweets so they sounds like “me,” but the pre-written suggestions are still a helpful start, and often inspire me to find more interesting content on my own.

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5 Foolproof Social Media Strategies for the New Year

1. When in Doubt, Post Pictures of Cute Baby Animals

See? Works every time. I bet you already want to buy my goods and/or service just based on this adorable bear.

2. Share Other People’s Content

Out of ideas? Promote other people. Not only is this a nice thing to do, but it will also keep your audience entertained. Authors are usually already pretty good at this, what with guest posts and blog hops, but what about on social media? The retweet, share, repin, etc. buttons are your friends!

3. Get Personal

Share what’s going on in your life, not just what’s happening with your books. Do I want to know what sandwich my favorite author is eating for lunch? Perhaps not, but I’d love to know what’s on her nightstand right now, and what her favorite song is. A good ratio to remember is 1 part self promo to 9 parts personal/general interest.

4. Picture This

I’ve said this before and I will say it again: image-based posts are almost always the most effective and popular, across almost every social network. Does that mean you should only post pictures? Nah, but chances are you could stand to post a few more. These can be pics of yourself, an infographic, a beautifully designed quote—the possibilities are endless.

5. Keep it Real

If you’re always sunny and chipper 100% of the time, and don’t let your followers see your human side, you might lose a bit of their trust. Even Elle Woods has a bad day every now and again, you know? That said, don’t turn your social channels into a therapy couch, but a “today wasn’t the best” or “God I could use some coffee” tweet can actually make your readers connect with you more.