Social Media 101: What’s New with Twitter?

Since its debut in 2007, the application a brainchild of Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey, you might be wondering–what’s new with Twitter? The answer to that question is that there aren’t many new or complex updates from its conception as a combination social media and SMS hotspot. However, there are some key features that authors might be overlooking on the path to making the most of a Twitter audience and book promotion.

Twitter analytics is a feature that every Twitter user, business or personal, has access to. You can find the statists of how users interact with your content by selecting the bar-graph symbol below each of your posts.

How to use it – Upon clicking the bar-graph, a window titled “Tweet Activity” will open allowing you to see exactly how many “Impressions” (people who have viewed your post); “Engagements” (how many likes, shares, or comments on your post); and “Link Clicks” (how many people have clicked the links in your post) your Tweet received. Monitoring your Tweet activity is an important piece of tracking the payoff of your efforts in comparison to the time you’ve spent creating content. If you are spending a lot of time planning Tweets and not receiving any buzz from your posts, it might be time to switch your strategy or outlet of choice. Logging activity can also help you better strategize the subject matter you Tweet about based on which of your posts gets the most traction.

Including a backlink to your website or buy link where people can purchase your book in social media posts is a great way to keep people clicking around your content for long periods of time. On Twitter, you can pin a Tweet to the top of your page containing those valuable links. This author strategy makes the Tweet containing your links the first thing users see when visiting your page.

How to use it – Each time you click on one of your own tweets, you see a dropdown arrow on the upper-right-hand side of its window. If you click on that dropdown, you are prompted by a variety of options: “Share via Direct Message,” “Copy link to Tweet,” “Embed Tweet,” “Mute This Conversation,” “Pin to your profile page,” “Delete Tweet,” and “Add to new Moment.” After selecting the Pin to your profile page option, that Tweet is now pinned to the top of your page. This ensures optimal exposure due to the fact that it’s the first thing users notice after clicking on your page. You’ll be seeing increased book sales and clicks on your website in no time!

Twitter is currently beta testing several brand-new features such as status updates and a new color-coded organization for Tweet comments. For now, you are equipped with the Twitter tools to win over new followers. If you’re still stuck on basic functions like hashtags, check out our blog post that breaks those concepts down.

Publicity 101: 5 Steps to Curating the Perfect Media List

Although it may seem like a daunting task, generating the perfect media list is an essential part of the publicity process. These lists are the foundation of your media relationships, so knowing how to go about finding the right people to pitch is crucial. Here are Claire McKinneyPR’s top five tips for curating the perfect media list:

1. Pick a subject to focus on. There internet is ripe with every resource from blogs to podcasts. Before you choose what types of outlets you want to pursue, it’s important that you have a definitive topic from which to generate your list. For example, we recently worked with a book of recipes called Sandwich’d: My Life Between the Breads; for this campaign, we created a lists of food bloggers and social media influencers.

2. Pinpoint the type of coverage you’re looking for. Now, it’s time to brainstorm what type of outlet works best for your purposes. Are you seeking reviews or features? Do you want to be online, on television, radio or podcasts? Are you looking for event coverage? Narrowing down your contact list goals will put you on the right track to getting a return on the eventual pitching portion of this process.

3. Determine which method(s) you’re going to use to acquire contact information. There are plenty of great services available to assist in generating even the most niche contact list. While we utilize some lead generation services, they do often cost a fee for the more advanced features. While this works if you have the budget, a simple Google search can often go a long way. To make the best of your Google search, be as specific as possible, exclude transitional phrases like “the,” and don’t be afraid to reach for those third-page results! Small outlets can be pivotal in generating buzz among niche communities.

4. Do your research. At this point, you’ve identified the coverage you’re looking for and collected some outlet contact information. You might have noticed that for many outlets, there are several contacts to choose from–particularly when it comes to large organizations. When pitching smaller blogs or news sites for reviews, search for an email address (and possibly a contact form) on the designated page of their website. When pitching media, look for people with these job titles:

• Newspaper & Magazines: Book Review Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor or Editor in Chief
• Radio: Program Director, News Director, or Operations Manager
• TV: News Director or Producer

5. Create an excel spreadsheet. For the lead generation services I mentioned above, you can export the lists you generate as CSV, or Comma Separated Value sheets. This enables you to neatly categorize your outlets, contact names, email addresses, phone numbers, you name it. Not only can you keep this information for projects to come conveniently on your desktop, but you can also keep track of addresses or other contact information changes that other websites might not. This is also a good place keep track of your results as you start pitching. Organization is the name of the game.

For more useful PR tips, check out Publicity 101: 5 PR Skills You Won’t Learn in Class. With your new and improved list generation skills, you’ll be generating leads and closing deals in no time!

Social Media 101: Instagram Updates

What’s New?

With over 800 million monthly active users (users returning to the application each month), Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world (Dustn.tv). This application is beat narrowly in web traffic by Facebook and Youtube, which you can read about in our recent post. Instagram didn’t earn its massive audience overnight -this social media staple has been around over nine years- so what’s new with Instagram updates since its launch?

Instagram Stories

Following the example of Snapchat, Instagram rolled out its story feature in August of 2016. Almost half the app’s following use this Instagram update daily (Hootsuite).

  • How to use it – You can either tap the camera icon at the upper left-hand corner of your app, or, if you haven’t already added content to your story, the plus (+) sign at the bottom edge of your photo in the story bar. This bar borders the top of your feed. Via either option, a camera view will fill your screen. You can select from several options in a scrollbar at the bottom of this screen, which we break down below:
  • Type is the brass-tacks option among the story features. This is a text-only post that allows you to choose from “Modern,” “Neon,” “Typewriter,” and “Strong” as themes at the top of your Story window. Type excludes the extras available in other Story features including filters, stickers, etc.
  • Music allows users to search from Instagram’s library via query, or by “Popular,” “Moods,” and “Genres.” Once you’ve chosen your song, you cut a clip of your choosing (up to 15 seconds in length for copywrite purposes) and post away. You can also use this feature second-hand in other Story features to give your content the perfect ambience.
  • Live allows you to interact with your audience in real-time. Once you hit “Go Live,” a feed of your viewers’ comments will begin. You can also invite any viewer to join your live -eager fans or fellow authors can really liven up your stream and build great relations between you and your following.
  • Normal is the option your Story camera defaults to. You can tap the circle, center-screen, for a photo and hold for a video. Like the other features, you can add a filter to your photo or video by tapping the sparkling smiley icon at the bottom right hand corner of your screen. After a photo or video is taken, you can add a filter; sticker (this includes location, @mentions tagging other users, hashtags, and even music just to name a few); drawing, and/or caption.
  • Boomerang uses an app that you download externally to access via Instagram. Boomerang is the trendy app that allows you to take a short video and turn it into stop-motion, repeating piece of content. Whether it’s opening your newest book or sipping a cup of coffee, Boomerang can add a modern edge to your Instagram story.
  • Superzoom is a feature that gradually focusses on a face throughout a video, as it is video only. While Superzoom focusses on the targeted face, background objects and people are blurred. You can select from five different filters to add the right mood to your post. Superzoom also excludes the extras available in other Story features.
  • Focus is similar to superzoom in the way that you target a face with your camera as the centerpiece of your content. The major difference between these two features is that you can make Focus a photo or video. Focus also excludes the filters available in superzoom, as well as the extras that other features include.
  • Rewind is another video-only feature that simply plays the content you record in reverse.
  • Hands-Free allows you to record a video without holding down the center button. Otherwise, for the features including video mentioned previously, you must hold down the center button to record. Releasing the button ends the video you’ve started -excluding the Live feature.

The Instagram Story is a great way to generate quick and consumable content for your audience without much planning; one in five Instagram stories get a direct-message response. This feature can tap into the potential audience you’ve been missing all along!

Instagram TV

IGTV was launched June of 2018, a function inspired by Snapchat and adopted by Facebook as well. Essentially, this Instagram update provides a host of channels that cable networks can’t with this innovation. Each show stars a celebrity or person of interest and lasts only minutes. IGTV not only introduces a new set of outlets for you to plug yourself and your book, but you can also create your own channel.

  • How to use it – By tapping the television icon in the upper-right-hand corner of your app, next to the direct message icon, the IGTV feed will open. There you will find a cog; upon tapping the cog a prompt to create your own channel will appear. You can either upload videos from your mobile library or record one from the application. There is no landscape layout to this feature -vertical videos only, making it optimal for mobile use. IGTV is great for users who want to publish videos longer than a minute to their Instagram audience.

If you find yourself struggling with these new Instagram updates, don’t panic. We have an infographic that breaks down the basic functions of Instagram for beginners.

Stay posted for more great information on social media for authors!

Social Media 101: What’s New with Facebook?

What began as a social networking application for students at Harvard in 2003 has blossomed.  Today it’s the social media giant that billions of authors consult every day. You can find a timeline of Facebook’s evolution here. While the social network’s growth can be neatly mapped out, it is a bit more difficult for users to understand how to use all of its newer features. That’s why we’ve decided to lay out a revamped guide to Facebook as one of the handiest tools in an author’s belt.

Social Media Stories

The Facebook Story is a newer function that you might be overlooking. Inspired by Snapchat, then adopted by Instagram, Facebook also added this feature to its dashboard in 2017.

  • How to use it – By clicking the camera icon on the upper-left-hand-side of your mobile app, you can take pictures and videos of your choosing. After that step, you will be prompted by three options: “Effects,” “Save,” and “Your Story.” The Effects option allows for different filter/sticker/text/location edits to add that extra pizzazz to your content. Save allows you to store this content on your mobile device.  Your Story allows you to load content to the designated bar at the top of your audience’s feed. You can find stories below the search bar of your app, represented by a circle containing your profile picture. You can also simultaneously load content to your story and your feed by selecting the option before you post. Each of these posts can be up to 20 seconds long and will expire after 24 hours.

This changes the game for a once text-oriented platform. The Facebook Story is a great opportunity for authors to share quick snapshots of a new book jacket, merchandise, or even your breakfast -it is a simple, free way to both promote a product and interact with your following.

Live Streaming 

Facebook Live functions as a branch of the Facebook Story. Below the search bar in the Facebook application, you will find the status bar. There are three options located in the status text box: “Live,” “Photo,” and “Check In.”

  • How to use it – Live is represented with a video camera icon; upon clicking this icon, a camera view similar to that of the Story comes up. The difference with Live is that you are sending a video in real-time to your audience. You can add a text description to your video, for example, “ARC Unboxing!” Live also comes with its own set of filters and effects, you can even invite another user to conference in your broadcast (by selecting the “Bring a Friend” option). You can choose where your Live video appears by tapping the “To:” drop-down, where you can make your broadcast public, address only your audience, or share it to specific groups you are a part of on Facebook. Like Stories, you can simultaneously upload a live broadcast to your story and your feed. Facebook live also displays how many people of your group are online, which makes choosing the most high-volume time for your broadcast a breeze.

Live is useful for broadcasting an event, making announcements about your product, or generally interacting with your audience. Users can comment on your Live broadcast and fielding those questions/comments can build a rewarding repartee between you and your following.

You can find more information on the basic functions of social media like Facebook here. Make the best of your Facebook following with these new tools!

Social Media 101: What to do if you are concerned about privacy

facebook privacy

Social media can be a useful tool for authors and personal brands. It can help with exposure, lead to new fans of your book(s), and is an easy platform to publicly engage with your audience or other book lovers like bloggers and reviewers.

The other side of that coin, however, is murky. The last week has been a storm of revelations over Facebook and how it uses information from its users by selling it to advertisers—and, once that information has been sold, your data belongs to them forever!  You can only tighten your personal Facebook privacy and security settings so that future information cannot be sold (read this New York Times article for more information on the updated privacy security settings Facebook released this week).

Worse, Facebook has allegedly been logging data from calls and texts from Google Androids—even though Facebook says they do not sell that logged data. (This article from Wall Street Journal explains.)

Now, companies and people are taking a stand against Facebook with the #DeleteFacebook movement. Mozilla is “taking a break,” and Elon Musk has removed Tesla and SpaceX pages, among others.

So what can individuals and their brands do if they’re concerned about privacy and are considering deleting social media?

If you use Facebook and other social media, and are now unsure of whether or not you want to continue, you must consider how you are going to get your brand out there.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Create a public author or brand page, but keep your personal Facebook settings private. Author and brand pages are public, so if anyone were to search you, those would come up. But what if your private Facebook account also shows up and strangers try to add you? By going into the Facebook security settings, make sure that only “Friends” or “Friends of Friends” can see your profile information, or even set it so that only you can see certain things like your current hometown or who you’re in a relationship with. In your privacy settings you can also make sure that your personal profile does not come up in web searches.
  1. If you plan on deleting Facebook, then you have to put yourself out there. If you’ve gotten rid of your social media presence, then you need to make up for it by putting yourself out there in person. Attend festivals, visit your local bookstore and library, go to conferences, meet with other authors or book lovers, and create postcards/bookmarks to drop off at local coffee shops or stores you inhabit. Read more in our blog post on how you can create visibility.
  1. Focus on a blog and newsletter. If you are concerned about your privacy, but want to have an online existence, then creating or focusing more on your website/blog and sending out an email newsletter to friends, family, and those who signed up is a good way to keep your audience updated on what’s going on with your writing endeavors.

This is all “new news” that exposes just how much Facebook was really using our data beyond their own advertising platform. The least we can all do right now is tighten our private security settings across social media platforms so that our personal data can’t be used in the way it has in the past.