What do you think is happening with newer social media tools like Google Plus and Klout, should writers be jumping on board? Or should they wait and see?
Um, so you had to ask the hard questions first, did ya?
Well, first let me say that I am so honored to be here. Thank you so much for having me!
Now have we all forgotten that silly first question? Okay, okay, I’ll answer. My approach is wait and see on Google +. I feel that writers should be writing, but many of these social media tools simply become time sucks. In a brilliant interview, John Mayer talked about how “pouring creativity into smaller, less important outlets like Twitter” is distracting. While networking is important, dedication to your art must come first. This is a long way to me saying that Google+ has not earned enough media impact for me to dedicate time to it yet. I stick with the social media that reaches the most people and has been proven effective because my time is valuable.
Klout doesn’t really take any time so go ahead and sign up for it if you are curious. It measures your “social influence” by tracking all your social media and seeing how many people you impact with your activities. It’s interesting, but can be somewhat deceiving because it compares joe shmoe to big corporate media moguls. If you use Klout, use it to measure your own growth, not to compare.
What is the most undervalued social media tool? Why?
Oh, goodness, there are a few. But if I had to pick one I would say Google Analytics. Mostly it’s undervalued because people don’t know how to use it to their benefit. But it is an excellent statistics tool that monitors the traffic on your blog and website. Using blogger’s built in statistics is not the same thing. Google Analytics can help you see not only what posts people read but how long they stay on your site, how deep into your site they go and where they exited your site at. It’s a really awesome tool. Even if it is essentially another Google version of big brother. ;)
A close second for favorite tools is Hootsuite. And if I think about it long enough I’ll say it’s my favorite. Hootsuite is awesome because it lets you manage many sites from one place. This means I can post to Twitter and Facebook at the same time – multiple Facebook pages, even. Yes, many RSS feeds allow you to be able to sync this info, but usually they are in real time. Hootsuite lets you schedule ahead. So if you are about to debut a new book and you are going to be busy at your launch party, you can schedule your shout out about your plans weeks in advance. Okay, now that I’m talking about it, I put Hootsuite as number one and Google Analytics as the close second. I can do that, right?
What is the one social media outlet writers should be on top of?
Well, Kristen Lamb would say Twitter. But I’m going to say Facebook. And it’s not just because I’m not that into Twitter, but it makes more sense. Tweets are sent into the universe and become old within minutes. Facebook holds your posts in a much less “noisy” newsfeed. Plus, statistically, 73% of internet users are on Facebook. 19% of internet users are on Twitter. That’s probably a little higher in the literary field because all of us writers have SO MUCH TO SAY, but Twitter still is not reaching the audience that Facebook can. Here’s some graphs if you want to see what I’m talking about.
What's your favorite way to build an online presence?
Making connections. Whatever medium you choose to devote your time to, making connections is really the only serious way you can build a presence. You could choose to participate in blogfests, comment on other people’s blogs, actively follow on Twitter, join groups and author pages on Facebook – whatever you choose to be involved in, really get involved. Meet people and get them talking about you.
It seems like more and more marketing campaigns are moving online (i.e. The Hunger Games movie campaign). Why is that and what can we learn from these campaigns?
Marketing in general has moved online, and, actually, expect to see more and more campaigns targeted for cell phone use. The web is where everyone is these days. We carry our smart phones around and are addicted to our iPads. If you want to reach people you have to go where they are. 79% of adults in the U.S. are on the internet. So that’s where you should market.
What we need to learn, though, is not to expect people to come to our websites and blogs just out of the blue. We need to pull people to our sites such as the Hunger Games campaign is doing. How did you first find out about the Hunger Games website? You likely heard about it via Twitter or Facebook. That’s because the website required you to use one of those logins to sign up. Then your action became an advertisement to all of your friends. That’s effective advertising.
What are some of the more effective social media campaigns you've seen?
The Hunger Games campaign has been good. The Muppets Movie also was excellent. They really hit all the social media. You can like Kermit on Facebook or follow Statler and Waldorf on Twitter. That got people excited about the movie. Of course, the Muppets had nostalgia on their side, but that could have backfired if the campaign hadn’t been set out to capture those of us who grew up with the puppets.
Another great campaign came from Diesel stores. They placed QR codes everywhere in their stores so that whenever a customer liked an item of clothing, they could scan it and it would post to their Facebook account. Again, the customer’s became the advertisers. Word of mouth is by far the biggest seller of anything. Why do you think Yelp is so successful?
Which social media sites are effective and which are dinosaurs?
This is tricky for me to answer. There are a ton of social media sites and many of them are effective for different people. I tell people to stick to the big four: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Google +. And, seriously, I wouldn’t bother with Google+. I may not say the same thing if you were one of my marketing clients, but it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Writers – get yourself on Facebook and Youtube. If you can tweet too, then great. But make sure you are spending more time actually writing than social media-ing or it’s just not worth it. As for dinosaurs, I say MySpace.
Websites are homebase for most writers. What are three elements that are essential to having an
effective website or blog?
1. Have your name in your title. Even better, have it in your address. Next best would be to have it in your subtitle.
2. Include your contact information. You’d be surprised how many people have blogs with no means of contacting the owner.
3. Have a message or a mission statement. I don’t mean to post this for people to see, but know what you’re blog is about. Are you giving authors writing advice? Are you sharing your love of books through interviews and reviews? Are you rambling your way through life? All of those are okay as long as you are consistent. This can be a confusing concept to grasp because it doesn’t mean that your writer advice blog can’t contain an anecdote about your Thanksgiving Dinner. It just means that a new visitor should be able to read one or two posts and be able to get what you are about.
From Marissa Meyer: I believe in being as many places as make sense, but when time is
limited, what should we focus on? (Twitter, blog, FB...?)
The answer is it depends. Truly evaluate your time and your goals. Then pick the social mediums that can fit your lifestyle. If you can be available a lot of the time for only a few seconds, choose Twitter. If you want to casually post, choose FB. If you can dedicate thoughtful, consistent time to it, then blog. Blogging is my number one choice for writers because writers should write and because other writers like to read writer blogs. But if you can’t dedicate the time to consistently post, then you won’t get anything out of blogging.
Gen, thanks again for having me. I am thrilled to be connected to such a talented, successful, young mother. Writing Moms rule!!
Thanks Laura! Lots of things to think about! If you have questions for Laura, you can leave them below and I will