Tech Tips for Writers: Facebook Profiles vs. Pages

Let’s face it. Facebook is a necessary evil for most writers. Most people I know have a love/hate relationship with the social network. But it’s hard to deny the reach and effectiveness.

There’s a lot to learn about Facebook, but one of the most frequently asked questions is, What is the difference between a personal profile and a page?

The Definition

Every user who signs up for Facebook starts with a PERSONAL PROFILE. This is your hub, where other users FRIEND you. It is for individuals and non-commercial use. Right now, the cap for the number of friends you can have is 5,000.

Screen shot 2014-11-02 at 6.34.16 PM
(Personal Profile: Note the personal info along the left column, and the “Friends” tab.)

A PAGE is like a basic timeline connected to a personal profile. This is a marketing tool where users LIKE your Page.

Screen shot 2014-11-02 at 6.34.51 PM
(Page: Note the Likes counter and the different menu items, including “Insights”.)

You cannot have a Page on Facebook without having a Personal Profile. However, owners of Pages are anonymous to the Facebook user, so don’t worry that your Page will give away your true identity, Batman. You may also have multiple Pages associated with one Personal Profile. Each Page can also have multiple administrators.

The Specifics

Pages and Profiles operate in some similar ways, but they have crucial differences.

A Profile allows you to:

  • friend others
  • join groups
  • create/join events

A Page allows you to:

  • create events
  • promote offers
  • run ads (either by promoting your page or boosting a post)
  • schedule posts
  • gather insights about your fans
  • track the effectiveness of your posts
  • compare the effectiveness of your Page to similar Pages

Do I Need a Page if I Have a Profile?

Probably. Both have different purposes. If you want to gather data about your fans, you’ll need the Insights feature on the Page. This tells you who your fans are, when they’re online, and other interesting details to help you target your book-buying audience.

In my experience, Personal Profiles are more casual. These are for funny things you see online, photos, quizzes, and randomness. A Page is a marketing tool, used to market either yourself or your books. Some overlap exists, sure. But if you meet an agent or editor, are you going to give them the URL to your Personal Profile or your Page? No contest. The Page is your professional first stop.

And Finally…

As I said, Personal Profiles have a cap of 5,000 friends. There is no cap for the number of likes your page can acquire, and anyone can like your Page.

Along those lines, you should NOT blindly accept every friend request you get. Spammers are rampant on Facebook, and they have been known to hijack Personal Profiles, then contact every person on the hacked profile account. Every friend request should be vetted. Visit that person’s profile. Do you have friends in common? Did they join Facebook in the last few weeks? Do they list themselves as male, but have a female profile photo? BE CAREFUL who you friend. I do not accept every friend request, and if they look sketchy…sorry, Charlie.

For how to set up a Personal Profile or a Page, visit this post from Mashable.

Did this answer all your Page/Profile questions? Continue the discussion below….

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Tech Tips for Writers: Make Your Own Quote Cards

One of the things I’m having fun doing while procrastinating taking breaks from writing is creating quote cards to promote my upcoming books.

c50447debbe6265a997d7a364fb01ef7I’m sure you’ve all seen what quote cards are on either Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. They are those cool photos with fancy fonts and pithy sayings from famous people. These can be a fun way to create an easy, sharable piece of your book online.

Why Visual?

  • People are 44% more likely to engage with visual content.
  • Facebook says posts with photos get 120% more engagement.
  • They’re short and not a huge time investment to read.

The quote cards can be dramatic or simple. What matters is that they are eye-catching–and great content helps, too! Pick 1-2 witty or sexy sentences and a legible font. Remember, brevity is best.

I opened Photoshop and just started playing around to make a few quote cards for my April release, The Courtesan Duchess.

courtesan_duchess_03

But good news! You don’t need Photoshop to do this…

Sites to Make Quote Cards

Here are some free sites I’ve found to make quote cards. Each are easy to navigate with a WYSIWYG editor:

Some of these sites are geared for Pinterest, making it really easy to pin your quote. Most allow you to download or save them locally, in case you want to share elsewhere.

You can even make your own Some e-Cards, which are those hilarious cards with funny drawings you see circulating on the net.

images-1

I really love the quote cards Elizabeth Hoyt is circulating right now for her upcoming release, Darling Beast. No doubt these were done by a graphic designer, however, not one of the create-your-own sites listed above. Regardless, aren’t they pretty?

ec716d1549857017366ee690d6405746

See what she’s done? Website. Book title. Book cover. Release date. Short quote. Engaging, simple background image. Easy to read font. It’s VERY well done.

Have you made quote cards? If so, feel free to share them and/or tips!

What is the Shelf Life of Your Social Media?

ohSgCM0The Internet is forever…or is it?

If you’re active in social media, you likely struggle with how often to tweet or post, especially when you have something to promote (like a book). How can we get our message across to the most number of people without pissing everyone off?

A first step in figuring out what works for your needs is to learn more about the shelf life of your posts on social media. You’ve posted it…now who will see it?

Twitter

In any given minute, 277,000 tweets are sent on Twitter. That is a lot of competition.

So it may not surprise you to learn the life of your tweet is short. Some estimates place it at one hour, but some estimates have it as low as 18 minutes.

Facebook

Facebook’s lifetime is also short. Check out this graph by Wisemetrics:

Lifespan-of-a-Facebook-post

A breakdown of what you see here is…

  • 75% of the engagement on your posts happens in the first two hours.
  • after 2.5 hours, your post will have made 75% of its lifetime impressions.
  • after just under 2 hours, your post will have achieved 75% of its reach.

LinkedIn

The third-largest social media site, LinkedIn is a professional networking site. Your reach depends on your number of connections, but it’s generally thought that posts here live around 24 hours.

It’s also tricky because the site’s focus is less promotional and more professional. Your promotional tweets may not be well received by your connections.

Pinterest

Pinterest may be the fourth biggest social media site but, because of its visual appeal and the way the site is used, Pinterest posts have a longer shelf life than the rest. It’s less a “news” site (like FB and Twitter) and used more for inspiration. It also doesn’t hurt that Pinterest’s design is an infinite scroll, so you can see older content more easily.

pinlag1

This report found that:

  • 40% of clicks happen within the first day.
  • 70% of clicks happen in the first two days.
  • Remaining 30% of clicks occur in the next 30 days.

People respond more often to visual content, which is why Pinterest and Instagram are taking off. It also explains why FB and Twitter posts with photos get better engagement (retweets, likes, shares, comments).

So More is Better, Right?

Not necessarily. Posting the same promotional messages on a strict timetable is a bad idea. (On Twitter, this is expressly against their Terms of Service.) You are not a spammer or an autobot, you’re a human being. People want to connect with YOU on social media, not your book. Yes, share news when you have it, but do so sparingly. Respectfully.

There are many theories out there for what percentages of your content should be personal, from others, and promotional in nature. Of all the ratio theories, what’s important is the promotional number is always the smallest. So whatever you decide, know that your personal and shared content should far outweigh the promotional.

If you do retweet or repost a promotional message, vary it slightly so it looks fresh. No one wants to see the same-old, same-old three or four times.

Nothing fancy. I added “In case you missed it” and tweaked the title.

In the end, I think this list of 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon says it all:

00-show-list-500x666

So what have you found works for you on social media?

Tech Tips for Writers: The Numbers Game of Social Media

Basis CMYK
Want more followers?

We’ll get your page more likes!

Grow your social status NOW!

Ever feel like you’re in a popularity contest and everyone else is ahead? Sometimes social media can feel that way, especially when you’re just starting up your brand. There’s an ever-present temptation to build, build, BUILD upon those numbers so you can brag at conferences how many likes, followers, and fans you have.

But beware. Resist the temptation. (**waggles fingers at your eyes.**)

There may be a benefit to having bragging rights when it comes to your popularity, but remember that what you’re going for in social media is ENGAGEMENT.

Yes, your reach (the number of people who see your content) is important. And the more people you can reach, the better, right?

Not necessarily.

As an author, you are, in effect, a small business. You’re a brand. Which means you’re in social media to market your brand. (Yes, you’re there to have fun and learn, too. But let’s talk about selling something–in this case books.) In marketing, you need to reach the right people at the right time with the right message. Sounds easy, right? (Hint: it’s not.)

In order to reach the right people, however, you have to know who they are. Are they the 5,000 followers or fans you purchased online from a click farm…or are they the 500 followers you’ve built up by engaging and interacting online yourself?

I’m guessing you don’t need me to answer that.

Quality vs. Quantity

Last year an interesting study compared Tiffany and Wal-Mart’s social media activities to see which giant was more successful.

In the first half of 2013, Tiffany & Co. garnered the highest engagement ranking of any retailer–defined as fan actions per post–by focusing on relatively few but aspirational, high-quality, image-driven content. In contrast, Wal-Mart published more posts than any other retailer but generated far less engagement per post.

Overall, Tiffany & Co. had 5.3 million fan actions in the first half of 2013 and Wal-Mart had 11.8 million. However, Wal-Mart published nearly six times the number of posts in that time period.

Wouldn’t you rather get more bang for your buck? Me, too.

So know where to find your audience. Are you looking for older women? Pinterest is your best bet. Are you looking for men outside the U.S.? Then Google+ is where you should be.

Also know when to put your message out. Posts between 11 AM and 2 PM have been found as the best time, with Thursdays and Fridays the best days.

Work smarter, not harder.

Thwart the Spammers

When I get a suspicious friend request on Facebook, I always go to that person’s profile to determine if it’s a spammer or if it’s a real person. (How can I tell? The person has only a few friends or we have only a few friends in common. If the profile picture is a man and the gender claims to be female. If they’ve joined Facebook in the last week. These are a few red flags.) 99 times out of 100, it’s a fake FB account. And what is astounding is that I see the number of my connections who have blindly accepted this friend request.

Look, we all want to be NICE. I like having friends. I’m not saying don’t friend me on Facebook. But if you’re a spammer…yeah, don’t friend me on Facebook.

So check your friend requests. Beware of spammers. Be choosy. You don’t need more friends, more followers, more fans.

Facebook Down Plays the Likes

Even Facebook is down playing the number of likes a page has. Check out where the likes are in the old fan page design:

old_fb_timeline

Now see the new design:

new_fb_timeline

Hard to find it, isn’t it? The likes are on the far left hand side of the page, under the photos. Likes, fans, and number of followers are not the end result. The end result is to find people who care about what you’re doing/saying and to build relationships.

How to Gauge Your Social Media Success

  • Are you getting out what you put in?
    If you aren’t bothering to spend time on social media, then don’t be surprised not to get anything out of it. Yes, Lady Gaga has tons of followers, but even she posts obsessively on Instagram.

  • The stats
    You can use Google Analytics, Klout, Wildfire’s Social Media Monitor, and even HootSuite to keep track of your analytics. It can help you determine which messages are working and which are not. Facebook Insights will tell you all sorts of interesting info on your fans, too.

  • Are users engaging with you?
    Do you get retweets? Reposts? Repins? If you do, then chances are you’re successful.

  • Do you enjoy it?
    If the answer is no, then find a social media platform you enjoy and stick with it. There are many to choose from and you may find Instagram or Pinterest more interesting than Twitter or Tumblr.

So whether you have 5 or 5,000 fans, have fun on social media and remember: it’s not just a numbers game.


Joanna Shupe can mostly be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Unless you’re a spammer.

Good Cover Design, Part 2

In Part 1 of Good Cover Design, I discussed Genre, Keeping it Simple, and Instant Readability. Here’s the link to that post if you missed it: https://thevioletfemmes.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/good-cover-design-part-1-2/. Today’s topics are: Clear Branding, Basic Design Principles, Trusting your Gut, and Working with a Professional Cover Designer.

[Please remember that I am not distinguishing here between self-pubbed examples and traditionally published ones in this post. I use the author’s name for simplicity, and my focus is simply Good Design. In some cases, yes, the design decisions were made by the authors, in others, kudos go to the publisher’s design (and perhaps marketing) departments.]

Image

Courtney Milan’s The Brothers Sinister Series

Image

Kristan Higgins’s Blue Heron Series

Image

Debra Webb’s Faces of Evil Series

Clear branding: Not only do you have to hit the genre correctly, it’s smart to develop an AUTHOR brand—a consistent treatment that speaks to your voice, your style, your genre—in other words, what a reader expects to find in a book written by YOU. The examples that always come to mind for me are Courtney Milan’s The Brothers Sinister series of historicals (same type treatment, a lone heroine, a jewel-colored dress, and muted wallpaper background), Kristan Higgins’s Blue Heron contemporary romances (happy color, spring/summer scenes, simple type that speaks to contemporaries with humor), and Debra Webb’s Faces of Evil romantic suspense’s (clearly dark and dangerous, heavy hitting, and part of a series. How cool is that film strip with the number of the book in the series? And wow do those solid background colors leap out at you). You don’t have to write a series, however, to make your name/your brand, recognizable. Kristan Higgins’s other books have similar art, the same overall style, and always the size and treatment of her name. Do note, however, that in all cases, the author’s name is more prominent than the book title. The authors I mentioned in Part 1 are known for following this principle as well. Many argue that the author’s name is the single most important aspect of the cover. Another point that bears mentioning is to make it easy on yourself: don’t choose a design that’s going to be hard to implement as your series or brand marches on.

Basic design principles: you want a balanced, eye-catching design with a pleasing color scheme. Unless you are working around the art, your type shouldn’t hop around. Meaning sometimes the title is centered and the author name must be flush right where it’s readable. But if there’s room and a choice, keep it consistent for balance. As for color—go attractive but not obnoxious. Complimentary to the art you’ve chosen, contrasting enough to be easily visible. The reason those solid brights work for Debra Webb is because the film strip itself is understated and the type is all black. And certain colors denote holiday stories, others imply genre. Had we chosen red type for the grayscale Katharine Ashe cover (see last month’s post), we might have inadvertently leaned towards a typical treatment for erotica, so just be mindful of the choices you make.

Your gut: you have to like it, of course! If one design furthers your excitement over this book you slaved over and another leaves you cold? Well, there’s your answer.

Working with a Professional Cover Designer: There are loads of good cover designers out there, found by a quick web search, or via the databases of your writing groups. You can get quality, custom designs, for incredibly reasonable prices these days, and most every designer will do their best to please you. The biggest deciding factor, to my mind however, is to choose one whose design style you really love. That way, chances are good, you and your designer will be on the same page from the get go. After that, communication is key. It will help them to know exactly what you want (or don’t want), what you like, why something bothers you, etc. Most designers will welcome visual examples of books and treatments you love, as well. Much like getting general feedback on a manuscript with a rejection, a mushy “it’s missing something” or doesn’t further the process very well. So use the words and expression that are a writer’s gift, and respectfully explain.

Thanks for visiting The Violet Femmes today! Hope you found the Cover Design posts helpful!

Good Cover Design—Part 1

example Katharine Ashe's My Lady, My Lord

example Katharine Ashe’s My Lady, My Lord

Given the surge of self-publishing in recent years, more and more authors are taking their covers into their own hands. Whether you purchase a graphics program and learn the skills to do it yourself, or hire a professional book designer like me, the fact is, the author has far more control than ever before. With that control, however, also comes the burden of getting it right. Never fear, by keeping in mind a few basic principles, you, or you in conjunction with your designer, will be able to create a cover that helps you sell. Today’s post will focus on Genre, Keeping it Simple, and Instant Readability.

[Before we get started, please note that I am not distinguishing here between self-pubbed examples and traditionally published ones in this post. I use the author’s name for simplicity, and my focus is simply Good Design. In some cases, yes, the design decisions were made by the authors, in others, kudos go to the publisher’s design (and perhaps marketing) departments.]

Genre: Reader’s don’t just need a HEA in a romance, first they’ve got to know it IS a romance, and better yet, what sub-genre of romance it is. Just like it’s okay to try something a little different to garner attention (see the cover I did with Katharine Ashe for My Lady, My Lord with it’s unusual grayscale image)—at the same time you must give readers what they expect. Typical in historicals, we used an embracing couple, added more hair, period clothing, and of course, some swashy type. Your setting is a big key to depicting genre. Think Marie Force’s The Fatal Series. She fades a nighttime cityscape and a couple together, with a dark feel: obviously a romantic suspense. Bella Andre uses a couple and setting in a similar way in The Sullivans series—yet through color and choice of art, the feel is completely different. Voila, a contemporary romance. Small town contemporaries, often show a couple posed on quaint main street or square, likewise, the backdrop for a western will use lush fields, a charming barn, or a dusty landscape. Likely, you know what the conventions and expectations of your genre are—but if you need a visual reminder go to an online book retailer and pull up a specific genre via keywords or the authors you are most similar to for comparison.
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Tech Tips for Writers: Ways to Get Your Facebook Page Noticed

tech_tip_iconFacebook is undeniably the king of social media, yet the site is a mystery to many of us who use it for more than keeping up with which friends just got engaged and the most recent cat meme. It’s clear we need to better understand the social media giant if we want to be successful in growing our audience.

Let’s dig in.

The Facts

  1. 1.2 billion people are on Facebook. (Yes, that’s Billion.)
  2. Nearly one-third of American adults get their news from Facebook.
  3. Facebook accounted for one out every six minutes Americans spent online in December 2013.

The Newsfeed

imgresIn December of 2013, Facebook tweaked its Newsfeed algorithms again. The Newsfeed is what every user sees upon login, the stream of news, cat memes, photos, and links that your friends and pages are recommending. Only you don’t see them ALL—you only see what Facebook thinks you want to see. And last December’s tweaks made it a bit harder for certain types of posts to gain traction, specifically posts from Pages.

Yes, you can sort your Newsfeed by “Most Recent” (what I prefer) and “All Friends” to see a broader scope, yet I suspect many people never do this. So you need to learn how to get FB to recommend your posts if you want them seen by the largest numbers of people who have “liked” your page.

(It should be pointed out again that I’m dealing with PAGES here, not PERSONAL FB accounts. I know there are a lot of pros and cons for Page vs. Personal account, and I’m not here to debate them all. I’ll save that for a future post.)

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Tech Tips for Writers (and the Readers Who Love Them): Google+

tech_tip_icon Hi, everyone! I’m kicking off a new series on the Femmes called “Tech Tips for Writers (and the Readers Who Love Them).” In my non-writing life, I’m a bit of a tech nerd. I have worked in Web development/social media/communications for over two decades (since I was ten, obviously) and have a love for all things technical. Every now and again, I stumble upon useful tips and tricks and I thought I might share some of them here.

Tech Tip #1: Google+

While I’m active on social media, one platform I haven’t spent much time with is Google+. I have a profile, of course, but I haven’t really devoted any energy to it. First, I only have so many hours in the day (which never seems enough as it is). Second, I have been watching Google+ with a cynical, shifty-eyed squint: Would it really stick around enough to become a force to be reckoned with? I was crushed when Google discontinued Google Reader; if one of the most popular RSS aggregators couldn’t make it, what chance did Google+ have?

Well, my cynical, squinty eyes were opened recently when I started looking at social media facts from 2nd Q 2013.

Did you know…

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