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….

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.

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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NJRW Conference Mania

First, our winner! Last week, RoseAnn DeFranco chatted up her new book, Return to Audubon Springs and gave away a $5 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner. The commenter who receives the gift certificate is Barbara Bettis. Congratulations, Barbara, and thanks for supporting the Femmes!

This Friday, the New Jersey Romance Writers “Put Your Heart in a Book” conference begins. Keynote speaker will be Diane Cosby, and we’ll have other presentations by Connie Brockway, Eloisa James, and Margaret Mallory.

Conferences can be stressful, especially if you’re pitching. Last year, VF Maria did a FAB post on How to Get Ready for a Conference. Check it out if you need tips.

For my tips, I took the question to the mean streets of Twitter.

Screen shot 2013-10-14 at 6.13.31 PM

Here were some of the answers from our attendees:
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Risky Business

Be sure to stop by the Violet Femmes blog each week this month and comment to be entered in our contest. This month you’ll be entered to win two novels, Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins and Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas. Come back every week and leave a comment to increase your chance of winning!


I am many things. A mom. Wife. Sports fan. History buff. Shoe lover. One thing I’m not, by nature, is a risk taker. I like my little comfortable bubble where I don’t have to talk to people I don’t know or eat things I’ve never heard of. I tend to hang out on the fringes of a party, and knee-high water is about the deepest I’m willing to venture out into the ocean.

So now that I’ve shared WAAAAAY more information about myself than any of you ever wanted to know, we can talk about risk and how it relates to writing. Do you take risks as a writer? Do you push yourself to be more, to be better, to be different? Because while our comfort zone is, well, comforting, you never know what you will discover when you step outside it.

“An essential element of any art is risk. If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before? I always like to say that cinema without risk is like having no sex and expecting to have a baby. You have to take a risk.”
            —Francis Ford Coppola, Director, Producer, Wine Maker

Dare to be Different

We frequently see examples of risk in movies and television, such as when an actor takes on an unexpected role. Or the business world, with entrepreneurs who strike out on their own with nothing more than a few bucks and a wacky idea. With writing, it can feel as if everything we do is a risk. You’re putting your thoughts on the page and then sending them out into the cold, cruel world for everyone to rip apart. Isn’t that enough, universe?! Well, no. It’s not. Just because you can string a few sentences together and know where to stick the commas doesn’t mean you’re going to get noticed.

Unpublished authors frequently hear you need a “great hook” to sell a book these days. Stellar writer and character development will only get you so far. The competition is fierce, and your story premise better sound like nothing anyone’s ever heard before. Sounds daunting, right? As if we don’t have enough pressure with the darn commas!

A recent article in The New York Times claims the biggest risks in literature right now are taking place in the young adult market. I don’t really read YA so I can’t say whether this is true or not, but the author wrote:

“Here are a few audacious books you won’t find in the adult section of the library. A Holocaust memoir narrated by Death. A novel written entirely in electronic messages. A historical novel in prose poems. A murder mystery in screenplay format.”

So if you have a story idea you want to try but are worried it’s too “out there” to be marketable…that kind of idea just may make you stand out from the crowd.

Or it may make you sound like a nut job.

The point is, you’ll never know if you don’t try.

“Growing as a writer means taking chances and pushing boundaries. Not that you necessarily want to try and sell all your writing exercises, but that doesn’t mean you [shouldn’t] practice and experiment.”
                        —Josh Lanyon, Author

Breaking Out

Risk means something different to everyone. For writers, maybe it’s attending a conference for the first time or taking a writing class. Submitting to an agent or an editor. Heck, maybe it’s just allowing someone other than your mom to read your work. Or, in the case of our own VF Michele, it might be trying your hand at writing in a completely different genre. She went from writing French historicals to contemporary sports-themed stories. (And guess what? She rocks both genres.)

Occasionally, I’ll hear an unpubbed author express the reluctance to “put themselves out there.” If you stay in a writing bubble by yourself, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to network and learn from others. Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest aren’t there to SCARE you; they exist to help people connect with others, even other writers. Sites like WordPress and Blogger make it easy to set up your own blog.

At some point, you have to crawl out of your writer’s cave and start to build a name for yourself—whether you are published or not. If you don’t, how will anyone find out about you when you DO get published? The difference in the approach is huge: you’re either spamming people you don’t know to spread the word about a book they don’t care about, or you’re relying on your friends to help build word of mouth for your book. Which would you rather be on the receiving end of?

“Learn something, try something, do something else. FAIL. FAIL BIG and FAIL A LOT. Failure is always guarding the door to success.”
                        —Kristen Lamb, Author and Blogger

The Non-Traditional Route

While self-publishing is not for everyone, no one can deny it has changed the landscape. Not only does it allow writers to publish stories that might not otherwise get exposure, it also helps readers find a wide variety of non-traditional books.

Take Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, which was first posted online as Twilight fan fiction. FSOG breaks many of the rules first-time authors are told to avoid. Don’t write a story in present tense. Don’t write a first-person narrative. Don’t have too many sex scenes. Don’t use British vernacular when your characters are American. (Okay, that last one is true.) James’ trilogy has become an international sensation, despite everything we may think she did wrong. Clearly, she’s done something RIGHT because readers can’t get enough.

(Of course, if you’re going to risk breaking the rules, you have to know what the rules are first.)

So, have an idea for a story but worry it won’t sell because it’s just too wacky? Having the option to self-publish may be the little mint on your pillow every night, comforting you just enough to take the risk and write the book you want to write—whether you end up self-publishing it or not.

“Fear of failure is the reason most often cited to explain why so many aspiring writers never realize their dreams. But I think it’s that same fear of failure that absolutely invigorates those who do push through—that is, the fear of not being heard.”
                        —Betsy Lerner, Editor and Author

Fear Factor

Are you clutching your laptop like a security blanket, even though you might suspect there might be a grain of truth in what I said? I get it. I understand because I wrote in a bubble for a few years, then finally took a chance and joined the New Jersey chapter of the RWA. I couldn’t get over how nice and supportive everyone was, and I lucked out in getting an amazing critique partner (VF Maria) that then led to meeting the rest of the Violet Femmes. Exhibit A of a small risk that worked out in spades for me. My writing improved by leaps and bounds, and my life improved just by having these inspiring and talented women in it.

Beyond that, I feel I’m still learning, still stretching my skills to make myself the best writer I can. Is it working? I don’t know yet, but I hope so. After I finish my current historical WIP, I’ve got an idea for a contemporary series that I’m going to run with. Who knows, right?

So tell us—what risks do you take in your writing?

Joanna

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