Hi all. I’m sorry I haven’t posted in awhile but I’ve been working on a tool for authors that I think you’ll like if you use WordPress. Author (and coder) John Logsdon and I have been hard at work on building a bit.ly for authors. The plugin allows you to create short, trackable urls for your books. Unlike bit.ly you can bundle a slew of links to each book, which helps you spot promotions that are working well. And best of all, when you enter a book in the tool we’ll automatically create dozens of links for you. Imagine never again having to make a url for the in-book upsell to Smashwords or for that Facebook post. The links can also tell where the person clicking it is from! That means they’ll be taken to the store of their country of origin. So if they’re in India they’ll be taken to the Indian retailer.
We’re in beta right now, but Mark Dawson has added The Author Helper WordPress plugin to his list of freebies if you take his new course, Facebook Ads for Authors. I’ve dabbled in his free courses and found good results. But John has taken the full course and it did change his life, no bs. Here’s John talking about the class. If you want to learn to sell books and grow your newsletter following with Facebook ads then give it a shot. You’ll get our plugin for free when it launches!
Sci-Fi and Fantasy Humor author John Logsdon and I are having a blast with our new author podcast!
It’s called You Should Be Writing! (With the exclamation point! Just because!) We’re up to episode 14 and each one has been more fun to do than the last. Does that mean that each one is better than the last? Absolutely not even a little bit, no.
We discuss the indy book publishing world and all of its peaks, valleys, oceans and trolls under bridges. Reviews, newsletter sign ups, the newest gurus, the latest tools… we have it all. We do the podcast every Friday (though we’ve missed a few over the hectic summer). If you want to keep up to date and maybe even show up for the taping, just Like our YouTube page.
This is either a “No duh, Ben” post or a “Holy cow, that’s cool!” post. I was playing around with Facebook search the other day and found it to be much more useful than I thought. There may be a buried tool in there to help people find you and buy your book…
I typed in the name of a friend of mine to see what he’d been posting recently. I usually see much more chatter from him and I was worried about his Facebook silence. He’s also a fan of my work and we share a love of Fantasy books that will keep us close, even in the afterlife (where I’m sure our perspectives on Fantasy will likely change).
Well, I found that he’d been posting as often as ever but Facebook decided to show me less of his life. Thanks Zuckerberg!
But I noticed something cool in my friend’s Interests column. He’d recently liked Snow Crash (he’s slow sometimes) and it got me thinking.
Can I search for all of my friends who like Snow Crash?
I typed “Friends who like Snow Crash” in the field and, boom, got a list of friends who like Snow Crash. Okay, maybe that makes sense to you. Facebook is, after all, a social network!
But then I typed “Friends of my friends who like Snow Crash” and you know what? I got a list of people, most of whom I don’t know, who like Snow Crash.
How is this useful?
Well, imagine that you’re targeting lovers of Snow Crash in your marketing efforts. Now imagine you could compile a list of people who may be interested in your book and they’re a free nudge away from giving your book a shot. All you have to do is let your direct friend know that you think their friend may be interested in your work and ask them to call out their buddy in a FB post.
So this is how it would work:
1) Determine what books your book is similar to.
2) Search for friends of friends (FoF) who like each of these books.
3) Make a list of FoFs, who your mutual friend is, and which book the FoF likes.
4) On launch day, announce your book and then ask the friends with FoFs to comment on your launch post with a direct call-out like: “Hey [FoF name] I think you may enjoy this book. It’s like [Name of similar book that the FoF likes].”
Yes, you could spend a few bucks to reach the same person but they’re more likely to respond to a recommendation by a friend instead of a sponsored post in their feed.
Mind you, I haven’t tried this myself but it seems like a no-brainer way to get the word out about your book.
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Twitter. One day I think I understand it and the next day it’s filled with some faux outrage (faux-rage?) thingy that makes me want to turn the world off. But my love affair started up again once I realized that Shirley Link’s success as a perma-free book is primarily due to the cacophonous bird.
But now I want to take it a step further. I want to pay to get access to their huge audience. I want this for two reasons. First, I want to sell my $1 eBooks. Second, I want to grow my mailing list.
So I attended a great Q&A with some Twitter employees who were eager to educate me about spending my hard-earned money on their promo tools. They clarified a bunch of nifty-sounding services that you may have heard about but had zero idea how to leverage. That’s right. They gave tips on how to promote a tweet and they even explained Twitter Cards.
It turns out if you use Twitter Cards and promoted tweets together you could drive some incredible (valuable) traffic.
Here’s what they taught me.
How to promote a tweet according to Twitter:
First sign into ads.twitter.com. I’ve found this site to be the easiest way to tweet. I like the way it lets me schedule posting times AND it how it allows me to attach images with 100% guarantee that the image will show up in the actual tweet. That’s not the case on Hootsuite where I’ve found that the image often gets cut out of the tweet.
Plus, it’s the only site where you can create a Twitter Card. Why would you want to do that? read on!
I think Twitter messed up in calling these things Twitter Cards. It’s a bad name for a cool idea. When I picture a card in my mind’s eye I picture, well, a card. Like a business card. Or a playing card. A Twitter Card is more like a visible attachment that hangs from the bottom of your tweet. What else could they have called it? A Twitter Tail? A Tweet Board? Yes, those are awful ideas but you get the point.
This is an example of a tweet with a Twitter Card attached to it.
The actual Twitter Card is the lower half of the tweet, including the image, the Shop Now button and the text “Armor up with The Camelot Kids! Only $1 for a limited time.” You can make that button read anything from “Shop Now” to “Download” to “Sign Up”. The larger image spot is a great way to stand out on a busy feed.
You see the text “Want a good fantasy read? One reviewer says TCK “will take you back to the day when you first read Harry Potter…”? That’s the tweet I wrote. After I wrote it I attached the Twitter Card by pasting its url in the tweet. it’s pretty simple to set up.
But once you get a few cool Twitter Cards set up, what do you do with them? Simply put, you target your audience, set your budget, assign some tweets to the campaign (with Cards attached) and press the Fine, Take My Money button.
The one hour talk covered best practices for promoted tweets/Twitter Cards. Here are the basics, with some icing:
Experiment with targeting usernames. It allows you to get into the feed of followers of specific people.
Experiment with targeting keywords. The important thing to understand here is that keyword targeting scans for tweets in real-time on the service. They do not target overarching interests, old tweets, or bios. I didn’t know this before. Socialbro will take your money to target that kind of metadata.
Experiment with images. You may have great copy but the image might need a refresh. Play around with the most eye-catching imagery you have.
Check your dashboard often to spot places to tweak. Twitter reporting (which also resides on ads.twitter.com) is robust and relatively clear.
Set up conversion tracking to measure your campaign’s effectiveness. Just follow the steps Twitter lays out.
All pretty standard stuff so far, right? Well, here’s some good stuff to add on top:
Separate your campaigns by objectives and targeting. Don’t make a campaign that’s meant to get sales AND sign-ups. Each goal needs its own campaign.
For username targeting go for 30 names per campaign.
For interest targeting select the most specific categories possible. Do not exceed 2 interests per campaign.
Avoid using hashtags, @’s or urls in your Twitter Cards and promoted tweets.
Do 3-6 tweets per campaign to give the Twitter elves something to work with.
Twitter loves fresh content so swap in new stuff often. “Often” being a relative term that should be dictated by data in the reports.
Use the Lead Gen campaign for email sign-up campaigns.
Expect a 1-4% engagement average.
Do NOT pause and stop campaigns. This damages the performance. Plan and budget ahead. You can start small and ramp up the budget and number of tweets as you build confidence.
Here’s a list of resources they provided to get started:
The basics of social media fluctuate around the edges. Use your real voice, be useful and go heavy on images when you can. But if you look at the list below you’ll see some essentials that are harder to spot.
The basics of social media: Facebook
* Consider making a Fan page for your work. This means you can keep your personal separate from your professional connections. Yes, you can still promote your work from your personal page once in awhile (just don’t make a daily habit out of it).
* Put up a great pic in the header with the following specs: 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall on PCs. Loads fastest as an sRGB JPG file less than 100 kilobytes. If it’s more than 100k it will get pixelated!
* Share other posts and Like other pages. This will help people see your taste and influences.
* Post every blog post on Facebook as well. You can link to the post or post it in its entirety, depending on what you want to get out of the post.
* Add pictures whenever possible. Generally, people prefer images to text.
* Use Facebook Insights! This is available only to Facebook fan pages, not personal profiles. The insights will tell you what’s working and what is not.
* Contests are a wonderful way to get new followers. Use Giveaway Tools at http://giveawaytools.com/ and enable their Facebook tab feature, which will place the contest on your Facebook page.
* Post often about what’s going on, but don’t forget to ask questions, too.
The basics of social media: Twitter
* You get 140 characters for your bio. Use it well. Engage, amuse and throw in one or two hashtags to show what you’re all about.
* Snag a Twitter handle that resembles your brand/story. This will make it more memorable.
* Post a large-rez image for the twitter profile page. Use a great profile pic. Here are the dimensions:
Profile pic: 400 x 400 px
Cover photo: 1500 x 500 px
* Twitter will continue to drive people to use their profile pages so be ready if they flick the switch and make it a primary destination!
* Be nice. You can challenge people, but be respectful too. Same rules that apply to a party, apply here.
* Pin your best tweet to the top of the profile page. Here’s how:
Go to your profile page.
Find the Tweet you’d like to pin and click the ellipsis icon (•••).
Select Pin to your profile page.
* Use hashtags for your events and deals. This will help you track interest.
* Use Hootsuite! It’s a great app that lets you schedule tweets ahead of time. It also lets you follow “conversations” in their own tab. So you can follow the hashtag #infographics (for example) to see what people are saying about that subject in real time.
* Use a link shortener. These are the shortened urls that you see sometimes that “hide” the long string url. Hootsuite uses its own shortener AND it gives you access to the metrics behind that short link.
* Retweet often. You’ll find buddies this way.
* Always give credit by mentioning “via @[Twitter Name]”
* If the person who follows you shares your interests then follow back.
* Twitter is getting more visual so feel free to share images of your own and others’
The basics of social media: Blogging
* What do you bring to the table? Focus on posting about your interests, NOT what you think people are interested in reading. If you just focus on what other people are looking for then you’ll run out of inspiration after a week.
* Plan your posts a full month to one year ahead of time. By doing so, you remove the arduous task of deciding what to write about! Use a calendar to track your content plan.
* Be genuine. Your voice must be your own for it to stand out. People can spot fakery and casual-contrarians from a mile away.
* Post regularly! The kiss of death is silence. Yes, the pressure is on. You can do it.
* Don’t put Share buttons everywhere, just put them in one or two obvious places.
* Use your blog as a tool to grow your fanbase by offering the option to subscribe to your blog. This way people will get an email whenever you update the site. You can put the subscribe button in an obvious place. Every blogging platform offers a version of this feature.
* Every post must have a large title (H1), a smaller sub-title (H2) underneath and preferably some bullet points within the post. This is how people browse a post AND it’s how Google scans your page.
* Guest bloggers are waiting to post on your blog. Ask around. They’ll bring their fans with them, too.
* Guest post yourself. Find new fans by sharing your work with new people on other blogs.
* Pay attention to comments! Answer quickly and give it some thought so people know there’s a real person on the other end of the keyboard.