I got a peek at virtual reality yesterday thanks to my old buddy Bernie Yee. He flew out from Oculus’ Seattle HQ to show me and my SVA students a peek at the future.
There were a number of demos to enjoy, but my two favorites were the Alien and the Mirror Room.
With the headset firmly on my noggin, the alien emerged on a barren landscape. He was a cute guy — long neck, kind eyes. His motion was peaceful, even deferential. The only problem with writing about the experience is that, well, I’m writing about the experience! No words will convey that the alien was right there. In front of me. I could lean forward and see up his nose (which I did). I could get too close to him and make him back away. It was easy to relate to him and I felt an attachment that made me want to know more about him.
The Mirror Room demo was a different kind of experience. Imagine being in Dumbledore’s office and standing in front of a huge mirror. But when you look in this mirror you don’t see yourself, you see the face from the witch’s mirror in Disney’s Snow White. And your face changes as you move your head around. At one point my head turned into an adorned box, with beautiful details that made me lean in close to see more. It was like being nose-to-nose with a mirror and seeing someone else. Someone magic! I think this experience was my favorite because it not only changed the world around me, it changed ME!
So thanks Bernie and Oculus for the peek at the future. It has me thinking of the storytelling possibilities. I can’t wait for the launch of the headset in 2016!
Something has to give. I’m just not sure what yet.
I’m in New York City for the next two months, teaching a marketing course at School of Visual Arts. While I’m here, I’m writing the next Shirley Link. The final draft will be done by the end of the day! I’m excited by that in ways I’ve never felt before. This Shirley adventure has been the toughest one to craft yet. By far. Part of it is that I’ve had the idea for the mystery for a long time. That meant wrestling with age-old preconceptions about how the clues would be set up, how the players would respond to them and how they’d be revealed. But once I sat down to write the book, well, none of those ideas lasted a single draft. Still, with the help of my beta readers, I’ve worked through it and I think this may be my new favorite Shirley Link book! Stay tuned for launch dates and peeks at artwork soon ;-)
Then there’s The Camelot Kids: Book Two. I found myself at 40k words before I knew it, so I know the book is primed and ready to emerge. I’ve been getting up at 5:30am every morning to work on it and that’s worked well on a number of fronts. There’s something about writing Fantasy (that’s heavy in magic) at the start of the day when the world is quiet. Magic is more present when our lives are still. But to tap it means pushing aside all concerns. It means assuring The Stress that it can come out in a little bit and do its thing. It means gently nudging strong insecurities back into whatever caves they spring from. While the story is all over the place right now, I’m excited to release the ending to a story that’s been dancing around my head for ten years.
And then there’s Atticus. The book died last night. I mean it was dead. Flatlined. It had frustrated me one too many times. I went to sleep in despair. My good idea had no legs. It had nowhere to go. It gasped for oxygen and I tried to give it some but it wasn’t enough. Then, this morning, its eyes popped open and it breathed in a lungful of air of its own making. So, on its own, it’s showed me a way forward. Now I’m more excited than ever about the story, though I also see that it’s bigger than I initially assumed.
Excited. Terrified. Tired. Pounding on three books will do that to a guy. So wish me luck. I’m headed into the final pass on Shirley Link & The Party Poopers and then I’ll be outlining the next Shirley! Yeah, you know that title I gave this post? The one that advises against writing three books at once? Well, I may be addicted to the feeling so, uh, do as I say, not as I do…
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:
- New campaign creation – ads.twitter.com
- Campaign best practices
- Twitter Ads success stories
- Website Card
- Mobile App Card
- Online conversion tracking
- Ads targeting options
- Twitter analytics
- General best practices – business.twitter.com
- Twitter Small Business Blog
I hope you found this post on how to promote a tweet useful. Let us know how your campaigns go in the comments. Good luck!
WATCH: I discuss The Camelot Kids and Shirley Link with Lindsay Buroker, Joseph Lallo & Jeffrey M. Poole
Wow, that was fun! I got to sit down with three excellent authors and talk about writing and marketing Fantasy books. We covered my philosophy on marketing (i.e. keep it comfy and save the challenge for the writing!), how artwork can help a project come to life and how authors need to go local to sell books.
If you write Fantasy or Science Fiction books then this podcast is a must. Tell ’em Ben sent you!
Watch the interview now. Notice how I’m doing a hand puppet show? It went really well! Okay, I’m kidding (maybe…)
Here’s the newest giveaway for The Camelot Kids! Click on the button above and enter to win the softcover book that collect The Camelot Kids Parts 1-4.
“If you have been waiting for a book that will take you back to the day when you first read Harry Potter, then your wait is over.” – A Chick Who Reads review (5 Stars)
“I don’t think I have had such a fun time with a book since I read Percy Jackson.” – Belle’s Beautiful Books review
What would you do if an odd girl in a cloak told you, “You know you’re a descendant of King Arthur’s knight, Lancelot, right?” You’d probably do the same thing 14-year-old New Yorker Simon Sharp does. Back away nice and slow.
But Simon learns the truth when he’s kidnapped by a drunk troll, rescued by a 7-foot man named Merlin, and thrown into training with 149 other heirs of the Knights of the Round Table.
Can Simon survive a prophecy that predicts the world will be saved through its destruction? The Camelot Kids is about one boy’s struggle to make it to tomorrow in a world both real and fantastic.
“Zackheim does an excellent job of twisting the story away from your expectations – and in places even uses your expectations, both of the genre itself and the source material, against you.” – Nicholas Pozo, Goodreads reader