Social Media, Writing

Why Your Facebook Page Might Not Be Working for You

Way back when having a published book was still a dream, I started a Facebook “fan” Page. I didn’t really know what to do with it, but a few of you LIKED it because I asked you to. Since then, I’ve been sharing my blog posts to my Page and even remembering to write witty and/or informative updates—occasionally. And my number of LIKES has grown, which means I’m interacting with a lot more “fans.” Right? I don’t think so.

After Facebook went public, changes were made to insure more profit for its shareholders. If you had a Page, you noticed that Facebook began showing you the number of people who saw each update in their feed. They also offered you the ability to “boost” your updates so more people would see them. You have to pay for these boosts, of course. So what happens if you don’t boost your updates? Only a small percentage of the people who’ve LIKED your Page will ever see what you share with them.

Think about all the Pages you’ve LIKED on Facebook. Remember how you saw updates from them—for a while? If you regularly visit those pages or interact with their updates, you’ll continue seeing those updates. But if you haven’t visited those Pages recently, you’ve probably forgotten you ever clicked that LIKE button—unless those Pages are “owned” by a company or person who can afford to boost their updates. (And even those boosted updates will reach only a percentage of the Facebook users who wanted to see them.)

In short, if you don’t pay to boost, you’ll become invisible to the majority of the people who wanted to see what you say on Facebook.

For example, 299 people have chosen to LIKE my Facebook Page. How many of them saw my last update? Only 23—and that took three days! In part, I believe, that was because it contained a link to my last blog post. I’ve noticed that when I publish a status update that doesn’t contain a link, the percentage of people who see it in their feed is larger—and they see it faster. My last update without a link appeared in 20 of my followers’ feeds within one hour.

My conclusion: Facebook doesn’t want our Pages to be a successful use of our time and effort unless we pay for that privilege. Great for the Facebook shareholders. Not good for poor writers like me trying to communicate through their Facebook Pages.

So, do yourselves and those you LIKE a favor. Go to your Facebook account today. Click on your Likes and visit the Pages of those you really want to keep up to date on. Better yet, interact by clicking Like or Share on a status update on that Page—and then continue doing that when you see their updates in your feed. That way you’ll never miss out on what’s happening on the Pages you so kindly LIKED.

Inspiration, Social Media, Writing

Am I the only pinless writer out there?

I heard about Pinterest a couple of months ago. Just as I got ready to create an account, I read some discussion about the Pinterest terms of service—specifically, the part that says it’s your responsibility to pin only content that you own the copyright to or have obtained permission to use. I decided not to sign-up.

So, yeah. Have you been to Pinterest? Is anyone abiding by that copyright rule? Practically everyone I know is pinning like crazy and I’m not. Does it matter? I don’t think droves of people would flock to my board and go into a repin frenzy, but is it something I’d like to have for myself? Could I create boards for my writing projects and pin inspirational photos like so many other writers do?

What do you think? Do you Pin?

Publish, Reader, Social Media, Writing

Dear Author, You’re a Slacker

Attention writers: if you publish one book a year, you’re a slacker! So says this article in The New York Times. It says, in this age of eBooks, readers require more, more, more. Publishers advise their authors to produce short stories and novellas between full-length novels if they want to remain competitive.

Also, the article says, readers now expect to connect with their favorite authors on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and more. Long gone is the reclusive author of times past. It seems authors today need to be writing, writing, writing as well as socializing 24/7.

How is that possible?

I know writers who’ve dropped out of the social media circus to concentrate solely on writing. I don’t believe I know a writer who hasn’t considered doing that. So, if these drop-out writers feel their work suffers when they don’t give it their full attention, what does that mean for the work of writers who are trying to do it all?

My reading has slowed quite a bit since I started writing seriously. I now consider it a good month if I read two novels, so I’m not tapping my foot waiting for a few favorite authors to crank out two or more books a year. I suppose, if you’re a voracious reader and limit your reading to the works of only three or four authors, you might often be at a loss for something new to read. Then again, you could give some new authors a chance and possibly discover additional favorites.

Your turn: Do you demand more than one book a year from your favorite authors? If you’re a writer, have you stepped up production? Do you think, in this era of “impatient readers”, writing quality will suffer—or already has? Could these “impatient readers” be mythical creations born of publishers’ desperation for increased profits?

Advice, Marketing, My Books, Publish, Social Media, Writing

Just say no more!

Publishing The Brevity of Roses was the fulfillment of a dream … and then it became a nightmare. It’s been nine months since publication day, so I’ve had time to gain a new perspective on what I did wrong. One thing I’ve learned is that marketing advice—like writing advice—should never be swallowed whole.

Those of you still looking forward to publication are probably working to “establish an online presence” because that’s usually #1 on the advice lists. If you, like me, are not a social butterfly, you’ve probably discovered that being a social media butterfly is no easier. Well, maybe a little easier because you don’t have to worry about your hair and clothes—unless you go all out and do video interviews. In any case, it takes a lot of your time.

While I should have been putting all my time and energy into writing another book, I spent gobs of it on Twitter. Gobs. What did I accomplish? I amassed almost 1,700 followers! YAY—um, no. Most of those followers are other authors hoping to sell me their books. Yes, I have a few friends there. That’s good. That’s also maybe 2% of my “followers”. I don’t think Twitter has helped me sell many books.

I also created a Facebook Author Page. I’ve never really done anything with it. Who am I supposed to connect with there? My target readers? Nope. Haven’t seen any. Mostly it’s authors supporting other authors. That’s wonderful, of course, but I already have that here on my blog.

And I joined SheWrites, Women On the Verge, Google+ and LinkedIn because I was advised to get my name out there. Be visible is the command. And what about Tumblr? Hey, there must be a way to use Pinterest as an author. What next? What next? What next?

How much of the last nine months did I spend writing my next book? Not a lot. Here’s what I’ve learned: I put the cart before the horse. Maybe when I have three or four or five books published (and another nearly ready) THEN I should spend a big chunk of my time “socializing” as an author.

Until then, I’ve picked the single online place where I’m comfortable, which is right here, and I’m letting the rest languish. I’m the real me here. And just being me feels great.

If you’re an author, have you found significant time spent on social media to be a benefit or a drain?

Musings, Real Life, Social Media

The good ol’ days of communication

Don’t get me wrong, I take as much advantage of communication technology as I can. I email. I text. I blog. I juggle as many social media accounts as possible. But how often do I really talk to anyone?

I know. I know. Yes, this is another post bemoaning my mixed feelings on social media. Sorry, but I’m trying to work something out. I love that line in a current commercial where the man says, “Fiber makes me sad.” Well, I think social media makes me sad.

Recently, when I had to sort through all the accumulated email after being pretty much offline for over a week, I realized that the ratio of personal emails to “business” was about 199 to 1. How did that happen? I used to have real friends. We kept in touch. We used to actually converse by email. Before that, we wrote letters. By hand. On paper.

Now, my “friends” and I wave at each other on Facebook … if even that. I see their photos. I know what games they play. What trips they take. I read the funny things their children, or grandchildren, say or do. I might even know what they had for dinner. All that deceives me into thinking we’re in touch.

The reality is people don’t pour out their hearts on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or even their blogs, as a rule. I had penpals way back in the dark ages … er … the 80s. We corresponded via twelve … fifteen … twenty page letters! Some of those women became true, if long-distance, friends. Two of them are among those I wave at on Facebook. The others have fallen by the wayside.

How did I get to be this friendless person with a thousand acquaintances? Really, that should make me sad. Truly sad. I need to do something about that.

I wish for you an abundance of real friends … and if you have them, don’t just “wave” at them.