Successful Social Media – without zombies

Here are my  (very) rough notes from today’s “Succeeding with Social Media” panel at the Surrey International Writers’Conference” (#siwc2010)

Panelists: Sean Cranberry (http://booksontheradio.ca), k c dyer on the computer (kcdyer.com), Arthur Slade (http://arthurslade.com), James McCann (http://jamesmccan.info)

Sean Cranberry – booksontheradio.ca. Blogs once or twice a week, with a picture. Tries to keep it consistent. Get items out there. Google loves fresh links.

Booksontheradio.ca domain forwards to booksontheradio.wordpress.com. Sean likes WordPress because it is very versatile and is continually being updated.

Arthur Slade arthurslade.com is a friend fiend on Facebook, where he maintains both his personal Facebook page, and a fan page that can be accessed by people who don’t have Facebook. Slade describes himself as a late adopter of Twitter, and says within 2-3 months of getting on Twitter he realized  its value in building community.

James McCan blogs at at jamesmccan.info. He was on Google blogger  but wanted more control so now has his own blog using WordPress. He also has a podcast series “authors like us” on his website. He says audio has become a new blogging form – people listen on subway, over lunch, etc. James uses Mac’s Garage Band to edit audio files. Other panel members use Audacity or garage band. James does 20- 30 minute podcasts. Listen to authorslikeus.

Podcast – audio broadcast on internet.

Arthur Slade podcasts, not consistently, but because the podcast stays on his website and visitors can listen any time, people are still listening. He has 16 podcasts and presently gets 2000 listeners a month.  Hasn’t added any recently but keeps getting listeners coming back. Good community-building.

Sean Cranberry finds people really love audio – 20 to 30 min -podcasts.  Discussion about ideal length of audio podcasts vs video. Video of more than 2-3 minutes less likely to get lots of listeners., but audio 20 min+ very popular.

Discussion of using RSS feeds to track podcasts. Can use feed aggregators like google reader to be sure you don’t miss podcasts from people you follow.

Podcasts are promotion, do for free. James gets 3000 listeners a month. That’s amazing.

One of the panelists mentioned that having the word Zombie in a blog title got him massive hits – probably not a marketing tip that will work for all writers, but I put the word in the title of this blog as a test.

Having blog on your site keeps site fresh on Google.

Arthur does school author visits and Skype author visits. Dabble board. Arthur charges appearance fees for schools. With Skype, he also bills the schools.

James does school appearances, usually about $300 an hour.
Podcasts are promotion, do for free.

Arthur – payoff of online community is readers.
Sean – building credibility, community, an audience.

Discussion of advantage of Mac vs windows – Sean switched to Mac because of it “not breaking down” like Windows. Interestingly all panelists were Mac users.  Great for memory intensive Programs, said Sean. (I found this particularly interesting because after 20 years using PCs, I’ve just bought a MacBook Pro so that I can use the program Scrivener for my writing)

Question – how do youget people to follow you. Arthur: Follow them, then ask people to be friend. Be in different groups, like scribechat. All get on and talk about a topic for an hour.

Sean – you need a blog. Put up your ideas, could be 100 words and image. Get on twitterworld and say “Hey, here’s my blog. Then same thing with facebook. Follow people you want to follow you. When you see them tweet interesting stuff, retweet it.

Hashtags # – the coat hanger of Internet in Twitter. For example #siwc2010.  Create a hash tag and start using it to allow others to quickly find and comment on a topical discussion.

What is a tweet up – group on Twitter  using the same hash tag (do tweetup people all tweet at once? I wasn’t clear. Maybe someone can reply to this and explain how a tweetup works.)

Tumbler, hot new blog site. Very short, propels many readers, sells books

How to reduce time doing this stuff! (that’s what I want to know. I enjoy blogging, tweeting, and just talking, but this stuff can use up a massive amount of time!)

Arthur – use tweetdeck or grizzly to post on all platforms at once.  To avoid having social media eat into writing time, Arthur uses his iPad for social media in front of TV, tries not to use writing time or same computer for social media

James – Facebook maniac. No privacy on Facebook. Facebook fan page gives writer more control. Also visitors can access facebook fan page without being part of facebook, owner can ban people, won’t get notifications of every visitor, but can get stats. You can also use targeted advertising on a Facebook fan page.

Arthur – Facebook is totally promotion.

Sean – where to begin social networking as a writer:  Blog. Use wordpress. Get a URL that embodies your content.

Q: Who do you put on your blogroll?
A: Places you think are really influential.
A: several authors in audience and some panelists said they don’t have a blogroll.

URL shortener – takes link thru bottleneck.

Sean uses creativecommons.com concepts for his website. Series of licenses you can agree to share alike, give attributions and link back.

Q: should a writer buy a URL for each book?
A: Arthur buys URL for a series, not for each book. Sean – no.
James doesn’t buy separate URL for book. Might do, it’s an idea for future.

Speakers final tips

Arthur – web is a community.  Remember you’re building a community, not a sell line. Read “Power friending” by Amber Mac who writes for the Globe and Mail.

James – don’t post anything you don’t want mom reading.

Sean – you have the imagination and will, you can figure out technology. Facebook and Twitter love cool photos of things Sean is doing. Craft your personality, invent a persona.

Q: how long do you spend on Internet daily?
A: Arthur – during intense work on book, no time; otherwise 1 to 1.5 hours a day
A: Sean, probably 8 hours a day, but not writing a book right now.

Sean final thought – social media best used when you can meet these people in person.

These are my rough, random notes taken during the session, but this session is being podcast, so check at Sean’s website booksontheair.com or follow #siwc2010 on Twitter for a link to the podcast.

Have a good day
Vanessa

About writing Jenny’s Turn

Jenny's Turn

I got the idea for my fifth romance novel, Jenny’s Turn, when I was a college instructor taking a summer course on instructional media at the University of British Columbia. I had expected the course to be boring, but instead of learning about overhead projectors I learned about the life of a commercial film-maker and it excited me. The course didn’t do much for my skills as a college instructor, but it jump-started my new book by bringing my hero to life. Jake … artistic, passionate, driven and successful. Women loved him, but I needed a special woman who could become the only woman in his life. What if my hero didn’t recognize the right woman when she came along? And just how long should a woman in love wait for her turn? I hope you enjoy reading Jenny’s Turn as much as I enjoyed writing it – and if you’re wondering what happens to Jenny’s cousin Georgina, check out Stray Lady where George is forced to stay in one place long enough to fall in love.

Vanessa Grant

Originally published in hardcover by Mills and Boon Limited.

Synopsis of Jenny’s Turn

She’d had enough!

Jake’s talent as a filmmaker made working with him an exciting experience for Jenny, but after five years doing things his way, she’d had enough! She’d fallen hard for Jake and she knew the only way to get over him was to leave Vancouver and get out of his life. So she left – but a Pacific Island just south of Alaska wasn’t nearly far enough to keep Jake away!

Now available as an eBook from a variety of retailers