Social Media Suicide? by Mae Clair

Yesterday, I was tinkering around on my Facebook author page and was nagged by the idea that it had been a small eternity since I posted on my—ugh!—profile page. It’s a persistent thought whenever I roam onto FB, like an overzealous gnat that won’t go away.

Gray tabby kitten looking at screen on a miniature laptop with words Facebook Status Update Overdue displayed on monitor. Piles of books next to and under computer. I knew when I signed up for Facebook in 2012 we weren’t a good match, but as an author, it was pretty much a requirement.  I honestly enjoy posting on my author page. The problem is those #@&!* FB algorithms. My posts don’t display in newsfeeds unless a). I pay for them or b). Fans regularly interact with my page.

*grumble*

I find it hard to interact with all of the FB pages I’ve liked, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy seeing posts from them. I’ve been trying to visit those pages more regularly so they show up in my newsfeed, but there are so many. It would be so much easier if Facebook went back to the way it used to be.

Whining aside, I tackled my Facebook dilemma with drastic action.

When I first signed up for FB, the idea was to friend as many people as I could and gain friends in return with the hopes of connecting and building rapport. The problem? I had close to 600 friends on my profile page but only strong relationships with a couple dozen (outside of immediate family and friends). There was so much content filtering through it was overwhelming.

Now, I know in the world of FB, 600 friends is a mere drop in the bucket. But to this highly introverted I’d-rather-read-or-write-than-play-on-social-media-person, 600 friends was intimidating. I’ve never been good in crowds, but I love chatting in small groups. So yesterday I trimmed my number of friends to 90.

I’m not sure if I committed social media suicide or took the first step in making Facebook work for me. I figured it wasn’t doing any good sitting there growing stale, and since Zuckerberg’s brainchild wasn’t going away, I had to do something.

A group of animals are together on a black background. Animals range from an Elephant, Zebra, White Lion, Monkey, Giraffe, Lemur, and Tiger. Text above image says "small groups. Great content."

There are other platforms like Twitter (which I love) where I can connect with thousands of authors, but I want my Facebook experience to be built around authors I’m friendly with. That’s all of you who follow my blog, a few others, and my immediate circle of family and friends. With the number drastically pared down, I’m going to timidly venture back onto FB and begin to share and comment more. Look out, you’ve been warned!

I’ve been inspired by a friend and author who does a great job with her FB pages (she has several) and she is absolutely brilliant with them. I won’t out her, but er….well, Pittsburgh is involved. 🙂

Anyway, I hope to see you on Facebook, now that I’ll be active on my profile again. And my author page isn’t going anywhere, so you can always find me there, too.

I’m hoping I did the right thing with that hatchet job (and haven’t ticked anyone off….I did make a post about it).  What do you think? Smart move or social media suicide?

My Favorite Tools for Twitter by Mae Clair

Twitter LogoWhen it comes to social media, I’m a big fan of Twitter. It’s quick, allows me to connect with other Tweeps, catch up on events, follow trending topics, and experience news as it happens. All in one neat little social media platform.

As good as Twitter is, it’s even better paired with other applications. Today, I’d like to share a few I’ve found particularly helpful.

One of the things I like best about Twitter is the ability to create lists. As an example, I have a Twitter list for my writer friends (that’s you guys) one for cryptozoology, another for family (not too many of them on Twitter) and another for celebrities and best-selling authors (i.e, Lana Parrilla, Jennifer McMahon, Jackson Galaxy, Australia Zoo). These are just a few my lists. I have a dozen of them and with all of those lists, things can get a little cumbersome.

That’s where Hootsuite comes in.

Hootsuite
Hootsuite LogoHootsuite is a free platform that complements Twitter and other forms of social media. There are pay plans, but I haven’t needed to go that route, and I’ve been using Hootsuite for three years. I like that I can turn my Twitter lists into “streams” within Hootsuite.

When I open my Hootsuite dashboard, all of my Twitter lists appear in one place. In addition to the lists I mentioned above, I also have streams for anytime someone @mentions me, and a stream for scheduled messages. Whenever I promote another author or guest blogger on my site, I schedule several tweets throughout the day connecting to their post, and Hootsuite sends them at the appropriate time.

I’ve also got Hootsuite set up to stream my Facebook page and my Facebook author page so I can view both FB and Twitter in one place. It also supports Google+ and Instagram.

Pretty cool, huh? There’s even more…

Hootsuite has a built-in URL link shortener called Ow.ly which is extremely handy. So now instead of https://maeclair.net/2016/01/04/cover-reveal-a-thousand-yesteryears-by-mae-clair/ I get http://ow.ly/Xmr4L This directs users to the same post and is a lot handier when sticking to Twitter’s 140 character count.

Statue of the Mothman in Point Pleasant, West VirginiaYou can also set up streams within Hootsuite to grab Tweets related to a specific hashtag. I have one set for #Mothman. Any time someone uses that hashtag in a Tweet, Hootsuite grabs it for me. Why would I care about those Tweets? Because I’m writing a series that prominently features Point Pleasant’s notorious cryptid. Whenever Mothy gets a mention, I want to know what’s being discussed. I might also want to follow the Tweeps doing the Tweeting. If they’re interested in the Mothman, they might be potential readers for my series.

I positively LOVE Hootsuite! You can learn more about it and create your own free account at https://hootsuite.com/

ManageFlitter
This is another freebie and it’s great for managing your followers. When you sign in with Twitter it gives you a list of how many people you’re following who are NOT following you back. Phhf! The nerve! 🙂

ManageFlitter makes it easy to prune your account and eliminate those followers. I follow a number of people who don’t follow me back, but most of them fall into the celebrity/news/bestselling author/specific interest category.

Generally, when I follow someone, I wait a week, then check ManageFlitter. If they haven’t followed me back, I click the unfollow button. ManageFlitter also lets me see which of my followers aren’t “talkative.” So, if I’m following someone and they haven’t made a single Tweet in eight months, I unfollow them. This keeps my Twitter account pruned to Tweeps who are active. Finally, ManageFlitter will also tell me if I’ve picked up any spam accounts so I can unfollow them, too.

Get your free ManageFlitter account at https://manageflitter.com/

Crowdfire
I’ve only recently started using Crowdfire and really like it. It’s also free and does everything ManageFlitter does, with some additional bells and whistles. The layout is a bit better, plus it has the added benefit of showing you who RECENTLY unfollowed and followed you, so you’re viewing less Tweeps at a time.

It has a handy “copy followers” feature, which allows you to import another user’s followers and see who you might want to follow (think target auidences for your genre). You can also pop a hashtag or keywords into Crowdfire (i.e, #Mothman, Jennifer McMahon) and it will kick back a list of relevant Tweeps. These are all people you might want to follow.

This link will tell you about Crowdfire and let you set up a free account https://www.crowdfireapp.com/about-us

Triberr
I didn’t expect this post to be this long, but this is the last one. I promise!

Triberr is a platform where bloggers with like interests have banded together to form “tribes.” Tribe members support each other by sharing other members’ posts with their Twitter followers. This expands the reach of each Tweet.

As an example, I have 4732 followers on Twitter, but I belong to three tribes. One tribe has a combined follower count of 77,746, another has 54,170 followers, and the last  43,310. As a result, any blog post I make has the potential of being Tweeted to 105,226 followers. I say “potential” because not everyone will share every post, and not everyone is active all the time. If nothing else, I’ve built a lot of great relationships through Triberr.  You can find out about it here http://triberr.com/

Triberr is free, but you have to be invited to join a tribe (at least that was the case when I joined three years ago). Suggestion: If you find a tribe you like, become a “follower” and comment on the tribe’s posts. I’ve heard that’s a good way to get invited in.

I hope each of you find something of value in at least one of these tools. They’ve all been of great use to me, and I highly recommend them. If you have other tools that work well with Twitter or social media in general, I’d love for you to comment about them!

My Frenemy, Facebook, by Mae Clair

I wish I could say I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, but that would imply love and the most I can rummage up is a questionable like.  

Social media is an interesting beast. Like an octopus with many tentacles, Facebook is but one of many channels available for connecting with others in an online world.

As a writer, it’s a necessity for me to be there and maintain a presence. The second half is the hard part.  No matter what I do, how I slice and dice my day, I can’t seem to squeeze in an allotment of time for Facebook. Between a home life, day job, writing, blogging and reading, FB just isn’t a priority. I keep looking for the magic equation of time but haven’t found a solution. That’s a hard pill to swallow for someone with a type-A personality who is driven to conquer obstacles.

Frustated businesswoman

That’s not to say Facebook isn’t without benefits. I’ve made some great friends on the site that I wouldn’t have encountered elsewhere in the world of social media. And, yes, I’ve directly sold books as a result of FB, but I’ve also encountered a number of frustrating hurdles. Like these:

Automatic Blog Feed
When I first realized I could hook my blog to my FB author page (so that my posts appeared automatically), I was ecstatic. It was great to be able to share what I was blogging about on a daily basis. I could even connect to my friends page and share there as well. And–best of all–it saved me time from manually having to do a post each day. I kept a presence on FB and kept everyone informed about what I was sharing on my blog. Great, right?

Not so fast.  When Facebook became a publically traded company, a lot of things changed.

  1. My posts no longer appeared in the newsfeed of everyone who was following me. Now, if they really wanted to connect with my page, they had to add me as an interest.
  2. FB doesn’t like anything automatic. So the blog feed I thought was the be-all/end-all of social media ease had suddenly become a hindrance. Why?

Algorithms
Facebook places more emphasis on certain types of posts than others, meaning (depending on the type of post you make) a greater amount of your fans are likely to see it. Here’s the order

  1. Text
  2. Posts with photos
  3. Posts with links
  4. Posts with videos
  5. Posts from automatic feeds and scheduled posts (think Hootsuite as an example)

Those blog posts I was so pleased about, now got bumped to the bottom of the list. Not to worry though, because I came up with a solution. I disconnected my blog and began to manually insert my posts each day, using a photo from my blog.  Photos rank high. (Facebook is currently adding even more emphasis to them).  Smart move on my part, huh? Suddenly I was back up to number two on the algorithms list. Things were looking good…until I started thinking about the “likes” on my page.

Word cloud for Social networking potential

Page Likes
Like most authors, I enjoy having “likes” on my page. I want to connect with like-minded people who are interested in reading, writing and, who hopefully, are intrigued by my work as an author. I enjoy talking about those things and love when I have interaction from others. As I said, I’ve made some great friends there.

Interaction is the key. Because if no one (or very few) interact with your posts, less and less people (among those “likes” you have) see them. As a result, FB starts dropping your page further down the list of ranking. So if a horde of people “like” your page as a favor and never return to interact with it, those likes actually factor against you.

Of course I can pay to have my posts promoted, but I’m reminded that FB was created as a social site, not a business site. The majority of people there are out to share socially and have fun, not buy books.  

It’s better to create posts that engage interaction. Because the more interaction a post has, the more viral it becomes and the more people who see it.

Fan Page and Friend Page
Finally, we come to this…the burden of maintaining two pages. Do I understand the need for it? Yes, I suppose (said reluctantly).  I work in the real estate field. If I listed and sold properties which I don’t (I’m in marketing and IT), I wouldn’t want my business clients seeing the same silly and/or personal posts I share with my family and friends. There’s a boundary of professionalism that has to be maintained.

However, as a writer, most of my friends on my “friends page” are other writers. It would be nice if FB allowed the option of having a fan page without first creating a profile/friends page. Yes, it can be done, but then you’re severely limited in what you can do using that fan/author page. (Example, you can “like” another page as a business page but that like won’t show in the page count). It’s hard enough for me to maintain one page, but two? Seriously?!?! Is any of this starting to sound like work?

I didn’t expect to like Facebook when I signed up for it so you may think my opinions are/were bias. But I was certain I wouldn’t like Twitter either. Adamant, in fact. It turns out I love Twitter. It’s easy, quick (my favorite part), and I love the short conversations I can have with others. We’re all different in our preferences. For me, Facebook remains my frenemy, the challenge I have to conquer. My type-A personality won’t have it any other way.

How do you feel about it? Do you have a formula for balancing social media time with everything else in your life? I would love to know the secrets!

Guest Blogger Spotlight with Caleb Pirtle

I have the honor of welcoming guest blogger, Caleb Pirtle of Venture Galleries today. I met Caleb through Triberr and Twitter and, although we’ve only been in contact a short time thus far, I’ve found him to be wonderfully supportive in helping other authors, myself included. I’m thrilled to have him here today, and found his topic timely and intriguing. I think you will too!

~ooOOoo~

There is one inescapable and undeniable fact in the world of book marketing and sales, whether you’re talking about indie or traditional publishing.

Readers may not buy a particular genre.

I’m not sure readers even buy titles.

Readers buy authors.

Check out the covers of blockbuster books in either bookstores or on Amazon. The name of the author – John Grisham, James Patterson, Danielle Steele, Tom Clancy, and James Lee Burke, to name a few – are at the top of the book in the same large type that The New York Times has reserved to announce the end of the world.

In much smaller type, down at the bottom of the cover, almost as an afterthought, is the title.

Every book needs one. 

I guess this book does, too.

But what we’re selling is the name of the author.

When I say that readers don’t worry as much about genre as the author, take a cold, hard look at Sandra Brown.

She was a romance writer. She sold millions of romance novels.

When mystery novels crawled to the top of the best-selling heap, Sandra Brown took a sharp left turn and began writing mysteries with a steamy romance or two thrown in for those who preferred love and sex to vile and violence.

Her readers didn’t care. Millions made the switch right along with her. To them, whatever Sandra Brown wrote was exactly what they wanted to read.

And that brings me to Twitter. Twitter has become the bane of my existence.

All of us who are indie novelists these days probably wonder, after awhile, if Twitter is really worth the time it takes us each day. Sending tweets. Retweeting tweets. Jumping on Triberr and tweeting ad nauseam about the blogs of everyone else in your Tribe.

It’s a process that never seems to end. We sit in the darkness, stare at a blank screen and have no visible or analytical proof that anyone ever saw the tweets or even cared that we went to the trouble of tweeting about our books, their books, your books, everybody’s books.

It can be a disheartening and disappointing darkness of the soul. However, I believe that we are in a burgeoning independent publishing environment where every tweet counts. It is the one dynamic way we have to introduce our names every day of our lives to thousands of potential book buyers who may ultimately decide to purchase and read what we have written and consigned to Kindle or Nook or some other eReading device.

For example, I am fortunate to be a member of Bert Carson’s Tribe on Triberr, and he has a cast of loyal, diligent, and dependable tweeters. Together, we have a reach of more than 140,000 followers on Twitter, and each tweet from each member goes out ten times a day. So, in reality, I have the chance to potentially have my name seen at least 1.4 million times each day.

But is it doing me any good?

I don’t know, but I’m willing to tweet, wait, and find out.

I am reminded of an old friend of mine, Dale Remington, who served as producer for the old Jack Paar Show on NBC television. For those of you far too young to remember the late 1950s and 1960s, Paar invented late night talk show television. He was host of The Tonight Show long before Johnny Carson. He could launch a performer’s career or end a career with a single word. Every young musician and comedian’s dream was to make an appearance on the Jack Paar Show. It might be the end. Then again, who knew what might happen when the curtain rose?

Dale told me that he was working Summer Stock Theater in Pennsylvania when The Jack Paar Show was on its seasonal hiatus. He saw a young actor in a dramatic role who, he thought, just might be the funniest man he had ever seen.

Backstage, he kept the cast laughing.

During rehearsals, he kept the cast laughing.

He was, Dale said, a comedic genius who needed and deserved a national break. His name was Shelley Berman.

Dale Remington returned to The Jack Paar Show in September, and, as always, the cynical host immediately came knocking on his door. “Who are we gonna have on this week?” he asked.

“How about Shelley Berman?” Dale said.

“No,” Paar said. “I never heard of him.”

Next week, Paar knocked again, as always, and asked, “Who are we gonna have on this week?”

“How about Shelley Berman?”

“No,” Paar said. “I never heard of him.”

This went on week after week after week after week …

And one Monday, Paar stuck his head in the doorway and asked, “Who are we gonna have on this week?”

“How about Shelley Berman?” Dale said.

Jack Paar snapped his fingers and smiled. “Yeah. I’ve heard of him.”

Shelley Berman took the stage. He grabbed the microphone. He told one story. And history was made.

Shelley Berman became the hottest funny man in the country and the first comedian to ever appear at Carnegie Hall.

Jack Paar didn’t make him funny.

Berman was always funny.

Paar simply gave him a chance one night because, deep down in the recess of his mind, Jack Paar remembered his name.

I keep thinking that, sooner or later, Twitter can have the same impact for today’s indie authors.

Keep your name out front. Over and over. When you think it’s no use, and you’re tired, and your books aren’t selling, and you’re probably tweeting into dead air, take a deep breath, square your shoulders, and do it again.

As author Richard Bach said, “The professional writer is the amateur writer who didn’t quit.” And one day book buyers will snap their fingers, smile, and say, “I think I’ll buy that book. I’ve heard of the author.”

Tweet. And tweet again.

You have a way to reach a lot of people day after day. You don’t have to be anonymous anymore.

Bio
Caleb Pirtle III
Hideaway, Texas

Caleb Pirtle III is the author of almost sixty books. He is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He served as sports editor for The Daily Texan and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. 

Pirtle has written three teleplays: Gambler V: Playing for Keeps, a mini-series for CBS television, Wildcat: The Story of Sarah Delaney and the Doodlebug Man, for a CBS made-for-television movie, and The Texas Rangers, a TV movie for John Milius and TNT television. He wrote two novels for Berkeley based on the Gambler series: Dead Man’s Hand and Jokers Are Wild.

 Pirtle’s novels include: Golgotha Connection, Last Deadly Lie, Cloverleaf, Jokers Are Wild, Dead Man’s Hand, and Friday Night Heat. He is presently working on two novels that are being serialized on venturegalleries.com: Wicked Little Lies and Secrets of the Dead.

Pirtle’s non-fiction books include: The A Game: Great Moments in the History of Alabama Football, Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk, Chasing Love and Other Ghosts, Trail of Broken Promises, XIT: The American Cowboy, This Great Land, Other Voices, Other Towns, Tennessee Through the Looking Glass, Georgia Through the Looking Glass, The dark Side of the Rainbow, Texas: Its Lore and Its Lure, The Texas Outback, Deep Roots, Texas: The Rare Breed, Texas: Legacy of a Proud Land, Echoes from Forgotten Streets, Visions of Forgotten Streets, Life on Kilgore’s Unforgettable Streets, The Lonely Sentinel, The Glory Days, Place of Miracles, Engineering the World, Texas Cooking, and The Official, Old-Fashioned, Down-Home, Home-Grown Texas Cookbook.

He began his career in the newspaper business, working with the Plainview Daily Herald and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, winning both the Texas Associated Press and Headliner’s Awards.

When Governor John Connally began the Texas Tourist Development Agency, he named Pirtle as his chief of media relations, which introduced Pirtle to the world of travel. He left Texas to become the travel editor of Southern Living Magazine for a decade, living in Birmingham and capturing the Discover America Award three times. At Southern Living, he wrote three books – The Unending Season, XIT: The American Cowboy, and The Grandest Day, all of which received the Southeastern Library Association award winners.  His Spirit of a Winner won the Small Press Book Award, and his Echoes from Forgotten Streets won the Texas Historical Book Award.

Pirtle served as editorial director for Dockery House Publishing in Dallas for twenty-five years, developing and producing books and magazines for the corporate and retail marketplace.

~ooOOoo~

“Golgotha Connection,” totally revised and re-written as a Christian thriller, was originally published as “Place of Skulls.”

A man with no known past and no name as been dispatched to the deserts, ghost towns, and underbelly of drug-infested Mexico to uncover a secret that could forever change the scope and teachings of Christianity. If not, the quest and the discovery would forever change his life.

A DEA agent has written that he possesses the unmistakable and undeniable proof that Christ did indeed return to earth again and walk the land of the Aztecs almost fifteen hundred years after his crucifixion on the cross. But has the agent found a relic? An artifact? A long lost manuscript of the written Word? No one knows, and the agent dies before he can smuggle the secret out of an empty grave.

Andrews St. Aubin can’t dig past the charred fragments of his memory, but he must battle drug lords and a rogue CIA agent to unravel the legend of Quetzalcoatl, the white-skinned, blue-eyed, god figure whose sixteenth century ministry, death, resurrection, and mystical promise to return someday to gather up his people closely parallels the Biblical story of the man called Christ. Is Quetzalcoatl merely a myth, or was he Christ himself?

Purchase THE GOLGOTHA CONNECTION at Amazon