To complete Tip #4, here is more detailed feedback on how exactly I chose to manage my social media profiles.
I think a Facebook Page is nice for writers. Facebook is very mainstream (all ages, all kinds of people), it is multimedia (text, pictures, videos, links) and it will not limit the amount of text you can put in a post. Writers tend to be chatty. As for audience, millenials in 2016 are still familiar with Facebook and they widely use it. Internet newbies tend to go for Facebook because it is so easy and straightforward. Once you opened your account, advertise your Facebook Page, not your Facebook profile.
A Facebook Page can be created via a Facebook profile. It will give you access to some insights into who visits and who clicks on your Page and posts. The more “Likes” your Page gets, the more Facebook “unlocks” features for tracking your audience (which honestly sucks in principle). Your audience will be able to see your Page posts in their feed, other Facebook Pages will be able to like your Page. Finally, Facebook allows you to create draft posts, schedule them, and edit them anytime after they’re published. This flexibility can be useful if you need to reword, rephrase, reconsider. Facebook gives you unlimited time to care about your posts; it literally lets you groom your posts.
How I use it: I use Facebook as a guide for my readers to keep track of everything I write and do as a writer and blogger. I post a status every time I post a new article, every time I send a newsletter to my subscribers and everytime something worth mentioning happens regarding my writing. I never post the same post twice. I like to keep that Page nice and tidy. It is basically a chronology of everything “Carrie Speaking”. (View my Facebook page)
I hate Google+ (sorry Google!). I do not like the way it looks, the way it organizes posts. I find it messy and unintuitive. I didn’t really try to understand it better; I just decided I’d be grumpy about it. As I use a Gmail account for my emails, I had a Google+ in the name of Carrie Speaking just ready for me to use — so I thought I might as well use it.
Sorry about being short on advice about that one. All I’d say is, if you are in a situation where it’s easy for you to set up and maintain an account, use it. Time taught me that there actually is a Google+ audience, one that involves individuals that you won’t find on Facebook. Reach wide.
How I use it: I chose to use it exactly in the same way as I use Facebook. Anything I post on Facebook, I post it on Google+. And that’s about it. It allows my posts to reach a few more people and gives me no extra work. (View my Google+ page)
Pinterest is an image-based social media: it is good for sharing images you like, and photographs of products you sell. Using it does not come to mind right away when you are a writer. And yet, it has potential for writers and bloggers alike. I created a Pinterest account a few months after I opened my blog. Each image is called a pin, and you organize them into interest boards (in my case, Travel Writing, Equal Rights, Blogging & Inspiration, Women & Feminism).
Pinterest is excellent at finding an audience for your pins and leading you toward other people’s pins, based on your overlapping interests. As opposed to Facebook or Twitter, you don’t really need to advertise or have a high post-per-day ratio on Pinterest. You pin something and, provided you tagged it with the proper keywords, it’ll work its way toward its audience. True, people don’t usually browse Pinterest to find interesting writers; they rather look for products or nice images. They’ll probably just stumble upon you. But stumble is good. Stumble takes new readers aback. Sometimes, stumble becomes subscribe.
How I use it: I wanted to make my writing visual. I did not want my audience to share only links, I wanted my audience to share quotes. I wanted selected words from my writing to become actual items. So I decided I’d use Pinterest to share quotes from my articles, quotes that were likely to be repinned even out of context, quotes that had been particularly highlighted or commented or mentioned by my readers. It is, I think, an original way of sharing one’s writing. Plus, the pins I created are image files: as such, they can be shared and reposted on any other social media, sent by email, by myself or by anyone else. If you like the idea, make sure you sign every quote. Also, every one of my quotes is clickable: it sends the Pinterest user to the very article from which the quote was extracted. A proper quote should act as an incentive for the viewer to go and read more. It should transform viewers into readers. (View my Pinterest boards)
I love taking photographs. I’m in love with my Sony DSC-HX400V (that’s a great camera and I warmly recommend it). I included in my website a small selection of photographs from my travels. Upon taking a leave of absence recently, I thought I could have some fun and do some “photowriting”. I liked the design and simplicity of Tumblr. It is a micro-blogging platform designed for visual media; it is an intermediary between blogging platforms and social media. It is both at the same time. Tumblr is something you want to consider if you wish to do one or several of the following:
Scary, scary Twitter. Hashtags, retweets, trends. If Facebook is a highway to audience, Twitter is a 5-lane motorway. There’s more people, there’s more interaction, but it’s also more hectic, fast and furious. As a writer, Twitter is not something I fancied (not even sure about the past tense here). Opening a Twitter account was not an obvious “first-thing-to-do” for me. I don’t own a smartphone nor a tablet, I turn my cell phone off most of the time, I like to take my time in everything regarding my writing. So I was not too hot for a social media that basically asks you to pay constant attention to what’s up, and what’s said, to react fast and with only a handful of letters. I’m still not sure at all I’ll make a good Twitter user. For me Twitter looks like a crowded room full of people having loud conversations. I literally shied away from it for months. But then I saw that more and more people shared my writing on Twitter. My most frequent readers and the writers I most frequently read were all on Twitter. I suddenly thought how stupid it was of me not to develop any direct way to interact with them; to know them better. So I opened an account. For most people, Twitter is an obvious first choice. So unless you have a good reason, do not shy away from it: everybody’s there. And if I really want to be honest, I’d say that real networking occurs on Twitter, not on Facebook — I just hate to admit it because I’m really bad at it.
How I use it: I do with Twitter everything I do not do with my other profiles. There’s no chronological order or pattern in my tweets. Twitter is fast, constant, fluid. Things pop up and disappear just as quickly in your followers’ feed. So I share other writers’ and bloggers’ pieces, personal views on what’s up in the world, react to other people’s tweets, connect to random writing / blogging / photographing people whom profile I like. On Twitter, I literally let go. I post what I fancy posting without too much thinking. And it feels good. And yes, people do connect with you that way. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I have fun doing it. I have no hesitation reposting, sometimes several times a day, links to articles I just published or published a long time ago. As Gutbloom put it in one of his Medium responses (that was blunt, but I actually laughed out loud on that one): “Don’t pamper your readers! If they don’t choke down what you are serving the first time, make sure to serve it again… cold.” (View my Twitter account)
#5 Should I set up a Newsletter?
I think you should. Personally, I don’t always have time to read fellow writers’ and bloggers’ posts right away. So every other day, when enjoying a nice and quiet time with myself and a cup of coffee, I like to open my unread Newsletters and browse through these often inspiring bits and pieces. However, not everyone actually reads Newsletters. Be warned that setting up and tending to a Newsletter can be quite time-consuming, and not always rewarding. A solid list of subscribers is often very slow to build up. Not everyone will subscribe to your blog and those who do may not actually read your Newsletter. Some subscribers may even subscribe, and never come back on your blog. (Goddam them)
Weebly allows you to drag-and-drop a subscription form anywhere on your website; other blogging platforms offer similar options.
Start sending Newsletters as soon as you have one subscriber. That subscriber is worth no less than any other subscribers. Quite the opposite: that subscriber is the first one. The one who didn’t wait for you to be trendy. (That subscriber will most probably be your mom or your significant other, but no one needs to know — I promise I won’t tell). And, well, have something to advertise as your Newsletter. Flashissue is a nice option to design one — it is free when you have a small list of subscribers, and then it remains very cheap. Flashissue monitors the number of people who have actually opened your Newsletter, and the number of clicks that were received by its content. Every Newsletter is sent to the subscriber’s inbox, and also onto a special server online. The online version can be shared, liked, +1'ed, tweeted, etc.
If you don’t want to go through all the trouble, you can also just make a nice PDF file, or even write a straightforward email. In any case, make sure your subscribers have an easy way to unsuscribe whenever they want.
It terms of content, well… Ideally, I think your Newsletter should include content that cannot be found on your blog or anywhere else. Like, “V.I.P” content vs. public content. I do it from time to time, but rarely. The only moment when I do it consistently is when I’m on my annual road trip. During this time, I stop blogging for up to 7 weeks. This is a special time between me, my wife and my (paper) travel journal. So every time we stop somewhere and take a moment to send emails to friends and family, I send a Newsletter to my subscribers, with a picture, and an interesting anecdote, sometimes a story. Otherwise, I try to focus on my “public” writing and blogging instead.
I think this is a decision that you should make by evaluating the ratio between the benefits in terms of readership and the time invested. It’s a tricky question: the more your subscribers are involved, the more you’ll be willing to be involved; but if they are less or not involved, you’ll be naturally less willing to get involved — and on with the vicious circle.
In terms of schedule, some bloggers have their Newsletter sent right away upon publishing an article (this can be a form of email notification for your subscribers if you do not have a strict writing schedule). Some send it once a week, others once a month. Think carefully about that schedule. Regularity is key in a cyberworld where your readers have tons of distractions and things to do and read. I think it’s better to send less Newsletters, but at regular intervals.
How I use it: I dragged-and-dropped a form on my homepage as well as in my blog section and in my travel journals section. To make the Newsletter itself, I use Flashissue. I send two Newsletters per week, according to a schedule that matches exactly my posting schedule: every Wednesday and Sunday. On Wednesdays, I send out a “Weekly Digest” (here’s the latest I have sent): it links to everything I wrote from the previous Thursday to that Wednesday; it may also contain special announcements. As you can see, it includes an excerpt for every article. On Sundays, I send out a “Favorites” list (here’s the latest I have sent): it links to every article from other writers and bloggers that I would like to recommend that week. I found this less messy than posting those on my Facebook page amidst my own updates. However, a few months ago, I decided to make my weekly Newsletters public: once a Weekly Digest or a Favorites List is sent out to my subscribers, I share the online version on Facebook and Google+.[…]
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