Thursday, April 20, 2017

What Do I Say On Social Media? 23 Conversation Starters for Authors

By Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I'm constantly being asked for ideas of what post on social media. 

It's important to use those updates as a tool to start a conversation with your friends and followers. 

So I've compiled a list of 23 social media conversation starters for Authors. These should help you never be at a loss for words!

23 Social Media Conversation Starters
1. Now that hashtags have caught on for a lot of different social media platforms, ask your followers/friends to share their favorite hashtags.
2. Take advantage of the seasons and ask, "What are you reading this summer (fall, spring, winter, etc)."

Look no farther than the calendar for update inspiration.
3. Along the lines of following the calendar, get more specific. For example today is Lazy Day, World Lion Day, National Duran Duran Day, Skyscraper Appreciation Day, and National S’mores Day. It’s also National Smile week—just think the social media updates you can create around those! I post the days for the month to come on the last Thursday of each month. Here's a link to August Calendar Days. You can also post questions about what week this is, and what month.


4. Share a new author you've discovered, and invite your followers/friends to do the same. The author doesn't have to be brand new—just new to you.


5. Post a cliche you hate to hear and ask others to post ones that irritate them.


6. One of my most popular social media updates was when I asked for favorite writing quotes. You can do an infinite variation on this by asking for quotes about love, family, mothers . . . you get the idea.
Share your favorite music to write by.
7. Share your favorite music to play while you're writing. 

Or even better, share a Spotify playlist. 
8. Ask for recommendations for new movies.


9. We all grew up rolling our eyes (maybe only mentally) when mom came out with one of her sayings. Post one of your least favorites, and ask your followers to chime in with one of theirs.
10. In this day of smart phones and tablets, ask for app recommendations. People are always happy to share new things that help make life simpler.
11. Ask for help with your current writing project—such as naming a character or helping refine a non-fiction topic.
Share an image that inspires you.
12. Images are hugely popular, share one that inspires you.
13. Do a new take on What I Did Last Summer, and post what you did this summer, or fall, or last weekend.
14. If you like to cook (or even if you don’t) share a recipe that you love or one you want to try.
15. Make a list and share your favorite people to follow on that specific social media network. For example, a list of favorite Instagram or Twitter accounts.
16. Share something from your bucket list, and ask for your followers to share something on theirs.
17. Post a funny video and ask others to comment or post one they love.
18. Put together a nonsensical list—like your favorite Dr. Seuss words or funniest oxymorons—and ask your followers to add to the list.
19. Post the link to a devotion that inspired you today and ask others to do the same.
20. On TBT (Throwback Thursday) post a picture from your childhood.
Take a vocabulary test and share the results.
21. Take a vocabulary test, share the results and the link and ask others to share their results. Here’s a link to get you started on Test Your Vocal. (And for the record, I scored 36,000 words.)
22. Ask your followers for ideas of what to share on social media.
23. Post your favorite line from a movie, and ask people to guess which movie it’s associated with.
As you can see, the list could go on and on and on. The key to always having something to say on social media is to keep a list of ideas of what to talk about. Otherwise, if you’re like me, when you’re ready to share something your mind goes blank.
So now it’s your turn. What would you add to my list? Don’t be shy, share your thoughts in the comments section below.
And don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie
Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Social Media Basics for Writers—Tips for Composing Effective Social Media Updates

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson


Twitter, as many of you already know, is my Social Media Sweet Spot—my easy button, if you will. It’s my go-to place to send and receive information. Because of that, I compose all my social media updates from a Twitter mindset. So no matter where I'm sending the update, I compose it with Twitter in mind.
I know that Twitter is NOT the sweet spot for many of you reading this blog.
Part of that is because you’re not really sure what constitutes a good tweet. You’ve heard just enough about hashtags and twitter etiquette to make you cringe at the thought of composing your own tweet. So rather than failing, you either stick to retweeting what others share or just pass on the whole thing.
Today, I’m going to break it down for you and share my tips to composing the (almost) perfect tweet every time.

Twitter Basics
I have four types of updates I share on Twitter (and all social media).
  • An insightful quote or thought.
  • A question to get the conversation started or make us think.
  • Something funny, because let’s face it, we all need to laugh.
  • A link to information I find valuable and think will enrich your life.

But What IS a Perfect Tweet?
The definition can vary widely, depending on who you ask. But since you’re reading my post, I’m going to give you my definition.
A perfect tweet makes someone’s life a little bit better, and does so in a way that’s easy to share with others.
Components of a Perfect Tweet
There are certain things that good tweets have. Not every tweet will have every one of these, but here are the list of things that make a tweet good.
  • An attention grabbing headline—this is the main focus of your tweet and can be a statement or a question. It makes others what to learn more, take action, join the conversation and/or share what they’ve read.
  • A clear attribution—I’m a writer, so authorship is important to me. If someone says something brilliant, I really want them to get the credit. So when possible, I include the person’s name and/or twitter handle. (A twitter handle is your Twitter user name. My Twitter handle is @EdieMelson).
  • Hashtags—stop groaning! You knew I was going to include this one. A hashtag is a number sign (#) that’s put in front of a group of letters and/or numbers. This makes that particular topic searchable anywhere within the Twitter universe. There is a specific number of hashtags that’s ideal. For the highest number of shares, use two. One is good, two is best, three or more is not so good.
  • A link—if you’re referencing something you’ve found online, you’ll want to include the URL. Be sure to shorten the link. Hootsuite will do it for you, but if you don’t use Hootsuite or a scheduling program, I recommend www.bitly.com. If you’re just posting a question or a quote, there’s not always a reason to include a link.
Format Your Tweet
There is a general order in the way you arrange the components of your tweet.
Do NOT start your tweet off with an @ sign (Like @EdieMelson) unless you are replying to something I said. A reply tweet will only be seen by those who follow BOTH you and the person you’re replying to.

Hashtags can be used at the beginning, middle or end or your tweet. But the best way to use them is organically, within the body of the tweet. Second would be toward the end. Lastly, at the beginning.
Finally, we all know Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters. But I do NOT recommend you use all 140 characters. For one, if someone retweets your update, something will get lopped off the end of the tweet because the retweeters info will be added to the beginning of the tweet.
So ideally, keep your tweet to under 120 characters. But remember, this is just a guideline, not a hard and fast rule!
Here's the order I tend to like best:
  • Headline
  • Attribution
  • Link
  • Hashtags

Example and Explanation
Here is a tweet I composed for this post:
Tips for Composing Effective #SocialMedia Updates – via @EdieMelson #writing http://bit.ly/1LZyiMe
Breaking it Down: 
Tips for Composing Effective Social Media Updates—is my headline, my attention grabber.
#SocialMedia and #Writing—are the two hashtags I’ve chosen to use. They reflect the focus of the tweet and are popular hashtags.
@EdieMelson—is my attribution. I used it in this tweet because I’m composing the tweet for ClickToTweet, which means someone else will be sending the tweet out. If I was just sending this out, I would NOT use @EdieMelson because the tweet would originate with my Twitter account and everyone already knows it’s me.
http://bit.ly/1LZyiMe—is my shortened URL or Link. This URL will take the person clicking on it directly to this post.
Common Questions
1. What if the blog post I'm referencing is a guest post, which attribution do I use - the author of the post or the owner of the blog? If possible, it's good to use both attributions. Here's how I would handle that:
Is Your Manuscript Written to Death? - via @VaughnRoycroft on @WriterUnboxed owl.li/xHH8x #amwriting 
2. What if the person I'm referencing doesn't have a Twitter handle or I don't have time to research it? People who don't include their social media info is a big pet peeve of mine. If it's not easy to find, or you can't find it, just use the person's name. 
3. What if I don't have room for everything? This happens frequently with Twitter. After all, we only have 140 characters. If I don't have room to include the author of the post and the blog name, I prioritize and use the author's name. If I don't have room to use two hashtags, I only use one. The key is to stay flexible and don't overthink this.
4. Do I have to always use two hashtags? No, use the hashtags that make sense and what you have room for.

Now it's your turn. What questions do you have about composing updates? Do you have format you like to use? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Social Media Basics for Writers, Part VII - Get Started with Hootsuite


This is our first lesson in Hootsuite. This is the way I manage my social media in 30 minutes a day.

If you're looking for links for previous posts in this series, they're now at the bottom of the post. Now onward with Hootsuite!

I get up every morning and go to my inbox (because that’s where I receive notifications of new blog posts and Internet articles). I look through the posts and decide what my audience will find valuable. 
Then I schedule the posts to post throughout the day. That takes me about 20 minutes.
Then, several times a day (about every hour or hour-and-a-half) I check my Hootsuite account to see if anyone has mentioned me, or answered a question. I can rejoin the conversation and have meaningful dialogue without being chained to the Internet all day.
Now, the best way to explain how to set up Hootsuite is to walk you through it, step by step. 
Set Up Your Account
First, go to www.Hootsuite.com and set up a FREE, personal account. Start with a free account and if you need more, you can move to the paid version. For most, the free account does everything needed. The only difference between the paid and free version is how many platforms you can have. The free version offers 3, the paid offers many more.

Once you have that done, you can move on to the steps below.

Adding Social Networks
Adding additional social networks to your Hootsuite page is simple. All you need to do is click on your picture in the sidebar. This will give you the menu pictured in the screenshot below.
You can see that I currently have one Twitter profile, three Facebook profiles, and one Google + profile. If I wanted to add a profile, I’d first have to delete one of these because the free version of Hootsuite only allows you five profiles.
Deleting a profile is also simple. Click on a profile and a COG icon appears. Click the COG icon and you’ll get the dropdown menu you see pictured in the screenshot below when I clicked on the BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS profile.


One other thing you can do with this dropdown menu is SYNC AVATAR. Your avatar is the picture that appears with a particular social media profile. You’ll notice on the screenshot above that my Facebook Author Profile, doesn’t have a picture. For some reason, it disappeared. All I had to do to get it to reappear was to click on SYNC AVATAR.
Personalizing Streams
Another one of my favorite options in Hootsuite is the ability to decide what streams I want and where I want them. For those not familiar with Hootsuite, a stream is a column of information. It can be from any of your social media profiles, Twitter, Facebook. LinkedIn, Google +, whichever you choose. Below is a screenshot of how I have my first three streams set up.

As you can see, the first three streams I have are:
  • My main Twitter feed.
  • A mention column that tells me when someone mentions me on Twitter.
  • All my scheduled social media updates. 

Here’s how to customize which streams you have show up on your page. There is a limit on the number of streams you can have on a Hootsuite tab. You can only have ten. But personally, I don’t find a need for near that many.
To customize your streams, you’ll first click on ADD STREAM. This will bring up a pop-up window. You can see mine in the screenshot below.

You can customize your streams within each of your social media profiles (Twitter, Facebook, etc) You can also do a search for a topic or keyword, and you can compose a list within this application. I recommend you take time to play around with this part of Hootsuite to get familiar with the hundreds of combinations and options.
You can change the order your streams appear on the screen by clicking on the blue header at the top of the stream and dragging them where you want them to go.
And, if you decide you no longer want a specific stream, click on the arrow on the right corner of the stream’s blue header and choose DELETE STREAM.
With these basics, you’ll be able to personalize your Hootsuite page to make interacting on different social media networks simpler.
Now it’s your turn. Ask any questions you have in the comments section and also let us in on any tips you have when managing your Hootsuite account.
Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.