After all, he pointed out, they are not likely to buy your books are they? They are just going to want to promote their own.
One of the most common questions people ask me on Twitter is ‘how come you have so many followers?’ I have around 20,000 @ChilledCH and I thought it would be easiest if I had somewhere to direct people for my top ten tips on the subject.
I have done earlier posts on twitter if this leaves you wanting more.
Please do avoid the ‘buy 5000 followers’ scams – there’s no value to the empty robot accounts they pedal and I don’t believe the people who buy these fake numbers really fool anybody very much. You know who you are – hang your heads in shame! Continue reading
Writers these days need to care about more than just words on the page, they have to let the world know that their work exists if they don’t want it to disappear into the ether having been read only by their auntie Marge and their best mate Dave. And that means developing a presence on social media, which inevitably includes Facebook.
When my first book Song of the Sea God was published by Skylight Press I had the same level of presence on social media as a member of a remote, undiscovered tribe in the Amazon jungle – so at least I had he luxury of starting from scratch. I also had a reasonable knowledge of social media since part of my day job is creating and managing accounts for the organisation I work for.
One of the things I had to decide when I came to open my own accounts was whether my home on Facebook should be based on a profile, the standard Facebook presence everyone starts with, or whether I should set up a page – (what used to be called a ‘fan page.’)
Now, of course, you can have both – nothing stopping you, but I decided that posting to one or the other was the best use of my limited time and in the end I decided to stick with the profile which you can see if you click here and not bother at this stage with a Facebook page. It’s not a decision I’ve regretted in the couple of years since then.
Why did I choose this route? On the face of it, it seems a contrary decision, the pages after all are set up precisely so people can promote goods and services – big corporations have pages, major charities, brands, large and small. And I have a book – soon two books – to promote.
Well – here are seven reasons why I use my profile rather than set up a page:
1. Pages are Facebook’s way of trying to make you pay.
Facebook is a company and, in the end, it will have to make money in order to keep going. One of the main ways it is seeking to do this is through establishing business users, who have pages, and separating them from individual users with profiles. Once you have a page you are targeted for advertising – Facebook offers to ‘boost’ your posts and allow you to reach more people the more you pay. This is great if you are a big company with an advertising budget – I’m sure Facebook advertising can be very effective, I’ve used it in my day job in communications. But I don’t have a budget as an author – I make very little from writing literary fiction, certainly not enough to make it worth advertising.
2. You only ever reach a tiny proportion of your page ‘fans’ for free.
Surprise! Facebook limits the number of people who see each post on your Facebook page – it wants you to pay to reach the people who signed up to get your posts anyway. My experience is that the ‘edge ranking’ for a page post, the number at the bottom which shows how many people it has reached, can be as low as 10 per cent of your fans. So you make all that effort building your ‘fans’ but most don’t see your posts on their newsfeed – unless you pay of course.
3. Pages are a one way street – not mutual sharing.
If you have a profile you become friends with people and effectively share content – they see yours, you see theirs – it’s a mutual experience. With a page you are asking someone to take your content in a one-way stream – fine if you are a big brand and people are interested in you. But if you are just starting out and don’t really have genuine ‘fans’ then what is people’s motivation for liking your page?
There’s sometimes a feeling of desperation over Facebook pages on Twitter. I have 20,000 followers on there @ChilledCH and so I get inundated with requests from people to follow their Facebook author pages. Every day there are new appeals in my Direct Message box “Like my page, please like my page – I will like yours if you like mine …”
5. A profile is more personal.
The reason I like the Facebook profile is that it feels more personal – less corporate. I want one presence on Facebook which covers all my needs and I don’t constantly bang on about my book – I ask questions, join in with jokes, communicate with people in a two-way conversation. That, for me, is what social media is all about. I’ve made some great friends on there, not to mention contacts who have been kind enough to help me in all sorts of ways. I’m not sure I could have achieved that through a page.
6. A profile allows up to 4000 friends.
Which is more than enough at my stage. I have less than 1,500 friends on Facebook. Why would I need an uncapped page when I am nowhere near having enough people to reach the limit on my profile? I’m not a famous author, I’m one with a single book out and another on the way (The Pick Up Artist, due out with Magic Oxygen Publishing on February 14!) My writing is important to me, but so is building up friendships and connections.
7. You can set your profile to accept followers as well as friends.
I have my profile set so that people who do not wish to ‘friend’ me, and so share their own posts, can simply ‘like’ my profile, in the same way they would like a page – so they see mine but I don’t see theirs. If they are interested in my writing but don’t want to do the full ‘friends’ thing then they have that option. It’s the best of both worlds surely?
Perhaps in the future – if my reputation as an author grows and I have people flocking to get to know me on Facebook I might start an author page. Until then, in all modesty, I believe the profile option suits where I am as an author.
What do you think? Page, profile or both?
If you get a moment to take a look at the (ahem) award-winning Song of the Sea God.
One of my most popular blog posts so far was the one I wrote on how to get 5,000 followers on Twitter free and without scams. If you are just starting out on Twitter I’d suggest you first take a look at my original post. You can read that one here.
I thought I’d offer some more Twitter tips for those who are interested as there’s clearly an appetite for info on how to grow and do well on this popular social platform. I’m fond of Twitter and currently have more than 15,000 followers at @ChilledCh these are all real people with no sock puppet accounts bought from some dodgy Twitter salesman. You’d be surprised how many people with large accounts on Twitter seem to have gone down that road!
My key advice for those looking to grow their Twitter numbers is this – try not to see Twitter in terms of ‘followers’ but instead think of them as two-way connections. You need first to follow and connect with people in order for some to connect with you in return.
Here’s a few things I find helpful to me when using Twitter which you might also find work for you.
Don’t overdo the product promotion!
Lots of people use Twitter just for fun, news, keeping in touch with friends and so on. Others, like me, also use it because they have something they want to tell people about. In my case it’s my novel Song of the Sea God.
But I’ve noticed that some people on Twitter do this extraordinarily badly. It’s perfectly possible to tweet the link to your book or other product every hour on the hour until the end of time, but that doesn’t mean that’s what you should do. Less is more as they say. You can put an audience off on Twitter just the same as on any other medium. I much prefer to talk about other things and promote my blog, which people can read for free, than promote my book. They can find that it they wish, and, to help them, I tweet an occasional link to one of the places they can download free sample – never more than once a day and usually not even that often.
However many people you manage to encourage to follow you on Twitter you will find you lose them again just as quickly if you spam them.
I’d say this is my favourite of the tools I use to keep track of my Twitter account. At its basic level it is free and you can use it to find who has unfollowed you, who is not following back, which accounts are long-term inactive and so on. Then you can react accordingly by dropping these accounts and finding other people who do want to interact with you on Twitter. You are limited to 50 a day for free but I’ve found that’s fine with the numbers I need to manage.
There are a number of useful services out there which enable you to manage your output on Twitter. A very popular one is Tweetdeck which you download as a small programme. Lots of people like it and you might want to give it a try. Another one is Hootsuite, and that’s the one I prefer, having tried them both. You might think differently once you’ve tried them out – It’s a bit of a ‘you pays your money and takes your choice’ kind of a deal, except you don’t have to pay money as these are free services at their basic entry-level.
What Hootsuite does is allow you to manage your social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter all from one screen. But its killer app for me is the ability to schedule your tweets. Let’s say you want to tell people in a different time zone about your new blog post or about an American or Australian site where your book or other work is available. Or perhaps you want to reach people who are active on Twitter while you are out at work. Now you can type in the tweet and schedule using the calendar – simple. Don’t let it tempt you down the road to automated spamming though – that way madness lies.
All Twitter users know the value of a link shortener in a medium where every character counts and if you go over 140 you can’t press send. In my view Bitly has an important advantage over the others available such as Tiny Url. And that advantage is the ability to track the number of people who have acted on your link. So if you have a link where it matters how many people look at it over time and where they come from then you can create a Bitly link and use it each time you need to tweet or Facebook the link. It’s great – you get a graph, a map of the world, and everything.
This is an interesting way to see how your social media is stacking up – and compare it to others in your circle. Basically it boils down your interactions on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms and expresses them as a simple score out of 100. If your aim is to grow on social media a rising score can be a clear indication you are achieving that.
So there’s some of what has helped me grow and develop my presence on Twitter – free to you for being kind enough to visit my blog.
If you were interested in this post you might want to take a look at these others which also offer tips:
Don’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God.
A little bit different from my usual posts this one. I usually stick to topics relating to reading or writing fiction, but a Twitter pal requested recently that I do a post offering what advice I can on how to build and grow the numbers of people who view your blog – so here it is.
If you are passing by, please take a moment to check out my book Song of the Sea God. You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.
Ok, so I’ve been doing my blog for around 18 months now and I suppose I’ve learned a few things in that time which might be of use to those just starting out, or who want to grow their blog traffic. The advice I offer here is just what I’ve picked up over time through trial and error and through listening to other bloggers – it’s what has worked for me – so I hope you find it useful.
The first thing I’d suggest is that you adopt a regular pattern of posting on the same day each week. If you have the stamina to post twice a week, or even more often, then great – pick your days and update on each day like clockwork.
What this does is let people learn when you will be posting a new update so they can look out for it. I post on Saturday morning every week and consequently, Saturday is by far my biggest day on the blog for views – double or even triple my other days.
If you are interested in building a following for your blog the other very basic tip I would give you is to keep on keeping on. For the first few months I did mine, maybe even the first six, my figures were fairly stable and fairly low – looked at on a monthly basis they were always pretty much the same – disappointing. And I admit I did start to wonder if there would ever be a breakthrough. Then suddenly, around month seven, a lot more people started taking a look at my blog – and this rise continued over the next couple of months. I found I had shot up to three times my viewing figures in a matter of weeks – and maintained this new much improved position.
I will be honest and say I don’t know how I did it. I didn’t change the nature of what I was writing. I don’t think there was one big magic wand I waved. But over time I adopted some of the strategies I outline in this post. I think the main lesson is just to persevere and keep at it. It takes time for people to find you and to cotton on to what you are doing.
When I first started I didn’t think it mattered what my blog looked like – I kept it all white and basic. I didn‘t think about pictures too much either. A blogging pal asked me why I didn’t make my offering more attractive like hers was? I took a look at hers and at mine, and she was right. I know mine’s not a rainbow of fruit flavours now but I have made an effort to make it at least easy on the eye.
Equally, be inviting in what you write – have an eye to entertaining a little as well as informing. I always think: I’m taking up five minutes of someone’s time which they’ve been kind enough to give to me – I should repay that by giving them something they can use or something to make them smile, preferably both.
It’s great when people comment on your blog and I’ve found the posts which encourage people to do that most successfully are the ones which discuss issues and ideas. People will comment if there’s something to comment on – if you have raised issues they feel they have an opinion on. So a ‘think piece’ which raises questions your readers can answer for you, or starts a debate they can take part in, is a good idea.
I’m just throwing this out there – and it is very much a ‘do as I say not as I do’ kind of tip. But I’ve noticed some of the most successful blogs are ones in which people discuss their lives very openly in all sorts of ways. People follow people I guess and if you are up for making your life an open book it’s one route to blogging success. It’s not for me though, I do try to put a little of myself into what I write on the blog but you won’t find any ‘dear diary’ entries on there. I always take the view that other people are a lot more interesting than me – and I prefer to write about them, in my fiction and in my blog.
I do like to have visitors on my blog – I find other writers fascinating and like to give them a platform to talk about themselves and their work. This also helps bring their readers to my blog – and perhaps once they’ve found me, they will even come back another time to look at some of my other posts.
News You Can Use
Some of my most successful blog posts in terms of numbers of visitors, are the ones which offer advice and information which people can use. I would predict that this post, for example, will be popular for that reason. Some of my post popular posts so far have included:
These are posts which are not only popular in the week they appear, but keep getting regular hits over the weeks and months which follow.
I think it pays to learn to give people what they want. If you have had a particularly successful post then look at doing something else in the same vein. Also, if friends on social media suggest a topic you might like to have a go at then do your best to accommodate them. As I said at the top, this particular post was in response to a request and I’m finding that happens more often as my blog has become better established.
Search Engine Optimisation is something of a specialist area and I’m certainly not claiming any particular expertise but I would offer a few tips.
Firstly – pop into the help and advice section of your blog platform and put in place the optimisation tips you are offered there. I followed the bits and pieces of advice offered by WordPress, it took me about half an hour and didn’t stretch my limited technical ability. Has it made a difference? Hard to tell, but it’s done now and I’m sure it can’t hurt.
While we’re on the subject – it’s also a good idea to include relevant tags when you put up a new post. Again, it’s something I never bothered with to start off with but always do now, it doesn’t take two minutes to add some tags and it can help search engines find you by topic and theme.
This is a bigger deal for SEO I think. Google loves Facebook and it loves Twitter. If you have decent followings on these two social media mega-sites then link to your blog on there regularly (without being too spammy obviously).
I get more referrals from Twitter than anywhere else, followed by Facebook.
Not surprisingly Google also loves Google+, even though the rest of us make it feel about as welcome as a red-headed step-child. I’m not suggesting you use it like Facebook but just open an account and stick your blog links on there for the SEO benefit – job done.
They have a link shortening tool called su.pr which is worth using in preference to tiny.url or similar because, as well as making your links short it also gives you access to the Stumble Upon community and gets you extra blog traffic that way. Worth doing!
* UPDATE SEPT 2013: su.pr now appears to have been closed down as a service by Stumble Upon as part of an update, which is a shame as it was useful. It is still worth adding your pages to Stumble Upon as this does encourage some extra traffic to your blog – you can still add pages etc, it’s only the link shortener which is no longer in service.
Final tip – Have Fun!
How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?
When you are writing a blog it never hurts to chuck in a few jokes.
Any tips you would like to add – or corrections to mine? You know the comment drill!
This week my day job took me to a conference on social media and the future of communication. There were speakers from Facebook, Twitter and myriad free-thinking marketing wonks illuminating what the future holds. They were dizzy with excitement about what lies around the corner for us in the way we communicate with each other.
The manner in which we record and share information, or ‘content’ as people in these circles love to call it, has changed out of all recognition in recent years. And we’re not done yet it seems. There’s new net-based thrills at every turn. Hold on, it’s going to be quite a ride.
It happened that this gathering was held at the British Library in London, at the conference centre there. So at lunchtime I wandered across the courtyard with it’s imposing, if rather baffling, statue of Newton, and entered a dimly lit room in the main body of the great library.
There, in the gloom, are the collected treasures of the British Library. And I was awed to see communications devices from a different age. Ancient manuscripts and huge hand-written tomes, illuminated scrolls and documents of great age.
Never has the word treasures been more aptly used than for these marvellous books. All that was precious, all that was strange and wonderful, all that was worth writing down in an age when writing things down represented the pinnacle of new technology is here.
There are religious books from many faiths across the world, richly decorated in gold and beautifully crafted. Yet, some of the most fascinating artefacts are among the most humble in appearance – the hand-written early gospels unearthed from ancient desert dust, for example, which provide insight into the beliefs of early Christians.
The forging of political belief is represented here too – the Magna Carta, soiled and burnt and torn, it’s words and ideas still resonating down the centuries.
There’s music as well – a case of original hand-written manuscripts from Mozart through Beethoven to Handel’s Water Music, until finally at the end we find Beatles lyrics, the words to Yesterday scrawled on a page torn from an old notebook – the first draft of Ticket to Ride written on the back of a child’s birthday card.
And then we come to literature. Here’s an early Shakespeare folio, there notes from Milton and Jane Austen, Conrad and Angela Carter.
In one corner of a case against the back wall is a small unassuming looking book. It is tatty and burnt at the edges. Its awkward, runic, Anglo-Saxon script is indecipherable to modern eyes. It is Beowulf, the earliest poem we have, the earliest literature of any kind, written in English. It is where our literature began.
I wonder what the British Library will keep from our brave new age of fast paced social media. What ‘content’ will become the treasures of the future? Will they keep our Facebook status updates? Will they preserve our tweets?
When I wrote recently about downloads and the potential problems of piracy I realise I was in danger of appearing something of a curmudgeon.
It’s easy with new technology to grumble about the possible downside – it’s comforting to cling to what you have known. So I want this post to be about the amazing things the social media revolution has brought for authors – and those things are many and various.
So there’s one great thing – and here are some more:
It offers you the world
Ten years ago, a little book like mine would have sold to people within ten miles of where I am currently sitting – in the same way as a little book published a hundred years earlier would have done. The only ways of publicising it would have been articles in the local media, appearances at signings and readings, and word of mouth.
Well I’ve done those things, and continue to do them. But what I also have is social media – and that has opened up a world of readers to me.
Because of this blog, because of Twitter, because of Facebook – I now have readers for Song of the Sea God across the USA, in Canada, in Australia. Ten years ago that would have been an impossible dream.
Access all areas
Social media also connects you to your readers once they have your book – in a way which could never have been imagined before.
Now if people like Song of the Sea God – or even if they don’t like things about it – then they can tell me, simply, directly and pretty much straight away. They can message me on Twitter or get in touch on Facebook and let me know what they are thinking. I get to have a dialogue with my readers that authors simply have not enjoyed in the past, except when they have bumped into them in person at readings and events. Now if a reader in South Carolina wants to ask me a question about something crazy I did in chapter five – they do so.
Community of writers
Meeting other writers and chatting with them – that’s been another huge bonus of social media for me. Mostly, in my everyday life, I don’t mix with other creative writers. I’ve never been a member of a writing group and I tend to meet writers face to face only the odd times I get invited to events such as prize-givings or literary festivals. Now I have a Facebook friends list full of other writers – and a very supportive, friendly bunch they have turned out to be,
So there we go – there’s my reasons as a writer for loving social media – what are yours?
Recently my book – which has been out in paperback for a few weeks now, was turned into a download. You can now get it on Kindle here.
As well as the old-fashioned dead tree way here.
I’m not sure how I feel about it – pleased still of course, that the book is out at all, that I have a publisher in Skylight Press out there doing their best for it and caring about it as much as I do. But in terms of the fancy new Kindle version – how do I feel about that? It’s the future I know, no doubt at all about that. It would take someone who was a bit of a Luddite these days to be a download denier – and that’s certainly not me.
So I’m glad to have the book out in this format – and I certainly see the advantages of it. The portability of the devices, the almost instant access to a whole library of books.
I also think that anything which not only preserves, but reinvigorates reading and the novel has to be a good thing. It has to be a living, breathing art form, the moment it lapses into becoming a museum piece then it’s doomed.
Finally, I like the way that downloads, and that means Kindle right at the moment, have already led to a publishing revolution allowing authors who do not have a publisher to take their destiny in their own hands and do it themselves. This reminds me of the early days of punk rock – or of indie bands. The self-sufficiency they had, the DIY ethic, led to some brilliant music and a voice for people who would not otherwise have been heard.
The same thing is happening in fiction now I think – different voices, ones which might not have made it into print, have managed to side-step the publishing system and find a platform for their work.
So two cheers for downloads then. But let’s not (ahem) write-off books.
Let me say firstly, that the dream for me, the one I’d had since childhood, was to have a book published – one I could hold in my hand, put on my bookshelf – one that had the feel and smell and yes, romance, of a book. I didn’t dream of a download.
But that might be more to do with the fact I have grown up with books. A new generation may well be following hard on my heals who dream of switching on their Kindle, swiping their fingers across the screen and having their name pop up on the illuminated display.
Times change after all. But my key worry isn’t about the downloads themselves – more about what they can lead to. Once things are available on digital format it seems to me that their value starts to plummet.
Look at music – digital piracy has decimated that industry. Look at movies, going the same way. There used to be a newspaper industry – I used to work in it. Now because so much news is available free on the internet the market has set the value of news at near zero.
I don’t want the same fate to befall printed fiction.
Already I am hearing horror stories from fellow authors about their downloads being pirated and stolen. Most authors are paid little for their work even when the system is working – if it breaks down they are in real trouble.
So I’m delighted to have my book out on Kindle – thrilled by it – and I really value those readers who choose to buy Song of the Sea God in that way.
But my hope is that the download revolution doesn’t issue in an era when books are thought of as ‘freeware’ available to all without any payment to those who have worked hard to produce them.
Different sort of blog post this one as it is neither reading nor writing related, but I just thought it might be useful to people.
If you are passing by don’t forget to check out my book Song of the Sea God on Amazon, where you can read the first few pages, here.
I’m fond of Twitter and, like many people, I have been bombarded by those spammers promising me 5000 followers on Twitter if I only hand over some cash. Well, the fact is, I am lucky enough to have more than 5,000 followers on Twitter @chilledch and I didn’t pay anyone a penny to get them. Instead I built up followers using a few simple rules which you could use too if you wanted to build up a Twitter following.
These would be useful to beginners I would say – and those who have a few followers but are hoping to find more. Here they are – and free to you for being kind enough to drop by my blog:
Show your face
It’s much easier to get Twitter followers if people can see what you look like – so make sure you have a picture of your face on there. Definitely not the egg you start off with and not book covers or other ‘branding’ either. Just you.
This is tough if you are tweeting for a company of course, but if it’s your personal account make the most of it, and make it personal – people follow people.
I think the few words you say about yourself should be to the point and aimed at encouraging the sort of people you would like to have follow you. Some people go for whimsy or humour, and good luck to them. I think if you are a writer, or an artist or whatever, say so – then people know who they are following!
This is such a simple thing – but so many people don’t do it. I follow back everyone who is not a spammer, porn account, random corporate account or obvious nutcase. The vast majority of people who follow me get a swift follow back to show I value their interest in me.
This is a key point. Some people on Twitter who are trying to build a following seem to adopt the Field of Dreams ‘If you build it, they will come’ approach. It doesn’t work. Unless you are a celeb of some sort people are not going to flock to you – you have to find them. If you are looking for people with similar interests to you then you will already know where to find them. When I was looking for readers and fellow writers I looked at follower lists for accounts such as Guardian Books and New York Times Books for example. Then I followed those people in large numbers.
I love them but they don’t love me
Ok – so you have followed lots of people, but only a small proportion of them have followed you back. At first this isn’t such a problem, but once you are following 2000 Twitter won’t let you add any more unless the number of people who follow you is more or less as high. Yet here you are with just 500 followers and you are up to your 2000 following limit – what do you do?
Well, you ditch some people who haven’t followed you back of course. You could just go down your list and trim them – but there are free tools out there on t’internet to help you. Try who.unfollowed.me and justunfollow for example. Have a play around with them and you will find they help you cut the people who have not bothered to follow you back.
When you’ve lost some dead wood start following more people – a proportion of those will follow you back. Repeat the process. Your number of followers will grow without the number you follow getting out of hand.
While you are doing this don’t forget what Twitter is really all about. Engage with people, have fun. Answer other people’s questions and join in with their jokes. Ask your own questions. If you are plugging something, as I am with my book (Song of the Sea God, available from all good retailers), make sure that this is just a part of what you do. People will follow you and stick with you if you make it worth their while.
Hope this has been useful – it worked for me!
If you were interested in this post you might want to take a look at these others which also offer tips: