Archive for category Social Media Platform

Facing a Social Media Apocalypse? Sometimes We Need to Mend the Hearts We Hurt

Original image via WANA Commons courtesy of Cellar Door Films.

Original image via WANA Commons courtesy of Cellar Door Films.

When I wrote my new book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World, I picked the title for a very good reason (aside from the seriously cool Terminator reference). We are HUMAN authors in a digital world. We aren’t machines.

Since this week’s theme is “apocalypse” (carrying the torch for Piper Bayard), I thought this would be a good topic to discuss, because when we do screw up and hurt someone, it can truly feel like the end of the world.

Truth is, we are flesh and blood people with bad days and baggage. Granted, the lessons in the book (and this blog) are designed to help us navigate the sea of 0s and 1s with greater ease, but to assume we won’t ever oops, bungle, or just plain show our butt is unrealistic.

Last week I wrote a post Are You Alienating Friends on Facebook & Fracturing Your Platform. There was a writer, who quite unwittingly, offended me. Being overtired and touchy, I reacted. Now, I could have left my far-less-than-ideal response out of last week’s blog and looked like the Shining Pillar of Awesome, but one thing I’ve always striven for in my relationship with you guys is authenticity.

I want you to know that even “experts” have bad days. We check messages when we know deep down we need a pizza and a nap. We screw up.

Sigh. No Social Media Sainthood for Kristen.

Yeah, This is Gonna Hurt

We live in an age of authenticity, and to be authentic sometimes…well, sucks. I’d love for you guys to think I’m pink and fluffy and better than unicorn stickers. But I goof. Granted, I make it a point to goof as little as humanly possible, but sometimes? I stick my foot in it….and then in trying to get my foot out of it, stick the other foot in and then fall and get a mouthful and both hands and face stuck and….yeah, it becomes an On-Line LaBrea Tar Pit.

Original Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Spasoff

Original Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Spasoff

Even those of us who know better can get touchy and type before thinking. We err. It all goes with that “being humans and not robots” thing. Hey, I regularly tell you guys my book should be named I Did All the Dumb Stuff So You Don’t Have To. While it’s a humorous title, I am not kidding. I really have done all the dumb stuff so you don’t have to.

We can talk about ways to avoid these pitfalls, but I’ve already done a lot of this in my blogs and book. I think the bigger question today is, “What can we do when we’ve shown our butt and are staring down the barrel of a brand apocalypse?”

Own It

About two months ago, someone started a Facebook thread regarding a certain celebrity. The tone of the question that began the thread hinted that it wasn’t a serious discussion. Just a discussion of whether we thought celebrities were nuts. Yet, as the thread evolved, there became a distinct mixture of serious and joking banter.

Soon, it became difficult to decipher which was which.

Instead of me just shutting up, I tried to bring a balance of debate with humor into the thread. Big problem though. We don’t have the benefit of facial expression or tone of voice and humor can easily be lost or misinterpreted. I failed to see that point when I just needed to be quiet and I very unwittingly hurt some feelings.

My humor was taken as insensitivity and my passion on the matter was taken as bullying. I didn’t mean to bully. Doctors misdiagnosed me for two years with epilepsy (was actually a SEVERE gluten allergy). No matter how much I protested the diagnosis was wrong, the doctors were relentless.

They were top neurologists and what did I know?

Eventually, this misdiagnosis destroyed my career and my health, bankrupted me and left me homeless and unable to get a job because no employer was going to take on an epileptic (which is how I became a writer, ironically). It took nearly ten years to dig out of the financial mess and I still suffer long-term effects from taking medications I should never have been prescribed.

So I never intended to plow over people, but my own experiences have made me very wary of trusting everything a doctor says.

But looking back? This thread wasn’t the proper forum for that discussion.

The next day, when I realized some of what I’d posted had been taken very differently than intended, I feel I did two important things (that weren’t easy, btw). First, I clarified my position, but then I didn’t defend beyond that. I took the mea culpa and admitted I was wrong…because I was.

I was dead wrong.

Beware of Shifting Terrain

I believe as the digital world changes and evolves, sometimes we don’t see the Social Media Fault Lines until we are stranded under a pile of debris begging for someone to throw us a rope. It’s why I added this FB thread experience to my new book.

Oh, sure, I knew not to get in rants in blog comments or froth about politics and religion…but celebrities and medicine?

Never saw that going sideways. Seriously.

Original image vis Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Gabriel Pollard

Original image vis Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Gabriel Pollard

But I do now. Kristen CAN be taught! *happy dance*

I can guarantee I won’t make that mistake again (just New and Improved ones :D). I learned. I’ve seen similar threads since then and my first thought? Kristen, you do not have a dog in that fight. Even threads that look funny on the surface. If they are regarding something people can get emotional about? I steer clear. Hey, live and learn *shrugs*.

Do We Want to Be Right? Or Be Happy?

In my mind? I choose happy. The next day when one of my followers blogged about Mean Girls on Social Media, she didn’t name names because she was classy like that. She gave me an opportunity to own my mistakes.

Embarrassing as it was, I outed myself in the comments and apologized. I never meant to hurt anyone, but I did and that’s all that mattered. So I needed to apologize and ask forgiveness.

Same thing with the message from last week. My next message to this person after our tiff?

“Please forgive me for being a touchy @$$clown. I was tired and had the skin of a grape and there’s no excuse. I deeply apologize. What can I do to help you with your new book?”

I’m super happy I swallowed my pride because I made a new friend, FOR REAL. We have had so much fun talking and sharing content and this person writes in a genre that is one of my favorites. Just like this writer was going to miss out on a potential BFF by dissecting me from his FB following (and hurting my feelings), I very nearly missed making a BFF by being a touchy jerk (and hurting his).

Never Underestimate Falling on Your Sword for the Greater Good

Just like that writer had no idea he would hurt me, I’ve had times I’ve said things I had NO CLUE might wound others (like the notorious Celebrity Thread of DOOM). For me not to extend the digital olive branch would be hypocritical.

We all have bad days and if we want grace, we’re wise to be liberal at offering it, too. It’s no guarantee we can right the wrong (which is why staying out of trouble is still the best option), but it is still a step in the right direction. Building hearts is always better than trying to repair them.

We All Know the Basics

Don’t rant about politics and religion. Don’t rant when we get a bad review. Don’t leave mean/hateful comments. Don’t react out of anger. Most of us do a pretty good job of keeping that stuff straight. It’s the gray areas where we get in trouble. Sometimes it’s tough to sense when we are too tired, strung out and should just find a cave somewhere. Sometimes we are trying to be funny or poignant and blow it.

If we spend any amount of time on social media, we are guaranteed to step on toes and hurt feelings. The key is to remember that love should be paramount. Pride and “being right” is highly overrated. And often, when we do own our mistake and ask forgiveness, the relationship is stronger. So never be afraid to just say, “I’m sorry.”

What are your thoughts? Have you ever put your foot in it and had to make things right even though it sucked? Come on! I can’t be the ONLY one….please. Have you ever taken the high road and it worked out for the best? Have you fallen into some social media traps we might not be aware of? Have you ever been a super awesome person who forgave someone like me who acted like an @$$hat and were you glad you did?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

Also, Remember there is a class on Antagonists THIS Friday (recorded if you can’t make it). Use WANA15 for 15% off.

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59 Comments

The Power of Facebook, Friendship & Why We Shouldn’t Use a Nail Gun to Slice a Pork Roast

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 2.55.52 PM

Yesterday we started talking about Facebook and ways to make friends and influence enemies. Just so y’all know, the writer who insulted me is now a peep. We kept talking. I apologized for having the skin of a grape and this person told me I was right and they had NO idea the tone of the message was as insulting as it was.

We chatted about social media and WANA ways and had a blast, and it was awesome to make a new friend. This writer felt super bad. But, I mentioned that it all worked out for the better because, had I not been insulted, we would never have talked and gotten to know how much we had in common (though I do not recommend insulting people to make friends).

See, told you guys sometimes tough love is in order ;).

So What’s the Deal?

I believe most of the problems with writers mishandling Facebook stems from a failure to understand how Facebook works. Between urban legends and plain dumb social media advice, writers are inadvertently making social media WAY harder than it has to be because they are fracturing their focus and diffusing all their efforts.

Thus, today we are going to start doing a little myth busting.

My Friends and Family Don’t Care About Writing Stuff

Okay, friends and family, regular people? That is code for “READER.” Writers all create one big happy writer party and talk to each other, but writers can only buy so many books. And frankly?

We are oversold and worn out.

If we only include writers, our platforms can easily become inbred and then all they do is drink cheap beer and listen to Tammy Wynette….then start firing a shotgun in the air. Keep it up and your platform will bring home a bass boat.

Moving on…

It’s estimated that as much as 75% of the population believes they would one day love to write a book. This means THREE-FOURTHS of the population believes they are writers….even though they aren’t writing. So if we cut out regular people, we are actually just cutting out people fascinated by writers and writing. They LOVE writers, even if it is to be a fly on the wall and maybe catch on to how we create the magic.

Sure friends and family might give us a hard time about deciding to write, but often this is birthed by jealousy. They believe they have stories to tell, they just haven’t found the bravery to do it. They will often be the best salespeople we have, even if they don’t read what we write.

Okay, Even If They Don’t Care

Humans are a helpful bunch. How do we show love? We give unsolicited advice, provide solutions, and answer questions. If Aunt Lola doesn’t like vampire books, but a lady in her sewing circle complains that she needs to get a gift for her granddaughter who is slap-happy in LOVE with vampires? Who will Aunt Lola INSTANTLY think of?

This is called “word of mouth.”

quilters

But I Will Fill Up Their Feed With Stuff They Don’t Care About

Remember I said you need to understand how Facebook works? Facebook wants you to have as pleasant of an experience as possible because…um, then you show up and get addicted and let dinner burn because you’re too busy quoting Bruce Campbell on an Army of Darkness thread on Kristen’s wall.

Newsfeeds will only show content from people we have engaged with. So if your family or coworkers could give a flying patooty about writing? Odds are they are never “Liking” or commenting on those threads, so guess what? Your stuff eventually won’t appear in their news feeds (and never underestimate the modern human’s ability to ignore stuff that doesn’t interest them).

This is why fan pages can be a serious sticky wicket. We can’t engage with a monument to someone’s ego.

If all I am posting on my fan page is information about my book or signing events or promotions, it’s more of the advertising we are all scrambling to escape. Modern humans are BOMBARDED with ads and can’t even go to the BATHROOM without an ad shoved up our nose. For more on this, read my post:

Why Settle for Your Reader’s Wallet When You Can Get in Her PANTS?

We don’t like ads. We don’t share them and we cannot connect with them. We are also in an age of information GLUT. How many of you woke up this morning and thought, “You know what I need? More crap to READ!” I hear social media experts tell writers to provide information. Be experts. Post links to articles.

For the love of chocolate, NO!

No offense, but novelists are not experts, you are storytellers. 

The blunt truth is that if we need to know something we will google it. But aside from that, I want to point out something VERY IMPORTANT. Information connects on the LEFT side of the brain, the analytical side. FICTION, however, is emotional.

***This works for NF writers, too, btw.

HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT TO SELL A RIGHT-BRAIN PRODUCT WITH A LEFT-BRAIN APPROACH? That makes no sense. Even home insurance commercials try to connect with emotion. They don’t pay for a thirty minute commercial about statistics. They post THIS:

Let Us CARE

This is why it is especially important for fiction authors to engage. Connect emotionally. You have an emotional product. People can’t connect emotionally to yet another DBW article about how Barnes & Noble’s stock is tanking.

They CAN however connect to kittens, Sharknado, tales of missing socks, superheroes, kid stories, pet stories, Mayhem and Grumpy Cat. They have more to say about bacon than Smashwords or our book being free on KDP.

There are writers who seriously believe that Facebook is out to get them because their fan pages are being hidden. NO. It’s just that, in the Digital Age, there is a steep price for being boring.

It isn’t your job to visit my author page to pay homage to Kristen’s ego.

Engage us, talk to us, stop selling to us and guess what? We will like coming to your page. And we will have fun and “Like” stuff, comment and SHARE your content. Then guess what?

And this is the cool part.

Since people will enjoy hanging out and talking on your page?  Your fan page (or personal page) will show up in their news feeds. You won’t have to pay to promote. Awesome, right?

Common Sense

How many of you loooooove hanging out with people who won’t stop talking about themselves? What? No one? *crickets chirping*

So if this behavior isn’t a good idea for dating, the workplace or a dinner party, then why in the name of marshmallow peeps is this considered a good plan on social media? How many of you have a family member or friend who never talks to you unless she is selling Amway, Avon or vitamins?

Do we like those friends/family members? Or do we filter their calls?

Use the Tool, Don’t BE One

Facebook has over a BILLION active users so it is highly advantageous for authors to use it, but it’s a tool. We need to use tools properly or we will wear ourselves out and look stupid…like using a nail gun to slice a pork roast. Makes a mess, is ineffective and renders said victim pork roast inedible.

In my new book talk a lot more about Facebook and the advantages and disadvantages of both the personal page and fan page and how to manage them without ending up on a roof armed and shouting, “This is my BOOM-STICK!”

Lisa-Hall Wilson, our WANA Facebook expert will also have classes up at WANA International sometime today. Her classes are FANTASTIC and she is super generous with Facebook tips every Friday on the WANA International fan page.

So any AH-HA! moments? Thoughts, observations? Tales about using a nail gun to slice a pork roast? (Please include pictures).

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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65 Comments

Are You Alienating Fans on Facebook & Fracturing Your Platform?

Bonding with teen writers, LOL....

Bonding with teen writers, LOL….

Writers are NOT salespeople and marketers. We aren’t. If we were AWESOME at sales, we’d be in SALES. Sales pays way better than playing with our imaginary friends and hoping we create something others want to read. In fact—and I might be going out on a limb here—I would wager most of you are not thinking, “Well, I’m only doing this writing thing until I can land my dream job in sales.”

I work to be very forgiving when writers make social media faux pas because I get that you are trying to be responsible and that “sales” is unnatural for most of us. I’ve also dedicated years and a good quarter million words (most of them free) to educating writers the proper way of using social media.

I created WANA methods to let writers focus on what we are best at doing—writing. The WANA approach works. It’s been responsible for selling millions of books and for elevating unknown authors onto best-selling lists. WANA methods are responsible for the 11th best-selling e-book in UK history.

This said…

Putting Our Foot In It

Yet, I still find some REALLY bad advice floating around that can get writers into trouble. Today, we’re going to address Facebook, namely because I received this message yesterday:

FB

Normally, I would just ignore this message, but after being fried from working three weeks straight and being on the road, I replied. Also, I’ve spent the past week yelling at idiot taxis in Manhattan and the New Yorker in me was coming out.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 8.37.36 AM

Instead of apologizing for poor wording and realizing the error, this person plunged ahead and responded with:

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 8.39.27 AM

By the way, the assertion that no one else had taken offense? I highly doubt it. I just happened to be tired enough to call out the offensive nature of the message. Also my mother is from New York, so I blame it on her :D.

What Can We Learn From This?

Aside from Kristen shouldn’t answer e-mails when tired because she has the skin of a grape.

Maybe I shouldn’t have engaged this person, but I love writers. Love is not always a fluffy bunny hug. Love sometimes need to be tough and it needs to confront. I know this writer didn’t sit up all night thinking of ways to insult his following, but he was doing just that. This author had clearly been among my Facebook friends for some time and I have to admit, I was pretty hurt by how this message treated me.

Yes, I do have feelings.

But essentially, what this writer was telling me is 1) we aren’t friends 2) we aren’t colleagues 3) oh, but please take your time to go Like my fan page so I can later sell you a book which will require your money and 12 hours of time you don’t have.

Yep, I’m right on that.

Writers Building a Platform Have NO Private Life On-Line

Aside from the NSA checking in, we don’t have “privacy.” Privacy on-line is an illusion. But if we DO want some privacy on FB (like sharing pictures of kids), we don’t need to resort to ticking off our followers by telling them they are a non-entity who are only valuable when they can buy a book.

Create Lists

And if you don’t know how to do this then take one of Lisa Hall-Wilson’s classes over at WANA International. I personally don’t like lists for a number of reasons, but they are an option.

As a quick aside, I don’t like lists because:

Lists Fool Us Then Land Us in Trouble

I feel lists can give us a false sense of security that can create a mess. All it takes is an oops on our part or Facebook’s part for that “private” information to be everywhere. I believe that if everyone can’t see it? Don’t post it. Get on the phone or send an e-mail (and then only the NSA will see it).

Lists Alienate Potential Fans

We never know who is watching. I have writers who segment all their writing posts to people they only believe will care about writing. We have no way of knowing what others find interesting and it is presumptuous to assume this person or that person won’t care.

I have FB friends who aren’t writers. But guess what? When their first cousin is writing a book, guess who they tell dear cousin about? ME.

Maybe someone following you doesn’t read high fantasy (and you write it). But maybe, if you are a cool person, they will read yours. Or, maybe they have a coworker who LOVES high-fantasy. Who will they recommend?

This is that whole “word of mouth” thing, by the way.

Personal Pages Create Relationships Vital to Success

There is a HUGE misconception that the regular profile page is for acting like a human and interacting and then a fan page is for the professional face and self-promotion. WRONG. This is why so many fan pages get dismal traffic and the author (in desperation) resorts to paying to promote (which won’t do anything and is a complete waste of money).

The WANA International fan page regularly has over 80% engagement and we don’t pay to promote. We use WANA methods.

The regular page is essential for connecting with people and creating the emotional bonds that will eventually translate into a vibrant, passionate author platform filled with readers. We connect talking about kids, laundry, missing socks, vacations, hard days at work and griping about the weather. All these everyday events are how we forge friendships.

Who cares if someone only buys one or two books a year if they are YOUR books?

People default to who they know and who they LIKE. The personal page is one of the best ways for others to get to KNOW and LIKE us. Advertising, marketing and promotion without relationships DOESN’T WORK. Marketing doesn’t sell books and I explain why in my new book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.

We Never Know WHO We Are Dissecting Out of Our Following

I’m saddened that this author didn’t believe we were friends or colleagues. I believed we were until I was informed otherwise. I go out of my way to help my fellow authors and might have been a good ally to have, especially since this person has a book coming out in the fall.

Also, I talk about zombies and Star Wars and quote Monty Python far more than is socially acceptable :D.

And Grumpy Cat

And Grumpy Cat

Knowledge is Power

So before you start a fan page, I recommend you get educated how to do it. Either invest a whopping nine bucks in my book or take a class at WANA. And I don’t say this to sell, sell, sell (heck, search my archives here or go read Lisa’s blog for free), but mistakes like the one above can seriously damage a brand.

How many people got that message and they not only ignored it, but they were hurt like I was? …only they remained silent. Can guarantee they won’t be buying or recommending this author’s books.

And if you’ve made this mistake, just don’t do it again. I learned how to do social media by doing A LOT of stuff wrong. We learn by mistakes, but I am here to help writers (hopefully) before you make them or maybe at least explain why you might not be getting great results.

Remember, on social media, everyone is our friend. The more “friends” we have, the better and stronger our platform. If we whittle this down to only people we’ve personally met? We are balancing our careers on digital toothpicks.

What are your thoughts? Have you gotten messages like these? Were you hurt or offended? What did you do? What are some other Facebook faux pas that make you see red? What are Facebook questions you might have?

To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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220 Comments

The Three NEVERs of Social Media

Image via Demi-Brooke Flikr Creative Commons

Original image via Demi-Brooke Flikr Creative Commons

I understand that many of you who follow this blog are new, so if you’ve made one of these mistakes, you’re learning. We all oops (especially in the beginning), so don’t sweat it. Yet, I see these three behaviors far more often than I’d like. These three professional blunders can hang on like the smell of dead fish and stink up our author career, so avoid them at all cost.

You’ve been warned ;).

Never Be Nasty in a Blog Comment

I am fully aware that my blog can’t make everyone happy. I work my tail off to entertain and enlighten but I know I can’t be all things to all people. If I’m not your cup of tea, just click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the e-mail WordPress sends you or e-mail me and I will happily assist you leaving (and cry later *sniffles*).

There is no need for this:

Ohhhh-kay.

Ohhhh-kay.

The irony was 1) I didn’t even write this particular post. It was a guest post and an excellent one at that 2) It wasn’t negative at all. It just wasn’t coated in glitter and fluff. Professionals don’t have a lot of time and shouldn’t need to be handled with kid gloves and 3) Was it really necessary? I’ve written over 560 posts and one isn’t her cup of tea, so we just carpet bomb?

I once wrote a humor post about my many failed attempts to join the military. It was a humor post. It was posted for Memorial Day and to honor those willing to sacrifice for the very freedom this person liberally uses…

Yes, this counts as a troll...

Yes, this counts as a troll…

And my personal favorite?

Um...OUCH.

Um…OUCH.

See, the thing is, if you want to tell a blogger she has the brain of a retarded chimp, that she’s a loser-poseur fake, don’t do it in the blog comments (or at all, for that matter). The comment is there forever, complete with the commenter’s name and face.

Oh, and it’s spelled “expertise” by the way ;).

Most of the time, when I get nasty comments like these I just send them to the trash. They aren’t heathy for the comment community and everyone has a bad day, which is why I didn’t include the gravatars of these nice people. But, remember, not all bloggers will be nice.

I have the right to be wrong and y’all have the right to un-sunbcribe, never buy one of my books and tell all your friends that oatmeal is smarter than I am. I get that I can’t please everyone, but there is a way to disagree and remain polite, respectful and professional. There’s no need for ad hominem attacks.

If someone writes a blog you don’t like? Fine. But keep in mind that this person worked hard and for free to offer you something of value. All they ask in return is for some common human decency.

People have long memories regarding those who are needlessly cruel. And sure, a blogger might be a new, unpublished nobody. Doesn’t mean she’ll remain that way. We never know who we might need and burning bridges is a bad long-term plan.

If you do goof and hurt a blogger, just e-mail them and apologize or apologize in the comments. A lot of bloggers (I’d like to believe) are reasonable. Own the mistake and ask for gratis.

Never Be Nasty on Twitter

Twitter is a wonderful tool, namely because it can help us go viral. Yet, that’s precisely why we must handle it with care. It can go VIRAL. A random woman on Twitter tweeted a nasty remark about rapper Ice-T’s wife and millions of fans pounced. This woman had to delete her account and practically go into witness protection. I am certain she didn’t think it was a big deal at the time, but it shows that tweets should be handled with care.

Sure, we can delete tweets, but often by the time we realize we need to delete one…it’s already too late. Twitter goes quickly, so it can get out of hand quickly.

Never Write Bad Book Reviews

This doesn’t apply to book bloggers and book reviewers. That’s your job and we love that you give us guidance on what to read. But, as authors? I believe in what Candace Havens calls Writer Karma. If I can’t give a book a five-star rave review? I just don’t review it. Again, publishing is a small world and we all need each other. The world is already out to throw us under a bus. We need each other to keep from turning into cutters.

If a writer really bungled and you just cannot remain quiet? Send her an e-mail outlining the problems and maybe suggestions how to do better with the next book. This way correction is private and we aren’t publicly and permanently humiliating a peer. If you goofed on this and now feel badly, remove the review. In the future, focus on reviewing what you love.

We Are Human

I’d love to tell you I’ve never made a mistake, that I am the shining example to all, but I’ve had bad days too. I’ve screwed up and had to apologize. Just own it and say you’re sorry.

We all need grace, let’s just try not to make a habit of needing it too often. We’re wise to remember there’s a human on the other side of that screen. The digital world is wonderful, but it takes work (and sometimes holding our tongue fingertips) to keep it a positive experience.

Have you ever had someone shred you publicly on your blog? On social media? How did you handle it? Did you cry? I used to. Have toughened up. Do you delete the comment or leave it up so everyone will know they’re a jerk and steer clear? When you see comments on a blog that are rude and in bad taste, what do you do? Do you make note of the name? Defend the blogger?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of June, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of June I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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163 Comments

6 Reasons Writers See No Value In Facebook

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 4.19.16 PM

On yesterday’s post a few of you had questions regarding Facebook. Thus, I deferred to our WANA International Facebook expert, Lisa Hall-Wilson to address your concerns.

Take it away, Lisa!

***

Facebook is my happy place. I spend a lot of time there and manage pages for nonprofits and curate content on a few other pages including the MyWANA page. Yesterday, there were a few comments here about Facebook, so Kristen asked me step in. Time to go all Crazy Canuck.

Tough Love with Lisa

You’re asking the wrong questions when it comes to Facebook. Time to take off the ski gloves and tuque. Let’s get some things straight. Facebook is about relationships.

Here’s some tough love. *pats pet beaver on head*

There’s a reason your Facebook page isn’t doing well. Don’t blame edge rank. Don’t blame the Zuck. If you go canoeing on Lake Superior without a paddle you’re… well, we know how that ends. Superior is a big a$$ lake that changes its mood without warning, you’re competing with giant ships and freighters on the radar and all you’re doing is waving your arms in the air.

You know what the little boats do to navigate a big lake? They stick together! WANAs stick together.

This is what a WANA platform looks like and YES, we have a Bouncy House.

This is what a WANA platform looks like and YES, we have a Bouncy House.

It’s time to take the string off your mittens and put away the kiddie snow shovel. I’m going to really dish here on what’s not working. *Throws extra paddle*

This is stuff I typically save for my 6 week course on Facebook, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We’re writers! We Are Not Alone. Chin up. Pen out.

1.     You have no plan.

How do you measure success if you don’t know what you want your page to do for you? Where’s the line between pass and fail? Writers/Authors on social media, essentially, are selling themselves (your humor, your insights, your knowledge, your expertise), not what your product can do.

What are the BIG authors using Facebook for? They’re NOT using Facebook to sell books. They’re using FB to build community/tribe (aka: relationships), give inside scoops/info/deals, drive traffic to another site (like their website or Amazon), and they’re using it to build an email list.

2.     You aren’t meeting a need.

Fans connect with authors on Facebook for access. They want a look behind the curtain – they want to see OZ. When you post a comment on a favorite writer/artist/band’s page, how elated are you if they respond to YOUR comment? Nonfiction authors are offering their expertise – their wisdom. They give loads of advice away – for FREE. And…wait for it…people still buy their books. Where do you get your ideas? What are you researching? What opportunities are you excited about?

Identify your brand, and stick to it. Have a plan to answer these needs. Be intentional. Be approachable. Be REAL.

3.     Your content sucks.

I mean this in the nicest possible way. *here’s a piece of maple fudge* Would you share the stuff you’re posting? Be honest. Blog titles are huge factors in share-ability, so are images. Is it all about you all the time – your blog, your books, your contests, etc.? Always always provide value. This is the WANA way. For every ten posts, only one should be self-promotional – at best! Don’t be that lone canoe on Superior!

  • Share things YOU care about, are meaningful to YOU. What makes you mad, what makes you shake your fist at the world, what makes you laugh, what makes you cry. (Because people want to see OZ – they want to get to know you.)
  • Fans are drawn to writers because we’re thinkers and observers – share your quirky humor, your passions, editorial comments, etc.
  • Be positive. Nobody wants to hang out with the guy on a soap-box, the Debbie-downer, or listen to constant cries for help.

4.     You’re splitting your brand.

You have how many pages? You know how many you need? One. 1. Uno. That’s it. When you’re Nicholas Sparks and Hollywood options every book you publish you can set up pages for your books, until then you need one author page. You don’t need one for your blog(s), for your cat, for your book.

Seriously.

Just one.

5.     You never show up!

Remember the main reason why fans search out authors on Facebook? They want to see OZ. They want access to you they ordinarily would have to travel to a book signing or writer’s conference to have. Respond quickly. Respond compassionately. Actually care. Just posting a link to your blog is not showing up. Blasting BUY MY BOOK spam is not showing up. Why should fans show up if you never do?

6.     You’re forcing yourself to be something you’re not.

Some of you started a page because somebody who sells ‘stuff’ (like vacuum cleaners, or blenders, or shoes) told you to. This is why you need a plan. (See #1) Decide what you want a page to do. Maybe you’re better using a profile?

I posted about whether you should use a profile or a page on Jami Gold’s site. I’m also giving away a free 1hr webinar which answers whether you should use a profile or page sponsored by TechSurgeons. If you read the post on Jami’s site and want to know more, the webinar goes deeper into the topic. Currently, that webinar is only available to my newsletter subscribers. Subscribe here .

As a way to share some WANA love, I’m offering two free critiques of your Facebook platform (page or profile). Leave the url for your page or profile in the comments, and I’ll draw names on Friday May, 31 from all the entries.  If you want to dive deeper into running a Facebook page, I’m offering a two-part webinar which will answer the most frequently asked questions I get from writers about running a page on Facebook. Use the code Lisa20 for 20% off.

Are you guilty of any of these problems? Do you wish you also had a pet beaver? If you have a question related to Facebook, I’ll hang out here and do my best to answer.

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76 Comments

Entropy is REAL and Author Careers Need Feeding DAILY

Look! I made my own breakfast! Daddy left out CHOCOLATE!

Look! I made my own breakfast! Daddy left out CHOCOLATE!

One of the traps we can fall into is we believe the world is somehow static. We feel overwhelmed because we are doing dishes again, the laundry again, mowing the yard again and cooking meals again. It’s easy to feel caught in this loop that can get depressing with a quickness. The same thing can happen in writing.

The world does not reward perfection, it REWARDS FINISHERS. It rewards DOERS. What are we doing?

Our goals in life need daily feeding. Our writing needs daily care. Our brand needs daily care. Entropy is real, and she’s a $#@%$. She will make sure everything we do falls apart faster than a three-year-old’s sock drawer if we aren’t vigilant. Our In-Box will never be empty. The rest is easier if we just accept that.

Our Brand is a Living Thing

Living things need to be fed, just like pets, kids and husbands. They need daily care. We can’t say, “Sure, I fed the dog last week” and expect Fluffy to live long. A lot of writers (me included) whine about social media.

What is the bare minimum? What is the minimal attendance? Do we really HAVE to blog?

We can feed our kids once a week and they remain alive. Probably a super bad idea. We don’t have to play with our kids or even talk to our spouse. Yet, how healthy will kids, pets, family and marriages be if we only do the bare minimum to sustain life?

Our brand is the same. Our author CAREER is the same.

No one will haul us to writer jail if we only tweet once a day. Don’t use Facebook. No one will force us. But here’s the hard reality. In a world where people are inundated with advertising and free books, they have learned to “unsee.” The cerebral cortex is very efficient at processing chaos of the modern world.

How does the visual cortex keep our computer brain from crashing with all the massive influx? It ignores virtually everything but what we are specifically looking for.

Ads Don’t Sell, RELATIONSHIPS SELL

When was the last time you bought something off a Facebook ad? What about pop-ups? Ever buy anything off a dancing ad you didn’t ask for? Or did you shut that sucker so fast you couldn’t even tell what they were selling? What about automatically generated tweets? When was the last time, you bought a book off author link spam? Or a form letter?

*crickets chirping*

Brands are Formed with Relationships and Relationships NEED FEEDING

I encourage writers to blog. Heck, it should be an area of strength—WORDS. Writers write. Blogs have the power to create long-term passionate relationships with…readers. Only about 8% of the population defines themselves as avid readers. This means 92% of the population still needs entertaining and informing. Most of them have smart phones, and a lot have tablets. They won’t go to a bookstore…but they will buy on-line.

Are we talking to them?

Again…Relationships Lead to Sales

Regular people (the 92%) like short works. They LIKE blogs. If they like our blogs, not a stretch to think they might even enjoy our books. Who cares if someone only buys one or two books a year if it is OUR BOOKS? People buy from who they know and who they like.

Blogs are the most resilient form of social media. Friendster? MySpace? *POOF* GONE. Blogs? Still here and going strong since the 90s.

Blogs grow in power the longer and more frequent we contribute content. It helps our SEO. Blogs can be harvested for books.  Blogging trains us to ship. Blogging helps us get over perfectionism and hones our skills.

We learn to meet self-imposed deadlines no matter what. Family drama, crises, injuries, sickness and housework don’t magically disappear once we are successful. If anything, the workload increases. With blogging, we learn to write, leaner, meaner, faster and better, because we are training. Blogs are the gym for the author.

How good is a gym if we go once a month? Our bodies won’t retain muscle and general health if we don’t train. Why would our writing be any different?

If blogs can create long-term, loyal relationships, and relationships lead to sales, how much are we feeding those relationships?

Don’t want to blog? Don’t, but DO focus on people. Focus on relationships. Serve first. Talk about kittens and laundry and kittens doing laundry. Just be human a few times a day and CARE. Relationships are about giving not taking. Do you like friends who only remember you when they decide to sell vitamins? Or when they need to borrow money? Noodle on that ;).

Writing is a Living Thing in Need of Care

Yes, the brand and platform is important, but only because it should lead to sales. Feed the relationships and feed the craft. Read, watch movies and write. FINISH. SHIP. Again, the entropy thing. Keep writing. Get stronger, better, write more books. Most authors (traditional and non-traditional) start seeing success/traction at BOOK THREE.

As I point one digital finger at you guys I have three pointing back at me. I’m not above this stuff. There are some areas I need to come up higher. I’ve been giving the excuses: But it’s so haaard. I don’t have tiiiimmmme. But I am not gooood at that. Well, if I don’t ever DO something, how can I expect to get GOOD at it? I am kicking my own @$$ about organization today, so this lecture is for me too. Don’t feel left out ;).

Yes, It IS a LOT of Juggling

I know when I get great at writing books, my blog starts getting puny. I start blogging really well and have to kick my own tail to get back to the WIP. It’s like a family. We have laundry and chores and yards and bills and most of us kinda want to stab Martha Stewart in the face.

Again, be realistic. Small steps every day. A lot of the SAME steps. Just like we have to cook dinner every night. Unless we cryogenically freeze our families, we will have to feed them, wash them and care for them every day.

The point of this post is to help shift how you view your career. It is a living thing, a member of the family and it needs tending daily. A lot of the SAME stuff. Once we accept this, it’s much easier and we are far less likely to get depressed and overwhelmed.

How well are you feeding your dream? What steps do you take daily to make sure your writing an brand are cared for? What obstacles do you face? What are your biggest challenges? Do you have an area you’re afraid to face? It’s too overwhelming? Hey, I do. That whole “getting organized” thing is kicking my tail today.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of May, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of May I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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79 Comments

Frankenfriends & Zombie Tweets–Writers, Social Media and the Undead

It writes the words or is gets the hose....

It writes the words or is gets the hose….

Writers are funny when it comes to social media. Okay, we are funny when it comes to more than social media. Face it, if you had a normal childhood, you likely never grew up to become a writer. Likely you aren’t rich either, because then you could have afforded therapy.

So if you are a writer, you probably are at least tangentially insane and too cheap to pay for an fancy shrink. It is why we write, right? And this is all well and good, because I think sane people write lousy books anyway, but crazy has advantages and disadvantages. Crazy makes for killer books, but it tends to also lend itself to extreme thinking.

Writers are really bad about all or nothing, even in social media. Either we are on the verge of resorting to adult diapers because we can’t pry away from Twitter, or we hiss and scurry for safety in the shadows when anyone mentions social media.

Writing is a Killer

Writers who are successful have to learn two things. First, we need to learn balance. I still struggle with this. The writer who is going to be here for the long-haul to reap success is the one who gets sleep, exercises and eats more than Skittles chased with Red Bull.

Yeah, learned that one the hard way. 

Also, we must learn to balance when to have that pit bull focus, and when to ease back on the throttle and remember we have other responsibilities…like basic hygiene, finishing books and social media.

I would love to say that writers didn’t need to do social media, but I already lie about my height and my age and too many lies is just beggin’ for bad juju. So we know we need to participate in social media, and build a platform and write books and floss every day, and it gets overwhelming, and so we resort back to that all or nothing stuff, and disappear.

Totally True Brief Story About Writers & the Undead

I get that writers already struggle with being mistaken for one of the undead (refer to picture above taken before Starbucks, as you can tell).  In fact, I believe we writers are the cause of all these stories. Seriously.

Werewolves

Legend has it that a monk (early writer) on deadline chained himself to a wall to finish his edits, because he was getting sidetracked with the new social craze…sending carrier pigeons (early version of Twitter). So he had this new chapter of the Bible due or he was totally going to burn for eternity (and you thought revisions were hard on YOU) and so yeah, he chained himself to the wall with nothing but a quill and paper.

When the other monks wanted to play beer pong (what else do you think they invented beer for?), they couldn’t find him. When they went to check on him, they saw he’d turned into this horrible beast with fangs, and there was this full moon. Naturally they thought the moon was turning him into this beast. Easy mistake. No one ever put two and two together that their buddy’s deadline always fell on the full moon.

It wasn’t the moon…it was last-minute revisions that turned him into this beast.

Vampire

Early writer in Transylvania, couldn’t quit his day job of selling…carrots. Stayed up all night writing and all the red ink from edits just, say…let to misunderstandings.

Frankenstein

Early experiments with energy drinks gone horribly wrong.

True stories I just made up. Okay, yes I have a point. I have to make this fun. How else am I going to teach writers social media unless I coat it with sparkly vampires?

The Undead and Social Media

I get it. I understand you guys. I’m a writer first. Sometimes we have to stay up all night and we do seem to grow fangs, normally around the 65th time a family member has interrupted us, since “we aren’t really working.” I feel your pain. But we have to be really careful that we aren’t bringing undead habits into social media. No one likes to hang out with the undead. Frankenstein? Zero friends. Zombies? Again, zero friends. Vampires? A few friends, but all with serious trust issues.

NYCZombie

Hmmm, must be a writer’s conference….

Zombie Blog and Frankentweet

There are writers who I see all the time and I like their blog and then….GONE. Nowhere on Twitter. No longer commenting. No pulse. Then, just about the time I have mourned their loss and moved on to make new friends?

They come baaaack.

Three months or even six months later, their twitter handles or blogs rises from the dead and needs to feed. Now they are tweeting all the time and talking to people and likely telling everyone about the book they have coming out or just released. Only, if you pay close attention, you will see it is the same tweet trying to appear it’s alive when it isn’t (automated). It has no mind and just prowls for victims readers.

Instead of braaaaaiiiiiiins, it moans saaaaallllllleeeeeesssss, buuuuyyyyyyyy, freeeeeeeeeeee. Buuuuy myyy booook.

Don’t be a Frankenfriend

Remember that all-or-nothing thinking I mentioned at the beginning? That is what gets us in trouble and turns us into a Frankenfriend. If we make these unrealistic goals, or we don’t understand how to use social media effectively, we burn out, we go to extremes…and we don’t get the full benefits of having a social media platform.

Less is More

Social media takes less than 20 minutes a day (unless you add in a blog, which I DO recommend). Even with a blog? Not that much time. Get my books or take my classes. We actually have far more impact if we aren’t posting a bunch of times a day. We just have to show up. Attendance counts. A handful of tweets or interactions a day.

Quality, not quantity.

And sure, if you are a Chatty Cathy like me, it is fine, but on those days, weeks when you can’t be chatty? Just pop in. Say “hi.” Give us proof of life. It’s all we ask.

Work in a Team 

Yes, writers need a social media platform, but no one ever said you had to do it all alone. Join up with the WANAs either on Twitter at #MyWANA, Facebook, or the WANA social site, WANATribe (here is an invitation). We work together. All easy-squeezy. Books are not so cost-prohibitive that we can’t support each other.

This is one of the benefits of being a WANA. We are not alone.

When we work as a team, we can pull weight for each other. If we have to do revisions, our pals can guest post for us. We have friends who can tweet about our book or blogs if, for some reason we can’t (like illness or emergency). All of us serve each other because we are totally paying it forward. We know we are going to have to ask for help one day, too.

So what are your thoughts? Are you a member of the Twitter undead? Did you see a light? How did you make it back? What are your stories of social media undead? Heck, let’s have some fun. Do you think writers are the source for all these stories of creatures roaming the night? What’s your version? Have writers been mistaken for any other creatures of the night? Mythical beasts? How do you balance your social media and writing? Are you a WANA and wana give your team a shout-out and tell stories of how the WANAs have been there for you? Bought beer?

Oh, for those in the Denver, Colorado area, I will be speaking this weekend for the Heart of Denver Romance Writers. Come! I would LOVE to meet you! Register here!

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of May, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of May I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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38 Comments

I LOST THREE Followers—Twitter & Tips to Keep from Going CRAZY

Image courtesy of Cellar Door Films WANA Commons

Image courtesy of Cellar Door Films WANA Commons

Twitter is a highly effective social media tool for writers when used properly (which is code for DON’T SPAM US ABOUT YOUR BOOK). There seems to be a lot of concern about numbers of followers, but I want to give some advice:

Ignore the Numbers

There is only one reason we need to care about Twitter numbers. We need to be following enough people in return or Twitter will not allow us to follow more. There is a certain ratio to be maintained and this is just one of many ways that Twitter combats spammers. If I click on someone and they are following 350 people and have 3 followers? That’s a HUGE clue this is a bot.

Yes, I have over 9,300 followers (I had to look it up), but I was also a member of Twitter before anyone knew what the heck it was. I’ve been on Twitter FIVE YEARS. New people get wrapped up in not having enough followers, but just relax.

Talk to people. Use hashtags. Create relationships. #MyWANA is a great place to start because I warn people once about auto-tweeting then I report them as spammers. A good number of the people using #MyWANA are real people.

Large Numbers DO NOT Mean More Influence

There are all kinds of services out there willing to get you a zillion followers for a fee. When you see someone has 25,000 followers, maybe they worked to get that following, but they also could have paid for it.

Means NOTHING.

WANA is all about a team. We work together, thus content travels exponentially, not linearly. I don’t need 25,000 followers to reach 25,000 people. I just need a couple more people with decent followings to tweet or REtweet what I have to offer.

Having 50,000 followers doesn’t translate into influence. It’s akin to me  me holding up a phone book claiming I have 50,000 “friends.”

WANA is a lot about doing more with less. It’s why I stress authenticity. People ignore automation, and they RESENT automation made to look like a real person. I just followed a writer and immediately got this auto-tweet:

Thanks for following! Which do you prefer? Vampires or werewolves?

I’m sure some social media expert recommended this behavior, but it is SPAM and it is ANNOYING. I wanted to tweet back, Actually, I prefer people not to crap up my DMs with automated silliness.

Focusing on the Numbers Can Be a Ticket to Crazy Town

Piper Bayard used to make me nuts with this when I first dragged her on to Twitter back in 2009. She’d have a day where she lost a handful of followers and then she’d comb through her tweets worried she’d said the wrong thing or insulted someone. Instead of focusing on writing, she wanted to eat chocolate and cry.

She’s totally outgrown this, btw.

I never look at my numbers (unless I am writing a blog and I have to get an idea where I stand). We can lose followers for any number of reasons, and often it has NOTHING to do with us.

Aside from Being an @$$clown

Unless you are misbehaving and being unprofessional FUGGETABOUTIT. And if you are misbehaving and being unprofessional, STOP IT. What takes years to build takes minutes to destroy.

Twitter is awesome because we can go viral more easily than any other social site…but it can be a nightmare because we can go viral more easily than any other social site.

Some random woman made a snarky, mean comment about Ice T’s wife and fans went for her digital throat. She practically had to go into Witness Protection, and the comment, I’m sure, was nothing she thought much about before she tweeted it.

Yes, we tweet in our jammies, but we are not alone.

We can be real, fun, chatty, and authentic. We can even engage in deep discussion. BUT if you couldn’t say it at the company BBQ and expect to still have a JOB the next day…DON’T TWEET IT.

As far as losing followers. Ignore the numbers and save the angst.

Reasons We Lose Followers (Aside from Acting Like an @$$clown)

Twitter Could Have Taken Down The Account

A lot of those who follow us are bots. They could have finally been “found out” and reported enough and Twitter smited them…and now you’re eating a pan of brownies and calling your therapist because Twitter did you a favor and smited a bot.

DON’T.

Some People Get Hacked and Have to Start Over

Some people get hacked and have to close down an account. Often, if you tweet good stuff…they will find you. Depending on how the person is hacked, they could lose all their followers. Don’t freak out. The person hacked will look for you and refollow.

Some People Don’t Have HootSuite or TweetDeck and Get Overwhelmed

People are getting more and more social media savvy, but those of us who use TweetDeck or HootSuite are spoiled. We have a tool that manages all the influx. We can be chatting away, not realizing some Twitter Noob with Regular Twitter thinks we are blowing up their feed and they are having a complete panic attack.

OMG!!! @KristenLambTX never SHUTS UP! She’s tweeted four times in the past 30 minutes.

Often they might unfollow, then complain to a friend…who then shows them the beauty of HootSuite and TweetDeck and then they realize we really weren’t tweeting too much. They had the wrong format to manage any active conversations on Twitter.

Some People Simply Lack Good Taste

And of course there is this: We cannot be all things to all people. Shocking as it may sound there are even people who don’t like me.

*GASP!!!!*

I know, right? Which proves there are plenty of people in the world who lack taste and the sophistication to appreciate how awesome we are. They probably hate kittens and unicorns too, so just feel super sad for them and hope they come to their senses.

At the end of the day, focus on people, not numbers, not technology. Have you ever nearly had a panic attack when you saw you’d lost followers? Do you ignore your numbers? Do you now feel super liberated because you have permission to LOOK AWAY?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of May, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of May I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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75 Comments

Boston Marathon Bombing Reveals the Best in People and a Dark Side to Twitter

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 10.03.04 AM

Yesterday our nation reeled from a senseless attack on innocent people. I know here at home, we were desperately reaching out for answers. My husband had family in Boston and I had friends who were participating in the race. We were scrambling to make sure our loved ones were okay (all is fine, btw).  We mourn as a nation, as humans. We are grateful for the brave people who ran toward danger to render aid to the suffering.

There were nurses, doctors and other medical professionals participating in the marathon. Despite the fact they were at the end of running over twenty-six miles, they still dove in to assist those injured in spite of their own exhaustion and pain. Carlos Arredondo, who lost his son in Iraq, bravely jumped a security fence into a pile of fallen bodies and immediately rendered aid.

I am awed, humbled and amazed by the many stories of everyday heroes.

Image of Carlos Arrodondo via The Washington Post.

Image of Carlos Arrodondo via The Washington Post.

Yet, in the midst of all this chaos, one story in particular caught my attention because, oddly enough, it made headlines along with all other reports piling in from the blast site. My husband and I were searching for breaking news to see if any of our loved ones might be among the victims when I saw this:

Kim Kardashian Attacked on Twitter  for Self-Promotion During Boston Marathon Tragedy.

I’m not a political analyst and I’m not law enforcement, but I do teach social media. This headline caught my attention because it brought up a new angle I’d not previously contemplated, a new dark side to social media for us all to be wary of. I hesitantly bring this up today, but only because I believe this story is such a powerful cautionary tale for all of us who use social media. We must be responsible and authentic.

A World of Instant

We live in a world of instant communication and connection, and social media is a double-edged sword. Last year, social media saved lives and helped keep my family safe during a sudden outbreak of 22 tornadoes in one day.  Since our power was out, all we could hear were sirens but we couldn’t tell if they were warning our area, or somewhere nearby. I rushed out front to listen closer, and that’s when I heard that unforgettable freight train sound and watched an F-2 lower out of the blackness.

With no power, we had no way of knowing what might be headed our way….and the tornadoes kept coming and coming, one after another. Twitter is what kept us informed. We huddled in the bathroom and used my cell phone to watch Twitter.

Once the power returned, I got back on Twitter to return the favor. One woman who follows me had taken a moment to peek at her Twitter feed at work. I’d just tweeted that yet another tornado was on the ground in Dallas and headed straight for them.

Later, I found out the woman worked in a virtually windowless building and they had no way of knowing DFW was experiencing a tornado outbreak of historic proportions. Had I (and others) not tweeted the warning, the woman and her coworkers wouldn’t have known to seek shelter mere minutes before they were hit.

I bring this up to show that social media is amazing, wonderful and powerful, but we have to be careful how we use it. I’ve talked at length about how I am adamantly opposed to automation, particularly automation that is meant to “appear” as if there is a real person present.

The World Can Turn on a Dime

News breaks in an instant. These days, when disaster strikes, the public knows within minutes, often before anyone even knows what’s really transpired. Social media is used to relay instant news, connect family to loved ones, warn of further danger, etc.

A Perfect Storm

When we preprogram “chatty self-promo” messages, most of the time, people won’t notice, especially if the person injects real tweets in between. Yet, the world can go so dark so quickly, that chatty self-promo automation can become an instant nightmare. Kim Kardashian tweeted her condolences to the victims of the Boston tragedy, but then a little over 20 minutes later tweeted:

“Check out @krisjenner on @QVC’s PM Style Show at 7PM EST tonight!”

Fans were livid and went on the attack. According to the article (linked above) via Hollywood Life’s Emily Longoretta:

One tweet read: “America is in the midst of a tragedy right now. F— you.”

Another similarly responded: “WE DNT GIVE A F— RIGHT NOW KIM.”

Shortly after Kim’s tweet, her mom Kris Jenner sadly followed her insensitive lead.

“Dolls! Don’t miss me tonight at 8pm ET on @QVC! I’m debuting my gorg new scoopneck tunic on PM Style!! Join me!” Kris wrote on her Twitter, receiving a backlash just like Kim. However, then she removed it.

To me, it is clear that some intern probably just got fired. The Kardashians have a legion of media people to clean up the PR nightmare, yet this highlights a point I’ve been trying to make for some time now.

People are on social media to be social. Ads, promotion and automation from people are resented in general, but they can spark a wildfire of backlash if automation meets with poor timing as it did in the case of the Kardashian family.

I don’t think most of us believed the Kardashians were actually tweeting those promos. I feel the Kardashian fans, for the most part, just accept that promotion goes along with “keeping up with the Kardashians.” But when that automation met the perfect storm of tragedy? It was ugly.

I believe the ill-timed self-promotion eclipsed the genuine condolences Kim offered the victims, and that’s very sad.

Not Everyone Understands the Ins and Outs of Twitter

One thing we are wise to consider is that a lot of regular people use Twitter, but many don’t understand it the way those of us building a platform do. Many people don’t realize it’s possible to automate, so when they see in ill-timed tweet in the middle of disaster, they react as violently as they would toward someone trying to sell vitamins at a funeral.

We Take a Risk

Humans remember the negative far longer than the positive. If we automate, we are gambling that we can run to Hoot Suite and shut down the chatty auto-tweets before we “tweet” something that makes us look like insensitive jerks. It’s a big gamble with high stakes. What takes years to build can only take seconds to destroy.

Boston, We Love You

I am grateful for Twitter. It kept us and others safe last year in the tornado outbreak. It’s allowed me to reach out to friends in Boston and be there for them, to make sure they’re all right. I think social media is a blessing, but only when we use it with love, wisdom and prudence.

Our hearts and prayers go out to Boston. We love you, support you, we mourn for you and we are here for you.

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