Beware Milli Vanilli Syndrome

As a social media expert, I can tell you that there are many other schools of thought as to how to employ the vast array of magnificent tools we now have to build a platform. Part of my due diligence is that I actively pay attention to those people who claim to be social media/marketing/branding experts. There are scads of people who claim that, for a fee, they can brand an author. Ok, fair enough. Maybe they can deliver, but the smart writer is always a skeptic first. It is far too easy for someone to open a Twitter account and claim to be a branding expert (ready to take a new writer’s money). So caveat emptor.

I would be especially wary of author branding experts who don’t even properly brand themsleves. If readers can’t by a novel by @vampirechick, then we can’t buy a social media marketing book by @branding_expert either.

Content + Our Name= Brand

Stephen King was linked to horror fiction so many times that his name became synonymous with the horror genre.

Personally, I feel that most of our platform-building can easily be done using the methods I teach in WANA, but I am a tad partial. I have built a worldwide following and even hit the best-seller list using the same exact tools I give in the book. Aside from writing my blogs, my total social media output is less than 30 minutes a day. Maybe one day I will be so huge I need to outsource, but for now I am doing just ducky😀.

Back to my point…

There are firms out there who will offer packages designed to save an author time. These firms rely heavily on preprogrammed auto-tweets or even advise using a ghost-tweeter or ghost-blogger if the writer simply is so strapped for time she cannot possibly do it on her own. I believe these experts are well-meaning, but misguided.

I have come to call this Milli Vanilli Syndrome. Maybe I am a purist, but having others do for us what we can do for ourselves is just a bad idea. Don’t take my word for it, just take a lesson from the Milli Vanilli debacle.

Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus actually were talented dancers AND singers, yet someone got the bright idea to use other singers as the vocalists. Fab and Rob lip-synched their way to winning a Grammy…then their world collapsed when the real singers outed them as a fake. Angry fans didn’t care that Fab and Rob actually could sing, and no matter what these guys did to try and piece their reputation back together, people were furious and unforgiving.

Milli Vanilli Syndrome can affect writers, too. MVS is enticing. It promises us more free time so we can write more books. Ooooh. We can have a Twitter following without even tweeting or successful blog without ever writing a blog. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

First, let’s talk about Milli Vanilli Tweeter.

Getting someone else to tweet for us or programming a computer to interact on our behalf is being lazy. Sorry. It’s 140 characters. Really. We are WRITERS for God’s sake. If we are whining about having to type 140 characters 6-10 times a day, then maybe writing is not the proper career choice. Sorry. Have to be blunt.

We do not have to tweet a bazillion times a day to be effective. The real power in Twitter comes from forging alliances and building friendships, and that ain’t gonna happen if we are insulting other people’s intelligence by programming a computer to talk for us.

I see this all the time, usually from @branding_expert. An entire row of automatically programmed tweets that are supposed to “sound” conversational. When I see a tweet that captures my interest, the first thing I do is click on a profile, and if I don’t see any conversation or interaction, I think this person is a bot and I don’t follow. I only have time for people who have time to be real. So, at the end of the day, how effective is this approach if most people ignore what we have to say?

Many of these experts fill the Twitterverse with the same auto-tweets they recommend for their clients, and I generally ignore them because I don’t pay attention to bots. Not trying to be mean here, but there are hardworking folk who take the time to actually interact, and I am more interested in being friends with someone who can reciprocate. That’s called a relationship, and that is what social media is all about.

People who claim that auto-tweets are just as effective as real tweeting affect me like those people who are in love with their lifelike dolls. *shivers* 

 

Mitzy and I never fight. It’s the perfect marriage.

Okay, okay. You guys get the point.

I do think that we can program a couple things for auto-tweet. For instance, Bob Mayer kept forgetting to mention the upcoming workshops he was teaching, so I recommended that he program those into Hoot Suite, but that was only a couple tweets a day. The rest of the time, Bob chats, RTs and serves his fellow Tweeps. I think most of us can deal with that, but this notion that a computer can take the place of a person? I saw I Robot and we kicked their a$$ at the end.

Just sayin’…

Now on to Milli Vanilli Blogger

I say that if you just do not have time to blog…then don’t. Please do not recruit someone to blog for you. Like Milli Vanilli, I feel that it is a risk that just isn’t worth taking. What if our blog becomes a HUGE hit? Then fans find out we didn’t even write it, and yet we took credit? Bad juju.

I often (okay maybe not too often) wonder if Rob and Fab might have gotten less backlash if they had a voice that sounded like a cat caught in a screen door. I think part of what made fans so angry at Milli Vanilli was that these guys COULD SING, yet still CHOSE to be fake. Same with blogging. If we are capable of writing, yet get someone else to write for us and take credit, I don’t see that ending well. All need happen is we fight with our ghost blogger and she outs us. Or, maybe the blog gets so big and successful that the ghost blogger now wants credit. Yeah, it could get ugly. Like Jerry Springer Ugly.

 Ah, why are we even talking about Milli Vanilli Blogger? I wouldn’t have ever mentioned it except this practice is a recommended tactic. I think you guys are too savvy to fall for this, but when you are facing kids and day job and a sink of dirty dishes I want you to be strong when someone offers an argument like this:

Hey, Oprah doesn’t write her own blogs.

Yes, but she is Oprah and she gets to do things us normal people don’t. Oprah paid her dues for decades before she earned the right to do things like have interns write her stuff. No one on Twitter is likely thinking that Oprah is doing her own tweets. We have to do a lot of work before we earn this privilege. There are ways to work more efficiently, but there are no short-cuts.

Blogging doesn’t have to be such a huge deal that we either write it off or think we need to outsource. If the idea of blogging is all too overwhelming to you, I hope you will at least pick up a copy of my upcoming book Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer before you swear off blogging altogether. Blogging doesn’t have to be a huge time suck and it can be one of the most rewarding aspects of our career.

So what are your thoughts? Am I being too hard? Do auto-tweets bother you? Do you RT auto-tweets or do you feel cheated in the Twitter relationship? What about blogs? Would it bother you to find out your favorite blogger wasn’t writing her own posts? (Note: I write all my own posts :D).

What are your thoughts? Do you think it is better for a writer to do less and be genuine? OR do you think automation is a great tool for freeing up a writer’s already limited time?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of April, 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 every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of April I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Happy writing!

Until next time….

In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Brooke Johnson Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Roni Loren’s Guest-Blogging Etiquette

Plotting for You or the Story over at BookEnds LLC

6 Signs You’re Not Ready to Be a Professional Writer by the hilarious Chuck Wendig

Susan Bischoff has a nice post about using TweetDeck for better efficiency.

For a great laugh, check out Tawna Fenske’s How Awkward Humping Can Inspire Your Writing or Piper Bayard’s Man Catches Fire in Porn Booth

Awesome craft post by Jody Hedlund 5 Foundational Areas to Focus on for Intentional Growth

FUN post by new blogger Tiffany White discussing favorite scary movies of all time. Friday FaBoolousness.

Christopher David Peterson has an interesting post Indie vs. Traditional.

The Business and Standard Operating Procedure of Being This Author by NYTBSA Bob Mayer

Also, an interesting post by Peter St. Clair about Columbine. Hard to believe it has been 12 years.

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  1. #1 by Jane Sadek on April 20, 2011 - 3:57 pm

    Auto-tweeting should be illegal!

  2. #2 by Jenn Thorson on April 20, 2011 - 3:57 pm

    I have unfollowed more folks because it became clear they were bots. Worse, follow long enough and you see their repertoire is limited– they repeat themselves, plucking the same old tired stuff from their databases of bite-sized, pre-determined “wisdom.”

    A sure way to ruin your brand!

  3. #3 by jabelfield on April 20, 2011 - 3:58 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s those who take the time to interact, and to build the relationships, that make Twitter a fun place to hang out🙂

  4. #4 by jabelfield on April 20, 2011 - 3:59 pm

    Added to day: the ones who are obviously the real deal get a lot more attention from me, and I’m a whole lot more likely to remember their names, too🙂

  5. #5 by jabelfield on April 20, 2011 - 4:01 pm

    Added to say<<that's what the above should have said, hehehe

  6. #6 by Ironic Mom on April 20, 2011 - 4:02 pm

    I love the Milli Vanilli analogy: it’s brilliant and is from my time.

    I’ve never thought of ghost writers on blogs, but yes it would bug me. It’d be a bit like discovering someone I’ve known has kept a giant secret from me.

    Having said that, since my blog is a humour one where I regularly laugh at my kids (and myself), if someone wants to take my twins for the day and then write a post about that, I might be willing. Maybe then I’d get more writing done.

    Leanne

    • #7 by K.B. Owen on April 21, 2011 - 2:30 am

      I’m with you on that! Maybe there’s a market. Well, maybe not.🙂

  7. #8 by Kait Nolan on April 20, 2011 - 4:06 pm

    I was briefly involved with a group run by one of those alleged branding experts, who did not believe in “live tweeting”. This person scheduled everything, actually had someone to lay in tweets for them for weeks in advance, and thought that all conversations should be moved to DMs to as not to clutter up the stream. That didn’t work for me. I find all kinds of fascinating people by eavesdropping on their twitter conversations.

    I think there’s a time and place for auto-tweeting. Like Bob’s reminders of stuff. I have a single auto-tweet that goes out each day that’s basically an ad for my books. Just one, to throw out there into the stream. I rotate them in both content and time so it’s not all the same every day. I tend to have a fair number of new followers each day, so this nets me a few new readers from time to time. But like you said, I interact the rest of the time. I’m talking food and books and writing and sometimes just sending random comments out into the universe (one of the fabulous parts of twitter is that the universe answers back!). I INTERACT. That’s the part that all these so called experts don’t seem to get. The point of Twitter is interaction, not a stream of commercials.

  8. #9 by Rhonda Hopkins on April 20, 2011 - 4:11 pm

    I don’t do a lot on twitter yet, but am working on it. However, when someone follows me, I take the time to send them a personal thank you. So, it really annoys me when I get an auto response when I follow someone recommending that I check out their book or blog or whatever. What a turn off. I’d rather they not bother sending anything.

  9. #10 by Sharon Hamilton on April 20, 2011 - 4:15 pm

    I liked the idea of limiting the blogging/commenting to 30 minutes a day. But I have to say, I have learned so much about writing and met some superb writers as role models by getting out there more. I hope that as deadlines loom I can be as active in that circle when those commenters are readers as well as writers.

    As usual, thanks for the great post, Kristen.

  10. #11 by Anne R. Allen on April 20, 2011 - 4:19 pm

    Content + Your name = Brand. How elegantly you’ve put it.

    And I’m so with you on the Milli Vanilli thing. If I get a whiff of auto-tweeting, I unfollow.

  11. #12 by Jenyfer Matthews on April 20, 2011 - 4:26 pm

    I don’t do Twitter (yet) but if I did, I would not auto-tweet. What is the point? But I also tend to ignore the repetitive nothing-but-promo status updates on FB. Promo is a necessary evil of course, but if it is nothing but all promo, all the time I tune out.

  12. #13 by Diane Henders on April 20, 2011 - 4:31 pm

    In the end, it didn’t matter whether Milli Vanilli had talent or not. The problem was that they’d lied to their fans. People weren’t willing to hear their “real” voices after that. Authentic voice is the only thing that we have as writers.

    I follow a lot of blogs, and their posting frequency varies from several times a week to once a month or less. I don’t care how often they post (in fact, I prefer less frequency). I care about what they say and how they say it. I’d feel betrayed if I discovered the posts weren’t genuinely “them”.

    Automation? Only if it’s for an event that recurs and can be adequately dealt with in an automated message. And only if the automated messages are part of the larger “live” conversation.

  13. #14 by nataliefaybooks on April 20, 2011 - 4:33 pm

    I didn’t even knew there was such a thing as a ghost blog writero_O, and although I heard about this auto tweet thing it never sounded like an option to me.

    For me being social is about sharing and caring. I’m shy and I don’t tweet like a maniac, but I’m there.

    p.s: This is the second post I read that do some sort of Milli Vanilli analogy. Poor guys, they represent fake, don’t they?

  14. #15 by anny cook on April 20, 2011 - 4:40 pm

    A) Nope, I don’t respond to “botted” tweets. I have enough to do responding to real people.

    B) If I found out a blog was ghosted I wouldn’t bother going back. Genuineness is far more important to me than what the blogger has to say. Be who you are. Write when you can. I love blogging most days. Some days are just dumb/brain dead blogs, but they’re all me.

    C) Great post! I always enjoy them when I drop by.

  15. #16 by Amanda Bozeman on April 20, 2011 - 4:40 pm

    I second-guess myself on Twitter all the time. Still not quite sure how to do things. But I would NEVER let anyone else speak for me.

    If my reputation gets ruined, I’m damn well going to be the one responsible🙂

  16. #17 by Pam Stucky on April 20, 2011 - 4:52 pm

    I absolutely agree it’s better to be sparse and genuine than it is to hire it out. I’ve seen the backlash (not toward me, thank goodness; I was just a spectator) and it wasn’t pretty. People don’t like being lied to, but I think more than that people don’t like feeling they were fooled. And that saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”? That’s why once you lose people to “MVS” blogging or tweeting, unless they were completely dedicated to you before, it’ll be pretty difficult to win them back.

    Be genuine. That’s all there is to it.

  17. #18 by bobcb518 on April 20, 2011 - 4:53 pm

    At times it seems like the whole world is becoming Milli Vanillied. Girl, you know it’s true.

  18. #19 by JLSimons on April 20, 2011 - 4:53 pm

    Well said. Auto-tweets are anti-tweets. They are dark perversions of intent that misuse and abuse trust. And if a writer blogs, that blog darn well better be their own words, or why read them? (Guest posts labeled as such are different, of course.)

    But I want to mention an exception for non-writers who tweet and blog, i.e., businesses. In those cases, a team of tweeters and bloggers can still capture the essence of the company and the brand and share interesting articles, make valuable contributions, and put forward the company’s point of view in a responsible and articulate way. They can listen to and engage in conversations with customers, fans, critics and haters within the point of view and personality of the company (or themselves, where companies allow it! The tweet or post doesn’t have to be from the CEO to be authentic. Of course, in those instances, I urge companies to list their tweeters and bloggers on the profile, giving credit where credit is due.

  19. #20 by The Mad Hatter on April 20, 2011 - 5:10 pm

    I agree 100% – what you write has to be what you write. Using a bot for reminders (I couldn’t live without Calendar) and for basic automated tasks is fine. But for writing, we write.

    But the none-writing stuff is another matter. I was talking to a writer I know about doing a special. She needed money (who doesn’t). My suggestion was that she arrange to buy copies of her books at a discount from a local book store that knew her well (so that they’d count towards her sales), sign them, and sell them with copies of her compact discs, and maybe a couple of other things that her fans would think were neat.

    The response? Too much work.

    I pointed out that she didn’t have to do it herself. She has friends and family that would probably be willing to help with packing and shipping. Nope, she couldn’t ask. She’d have to do it all herself. And it would be too much work.

    To me this is the sort of situation that just begs for help. Let’s play numbers. Assume that she could sell 100 packages, and she could make $10.00 per package after expenses (including pizza for the help). That’s $1000.00, and that money could go towards replacing the old hunk of junk that is her current writing computer, making her more productive. If your friend, who was a writer, asked if you could pitch in on a Saturday boxing orders, and bought pizza, would you do it? I would.

    So yes, for writing jobs, the writer should do it. For non-writing jobs, the writer should know when to ask for help. And when to call in the professionals. If she’d sold 10,000 orders, well, at that point, things would have gotten really interesting🙂

    Wayne

  20. #21 by Patrick Thunstrom on April 20, 2011 - 5:11 pm

    I think autotweets, as you can use in Tweet Deck (One at a time, merely a way to schedule the tweet.) can be useful for creating a more flexible schedule. It’s just a fact that some points of the day are more effective for sharing tweets, and getting one tweet in that window helps.

    That said, that autotweet should be written for its effect just like any other tweet.

  21. #22 by Catherine Johnson on April 20, 2011 - 5:31 pm

    Couldn’t agree more, such a fake idea. i’m getting lots of views on my Second Sight book review so I linked you on that post: http://bit.ly/dVHNib

  22. #23 by C.K. Volnek on April 20, 2011 - 5:39 pm

    Excellent post! Very timely and oh so true. Branding is all about being building that relationship to get people to know, trust and like you. Thanks for sharing!
    C.K. Volnek

  23. #24 by Stacy on April 20, 2011 - 6:20 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. Auto-tweeting or ghost-tweeting for authors is disrespectful to their readers. And honestly, if you’re trying to build an audience, why would you have someone else do your tweeting for you? The whole point is to reach out to potential readers with YOUR voice.

  24. #25 by Sonia G Medeiros on April 20, 2011 - 6:38 pm

    Seems to me that guest posts would be a good solution for a busy blogger from time to time. I have used scheduled tweets a couple of times to promote my blog because I kept forgetting…but I got paranoid that something would go wrong and the auto-tweet would go crazy, spamming everybody. *shudder* I probably spend too much time with social media right now. I’ve cut down my time a lot (inspired by these posts and Piper Bayard’s tweets on the subject). I’m still finding my balance. Besides…there are so many good links sometimes…I just want to read and RT them all! I’ll get more ruthless with my time as I go on, I’m sure.

  25. #26 by Irene Vernardis on April 20, 2011 - 6:49 pm

    Quote: “(Note: I write all my own posts ).” That’s the computer program talking😀

    A very interesting post, and I agree with you. I think that it is better not to blog or tweet than to have someone else do it for you. And faking it, will be noticed. It is easy to notice when someone lies behind the so called “anonymous” cover of the PC, by reading few posts and asking few well-placed questions. News flash, it’s very difficult to fake it and you will get caught when faking it.

    My “problem” with Twitter is that I get so many interesting tweets, with interesting articles and posts, that by the time I’m finished reading and commenting on the posts, I haven’t even notice two or three hours passed. And all the links I find interesting I want to retweet them, for others to see them too. Ouf🙂

    Thank you for the great post

    • #27 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 20, 2011 - 7:05 pm

      The bot got too big for her own britches and wanted a dressing room and an entourage and her own line of action figures…so I was forced to delete her with extreme prejudice.

  26. #28 by Travis Erwin on April 20, 2011 - 7:01 pm

    Great piece and I do believe you are correct.

  27. #29 by Peter Saint-Clair on April 20, 2011 - 7:06 pm

    Thanks for the mash-up love – always appreciated.

    I agree with you on this – you can usually tell right off the bat if someone is real or not.

  28. #30 by Piper Bayard on April 20, 2011 - 7:24 pm

    Great post, Kristen. I only ask people to keep it real. As I tell my kids, they can say anything if they say it with respect. Hiring someone else to say it for them isn’t saying it with respect.

    Thanks for the shout out.🙂

    • #31 by Peter Saint-Clair on April 20, 2011 - 9:44 pm

      As long as they add Sir or Ma’am at the end, right….lol

  29. #32 by Tiffany A White on April 20, 2011 - 7:35 pm

    Wow, two MV references in one week. I saw Rob (I think) on The View this past week on a “Where are they now” segment. I still don’t feel sorry for him. I agree – be genuine. As always, your promotion rocks. I may dub you not only my guru, but my promoter too. Unless you want paid. 🙂

  30. #33 by Raven Corinn Carluk on April 20, 2011 - 7:40 pm

    I had never heard of ghost written blogs until today. Of course, I avoid most marketing tip bots like the plague. Especially any that require money to give you tips.

    WANA excluded; it’s awesome.

    Blogging isn’t hard at all. Especially with so many Twitter memes regarding writing, like #FridayFlash and #serialtuesday and others. Join a theme, and you’ve automatically got prompts and people that will visit. I find participating in #FridayFlash is good practice for concise writing.

    One practice I think is good, if you’re not going to have time to blog, is getting guest bloggers. Let other authors or book reviewers come on; they promote themselves and you, giving cross-traffic. You reach out to their readers, and all your readers get a chance to get to know someone new. It also means you don’t have to post that day, saving a post for later.

    As for auto-tweeting. I despise it when it’s all that comes from someone. Which seems to be the general consensus. I’m scheduling tweets now because I realized I was falling a little behind on actually mentioning my books and sites. So I loaded up a bunch of those through Tweetdeck, leaving me more time during my day job to live tweet on my phone. (I’m so lucky I have the ability to do that) Then I’m not sitting at the end of the day not once having linked to my page. Auto-tweet the “work”, livetweet the fun part; talking to people and making connections.

    I have retweeted some auto-tweets. But just the ones mentioning their book or event, and I switch up their hashtags. Something great I learned here. I try to do that with most of my retweets now.

  31. #34 by amyshojai on April 20, 2011 - 8:37 pm

    ARGGGG! I’ve been railing against “hired gun” blogging, tweeting, FB-ing, etc for ages, and Kristen just says it ever-so-much better! Love the comment–we’re writers after all. Nobody holds a gun to our heads and says YOU-MUST-BLOG-TWEET-FB. I’m in a discussion over at LinkedIn about this very thing, and many of those folks are execs who believe they’ve gotta jump on the social media train and so hire it done. Long as you recognize that’s advertorial content, okey dokey but don’t pretend it’s a social connection.

    Some do it really well, though. Last year I tweeted after some unfair FedEx charges, was polite, but did polish my sparkly bitch pin just a bit. And…got a DM from a FedEx-in-charge-of-Tweets and he fixed it. Nice!

    I’ve avoided letting twitter into my phone, though. Email is bad enough. Gotta draw a line in the kitty litter somehwere. Great post–as always!

  32. #35 by Jill Kemerer on April 20, 2011 - 9:46 pm

    I agree. I come back to blogs for the content and the voice. It would bother me to think I’m reading something written by anyone but the author. And auto-tweeters? I never follow back. I’m looking for genuine relationships.

  33. #36 by Leigh D'Ansey on April 20, 2011 - 10:54 pm

    Thanks for another great post. I’m still finding my way with the whole social media thing but I really appreciate sincerity as opposed to repetitive ‘buy me buy me’ twittering.

  34. #37 by Gene Lempp on April 20, 2011 - 11:02 pm

    The whole point of blogging and tweeting is to be social…really difficult to do that if it isn’t actually you. Be real, be yourself and be aware you can’t do it all, all the time.

    Great post Kristen!

  35. #38 by Carol Silvis on April 21, 2011 - 12:01 am

    Well, before I read this, I was considering hiring some type of marketing company to market my new career book. Now you have me re-thinking that idea. Thanks for the insight.

  36. #39 by Christine Ashworth on April 21, 2011 - 12:04 am

    Right on target, as usual! I’m glad I hadn’t even thought to go those routes…

  37. #40 by Jami Gold on April 21, 2011 - 12:44 am

    Oh…where to start with this post? 🙂

    First, I schedule my posts and I have one automated tweet go out for each new blog post as it goes live. I figure that’s no biggie. I sometimes schedule tweets about other people’s posts for a better time (rather than the middle of the night that I’m coming across them🙂 ). I figure they’d prefer having a bigger audience for my RT. But other than that? Nope, I don’t do automated tweets.

    Second, to address the person that Kait encountered – Really? I hate having people clog up my DM column for stuff that’s just regular conversation (Thanks for the follow/Thanks for the RT). Argh! My DM column is my personal space. And I meet and interact with so many new people by eavesdropping on those Twitter conversations. 🙂

    Third. THIRD!!! As Kristen said, our brand is our name and our content. Um, guess what? If someone else produces the content – if someone else’s “voice” is stamped on the content – then all the effort is for naught. That’s how brands get destroyed, not built.

    Thanks, Kristen, for a great post! 🙂 I’ll try to settle down now.

  38. #41 by Trisha on April 21, 2011 - 12:54 am

    The whole Milli Vanilli thing was a joke in the beginning, but then when I learned of the tragic fate of one of the guys, it just got sad and depressing😦

  39. #42 by Laurie London on April 21, 2011 - 1:23 am

    Great, post, Kristen!

    I’m too much of a control freak to have someone speak for me and I couldn’t imagine someone tweeting for me.

    Like you said in Bob’s case, I do see some value in auto-tweeting in moderation. Another published author friend of mine who lives out here on the West Coast was told by her publisher that she needs to tweet more. Problem is, she does. However, with the 3 hour time difference, by the time we’re getting up and getting online out here, the East Coasters are having coffee, having lunch and checking twitter for the 5th time. Although I haven’t done it yet, a few auto-tweets of interesting links scheduled around 5am my time, might be worthwhile.

  40. #43 by K.B. Owen on April 21, 2011 - 2:05 am

    Hi, Kristen,

    How do you know if you’re being efficient with your time? I blog three times a week, and it takes me 2 hrs on average per post. Is that normal? Then I’m reading a lot of blogs and RT-ing them during the week. If I’m asking others to read mine and spread the word, I want to reciprocate and support others. I also learn a great deal, too. It’s been a wonderful, supportive community of people. Haven’ hit a dud yet!

    The dark side – my writing productivity has slowed to a trickle. It’s just so hard to find the chunks of time I used to have when I was happily (and ignorantly, I guess) playing in my little sandbox with my novel, writing and revising to my heart’s content. I still haven’t figured out how to manage the time on blogging and networking and get quicker at it (and reading books? forget it).

    It’s hard not to feel like I’m laboring in obscurity on a blog that not many read (although I am SO grateful to the ones who have been reading and commenting). Discouragement about this process keeps nipping at my heel like a cheap sandal.

    • #44 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 21, 2011 - 12:24 pm

      Get a copy of this new book or go read my old posts that teach about blogging and that might help. Also, if it encourages you, you will get faster with practice. I will be teaching a Blogging for Branding class in June for the Write It Forward Workshops (WDW Pub) and ypou might consider parting with $20.

  41. #45 by educlaytion on April 21, 2011 - 3:59 am

    I was just chatting up the girls at the salon the other day and I says, “Yous know that Kristen Lamb? She should do one a dem Milli Vanilla posts.” Right hand to heavens knows I told em.

    I guess if I came out with a comment like that you might suspect proxy talk. Well, I have a handful of college students practically begging to be my personal assistant (actually mostly true). But I can’t trust them with my name. I don’t think I’ll ever find anyone who thinks like me. If I was so easy to duplicate then I wouldn’t be very special. And I want to be special.

  42. #46 by harmamae on April 21, 2011 - 4:21 am

    Wow, I never knew people would hire other people to ghost write their blogs (unless they were Oprah, of course). That does sound kind of pointless.

  43. #47 by Marilag Lubag on April 21, 2011 - 4:52 am

    The title got my attention. Love knowing their history. Anyway, auto-tweeting isn’t good. It’s like I’m talking to a wall in the hallway–it echoes back to me. I mean, if you can’t tweet often, then it’s fine. However, we shouldn’t have someone else to tweet for us. But yes, I agree with you about Bob needing to auto-tweet that info about a conference (2x a day). After all, it gets repetitive and you’ll bore yourself to death retweeting that info.

  44. #48 by Mary Ann Peden-Coviello on April 21, 2011 - 5:23 am

    I am on Twitter but don’t tweet terribly often. I don’t have that much to say. I also don’t do much interacting on Twitter, mostly because I haven’t figured it out I guess. But I’m not a bot. I also write my own blog posts.

    This is such a good site, by the way. So much information.

  45. #49 by Darke Conteur on April 21, 2011 - 11:22 am

    Wow, I had no idea you could auto-tweet. Where’s the fun in that???

    I’m with you, if you can’t take the time to be social on socail media, then why bother? It’s called socail for a reason, right?

    IMO, blogs are simple, but I think people are frightened off because they think that every entry has to be profound. Mine aren’t. They’re just personl reflections and my take on the world around me. I have interests outside of writing (I know, sacrilege, but all work and no play makes Darke something…something), and I don’t make huge posts. I agree with you about not wanting to do it. I’ve seen so many people say YOU HAVE TO BLOG IF YOU WANT TO BE SUCCESSFUL WRITER, and that has sent some writer-friends of mine (who don’t like blogging) into near hysteria.

  46. #50 by June on April 21, 2011 - 11:31 am

    I didn’t even know it was possible to auto-tweet. I don’t follow Oprah, but I certainly wouldn’t be interested if she’s not tweeting herself. Who cares what some anonymous intern has to say? If the woman herself doesn’t do it, why bother with an account?

    As for the blogging, yep, I totally agree. There’s a blog that I believe is being written by someone other that the supposed owner. I know she’s crazy busy, so I kind of understand, but it undercuts the whole purpose of having one: to let people get to know you and what YOU
    have to say. Thanks. This was a great post.

  47. #51 by Yorick von Fortinbras on April 21, 2011 - 1:40 pm

    Just wondering, what’s the general opinion on automating links to past blog posts, music and book links every so often and interspersing that with “real” tweets?

    Twitter: @LessonsOfLunacy

    • #52 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 21, 2011 - 1:50 pm

      I still feel that relationships are key. Minimize use of any automation. If you make friends with people, THEY will tweet your stuff. Half the time, before I can make it to TweetDeck, five followers have already posted about my blog. That is because (I feel) I focus on people first. We will have to do a lot less self-promotion if we forge strong relationships and authenticity and interaction is the only way to do this.

      Also, change your Twitter handle to your name or all this social media is a waste of time. I cannot buy a book by Lessons of Lunacy. Read this prior post when you get a chance and I explain why monikers will crater your platform.

  48. #53 by Anna Silvernail Sweat on April 21, 2011 - 11:50 pm

    “My logic is undeniable…my logic is undeniable…”
    “You have so got to die.”

    Sorry- favorite I, Robot quotes.

    I’m new to tweeting. I don’t even know if I’m doing it right. But a few poor souls have signed up to follow me, so it can’t be all wrong. That said, I can’t imagine letting a machine do this for me. Social media is about connecting. Writing can be isolating. I love that social media provides an outlet AND can further my career. Granted, my humor doesn’t always translate to tweet-speak so well. But I think I get a few laughs. Or gasps. Depending.

    Thanks for another great blog!

  49. #54 by Anna Silvernail Sweat on April 21, 2011 - 11:51 pm

    Wait…you did write this blog, didn’t you? ;o)

  50. #55 by Jenny Hilborne on April 22, 2011 - 3:58 am

    Thanks for the post, Kristen. You make excellent points. Your social marketing is clearly working as I was referred here by another social media forum. Trust and respect take so long to build and seconds to destroy, so it’s essential to protect them from being tarnished.

    • #56 by Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter on April 22, 2011 - 2:07 pm

      I can second that. Since I started following Kristen’s advice, the number of visits to my blog have been climbing steadily, my Twitter & Status.Net followers are climbing steadily, and I’ve landed a paid gig writing computer articles for SemiAccurate.

      And I’m kicking myself for not seeing this stuff before.

      Thanks Kristen.

      Wayne

  51. #57 by Naty Matos on April 25, 2011 - 4:53 pm

    Auto-tweets are criminal. My schedule doesn’t allow me to blog everyday. I do schedule my blogs and I write some of them in advance, but it’s still me writing ALL of them. Like someone said, if I’m going to make a mess, it will be my mess.

  52. #58 by Arwen on May 5, 2011 - 1:44 am

    “I say that if you just do not have time to blog…then don’t” – Agreed. There is no place for automation here.

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