Tuesday, August 3, 2021

TikTok

 

TikTok is a video-sharing platform. It’s used by teens mainly. In the past few months, the audience has grown by leaps and bounds. This app evolved from a kid’s app called Musical.ly where kids lip-synced or sang music. Now TikTok is one of the most popular apps for social media sharing. It might just be the best place to promote your book. It’s free and available on all platforms.

The app is easy to use. Create a new account and be conscious of what you select for your username. Create something that goes with your brand. If you need to change your name, tap on the icon on the bottom right. Keep your account public for discoverability. Private accounts will not generate sales. Once you have everything set up, start making and viewing videos.

The app will add popular vids to your feed. Using the icons on the right you can like them (click the heart) or tell the app you don’t enjoy them (click the Arrow button and press Not Interested). Follow Tiktokers by clicking on their name or their avatar. Once you follow someone, you can see all their videos by pressing the Following option at the top of the screen. You can comment on content, use hashtags, and tag other users.

But we are on TikTok to create media, not just watch!

All the elements needed to make new content come with the app. Press the Plus sign at the bottom of the screen and give the app permissions to use your camera (recording video and audio and access to your photos, media, and files). Press the big red button to record yourself. Taping the button starts recording, but holding the button down allows users to record clips and splice them together to create a video. Click Upload to add still pictures instead of video. Change the length of the vid by clicking the 3m 60s or 15s icons. 

Add more elements to your video with Effects—way too many to go over. Except for Green Screen which supplies a background behind you. Along the side are more ways to alter your video. Speed can speed up or slow down the vid. Beauty adds a “pretty” filter to make skin clearer and eyes sharper. Filters work the same as on Instagram. Time can help you do hands-free by counting down and auto-starting the recording. 

At the top of the screen is the option to add sounds. Select from a wide library of music and sound effects. You can sort through the Discovery listing or Search for specific music. Videos can be up to three minutes long but are usually small snippets similar to its predecessor Musical.ly or the old short-vid app, Vine.

Why should authors be on TikTok?

It’s one of the most popular apps available right now. It’s also very much populated by teens. If you write seasoned romance, your audience might not be there. It’s the perfect marketing tool, much easier than YouTube or Facebook Live for adding quick, cute marketing videos. The audience for the app is huge, honestly huge! Readers can find you and your videos quickly and easily. Also, with a public profile, new readers can discover you if you hit the right hashtags and interests for them. 

Funny videos sell well. Also showcasing your pet can help. Do a flashy, cool 15s videos about your new release or a live cover reveal. Let this video-sharing app work for you. 

Take time to play with the app before you get too posty. I would recommend finding a teenager to assist you with the trends (what not to do) and the special effects. I had my own expert consultant in my seventeen-year-old who helped me write this blog post. (About 90% is her words and ideas. Thank you, my Oldest!)

 

 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Pinterest

 

Pinterest is an image-sharing app that works on all platforms. It’s basically scrapbooking, sans washi tape. Users can pin pictures from web pages or search on Pinterest to create pages and interest boards. The app is free and cloud-based so that data is accessible from one device to the next. Pinboards can be public or private. It’s simple, easy, and very useful.

After you get a Pinterest account, the program asks a few questions. Gender (or opt for non-specific), country, and language. Then it ask
s for your interests. Choose five from their lists. You can always change later. (Which is good because they suggested Nail Art for me about six times. That’s a no from me. LOL) Pinterest then suggests a set of “pins” for you, pictures from various sources that might interest you based on the categories you clicked. Select one or go to the Search bar and find your real interests. If you select one, you can choose from various options. To save the picture, click Save on the top right of the pin. It goes to your profile or a board you’ve already created. To see the source of the image, click the bottom left. This will send you from Pinterest to wherever the user clipped the image from. To send it to other social media or email, press the upload icon. Last, the three dots let you download, hide, or report a pin. Hide merely tells the app you’re not interested in that pin. Report lets you mark offensive or inappropriate pictures.

To create your own boards, click on the icon of your profile. Press the Plus button on the right to create a new pin or board. Name your board. Then type in the search bar for material for the board. You can continually add more pins to any board. Once added, you can drag-and-drop images to organize the board.

You can join friends on Pinterest by adding them through their name or email using the dialog button on the top right. Pinterest informs you what they are up to and who likes your pins and boards with the bell icon.

How does this help authors?

Pinterest is another great way to show off your books. Start by making a board for your book. Add in inspirational pictures of your characters, setting, even cover art possibilities. Share the boards on other social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Add personal interest boards about your hobbies, vacations, fandoms. Market your book through mutual interests, free samples, and branding. Use pins from other users, especially authors, to share your love of their projects and pins. Create curiosity for future books by making dream boards of titles to come. Then share, share, share. Check out this article from BookBub for more Pinterest ideas.

It all seems so simple because it is. Pinterest is not the most popular social media app, but it is the easiest, in my opinion. It’s mostly click-and-share. If you are new to social media, try this one to ease into the marketing world!

 

 

 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Instagram

 


Instagram is an image-based social media app. It can be used on all platforms but works best on a mobile device. Users post images/videos with captions into a stream of data, similar to Twitter. It also uses hashtags to categorize posts. You can follow a hashtag on Instagram to see those posts in your stream. The app includes a few ways to post videos or to share your pictures beyond the infinite list of images on your feed. Stories share posts, but they have a limited lifespan, about twenty-four hours. Reels are a new feature on Instagram that shares videos. They last longer, and the video’s lengths can be greater than those on your story.

How to use Instagram

Sign up for an account. You can connect your Instagram to other social media through the settings on your profile page (three bars at the top, then Settings then Share to Other Accounts). Share images and videos by clicking on the Plus sign on the top of the screen. It will go right to your photo gallery on your phone. You can also choose to make it a Post, Story, Reel, or a Live video. For a post, select an image and then “enhance” it. You can shrink the size with the frame button at the bottom of the page. Drag the image around the space to “crop” or refocus it. When finished, press the blue arrow at the top of the screen. Next add a filter (if you want) to add new lighting, make it black and white, etc. Click the Edit button on the bottom to change angles, brightness, contrast, and more. Once completed, press the blue arrow again. Now, write the captions. Use hashtags to make your post visible to non-followers. If you created a business/public account, you could turn the post into a fundraiser or a promotion (using money). You can also share the post to any social media accounts you’ve connected to your Instagram. Be aware: outside links do NOT work on Instagram posts.

If you are new to Instagram, you will need to follow others, the same as Twitter. Hopefully, they will follow you back. Click on a user’s name in your feed or search for them using the magnifier tool. Once their bio comes up, click Follow. If you like a person’s posts, click the heart under the picture or double-click the image. To comment, hit the dialog bubble. If the post is so amazing you want to share it, hit the paper airplane to add it to your story (like a retweet). (You can only share public posts, btw.) The little bookmark lets you save the post. The heart at the top of the page will show you all the comments and likes for your posts while the dialog bubble on the top of the page shows your messages.

Instagram has many other features. I could’ve created a full 3-post session and more for it. If anyone needs more information, let me know in the comments!

Using Instagram as an Author

Because it’s an image-based app, you can show ads, cover pictures, or inspirational photos to market your brand and flaunt your books. You can get involved with certain hashtags like #bookstagram to help with marketing.

Instagram still has many younger users. If you are doing YA, New Adult, and twenty-somethings, you will find many readers there. Instagram is expanding. Readers can find you through tags, shared Stories, or Reels. Use the app to show off your own fandoms and find a community.

Follow and find followers by using hashtags. Click on a hash tag to see everyone who’s used it lately. Follow other authors or influencers who use the tag.

Two things though: Build your bio well and make your account public (as an author). Public profiles will generate a certain amount of spam, but you can promote and be shared. It’s worth it. Include all your buy and media links in your bio because links do not work on posts. Readers will have to cut and paste links to see them outside the app. Or you can use Linktree in your bio to have a list of links. (We’ll do Linktree another week.)

Last, I mentioned the app works well on a phone or mobile device. I’m a PC user, and I’ve learned to tweak the app to use on my computer. Not every feature works. You cannot share other posts to your story, among other things. BUT you can use it on a PC. Here’s how. Go to instaram.com and log in. Here you can view your feed. To add posts, etc., click on the three dots on the top right side of the webpage in the address bar ribbon. Slide the mouse arrow down to More Tools then over to Developer Tools and click. A bunch of HTML and web-language will appear on the right. Ignore it. Now refresh your page. You will now have the Home, Magnifier, Plus, and Heart buttons. Click the Plus to add posts. Be aware it’s a little tough to cut and paste. Your cursor might look like a fuzzy, gray dot and be a little awkward. The point is Instagram is absolutely usable on a PC.

Thanks for looking at Instagram 101. (Thanks to my seventeen-year-old for her input on this post!)

Next week, let’s take on Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

TweetDeck

 


TweetDeck

TweetDeck is a dashboard app for organizing your Twitter account. The site is owned by Twitter. It allows you to expand and sort your feed for easy viewing. The app is free and is for your laptop or desktop. There are many apps to help manage/organize/make the best use of Twitter. I could spend an entire year going through each one. I like TweetDeck and stopped there.

Setting up your account is easy. Go to tweetdeck.twitter.com and log into your account. You may have to click the “Get Started” button. The main screen of the app will show four columns—Home, Notifications, Messages, and Trending. Home will show everyone you follow just like a regular Twitter feed. Notifications and Messages are the same. The columns are editable, and you can add more. (I couldn’t find a solid answer on exactly how many you can have, but it’s significant.)

To add a column, click on the Plus sign on the left-side menu. Choose what type of column you need—view your tweets, create a list, likes, followers, mentions, etc. I suggest creating a list to filter out tweets to only those from accounts you follow or users you stalk love. After you click List, click Create List, then add details for the column—name, description, and whether you want it public or private. Public lists are available to anyone, and tell users you added them to a list. Next, add users to the list by typing in Twitter handles (with the @ sign) or names or even hashtags to search for users who fall under that tag. Click the Plus sign to add users to the column. If you do multiple searches, hit the small x in the search field for the next search. Press Done to add the column to the deck.

To edit columns, click on the small slider icon on the top right. You can change the type of tweets, concentrate on certain tweeters, change how the media appears, edit the list, clear the column (to start fresh) or remove it. When you click on Edit List, it goes back to the search where you can add users. To remove users, click the recycle bin by their name. Move the order of columns by hovering over the two vertical lines on the top left. The arrow turns into a four-way arrow. Click and drag the column by its title to the location desired. To close the menu, click the slider button again.

The left-side menu shows the order of your columns. Click on the icon to move directly to that list. The magnifier searches Twitter, and you can add the search as a column. The feather is to compose new tweets. The bottom of the menu has account options and the ability to manage more than one account on TweetDeck.

How is this app great for authors? It organizes that huge mess that is Twitter. Don’t get me wrong. I like the app, but it goes fast. It’s hard to see all the things you want. For example, one of my favorite celebrities tweets and deletes rather quickly. If I didn’t give him his own column, I might never read those tweets. But seriously, organize tweets for whatever you are working on. Follow a hashtag in a column to view the responses authors are getting with it. Are you participating in PitMad? Create a column to follow the tweets and check out what people are pitching. Are you looking for a new publisher/agent/editor, stalk follow them in a column to catch everything that’s going on with their business.

Twitter moves fast. If you follow many people, tweets can get lost easily. Using TweetDeck, I can separate my friends from the stream and give them retweets. Also, if news topics are trending, you can find info easily. It worked wonders for me last year with both COVID-19 information and about the RWA drama.

You’re an author. You are busy writing, editing, and promoting. Twitter should be an easy tool to help you with marketing and selling. TweetDeck helps keep the beast that is Twitter on a leash. It’s super flexible and makes the feed appearance useful.

Again, TweetDeck is not the only dashboard app for Twitter. Some find Hootsuite very useful, too. Check them out and see if it works for you. Like all other social media, if you don’t think you will use it, skip it, and move on to something else.

Next week—Instagram!

 

 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Twitter

 

Twitter is a social media platform that focuses on sending brief messages out into cyberspace. (Wow, that word dates me.) Twitter is a public forum for posts, conversations, news, pictures, and videos. Members can chat live through tweets (posts) and direct messages. Twitter is PUBLIC. Anything posted on the site—pictures, comments, videos—is available for anyone to read. It’s free on both desktop and mobile.

Using Twitter is easy. Create an account with a unique username. Add pictures to your profile and avatar. Make sure your description tells about you and your books. Tweeting is also easy, though you must learn to construct your messages in short bursts. Twitter still has a limit of 280 characters. But you’re a writer and can work with these limitations. Think Flash Fiction. If you have more to say, create a thread on Twitter by replying to your own posts. Find friends and new people through searching names, topics, or hashtags. Once you follow someone, their tweets will show up in your feed. On the app, there is a stream of tweets from people you follow in real-time. The more you follow, the more you see.

How will Twitter help me as an author?

Twitter seems to host more authors than readers. (Of course, authors are readers, too.) But you may not find the bulk of your audience here. So beware, as you tweet, you are talking to colleagues more than customers.

To get the best use of Twitter, learn the hashtags for your books and brand. Hashtags are words or phrases with a # sign before them with no spaces or punctuation. Example: #writingcommunity Hashtags allow users who might not follow you to find your tweet through the common interest of your hashtag. These tags are part of your 280 characters so use them wisely. I find using tags such as #amwriting #authorlife #writerproblems help others find me on Twitter.

Like hashtags, you need to learn the language of Twitter. A tweet is a post. A retweet is reposting something someone else has tweeted. DMs are direct messages. And mentions are when someone tags you in their post by using the @ sign with your screen name. If a topic popular with a certain hashtag, it can be trending. Click on the hashtag to see the tweets about the topic.

Be aware of Twitter’s etiquette. “Don’t spam” is the biggest rule to adhere to. That means do not run through and retweet someone’s entire stream of tweets. Also never direct message anyone with sales pitches or similar nonsense. Remember, these are more your peers than your readers. Also, if someone follows you, it’s nice to follow them back. In the past, people have made long lists of thank-yous when someone retweets them. This practice became old fast. But thank-you posts are sweet.

Tweets are forever… kinda. You can delete them but not edit. Be aware of your typos and missteps. Also, the lifespan of a tweet is very short. Expect thirty minutes before your tweet is lost in the shuffle. (It’s probably even less than that.) What does that mean? Time your tweets to best hit the audience you are aiming for. Lunchtime tweets are great as are 7 pm for older audiences. Also, get some friends/fellow writers to retweet your post. Retweets refresh the information, giving your post a longer life.

Tweets come fast and furious if you follow many others. (And you should follow other authors, publishers, agents, fan groups, etc.) Keeping track of tweets in the single feed on the app is tough. You can make lists within the app of users you follow. Several other apps that work with Twitter and allow you to divide up your follows into manageable chunks. I use Tweet Deck, and I have several columns of interests and users so I don’t miss a tweet. There are other supplemental apps to assist with Twitter, too. Search for your specific need to get the most from the app.

If tweets are short-lived and there are so many, how do authors use the platform effectively? Retweet others. Start conversations. Hashtag well and often. Put pictures/videos/GIFs in your tweets. Images catch the eye in this world of text. Use management tools to create a spectacular platform.

And guess what? This is just Twitter 101. There are tons of ways to use this app beyond just putting your words out there. As I mentioned, there are many apps to assist with marketing, follow trends, analytics, chat, and more. There are marketing trends, publishing trends, events such as PitMad.

Twitter is an excellent tool for your author tool belt.