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CoSchedule – Your Social Media Life in Plain View

CoSchedule: Your social media life in plain view

Being a small business, we’re pretty particular about what we invest money in. Our goal is usually to try to do something ourselves first, and when we realize we can’t, then hire it out. Sometimes, however, investing a little bit in something else pays dividends. Today, we’re going to talk about a paid app we’ve come to adore called CoSchedule.

It’s a social media scheduling platform that connects to pretty much every social platform and WordPress. You can write a blog and schedule all your Tweets, Instagrams, Facebooks, Tumblrs and whatnot in an easy-to-see calendar.

Disclaimer: I’m not a paid advocate for this product… yet.

Why Should You Schedule Content?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve spent some time talking about different social media. If you’re like most authors, you’re trying to juggle your writing career with a full-time job, and perhaps a family, too. Marketing probably doesn’t rank high on your list of things to do (although it should).

By scheduling your content ahead of time, it allows you the flexibility to have a life, as well as maintain a regular presence across different media. You shouldn’t schedule everything, of course. Regular human interaction is important, too.

Why CoSchedule?

We’ve tried a couple different tools, but CoSchedule is far and away the best for our needs (we’ll talk about Buffer next week). In the first place, since we’re managing two separate (but occasionally overlapping) social media brands, CoSchedule makes it easy to put together campaigns. Our weekly SGR-P blog posts are cross-posted across all ten of our connected social media accounts, alongside whatever S. Usher Evans is doing that week.

The calendar view, in particular, is extremely helpful:

A screen shot of our marketing calendar on CoSchedule

We can take a look at each day and level-out if we’ve got too many messages on Monday, or not enough on Tuesday. We can also filter by social media account (to check the number of tweets or Instagram posts) or by campaign/tag. It’s been very helpful as we try to juggle multiple campaigns, from these blog posts to book releases to hosting other authors on the blog.

Content Templates – Our Best Friend

Our best-loved feature in CoSchedule is the ability to create “templates” of social messages. For example, these blog posts get the same treatment week after week. CoSchedule’s Social Campaign feature lets us set up “text helpers” (reusable phrases) and “image helpers,” then put them in a queue of Facebook posts, tweets–even Instagram posts and Pinterest pins. For those of us who blog on the regular, having all this already set up means an hours’ worth of social media scheduling is wrapped up in about 2 minutes.

A look at how we use Coschedule's Content Templates for our weekly blog posts

So Many Ways…

Blogging comprises only one piece of our daily social media habits. Below are the different ways we use CoSchedule to help us get our message to the masses:

  • As we said above, we’ve got a reusable template for our weekly blog posts. One-click and done to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram
  • Speaking of Instagram, we LOVE using text helpers for all those pesky hashtags. We have a set that we use for all posts and then leave a blank placeholder for post-specific hashtags.
  • We also use CoSchedule to post and share our Wednesday quote picks and also pin them to Pinterest

Our favorite CoSchedule hack is to use templates and text helpers for Twitter Chats. We’ve got a template set up for promo tweets (which start 2 weeks before the chat). Then, on the day of, we have 10 template questions that we fill in with specifics and images. There’s no scheduling, no worrying about the hashtag–it’s all done for us! What used to take us several hours now takes 10 minutes, including the time to dream up questions.

As we said above, it takes a really great product for us to throw down some business dollars to invest in. But for our money and for what we’re trying to accomplish, CoSchedule is worth every penny!

CoSchedule from Garrett Moon on Vimeo.

Why we love CoSchedule to manage our social media


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Pinterest for Authors – Finding Inspiration

Pinterest for authors: Taking creativity to the next level

Pinterest is yet another tool authors can use to raise awareness about their books. It differs from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in that it’s less about content that you create, and more about what you find and share. For authors, Pinterest is another way readers can get to know the real you, which helps with soft-selling.

Pinterest for Authors 101

Pinterest is a “visual bookmarking tool that helps you discover and save creative ideas.” Users save bookmarks, or Pins, to different boards, which usually have some different theme or idea behind them. You would “pin” something to come back to it later. In the case of authors, pin images that inspire you from other users or from external websites. Others can then save your pins to their board, and so on.

Building your Boards

Pinterest for authors: With inspiration boards, readers can get excited about your books before they even read a single wordLast week, we talked about an Instagram aesthetic, or a look and feel that conveys your overall theme. For Pinterest, we can take that idea and apply it to different boards. If you’re using Pinterest 100% professionally, you should consider having boards for each of you book series (both published and forthcoming, more on this later). You also might add boards for writing, quotes, scenes, etc. Find authors in your genre and see what kind of boards they have.

Pinterest is a great tool to help build word-of-mouth for unpublished and forthcoming books. Users can watch you put together your inspiration in real-time, and get an idea for the book before they read a single word. Once the book is published, you can add pins to buy the book.

Legal and Copyright

Before we go further, we should mention that Pinterest’s copyright issues are well-known, so tread carefully. If you’re pinning from an external site, and they have a “Pin It” button, it’s usually safe to assume they want their content shared. Before you pin, it’s also a good idea to check the link and make sure it’s a legitimate site. You also want to make sure proper credit is given to any piece of art you use for your inspiration board.

Growing your Pinterest Audience

Pinterest for authors: On average, the half-life of a tweet is five minutes. A pin? Three months!We talk a lot about a social media half-life, or the length of time a post is visible and shareable. On average, the average lifespan of a tweet is under five minutes. Pinterest? Three months! (Source) Not only that, but 80% of pins on Pinterest are re-pins, which means people are using the content within the site versus finding their own.

For authors, you can leverage your existing social media audience to draw them in, or start following authors or readers who are pinning similar images (check the “Also pinned by” board). You can also comment on popular pins, but be careful not to spam with too many comments.

While Pinterest is a great tool, for authors, for most folks it’s less of a must-have and more another facet of your online persona. We use it more for personal/professional use, having a mix of food boards with inspiration quotes, and even publishing knowledge. In particular, the inspiration board is great when things are going a bit rough.

If you haven’t tried out Pinterest, we do recommend spending an hour or two on it.


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Instagram for Authors: A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Instagram for authors: a photo is worth a thousand words

Instagram is fast becoming the most-used mobile social media site, hitting 600 million users in December 2016. It represents a different medium to reach our audience, using not text, but photographs. Still, with over 300 million daily active users, Instagram for authors is a marketing tool they cannot live without.

Instagram in a Nutshell

Instagram is a social media site where users posts photos. It’s intended to be a mobile-only solution, with limited functionality available on the desktop site. Instagram also connects with Facebook (who owns it), Twitter, Tumblr, and more for easy cross-posting of content. Content is displayed to users via an algorithm–the more times a user has interacted with your content, the more they will see your posts in their feeds.

Instagram for authors: Instagram users strive for an aesthetic, a similar look and feel for every photo they postInstagram functions differently than Facebook and Twitter in several different ways. On most social media sites, content remains forever. You can use search features to find content from way back to 2013 and even 2005 for Facebook. The most successful Instagram users, on the other hand, keep their feed to under 100 photos, deleting older and lower-performing photos and keeping the ones that fit their “aesthetic.” An aesthetic is a je ne sais quoi, or the overarching thematic elements of a photograph. Grouped together in a profile, these photos have common colors, angles, etc.

Some common aesthetics for authors include showcasing what you’re working on, such as your Scrivener word count or computer screen, photos of what you’re reading, or your book, or even just having the same filter for every photo to keep the colors the same.

Now, not every Instagram user implements an aesthetic, but having a common visual theme is important to finding new followers. Users want to see visually appealing content, although the occasional dog/cat (or, in one author’s case, ferret) photo is also welcome.

Instagram for Authors

For authors, Instagram provides another avenue to be creative, although for some, switching from word to photos is a bit of a stretch. All you need is your smartphone, a setting, and maybe some small items to stage the photo with. You can even take a few photos at once and schedule them using your favorite content scheduler (more on those in a few weeks).

Once you’ve got your photo, use your phone to upload it to the site and add a filter. Then you’ll need to add some text describing the photo. You can either go short and sweet or long and descriptive. Both options work!

If you decide to go long, Instagram removes carriage returns (line breaks) without text. As well, some users like to “hide” their hashtags at the bottom of their posts so they don’t clutter up the important text (or they add it as a comment).

For both, you’ll often see users add:

[Text text text]
.
.
[more text or hashtags]

Hashtags

Instagram for authors: You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram--use every one!Unlike Twitter, which recommends one or two hashtags per tweet, or Facebook, where hashtags never took off, Instagram is an app that thrives on hashtags. You may use up to 30 hashtags, and if you’re looking to boost engagement and reach, you should use every single one.

Some of the best are below:

  1. Bookstagram
  2. Bookish
  3. Bookaholic
  4. Bookaddict
  5. Booklover
  6. Booknerd
  7. Booknerdigans
  8. IreadYa
  9. YALit
  10. YAbooks
  11. amreading
  12. igreads
  13. igwrites
  14. amwriting
  15. writerscommunity
  16. indieauthor

To find more, check out our two Instagram accounts (susherevans and sgrpublishing).

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is a new(ish) feature introduced by Instagram that favors Snapchat’s formula of instant photos with text and drawings that disappear after they’ve been seen. For Instagrammers, especially those who want to keep their profiles to under a hundred photos, Instagram Stories provides an opportunity to showcase more than your aesthetic. You can post behind-the-scenes, short videos, and even advertise your new posts to show them to users who might have missed them. Unlike photos on your main feed, all stories are shown to all users.

 


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Facebook Groups – A Multi-Purpose Tool

Facebook Groups for Authors are exactly what they sound like–place where people can gather to have discussions about different things. For authors, they present three opportunities for marketing. Authors can join groups with other authors in their genre for networking, or they can join groups where readers are hunting for the best deals. Or authors can create their own groups for managing street teams. We’ll cover all three in this blog post.

Author Support Groups

Author support Facebook groups help you network with authors in your genreIf you’ve decided to self-publish, the road can seem pretty lonely at times. That’s why it’s important to find other authors in your genre to network and lean on for help and support. Using Facebook’s search function, you can seek out genre groups and ask to join them. Most of these groups will be closed to protect individual authors.

Besides emotional support, these groups offer opportunities to work with other authors in your genre, too. Here is where you mind find an opportunity to add yourself to a box set, or join in a promotion activity. But as for self-promo, these groups usually have pretty strict rules around it (usually not allowed).

Genre Groups

So where do you go to promote your book? Alongside author support groups, there are hundreds of Facebook groups dedicated to helping readers find the best deals on their favorite kinds of books. These are the groups, usually, where you can post (or request to post) your sale book info. Be careful though, as these can become what we call “author graveyards” where the only people reading the content are authors who stop in to post their own stuff.

Street Team Groups

Facebook groups are the best way to communicate with your author street team In the first two examples, you are a participant and the groups are already being created. In this case, you are the owner and operator, which opens up a whole lot of fun opportunities.

We’ll have a blog about street teams at a later date, but suffice to say, we’re big believers in them. In the first place, a street team helps you soft sell your book to others and may also help boost your review numbers. In return for helping you spread the word, you can give them free stuff like swag and eBooks. (Want to join our alter-ego’s Street Team? Click here!)

While there are many options to managing your street team, there really is no better option than Facebook Groups (although Goodreads Groups may come in a close second). From a content display standpoint, topics are organized by original post. You can also pin posts to the top of the discussion that you want the team to see.


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Facebook Pages for Authors – Your Professional Profile

Facebook pages for authors: the best way to reach fans on the social network

Facebook Pages for Authors are some of the best tools writers can use to find their readers. Facebook is, of course, one of the most popular social medias available today. Many of your readers will seek you out (or you’ll find them) via the website. But there’s a few things to know when working with the website.

Facebook Profile vs. Pages

Facebook pages for authors: the best way to reach fans on the social networkMost of us probably already have a Facebook profile. It’s where we post photos of our pets and kids and food, and where we get into arguments with our family on the opposite side of the political spectrum. But Facebook intends for your personal profile to be just that–personal. If you use your profile to sell, there’s a chance it could get flagged for removal.

Instead, authors should create Facebook Pages. You’ll need to use your personal page to create a page, and Facebook has more information here.

Facebook vs. Twitter

Each social media site has a different type of content that works better. Whereas Twitter works best with a lot of content, Facebook requires decidedly less posting frequency to achieve the same result. As well, Twitter shows all content in a stream, Facebook has the dreaded algorithm (yes, much like Amazon’s) that shows content to specific people.

For both media, videos and images work better than straight text. You can also use a litany of different tools to connect Twitter and Facebook so you’ll only have to post in one place.

Facebook’s Algorithm

Facebook pages for authors: the best way to reach fans on the social networkOne of our biggest issues with Facebook is the algorithm. Facebook is moving toward a model of pay-to-play; that is, they’d like pages to pay to reach the audience they’ve already accumulated. They rank certain content higher, including content that doesn’t come from your own website. We’ve noticed a difference between blogs that originate on our own URLs and guest blogs from other URLs.

Because of this, we use both our Facebook pages as just another tool to disseminate information, instead of an active presence where we talk to our fans.

The other reason why we opt to not utilize Facebook (or pay them) is because our audience is much younger than Facebook. For authors who target young adults and teens, they’re better served focusing their energy on Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr. For those who focus more on older adults, Facebook is the place to focus your energy.

Facebook Ads

For those who are focusing on the older audiences of Facebook, it might be worth it to invest in Facebook’s advertising programs. For a budget that you set, you can boost your posts or show your posts to brand new people. Facebook also allows you to have pretty refined granularity to show your ads to specific people. Considering the amount of information people feed to Facebook through likes and comments, there’s a good chance, if your users are on Facebook, your ad might be seen by them.


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