Monday, March 22, 2010

Social media

Current Project: Derby book
Status: Coming along

This past Friday and Saturday, I attended a social media bootcamp because I'm making this area a larger part of my day job. One of the presenters was Kelli Matthews, a total social media guru (and the wonderful woman who got me into PR when I was in college!). It's an undeniable fact that social media (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, LinkedIn) is as important, if not more relevant, than traditional media (newspaper, magazine, TV, radio). My day job is in media relations, so I've been focused on PR for traditional media for a number of years. But now I need to shift most of that focus toward social media and traditional media becomes a secondary focus. If I write a press release, I need to go through the social media routes, as well as traditional media, if I want to be effective.

There was one key thing I learned that is relevant for everyone, so I wanted to share it here. When it comes to Twitter - I know how to use it and I know it's purpose, but I've struggled with how to use it effectively for my day job. The big thing that everyone should know is the rule of thirds when it comes to Twitter and Facebook. One third of the time, talk about yourself and do your self promotion. Then, the second third (or level 2) - talk about related things. For example, retweet posts or blog entries from local authors or industry folks. The final third (level 3), talk about/repost/retweet things a bit further out, such as writers from all over the country, agents and editors outside of your area, industry news on a global scale, etc.

The purpose if this is for you to become a resource and build a community, more than promoting yourself. Thinking of it this way was a complete AHA! moment for me, it's exactly what I was struggling with on my day job. I had been using Twitter and Facebook to repost my press releases, but it felt flat - I wasn't getting interaction. But the past couple of days I've been retweeting higher education news in the state and country and I think it will pay off. You want people to keep reading what you post, and they are more likely to do so if you are talking about all sorts of stuff.

I know, it's a big shift in how most of us think of things. For me, having a numerical breakdown makes it easier to classify what I'm tweeting.

How many of you use a form of social media? Have you noticed an impact? What kinds of social media have you wanted to try, but haven't gotten there yet? Do you use any RSS readers or other dashboards to read blogs or Tweets (if not and you'd like recommendations, let me know!)?

I just made a new Twitter account today (up to 3 now, OY!), so if you're on there, feel free to follow me @lisaleoni :)


Paty Jager said...

Lisa, I like the idea of adding more than info about me, but as it is the little bit I do feels like it take sup too much time. Did they give you percentages of how much exposure you get? I know I get minimal because I don't have a slew of people following me on either Facebook or Twitter. How do you branch out and get more without looking needy??

And how do you add content from other places without having to spend hours looking for other info to spread?

I would like to step up my internet presence, but I also am trying to step up my writing time. Bad mix. And when I'm stuck in Princeton for days, how does that look if I can't add stuff to the internet?

Lisa Leoni said...

Hi Paty,
It's definitely a tricky thing. There's no set ROI or formula, so it's an individual decision as to whether or not you think it's a good way to go.

What I like about Twitter as opposed to blogs (from the author's perspective) is it takes less time to retweet a link to a blog than to comment on someone's blog. You're still getting the interaction, but the original poster gets the benefit of blogging to their readers and reaching yours.

There isn't any percentage of exposure because a lot of the exposure comes from what you put in to it. Think of it like blogging. The best way to grow your blog readership is by going out and commenting on other people's blogs, then they in turn come and comment on yours, right? It's the same with Twitter. If you go out and follow people, and retweet interesting things, they will often follow you and retweet your stuff.

It doesn't happen overnight, but many people automatically follow those who follow them. I don't think you look needy by following people, it's the expectation of that type of network.

Great question about adding content - I'm working on that myself. There's a program called Tweetdeck that I highly recommend everyone downloads. It's an easy way to sort people you follow on twitter and in a manageable way. I'll write up some steps on how to set up Tweetdeck and put it on my blog tonight - having steps is really handy, it's not the most intuitive program to get going.

Another way I'm getting content for my day job (and this is something I learned at the bootcamp) is by setting up an RSS reader on (I'll post some how-tos for that as well). You can set up "pages" and within those pages there are "tabs." Let me give you an example. I have a "writing" page where I put RSS feeds for my favorite author and industry blogs. On that page I have an author "tab" and an industry tab. Then each of those blogs (you add them by inputting the RSS feed from their site) has a little box with its most recent post. That way all the blogs you like to follow are in one place, and you can click on the title of a post to be taken to the site in case you want to comment.

That way, if you're looking for a link to share on Twitter (to beef up that level 2 and 3 I referred to), you can quickly scan recent posts and find something that may be of interest to your followers.

You control the amount of time you want to put in to it. I think it's more time efficient than responding to blogs because a tweet has a 140 character limit, but a blog comment is unlimited, so you're expected to take more time reading and commenting on those. Whereas instead of leaving a comment, you could send a Tweet saying "great blog by @insertTwitterName, check it out here (insert URL)" and you're done.

Lisa Leoni said...

I forgot to include as a great site to search for blogs. There's an A-Z index for categories and they have one for romance novels! Under that is the blogs that get the most hits in hierarchical order by hits. I found a lot of higher education blogs to follow for the day job on there.

Genene Valleau said...

My word verification to leave a comment is "bunplaah" and that's pretty much the way I feel about social media. LOL! Kind of "bah, humbug" and "Ack!" and a few other expressions combined.

I know social media is out there. Just haven't taken the time to use it effectively. It's on my list of things to do, just haven't gotten to it yet. So I appreciate your tips, Lisa!

Paty Jager said...

Thanks for all the info, Lisa!

Alice Sharpe said...

Lisa -- Pick up a copy of the Register Guard today and look for the column by Bill or Bob Walsh (I think that's his name). It's on the front of section B or C. How do you like these specific directions? Anyway, he's a regular columnist in the paper and his column is always on the right side on the first page of the section. He attended the same workshop you did (one of the teachers, Ryan) is his son.

As for me? Big surprise here -- as Genene so eloquently put it, bunplaah.

Alice Sharpe said...

Lisa -- B section, name, Bob Welch.


Paty Jager said...

Alice, Bob Welch was our guest emcee last fall for the COWG Fall Literary Harvest.

Alice Sharpe said...

Paty -- It's a small world, No?

Lisa Leoni said...

Genene, hahahaha! I completely understand :) And the tricky part is, it's not effective if you can't fully commit to it. So it's definitely a big decision.

Alice, thanks! I was stoked to read that this morning. He talked about planning to write it at the workshop, he's a great writer!

Paty, wow it is a small world!