Thursday, May 23, 2013

Social media news for writers: visual is the new black; going viral; and more

The social media world is going visual and how you can keep up; secrets of going viral; a new resource for self-publishers and when is it worth printing paper copies; how to drive more traffic to your website or blog; making a memorable impression, and more in this week's social media news.

1. Images--not words--may be the new currency of online content. With Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat taking over the social media landscape, and Yahoo going for Tumblr (it wasn't just to gain hipster cred), many industry watchers are saying social media is moving toward platforms based on visual content. Great news if you've got a picture book, cookbook or other book geared toward the visual. Otherwise, you've got to get creative about how to get potential readers to connect with your story. And where are you going to get the visuals to post on your blog, Pinterest board, etc. Well, there's that little doo-hickey called a camera on your smartphone. And there are also stock imagery sites happy to sell you the pictures.

  • If you take your own pictures and need a photo editing tool on your smartphone (to upload those pictures on the go!) this article names some apps to consider.
  • Pinterest is now allowing brands to include information on pins, so consumers don't have to chase images down all over Pinterest (or the internet) to find out where to buy something that's caught their fancy.

2. Discoverability: how likely are potential readers to find your book in the sea of books being published every year? Publishers and authors are hoping that developers will come up with a great discoverability tool, one that will connect readers with books they've never heard about but which are similar to the ones they love. Goodreads and Amazon are perhaps the best-known tools for discovery, but the next big thing may come out of the publishing hackathon held recently in NYC. You can read about the six finalists here (via paidContent). The winner will be announced at BEA.  

Speaking of discovery, have you seen Zola Books, a new online bookseller? It's the brainchild of Joe Regal, former literary agent. A smart, well-designed and aesthetically pleasing site for traditionally published books and select original content, with plenty of input from indie bookstores and customers. If you're tired of wading through a lot of chaff to get to the literary wheat, this site is for you.

3. What does it take to be memorable? Need help thinking outside the box? Brilliant business cards that will grab anyone's attention.

4. When should books be ebook only and when it makes sense to produce paper copies? Advice from Open Road Media and St. Martins Press in paidContent blog's notes from the Book Industry Study Group's (BISG) session on this subject.

5. Is anything new coming up in video? While this isn't specifically about books, consumers are one step closer to being able to purchase products they see in videos thanks to this new technology. And if you're still making book trailers, you might want to consider this analysis of what made these six videos go viral. (Both via Mashable.)

6. Speaking of going viral, here's an analysis of how one pin ended up going viral. It shows how it went from the original pinner, who had only 30 followers, to four repinners to, 48 weeks later, to being repinned 66 times until it reached--and was repinned by--one person with 1.5 million followers. Lesson one: be patient. Lesson two is about the power of networks: even if none of your followers has a million followers, it still has the potential to reach strong influencers.

If you've ever wondered how things go viral, this piece from Social Media Today will remind you that it's not all organic: many viral videos get their initial push through paid campaigns, where companies pay others to push their videos. It's not new (buzz marketing has not gone away) but worth a reminder that there's often this hidden component to virality.

7. Following up on last week's piece on search engine optimization (SEO), here's an article from Social Media Today on how to optimize your blog content for discoverability. Help new potential readers find you.

8. Color Me Interested: Designers explain the psychology behind color & online advertising. Which colors appeal most to women? To men? Let's cut to the chase--which colors will get people to buy your book?

9. Self-publishing resources: Bowker has created this handy-dandy one-stop shop, complete with checklist and tools for converting document files, for your publishing project. I didn't poke around; some of the tools and resources are probably for-fee. Worth a look.

10. Making the most of your Facebook cover image: Don't worry about the "rules" discussed in the opening of this article: FB isn't going to be coming after you. Scroll down to the second half of the article for inspirational photos of successful cover images that will get your creative juices flowing.

11. Need convincing that Facebook has been going all-out to monetize after going public a year ago? It's not just me saying this; read what Mashable has to say on the subject.

12. Could your Facebook page be working harder for you? This article gives you five tools you can use to see how your Facebook page's performance stacks up against your competitors.

13. Driving traffic to your website or blog: Getting people to come to your website or blog is tough. It's good to remember that it generally takes at least a year before you start to see any numbers. Ask yourself if you're doing all you can to drive traffic to your site. Here's a list from Social Media Today, good for beginners, of ways to drive traffic. It's a general list, not geared specifically for writers, but it may give you an idea or two for stirring things up.

14. Interested in doing more on Google+? Here's an article on how to host a hangout.

15. A new online science magazine: bills itself as a new kind of science magazine, one that takes a "big picture" approach to a theme by going wide, looking at a subject from the perspectives of social science, art, memoir, and hard science. They think of it as a new way to tell a narrative, one that's intellectually provocative. I doubt most of us will be writing for it, but it is worth a look both for design ideas but also a mind-widening experience.


  1. Generally, Social media optimization is a strategy designed towards getting visitors through all kinds of social media, from popular user systems such as Facebook or myspace or Tweets to social bookmarking sites such as Stumbleupon, Delightful or Stumbleupon. By using the force of users discussing your material, you get both back links to your site (which helps in your Search Engine Marketing efforts) and visitors instructed towards your material.

  2. Thanks for serving up another great buffet of fresh tech and social media knowledge. For those of us working in text, translating our brand to images can be a challenge. Yet, Facebook is a prime example of how much more often people respond to a post with a photo instead of a post of plain text. In my blogs, I use a lot of embedded YouTube videos. Sometimes they're the focus of the post, sometimes they just serve as illustrations. Best of all, they're free. FWIW, I also found the colors post with the infographic showing all the corporate logos arranged according to color very enlightening. Thanks again.

    1. Hey Rhonda, thanks for the tips and feedback. I think YouTube videos are very smart links to use. One popular strategy is to link to trending videos, the ones that are getting a lot of attention, so that you can become part of that zeitgeist (people are more likely to click on that link out of curiosity for something that everyone seems to be talking about.) It works for some people; for others, it seems forced. To each their own.

    2. I seem to have better luck with videos that have a pop culture or timely entertainment angle on my horses-and-culture blog. For example, I found an interview with Jamie Fox about his horse Cheetah, who appeared with him in "Django Unchained." Likewise, people are still looking up info about the horse in the animated movie "Brave." However, I tried to get in early on the viral goodness that went with the Three video over in the UK with the moon-walking pony, but that post doesn't get many hits. I'm always amazed by what attracts readers and what doesn't. I think a lot depends on what information people are looking for.