Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My Guest: Ronel Van Tonder

This week's Guest is an outstanding writer of Sci-fi novels. She also knows her way around one of the biggest issues for many writers - social media marketing and is going to share some very practical tips today. Ladies and Gentlemen...


Ronel Van Tonder

Accelerate your Social Media



Unless you're earning 5 figures or more with your writing, every writer has to have a day job to keep the lights on. This makes finding the time to write difficult, and we often have to give up luxuries like watching television, playing with our kids, or sleeping to put out a novel in any decent time span. 

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And, since we're 100% responsible for our own marketing, we still have to find the time to nurture a social media presence. This becomes increasingly difficult, and even if you do manage to find a few hours on a weekend to tweet or troll Facebook, all that happens is that you end up looking like a spammer and people quickly unfriend/unfollow you. 

If you do find a more regular social media schedule, keeping track of those people that do reach out to you becomes near impossible, and you quickly lose important contacts or chances to interact with potential readers. I've discovered a few ways to keep sane during this constant struggle, and have grown my social media following steadily over the past two years. Here are some of the tips and techniques I use, and hopefully some of them will work for you too. 

1: Be Picky

Times have changed. It is no longer feasible or even possible to be on every social network all the time. I tried this and, even with a system in place that made the task of posting to all these places possible, I found that only a few of the networks produced any results. 

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So, when starting out (an especially when you have limited time), try and stick with 2-3 networks that you feel comfortable using, that you might have been using before you became a writer, and where you find people are responding well to your posts. If you're brand new to the social media scene I recommend that you only use Twitter and Facebook until you've found your footing. 

Limiting your social media presence to only a few networks initially also makes it easier to find an audience, and to engage with your potential readers. Also, use the tools at your disposal to save time when trying to connect on social media, without appearing phony or autonomous. There are tons of great apps out there, but there are five tools which I recommend you use to ease the burden of social media. 

2: Curation made Easy

One of the things I really struggled with when I first started out on my social media adventure was finding stuff to share. I mean, I'm not an expert in anything. I could talk someone's ears off about computer games, but then the conversation would dwindle out and I'd have to make up some excuse to go home before I embarrass myself. 

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To overcome this, you need to find valuable content for your target audience, and share this religiously until people start paying attention to what you have to say. But roaming around on the internet, getting sidetracked by stuff I really don't have any interest in but that's been created specifically just to detour me, is frustrating. And it steals away time I could be spending working on my latest novel. 

Instead, I use two apps in conjunction – Feedly (http://feedly.com) and Pocket (https://getpocket.com). 

Feedly can find and aggregate content for you from any blog that has an RSS feed - and most blogs do, even if they don't advertise it. To start, sign up for a free account and simply start typing in topics that your target audience would be interested in. For instance, if you're a science fiction author:
  • Technology
  • Computer Games
  • Anything happening in space

Once you start getting some articles in, it's a simple process to share the most valuable, and get rid of the rest. 

Also, if you happen to be browsing and find a good article but you don't have time to read and share it straight away, use the Pocket app it to store it for later consumption. This app also has a browser extension, which means it's just a click away whenever you're browsing the internet. And, with its handy mobile app, you can even add stuff to your pocket when browsing on your phone. 
3: Work Smarter, not Harder

If your idea of using social media is logging into Facebook every day for an hour or two and randomly scrolling through your timeline to share relevant stuff... well, this might work if you have time at your disposal. I don't. So this doesn't. 

Instead, I use the productivity technique of bulking to save tons of time, while providing invaluable content to my social media followers, all in one fell swoop. Firstly, I don't post from Facebook or Twitter - I use a third party app to do that. It's called Hootsuite (http://hootsuite.com), and it's changed my life. 

Using Hootsuite (which is free for up to 3 social networks), you can add a post to all your social networks at once, and schedule them automatically so that all your content doesn't appear within a 2 hour period every Saturday.

What does this mean for you?
  • Get tons of engagement by posting when your followers are most active, not when you manage to find five minutes to tweet
  • Less unfollows because you're no longer spamming people by adding all your content in a short period of time
  • Provide a more natural social media presence while providing top-notch content
  • By using a broader schedule, you can reach people from across the world, not just those that are active when you are

4: Keep Track

Don't go blindly into a social network - use a link tracker to see what works and doesn't. You can do this by setting up a free Bit.ly (https://bitly.com) account that you can use to keep track of how many times your links are clicked. Remember, people retweeting a tweet doesn't mean much unless they're clicking on that link too.

Of course, the more times your tweet is retweeted, the more chance you have of someone clicking on it, but you'll have no idea of how successful your social media posts are until you start using a link tracker like Bit.ly. 

You can also use apps like Statusbrew (https://app.statusbrew.com) or Crowdfire (https://www.crowdfireapp.com) to get detailed reports of your Twitter activity, and Facebook's "Insights" for details on how your page is performing. This is another reason why it's always better to set up a Facebook page rather than just using your normal Facebook profile. 

If you don't have Google Analytics (https://www.google.com/analytics/) or a similar tracking service on your website yet... well, it's time you bite the bullet and set it up. It's not difficult at all, and if you're running a self-hosted Wordpress website then it's as easy as installing Yoast's Google Analytics plugin (https://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress/) and signing into Google Analytics with your Gmail email account. 

5: Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

The sad thing about social media is that the minute you stop posting, people stop caring. So make sure that you're always feeding that voracious beast of a reader by scheduling interesting articles or links a week or two in advance. This way, when the apocalypse happens, you'll still have your tweets and Facebook posts going out, even if only the zombies are going to read them. Do #zombies retweet?

I usually browse Feed.ly 2-3 times a week, adding interesting articles to my Pocket. Then, for about an hour on a weekend, I will go into Pocket and schedule out these posts using Hootsuite and adding in promotional posts as I go.

You can also use Hootsuite to keep track of mentions and responses, so that even if someone mentions you in a tweet in a different time zone, you can be sure you'll know about it and can respond. 
  

Bonus: Social Media Tips

Here are a few tips that I've discovered on the way that have really helped beef up my social engagement: 

  • Always install browser extensions for easier use of your apps (Pocket, Hootsuite, Tailwind, etc)
  • The perfect amount of hashtags to use on Twitter is three
  • Always add an image to your tweet or facebook post
  • Facebook-hosted videos receive much more engagement than any other post
  • Try pinning a promotional tweet to your Twitter timeline for new followers to easily spot and share
  • Mention other Twitter followers in relevant posts as a way to start conversations
  • Instagram loves hashtags: the more the merrier! I've seen dozens of hashtags on most posts.
  • Use Canva or similar apps to create stunning instagram-style quotes or images
  • Use Pinterest to create inspiration boards for your books as a way to gain new followers while promoting in a non-sleazy way
  • Pinterest also accepts hashtags, so use up to three to increase your pin's relevancy

I hope you'll find some of the apps and techniques I listed here helpful in accelerating your social media. As writers, finding our audience is vitally important, but not at the risk of eating away at our precious writing time. If you use some of the apps available to save time and become a better social media presence all-round, your new fans will thank you. 


Let me know which of these methods worked for you, or if you're using another tool or app that's garnered success. 

Bio:

Ronel van Tonder is a science fiction author from South Africa, currently residing in Johannesburg. Her works include a dark, dystopian sci-fi trilogy, 'The Corrupted SUN Script', and a standalone cyberpunk novel, 'The Seventh Glitch'. When she's not writing, Ronel spends her free time slaying rendered baddies in the form of robots, gangsters and aliens - with any weapon that happens to be at hand. She also runs her own website design company, and loves dabbling in graphic design, 3D modelling and animation.

Ronel can also be found here:

Website:  http://ronelvantonder.co.za

Goodreads Author Page:  https://www.goodreads.com/ronelvantonder

Amazon Author Page: 

http://www.amazon.com/Ronel-van-Tonder/e/B00O8XAJVU

Social Media:


Thank you, Ronel, for a great article that demystifies the Social Media Marketing jungle. I'm sure many authors will be bookmarking this post for future reference.

If you like original, quality sci-fi novels, check out 'The Seventh Glitch'. I was privileged to read an Advanced Reader Copy and it's awesome!

Check out Ronel's Rafflecopter Competition too before it's too late!!!


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