Guest Blog by Thomas Umstattd
We are thrilled to have Thomas Umstattd as our guest today. His company built our web site and we unabashedly recommend their services. Thomas built his first website at the age of 13 and taught his first web design class at only 16 years old. He has been helping authors and small businesses use the web ever since. Thomas currently serves as the CEO of Castle Media Group LLC, a company that builds websites for world changers.
He runs AuthorMedia.com a resource for authors who need help with technology and need to develop an effective social media strategy. As an award winning speaker, Thomas teaches all over the world where his friendly speaking style blends multimedia and audience participation. His combination of experience and youth give him a unique perspective that can help you use the web in a whole new way.
If you have a chance to take his classes at a future writers conference don’t hesitate. Sign up!
In the old days all you had to do was tell an agent or publisher “I’m on Facebook, Twitter and I have a blog” and they would be impressed with your online presence. Now publishers are getting more sophisticated in measuring your online presence. They are realizing that not all blogs are the same and that the size of your Twitter following does not directly correlate to influence.
This post goes over 7 ways agents and publishers will measure your social platform in 2012. You may also want to check out 7 Things Agents & Publishers Look for in Author Websites (2012 Edition).
1. Number of Facebook Likes
What is it?
The number of Facebook likes indicates how popular your author page is on Facebook. Notice I am not saying “Facebook friends.” There are only an handful of ways to advertise your book to your friends effectively without sounding like a shill. Fan pages offer much more effective tools for selling books.
Why are fan pages important?
Facebook Fan Pages are better for authors for 3 very important reasons:
- Facebook Ads – You can’t buy Facebook ads targeting your friends. You can buy ads targeting just your fans. These targeted ads are some of the most effective advertising you can do for your book. You also can also use ads to get more fans.
- Unlimited Fans – Your personal page is limited to 5000 friends which limits your growth somewhat. Agents and editors really want to see Facebook pages with 10,000+ fans.
- Landing Pages – Fan pages have the ability to have landing pages that can call visitors to take a specific action such as sign up for your newsletter or buy your book
How do you boost your fan count?
- Answer the question for your readers: “What is in it for me? What do I get out of liking your page?”
- Add the Facebook icon to your website
2. Facebook Engagement
What is it?
Facebook engagement is the degree to which people are reacting and responding to you on Facebook. It also is an indication of how many people see your status updates on their Facebook streams.
Why is it important?
Having a lot of Facebook fans is of little value if those people ignore everything you post. The higher your engagement the more fans you will be able to convert into readers.
How do you measure it?
The easiest way to measure Facebook engagement is to look at the “# of people talking about this” on the left-hand side of your Facebook page.
How do you improve engagement?
- Ask questions
- Put fill-in-the-blanks
- Share positive news (people don’t like complaining or bragging)
- Post interesting images.
- Care about your fans.
3. Number of Twitter Followers
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a micro-blogging social network that has become popular in the author community. It is a way of posting short messages to your followers or to specific Twitter users. The number of people who follow you on Twitter is an indication of how popular you are on Twitter.
How do you improve your Twitter following?
There are two ways of growing your following on Twitter. The effective way and the easy way. The easy way is to follow other people. There are even some automated tools that will do this for you. The problem with this method is that this sort of follower uses Tweet Deck to ignore your tweets. It is not uncommon to see someone with 10,000 followers on Twitter and none of them retweet tweets or click links. Following strangers on Twitter gives you phantom followers.
The effective way to gain a following on Twitter is to post Tweets that are so interesting/helpful/funny that people are compelled to retweet them. A retweet is a forward of your message to someone else’s followers, many of whom may have never heard of you before. The more of your retweets they see the more likely they are to check you out and follow you on Twitter. This is what we do on @AuthorMedia and we have been growing at around 50-100 followers a week and we don’t auto-follow. These are folks who actually want to hear what we have to say and don’t just want to inflate their following.
4. Twitter Engagement
What is it?
Twitter engagement is the degree to which your Twitter followers pay attention to what you have to say on Twitter.
How do you measure Twitter engagement?
There are four primary ways to measure engagement.
- Retweets – What percentage of your followers forward your messages on to their followers?
- Bit.ly+ clicks – What percentage of your followers click the links you share on Twitter? You can check this by adding a “+” to the end of any bit.ly link to see how many clicks it has received.
- Follower Ratio – How many people do you follow back? An author who is following 20,000 people and has 18,000 followers is not nearly as attractive to publishers as an author who is followed by 7,000 people and only follows 150 people.
- @replies – Some authors’ Twitter profiles are full of a lot of one-way communication. They post and post about themselves and their writing. Other authors spend a lot of time answering reader questions and engaging readers 1 on 1 using Twitter’s @reply feature. A lot of back and forth @replies is the sign of a healthy Twitter page, particularly when those @replies are to a lot of different folks.
- Listings – How many times have people added you to a Twitter list? This is an indication that they 1) read your tweets, and 2) find them helpful. Publishers are impressed to see you listed in a lot of Twitter lists.
How do you improve Twitter engagement?
There are no shortcuts here. Excellence in Twitter, as in all things, takes hard work and is not for every author. The majority of authors waste their time on Twitter talking to other authors. They key is to connect with readers and join the conversations they are already having on Twitter. Don’t be that guy at the party who charges into a conversation and starts shoving business cards at everyone.
5. Number of Blog Comments
What is it?
Comments are responses to your blog posts and they generally come in the form of questions or reactions.
Why are comments important?
Responses indicate visitor engagement. Some websites get visitors who come for a few seconds and then bounce away. This counts as a “visit” in your analytics but these sorts of visitors don’t buy books. The kind of visitors who would take the time to leave a comment are the same kind of folks who would buy your book. The number of comments indicates how passionate readers are about you and your writing.
Why would someone pay to read your book if they won’t read your blog for free?
3 Quick Ways to Increase Your Comments
- Make commenting easier. Avoid making people type in squiggly letters or doing math.
- Ask questions in your posts
- Be controversial.
6. Followers on Third Party Social Networks
What is it?
Why are they important?
They may not be. The key is to convince agents and publishers that your following on xyz social network is both significant and likely to buy your book. It is unlikely your Foursquare friends are going to buy your next romance book. But the folks who follow your romance book reviews on GoodReads very well may buy your book.
How do you grow your following on third party social networks?
First, don’t get on every social network. Pick the ones your readers (or ideal readers if you are unpublished) are already using. Go to where the party is already happening. Second, provide some sort of value to those folks that is related to your writing. If you write about parenting, give parenting tips and answer parenting questions. If you write about cooking, share recipes. If you write fiction, talk about other fiction and stop spending as much time with social media and go work on your novel.
7. Klout Score
What is Klout?
Your Klout Score is a single number that tries to capture both the size of your following and your degree of influence over that following. In a sense it is a one number summary of the other 6 metrics in this post.
Why is Klout important?
Klout is the easiest thing for publishers and agents to check, which means it will probably be the first thing they check.
5 Ways to Boost your Klout Score
- Add all your social profiles to your Klout profile.
- Invite your followers to connect with you over Klout and give you +K
- Give +K unto others as you would have them give +K unto you.
- Unfollow people you don’t care to listen to.
- Pick a theme for providing value around the web and stick with that theme.