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I learned a ton of new stuff about social media in this interview with Frances Caballo from SocialMediaJustForWriters. I know you will too!
I've scheduled this in advance as I am away in New York for Thrillerfest. In the intro I mention Deviance, which is out on pre-order right now at a reduced price of US$2.99. It's also July so I reflect on my own 2015 goals at this mid year point and encourage you to reflect on your own.
This podcast episode is sponsored by 99 Designs, where you can get all kinds of designs for your author business including book covers, merchandising, branding and business cards, illustrations and artwork and much more. You can get a Powerpack upgrade which gives your project more chance of getting noticed by going to: 99Designs.com/joanna
Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and runs the fantastic site, Social Media Just for Writers.
You can listen above or on iTunes or Stitcher, watch the video on YouTube or read the notes and links below.
- On the time suck of social media and how to avoid it, including Frances' four-step process for an effective social media strategy. You can also check out Frances' book: Avoid Social Media Time Suck.
- Why social media is not the Shopping Channel and the importance of following the social rules.
- On authenticity, being genuine and being consistent with your brand, while still respecting your own boundaries about what personal information you share.
- On which sites writers should be on based on the demographics of the audience for their specific genre.
- The importance of a professional presence on social media, including avatars and bios.
- Tips for Pinterest and ways to create more traffic to your blog, including tracking where traffic is coming from, as well as tips about creating and managing images for the various social media sites. Using WordPress plugin Social Warfare for more shareable images.
- On the new mobile video app Periscope, now owned by Twitter.
- Advertising and the issue of some social media sites being pay to play now, as well as balancing the different type of marketing strategies that are available – content marketing, attraction marketing and paid advertising.
- The future of social media, including Project Lightning on Twitter.
You can find Frances at her website, SocialMediaJustForWriters.com and on twitter @caballofrances
Transcription of the interview with Frances Caballo
Joanna: Hi, everyone. I'm Joanna Penn from thecreativepenn.com and today I'm here with Frances Caballo. Hi, Frances.
Frances: Hello, Joanna.
Joanna: Thanks so much for coming on the show. So just a little introduction, Frances is an author and social media strategist and runs the fantastic site Social Media Just For Writers.
Tell us just a bit more about your background and how you moved into writing and social media?
Frances: I've been writing I've been writing forever, since I was a kid, journaling and little poems, etc. I always wanted to be – I actually wanted to be a book critic, but I didn't think that would be a profitable career. So what I did was I worked as a journalist and then I really got tired of the competitiveness and I decided to use my writing and public relation skills to help non-profits.
So then I worked in non-profits and I worked for National Non-Profit eventually, and then social media popped on the scene and I just really took to it. I thought it was exciting. I'm the kind of person that when I get a job it's exciting at first and then it becomes boring and social media is never boring, because it's always changing. You always have to learn something. You always have to keep up with something and so I don't get bored with the field and I love it.
Joanna: Yeah, and it's funny what you just said is that it's never boring and you always have to keep up with something. That is both the good side and the bad side, because really one of the reasons why you're on is because one of the biggest things that people have an issue with is the time suck of social media.
Where do you draw line between fun and marketing and time wasting? You've written this, one of your books, Avoid Social Media Time Suck.
Frances: I know, it's a terrible title, I know.
Joanna: No, it's a great title, it does what it says.
Give us some tips.
Frances: Okay, I think I need to start following them more closely. I was think about that this morning, “Why don't I start following my own advice?” So it's basically a four step program:
So, curate by going out there and looking for information that you want to share with your following and that could come from your own newsfeeds, that could come from Alltop, that could come from a wonderful app called Swayy, S-W-A-Y-Y and just from your Twitter lists and your own stuff.
But you want to make sure that you're only promoting your own blog posts and your books 20% of the time; 80% of the time you're just sharing great information your following wants to hear that will enrich their lives, that they will like, that will help them in their professions, whatever niche you're in as a writer.
Number two, so you have all this stuff that you want to get out there and you use a scheduling application. Some people schedule for the day, that's what I do. Some people schedule for the week. I know a memoir writer who schedules for a month and then she's done with it, all right?
Hootsuite is something that you might be able to use. Buffer is very popular. I don't use either of those. I use SocialOomph. So it just depends on what you… I guess how easy they are and I think Hootsuite and Buffer are much easier to use than SocialOomph.
So then the third step is you can't treat social media as though it's broadcast media, you can't just constantly be sending your messages out there. You need to be listening, you need to be responding, you need to be sharing what your readers are saying, what's in their news feed, what they may be blogging. So you look at your news feeds. You basically are a good friend, good follower. You like, you share, you re-tweet, etc. You respond to what they say, so you listen and you thank people for re-tweets or you just thank people and you comment.
So the final step, the fourth step, is to analyze. An analysis can be simple, you can do it on a weekly basis, you can do it on a monthly basis and there are a lot of free analytics. If you have a business Pinterest account, it's free analytics. If you have a Twitter account, you have wonderful free analytics. Of course, if you're on Facebook, you have incredible free analytics with insights. If you want to pay for your analytics, you can look at Social Report, Sprout Social, or your own scheduling applications like Hootsuite and SocialOomph, they provide analytics.
So in the mornings, you want to spend 15 minutes looking for information and scheduling it and then forgetting about it and getting back to your writing and getting back to your work. Then in the afternoons, you want to spend 15 minutes socializing and then once or week or once a month, you spend a few minutes analyzing.
Joanna: Well, that was a whole lane of brilliant information. Just for everyone, there is a transcript of every episode now. So people can go and replay that or of course get your book. You said some great things though there.
I'm pretty good on everything except analytics. I have to say I do no analytics whatsoever. I just go with what feels good, which is fair enough, it works in a way. I think because if you are your target market, then if you like something you can share that and it's not really an issue because a proportion of them will like that. So I definitely don't measure what people share more than other things.
One thing we should say up front is images. Images on any social media, whether it's Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, anything, images are just everywhere now, aren't they? Why is that?
Frances: The brain can process images 60,000 times faster than text and so it's easier for the brain to deal with and because it's captivating. If you have an eagle with this incredible shot or if you have this scrumptious picture of a molten chocolate cake, that's going to attract my eye more than text.
I have this saying about Facebook, you have to balance the mundane with the meaningful, especially on a page, not a profile. So the mundane would be the chocolate cake, the meaningful would be content, great content. So what I do on my Facebook page is in the mornings I have great content, in the afternoons I have something more mundane, and it balances it.
Images are phenomenally important. I think the social web is becoming more a visual web, and we're seeing that with Instagram, we're seeing that with Pinterest and the move towards images on Google+, the big space images get on Facebook over time, the big space images get. So images are really important and because we have a short attention span, images are easier to absorb than text.
Joanna: Definitely, so that would be a big tip. Then you also mentioned the 80/20 rule, which is great, it's something I've always done.
And the generosity involved in what I call social karma. If you want retweets – do some retweets. If you want book reviews – do book reviews, if you want readers then read. I feel like it'll come back to you in some way. Is that something that you see as well?
Frances: Yeah, yeah, I absolutely agree with that. In fact, Guy Kawasaki says it's really a 90/10 rule. He says be like MPR, disseminate, disseminate, disseminate great information.
Joanna: Yeah, and then it rubs off on you – the curator, in that way, doesn't it?
Frances: I think so. There's this author that I'm thinking of and of late all she does is talk about her new books, her previous books, her best-seller books, her boxes of books, her workshops, and I hear friends of mine unfriending her. They're saying, “What's with this person? It's all about her.” No one wants to hear that. People are unsubscribing from her newsletter. It doesn't work.
The other thing that I was talking to a friend about is that social media isn't the shopping channel, it's not QVC. You shouldn't use social media as a medium just to hype your books. It's social.
Joanna: Behave like a human.
Frances: Yeah, that could be a blog title, Social Media is not QVC.
Joanna: Yeah, it's a good one and I think a lot of people are told they have to do this or that, and so they jump in without really understanding the social rules, but there are social rules like in any interaction.
I wanted to ask you about the authenticity, because to me that's kind of part of it, but being authentic is actually quite hard for a lot of people and where do you draw the line on things you share and things you don't? Why is authenticity important and what are your tips for being authentic?
Frances: Well, you need to be genuine and that's another word for authentic. You need to be consistent with your brand. You need to be consistent with your niche. You need to be consistent with your own sense of integrity. I think you can lose authenticity when you treat social media as a QVC channel.
Be yourself, don't be snarky, don't instigate fights. I remember a couple of years ago I had this follower on Twitter send me this nasty, nasty tweet, and I just ignored it. So when someone does that, ignore it. The way you would if you were at a dinner party and somebody said something rude, you would ignore the bad behavior and you probably wouldn't socialize with that person anymore, but ignore the bad behavior.
The other issue is how personal can you be? Writers tend to be introverts. I'm an introvert and so I don't share a lot of personal information and I know that I should. People like Maureen Smith might say, “You should be more personal on your Facebook page.” That's really hard for me to do and sometimes I'm more personal on my profile and when I am the comments soar. So you have to sort of balance what you're comfortable with.
Joanna: I agree and I know people who… for example I don't use my husband's name and we don't share a surname, but I will say my husband so people know I'm married, but they don't know his name and I don't show pictures of us together. So that's kind of been my line and you can still be authentic with a pseudonym.
That's the other question people get, “If I'm not using my name, how can I be authentic?” You can still share pictures of the flowers in your garden for example
Frances: Yes, absolutely, pictures from your favorite writing spot, a video of your office, your dog. Of course I love dogs so I do have a lot of dogs on my profile.
Joanna: All right, so one of the questions I also get a lot is, “Which sites should people be on?” And you know people go, “Ah, should I be on everything? Why do I have to be Instagram now, when I've been on Twitter?”
Can you give an overview of what different sites are good for different things.
Frances: Right, so I used to be one of the persons who said, “You need to be everywhere because you don't just want to sell to one zip code range.” I don't believe that. That's just not true. You want to be where your readers are and no one has the energy to be on Medium, Facebook, Twitter, no one has the energy to be on everything, Rebelmouse.
So, what I say is what I've done and I've written about it is I've looked at the Pew Research Center and their studies on social media use, Internet use broken down by gender, and age. It's really clear that from what I've read and from the research I've seen that if you are writing YA and you've a new adult, you need to be on Snapchat. You need to have a presence on Snapchat I think. A lot of people think you don't need to be there. I do. Because they think that the messages can disappear, but you can always just do schreenshots and save them forever. Snapchat, Tumblr, Instagram, I would say number one Instagram, Tumblr, if you have time Snapchat, Twitter. So I would say Twitter, Tumblr… what did I say?
Frances: And Instagram and then if you want to add something Snapchat. So that's for YA new adult.
Then for romance you need to be on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. Women dominate Facebook and so you can do really well on Facebook and Facebook is hard. I would say that Facebook is hard.
If you write nonfiction, you need to be on LinkedIn, especially a business book, and I think every author needs to be on Twitter and I know that Twitter's gotten some really bad press of late, Instagram wants to dunk Twitter etc., but I think that Twitter is right now really important. I used to always hear that authors needed to have one Facebook page for every book and I don't believe that.
Joanna: Definitely not.
Frances: I do not believe that. I had a client and I was doing a social media audit. She had four or five Facebook pages and I asked her, “Why are you doing that? Consolidate them.” And now you can consolidate them. So you need to have one author page, just one.
Joanna: Per author name I think.
Frances: Yeah, per author name and so yeah, that's what you need.
Then of course Google+ is really good for SEO, but I think everyone has to evaluate how much time and energy they have. Do they have the energy to learn a third, or fourth, or fifth social media network? So what are the main social media networks for their genres? Look at the age groups that hang out on certain social media networks.
If you're writing a book that is what would appeal to men, you have to be on Google+, because Google+ is or 60% men. I think it used to be 80% men. Pinterest is 80% women and so you have to look at those demographics and decide and figure out where your readers are and then focus only on those social media networks. Don't be everywhere.
Joanna: I agree with you and I think just on the Facebook pages things, it should be one per author name, not per book because everyone writes more than one book. That's what's so crazy and then you end up with loads, but on Twitter, again I mean Twitter changed my life sort of five years ago when I joined Twitter. It was one of the big things that changed my life and most of my friends now I've met on Twitter, most of the speaking gigs I get are from Twitter. For me, it's a business tool as well as my friend network.
You said Twitter is important. So why do you think it's important?
Frances: That's a good question, I think it's a great place… a lot can happen on Twitter. I think to say that based on my own experience, when I was new to Twitter I met people who really enhanced my career, really furthered my career.
Tony White in Wales, once a year I'd write a post for him. I have book sales in the U.K. all the time.
I met a woman who lives in Malaysia, at the time she had a very popular Facebook blog. Maureen Smith used to comment on there all the time and she profiled me with 11 other people as sort of the top social media people of the week on her Facebook page with this huge graphic and a whole blog post with quotes by me. She did so much for my career back then. So I've met people on Twitter. Joel Friedlander I really got to know through Twitter and Facebook.
So I've met so many people through Twitter and my book sales, the number one traffic referral source to my website is Twitter, so I think that can happen for other authors as well. You can find a great community of colleagues within your niche who will help you promote your book. You will find so many people on Twitter. A lot of authors are there, a lot of readers are there, a lot of book nerds, a lot of book lovers, a lot of literary agents, there's just… it's a great place for authors that can really further your book sales and your career.
Joanna: And mainly, those people whom you meet, I met Joel Friedlander also on Twitter. I've still never met him in person, but in that way it's the people you meet on Twitter that then develop into a podcast interview or you meet them at a conference and can start the kind of snowball.
I wanted to ask you about judging people based on their social presence. How much do you think that's important? So people putting a professional bio, a professional picture, what are the things when somebody tweets you or something, what do you look at to make a judgment about them?
Frances: I look at their avatar, their profile picture and if it's of a cat I don't follow them. If it's not a picture of the person I don't follow them. Same thing on LinkedIn. People want to connect with me; if there's no picture or a picture of an animal, I don't follow them.
The other thing I look at is their bio. If it's all hashtags, capuccino, frappuccino, cat lover, dog lover, book lover, all this stuff and I don't know anything about them really. They like coffee, they like animals, I don't really know. There was this one guy, he was French and he just wrote, “No” and there was another one, he was a poet I forget, he had another funny one, I can't remember what it is right now. Maybe the other guy said, “No, yes.” So I assumed sometimes he says no, sometimes he says yes. Well, we all do that.
Joanna: The tip I think there is you've got to be careful of your bio, just don't slap something up. I very much judge people and only follow back if they use the words like author and writer for example. I don't like people who have health and nutrition or to be honest, if people have all hashtags I assume they're doing Instagram as their primary…
Frances: Oh, yeah, yeah. Oh, and the eggheads. I don't follow eggheads.
Joanna: But it's funny, isn't it? Another thing, we're both very mature users of Twitter for example. Both of us have been there a long time and it's funny how much you learn just by doing and I have to admit I don't know the way to behave on Instagram for example or the way to behave on Snapchat. You can't be master of all the networks. You do just have to pick your one or two and be a master of them.
But I wanted to ask you about Pinterest because one – I've heard it's where people spend the most money in terms of actually buying stuff, and secondly – I use it for fiction only, I have one board per book with all the images around my writing. But what can authors use Pinterest for and what are your tips for Pinterest?
Frances: Well Pinterest is the number two traffic referral. Facebook is number one, Pinterest is number two and there's a far distance with other social media networks, so they're really valuable and I think Pinterest is only number two because Facebook has 1.4 billion users. So I wrote a post and in that post I had 57 boards that authors can use.
Joanna: Just a couple.
Frances: You want to blog, you want a board for your blog images. My most pinned images come from my blog. You want to have boards for funky libraries, beautiful libraries, interesting bookshelves, quotes from authors, quotes from authors about writings, memes about the writing process, book covers from your colleagues, the meals that your characters would likely eat or do eat, images of the venues where your characters live and travel to. So I have 57 here.
Joanna: So basically what we're saying is group it into obvious boxes or boards as they're called.
They need to be grouped images, right?
Frances: Right, and if you are pinning images from your website, like your blog, you don't want the image to be called image number three or NX254. You want to have the title of your blog post and by the author's name and you can even include the link to the blog post. Well, it will link anyway, because if you click twice on any image it goes right to the website where it came from.
So, to have a board for your blog post is really important, because it really helps, because Pinterest is number three for traffic referral to my website, number one is Twitter, number two is Facebook, number three is Pinterest.
Joanna: So when you say those image names, do you mean the actual URL of the image itself?
Frances: The ALT tag.
Joanna: Okay and if people don't know what that means, Google it. It's way too complicated to explain in a podcast, but that's really important. Now that you've said that I'm like, “Oh, damn,” because I've just been terrible about taking snapshots on the Mac and then just pasting those into my blog post, which have got the terrible, terrible date names instead of name names. I'm like, “Oh, damn.”
Any other sort of thoughts around Pinterest? For me, is it that people buy craft and necklaces and stuff and dresses, do people buy books through Pinterest?
Frances: I can't track… authors who have books on Amazon, we can't track where the sales come from. So it's a hard question for me to answer because we don't know where the book sales come from.
Joanna: Can you use affiliate links on Pinterest?
Frances: Oh, yeah, I know people and their accounts are entirely affiliate links – all their accounts.
Joanna: Well, because that's one way you can actually… if you use an affiliate code you could track the books.
Frances: You could, you could use an affiliate code for that, yeah.
Joanna: So that might be the way to do it, an ID on the actual thing. That might be a good idea, because then you could track which specific links were working. I think that's a good recommendation.
Frances: Yeah, the other thing you can do is you can do a specific shortener for all of your book links and then you can track where it came from. Like use certain URLs for your books that you mentioned on Twitter and then certain ones on Pinterest and that way you can track the links.
Joanna: Yeah, so I know the plug-in that people like at the moment is Pretty Links.
Frances: Oh, yeah, I like that one too.
Joanna: That's one that people are using. Again people are using Pinterest I know around fiction, like it makes sense to me, but you're saying you're using it for non-fiction blog.
What images are you using for a non-fiction blog post?
Frances: I create two images for all my blogs. So the first one, and they're part text and they're part image, so there's one at the top of the blog and it's a size that works well for Twitter and it works well for Facebook and I have the Twitter card plug-in on my website.
Then I create an image that you can't see on my blog and you'll only see it if you click the pin-it button and it's this huge image. It's basically the same image on the smaller, Twitter sized image, but the picture is the same picture, but it's bigger and the text is bigger. So I create a replica basically, but on a template made for Pinterest using Canva and you don't see it, but that's one that goes on Pinterest. Because the ones that are sized for Facebook and Twitter don't work on Pinterest because they're too small.
Joanna: How do you have it so people don't see it?
Frances: I use Social Warfare.
Joanna: Is that a plug-in?
Frances: Yeah, Social Warfare is plug-in and it's a social sharer plug-in, it tracks social shares and then on the backside of your website you can decide which images you want shared on social media, which ones you… everything but Pinterest, which ones you want to share on Pinterest and what you want to say. It can be different from your blog title. You can even write the description that goes with your Pinterest image.
Joanna: Ah, this is very cool. To people who are just going, “What are they talking about?” This is quite a good technical show, actually. We're really getting down into the weeds, which is great, because we need to do that actually. I think what this shows to people is that you don't just jump on the site and use it.
Like you've talked about creation tools, scheduling tools, analytics tools, plug-ins. We don't just use twitter.com. In fact we don't use twitter.com, right? Really. We use all these tools.
Another question on images, you mentioned Canva – what are your favorite kind image sites and places to get images and places to make images?
Frances: I love unsplash.com. I don't know if you use that.
Joanna: I don't, I only heard about it last week.
Frances: Oh, my gosh, their images are gorgeous, just gorgeous, so I love that site. I subscribe to, what is it, is it No Stock Photos or Death to Stock Photos. Once a week or once a month they send me some images, let's see 123RT I think, it's called they send me images, I use Pixabay, P-I-X-A-B-A-Y, and I have a whole list of ones that I can always… there's Morguefile, although I really don't like Morguefile that much, but there's a whole bunch of them that I can refer to.
Joanna: And you make them all on Canva?
Frances: I use Canva, yes. It's so easy to use because the templates are there and they keep up with all the image sizing and so whenever you use a template you know that it's up-to-date.
Joanna: Yeah, I use Canva as well, it's amazing. You can use it also for PowerPoint slides and all kinds of things. It's great. Yeah, so I wanted to ask you, let's not get into YouTube and too much video but I wanted to ask you about Periscope which is kind of like, it's not Twitter's new thing, but it's on Twitter as well.
Any chance you could explain Periscope and what we should do with it?
Frances: You know, Periscope I haven't explored it too much, though I have experimented, I took a video of my office then I quickly deleted it because it was so awful. I had to move the dirty dog bed. So it's fun.
It is a mobile app for video that you can if you want share on Twitter instantly, and you sign up via Twitter because Twitter bought it and they suggest followers and you can add followers from Twitter. I think it holds promise for authors, as long as authors don't create boring videos. You want to have a great title. You want it to be personality and I have a hard time projecting personality because I'm such an introvert.
I was watching some videos by Alex Pettitt, P-E-T-T-I-T-T, he has over 300,000 followers on Periscope already, and he's got incredible personality and he does daily videos. He's on YouTube daily. All he talks about is Periscope. Of course, his videos are short and he's just hot and so I think it can be really fun, especially for authors who are humorous, who can be humorous, a humorous part of a book event.
I think it's great and I think it's Twitter's way of trying to move more into the visual social web. I think they have to. Obviously, there are problems with Twitter right now with changing the CEOs and there is little to no user growth. Instagram is saying they're going to dunk Twitter. So I think that the board at Twitter is saying, “Okay, we need a new CEO, we need new projects, we need to move this thing along.” And I think they will. I don't think that Twitter would ever die. They need to be continually innovative. Facebook is always buying applications.
Joanna: Yeah, it's a really good point. I hope Twitter doesn't die because I love it.
Frances: Yeah, I know, I know. Twitter is my thing. That's why I love it.
Joanna: Yeah, and the crazy thing is now I would pay for Twitter, like I would pay for it.
Frances: Yeah, I would too.
Joanna: Yeah, exactly. I think when you find your place, that means a lot. It really does mean a lot. Like to me Facebook whatever, I'm appreciating Facebook advertising, but Facebook on a personal level I don't care about. But Twitter's like, my lifeline to a world outside my little space, my little writer's space.
Let's just talk about pay to play, because this is the way that many of these social networks are going. Like Facebook in the last year, it's pretty much pointless to try for organic reach now on pages.
Frances: I know, that's what I tell clients. I tell them that Facebook is hard, because several years ago you could get guaranteed that 32% of the people who have liked your Facebook page would see your posts and it's down to about 6%. So the algorithm of Facebook is based on likes, shares, and comments and the holy grail of Facebook is shares. So how often are people sharing your content? And the less often someone likes comments and shares your content, the less often they're going to see what you write in their newsfeeds. So the only way you can supersede that is through advertising and that's what Facebook wants you to do because they have to monetize this application.
Joanna: I've had recently Mark Dawson on the show talking about Facebook ads for authors and I've just started to play with it and some things have gone amazingly, amazingly well and other things have just completely crashed and I think that's the problem with advertising, you need to do a lot of testing of things.
Do you have a view of sort of in general what is worth paying for? Because Pinterest has started paid advertising as well. Twitter has paid advertising. There is paid advertising popping up everywhere. What is worth it and what are your tips for that?
Frances: The authors that I have seen… I had a client who would devote $10,000 a year to Facebook advertising. That's a lot of money. He was a retired surgeon, so he could afford that and he had amazing results with his advertising, but for the typical indie author, $10,000 a year is not feasible.
So I don't tell people, “Don't fall for that little, sexy blue button boost post to go into Facebook ads and create your ad there.” Since 80% of Facebook users are mobile only, you need to have your ad appear in a mobile newsfeed. If your reading demographic is 60 and over, then you want it to appear in the desktop newsfeed. Do not select those ads on the right, just don't do that.
When you create your ad think about your readers. Think about their demographics. Think about what age they are, what languages they speak, what countries they're from, what they might read. Just really look at the behaviors and characteristics because the ads allow you to do that. Set your budget.
When I took a class from Maureen Smith on Facebook advertising a year ago, she had said, “Make sure that the audience reach is right at 20,000 people.” Well, I took another Facebook advertising class, because you can never take too many, and this person said, “No, it's changed. Now the audience reach has to be 50,000.” So what I always have trouble doing when I create a Facebook ad is getting it at that magical number because typically I'm either at 1.5 million or 1000. So, I have to spend a lot of time with the behaviors and characteristics and all those things in order to reach the 50,000 mark to make the ad worthwhile. Then there's the advertising budget you have to decide on.
Joanna: I think there are two things there. One is the customer avatar idea. I think all of this we have to get out of the head of the author and turn our head to be that of the reader, like totally the other side of the relationship, which is very hard for most authors for their own books. Like you're a consultant, you can look at somebody's books and tell them better, often in a better way than we can do it ourselves, it's very hard to do it yourself and that's what you're talking about with the audience when you have to decide things about the audience.
There are people listening going, “How do I know if people are shopping on mobile for my books how do I know if they're over 65,” that type of question. Do you have any ways to figure out that customer avatar?
Frances: Well, who reads your books? There's a colleague and I asked her, I said, “Well, who's your audience?” And she said, “Everybody.” Well, when you market to everybody you market to no one and so my audience from my clients I know they're typically 45. Well it depends if they're authors, they're 45 and above. If they're private enterprises, they're 35 to 45, if they're entrepreneurs.
So I have these two demographics that I work with. So when I do an ad I know which demographic I want to market to, although I do very little. I only have like one business, two business clients, because I really moved into authors. It's what I want to do. It's what I am doing. So I know that for authors, there aren't any people who are 25 or 29 who are going to want to hire me.
With your readers, if you're a romance writer, you have to think, “Who's reading my book? Who reads romance books? Who reads this genre?” I know someone who wrote a zombie romance book. Who's likely to read a zombie romance book?
Joanna: Yeah, it's difficult, but you have to have a go, and then also what I like about what you're doing is you demonstrate in your own business the power of content. You do some massive list posts with loads of useful stuff, but you're also paying for advertising.
I think this is something I'm learning, you have to balance content marketing, attraction marketing with paid kind of push advertising. I think if you have some budget it's good to… You know like BookBub, we all know about using BookBub, but a I think social media marketing is another way.
I could talk to you for days, because I'm so interested in this. But one last question and you actually mentioned about things changing, like the Facebook numbers changing. Everything changes so fast, we cannot guess what's happening in social media in general like next week.
Facebook changes the rules every week, but do you see anything up and coming that people should know about in terms of what anything, any sort of ways things are changing?
Frances: Well, on Twitter, Project Lightning. It's supposed to come out some time later this year. It was some time ago, six months or eight months ago, or a year ago, they had the discover tab on Twitter and they've done away with that. On the discover tab you could find people to follow and you would find some story that they felt you'd be interested in. Of course, I was never interested in the stories that they thought I'd be interested in.
Now Project Lightning is going to have a special button and you hit it and it's the top stories of the day that people are talking about on Twitter, whether it's something similar to the Arab Spring, or it's the NBA finals in the Unites States, or if it's the World Cup, there will be a special tab for that. So I know that's coming.
On Facebook, something is always changing. I just opened Facebook today and they said, “Look what's new, there's now a button on your banner that says update your activity log and update your information by yourself.” It seems like every week on Facebook there's a little notice that something has changed. But I don't what else is coming.
Joanna: Yeah, but change is the normal, basically. We have to keep adapting. This is not going to stay still, basically.
Frances: They have to keep changing, they have to keep changing. I don't know, six or eight months ago I wrote a blog post for Joel Friedlander about Facebook rooms and I don't know what's happened with that, to tell you the truth. They come out with these innovations and then they disappear.
Facebook had the option to have lists where you could list your favorite Facebook pages and my clients who have new Facebook pages, there's no way to get a list. It's come and gone. It's still on my Facebook account, but I don't see it on anybody else's account. So it's changing all the time.
Joanna: That's another reason why you have to find the things that are fun for you. So do the things that are fun and then it doesn't really matter.
Frances: Exactly, exactly.
Joanna: Finally, obviously, some people don't want to do that on social media and also might not have a clue.
So what do you have and what do you offer to authors on your site?
Frances: I have my blog, which is free content that keeps people up to date. I have my books and I do social media audits. So if you're wondering if you're being successful on social media or if there are some areas of improvement you could experience, I will review your social media and I will also review your website and your blog and give you feedback.
Then I also handle social media for clients and I have clients who are non-fiction writers, who are fiction writers, and who write picture books. So the whole scope of genres. I have a YA writer too, yay. So I handle social media for them, so that means that I go out there and I curate the content, I schedule it, I socialize for them, and I do the analytics for them.
Joanna: Brilliant. And where can people find you and your site online?
Joanna: Share your Twitter handle as well?
Frances: Yes, it's my name backwards, CaballoFrances.
Joanna: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for your time Frances, that was great.
Frances: Oh, it was fun. It's fun talking to you.
Thank you for the helpful podcast – sooo much useful information here.
I especially appreciate when you are talking about Twitter and you agree that we can’t be the master of everything. I think it’s important to pick one that you like and be good at it.
Wow, there are superb insights from Frances here. Thanks for sharing the interview.
I think the comment about the social media time suck is so true. It’s important to be mindful of how long you are spending on social sites. Making it part of a routine is a good call, as ad-hoc usage will soon add up.
Twitter can be a great platform for new and established writers. I’ve recently shared a list of ten top tips for those who are just getting started: http://doxzoo.com/blog/twitter-for-authors-ten-top-tips/.
Dawn Marie says
Great interview! I appreciate the sage insights provided by Frances Caballo/Social Media Just for Writers and the terrific interview led by Joanna Penn. I took notes and I appreciate the transcription for the pieces I missed. Frances points out her employable four-step action plan for avoiding the social media time vacuum, which I found valuable. Thank you for the manageable tips!
I feel really ignorant after trying to follow your conversation about plug-ins. Made my eyes glaze over. Is that really important to know?
Joanna Penn says
If you have a professional website with software like WordPress, then plugins are pretty essential to how the website works – for example, the social shares plugin means you can get your work shared through the social networks. So I’d say that yes, it’s important to know if you want to maximize the impact of your website functionality. Otherwise, no 🙂
lisa ciarfella says
Great podcast/article here. So many good tips for authors on social media. Thanks a bunch!
shane a. mason says
Have listened to this three times while reading the notes at the same time. It’s a real meaty chunk of a podcast. I have so many tabs now open on chrome exploring all the ideas discussed in this.
My head is swimming a bit.
Really profitable podcast. Thanks very much
Patricia M Jackson says
Thanks so much for doing this podcast. It’s SO incredibly overwhelming! This, alone, could keep a person busy for months, so I appreciate the idea that you have to pick your battles. Even then, it’s a whole world you need to become familiar with in order to have success.
Jean Baptiste Rufatabahizi says
Wonderful Frances, Wonderful Joanna,
Thank you so much for the wonderful interview!!! All writers should read it.