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Writing Conference - Digital Marketing and Social Media for Writers

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Hey all! I am attending my first ever writing conference this weekend, and thought I'd summarize the things I learned to share here. I only type up ALL my notes, only the most relevant stuff.

The first panel I went to was titled Social Media and Digital Marketing for Writers. It was presented by Dana DiTomaso of Kickpoint.ca, which is a company that has something to do with marketing services as far as I can tell. The second presenter was Dr. Patrick Finn of the University of Calgary.

Dana was my favourite speaker of the day, she talked about some basic strategy for social media and marketing.

  • Know Your Audience - Don't tweet blindly about everything on your mind - communicate with a specific audience in mind. Who are you trying to reach? What platforms do your readers hang out on? What sort of things do they like? Aim your communications towards that.
  • Serve Your Readers - People are following you for a reason, what do they get out of your communication, what's in it for them? What do you provide? Dana provided a basic marketing template to use. What would your target audience fill in those blanks? Use that information to make targeted communications.
    I am a _________
    who wants to ________
    so I can ___________
  • Social Media - Sign up for everything, all the platforms, even if you don't intend to use them much. This prevents someone else from claiming your name and squatting on it, potentially ruining your reputation. Think beyond Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and consider platforms like Pinterest and GoodReads. And if you ARE published, make sure to claim your author's profile on GoodReads, personally responding to reviews goes a LON way in customer engagement.
  • Email Marketing - This is your number one BEST way of reaching readers, it is proven to work. Build that mailing list from the beginning. Have a spot to sign up on your website, and if you are going to events, take a sign up sheet (Note for Canadians, CASL law requires that physical sign up sheet be kept, as it represents and agreement to send emails to that person. Also, use CASL friendly language, like 'by signing up for this newletter, you give me permission to send you emails blah blah')
    • Send shorter emails more often, instead of waiting for a long post once a month. This keeps you in a readers mind. *However if you are just starting out, and don't have much content for a newsletter, stick to once a month until you build up more. Newsletter content can include updates on your progress (I finished a draft, early cover reveals, ARC copies available), interesting things in the community (my friend just published this amazing book), and interesting articles that would also interest your readers (going back to the earlier points of targeting communications towards things that your reader wants).
  • Website - Get one now, BEFORE you have publications coming out. If someone reads your story in anthology, you should have somewhere they can find more information about you.
    • You can use Squarespace or Wix for inexpensive websites that are even easier to use than Wordpress, and are cheaper. But when you do have enough momentum for a real website, DON'T go cheap. Pay good money for a professional looking site. However the Squarespace or Wix sites will last you for a long time.
    • Key elements of your website - An About Me page, a publications history page, social media links, and a place to sign up for your newsletter. Blogs and update pages are optional, and should only be included if you have the time and energy to keep them up to date.
    • Building up a website and a mailing list is a marathon, not a sprint. There are no special tricks or silver bullets, just time and work.
  • Meeting Time - Dana recommends an hour a week that you book with yourself for marketing, and to check in on how things are going, to make updates, and to plan future strategies. This includes things like writing your newsletter and analyzing your followers.
    • Download Google Analytics for your site, its free, and it gives you a lot of information about where your site visitors are coming from, and what pages they are clicking the most
  • Networking - Build a friend list of fellow professionals who can cross promote your stuff, and lend encouragement. Slack is a good tool for communication for collaboration
  • Google yourself - The first thing a person does when they want to know more about you is google you. Check in as part of your weekly meeting with yourself and take screenshots of your results to track changes. IMPORTANT - Once you start getting enough hints, Google will include a Knowledge Panel. That's the bit off to the right of the results that has a headshot, bio information, and various important links. The publication history from your website? Google scours this and adds it to the information panel, giving searches the ability to access those books instantly. It is vital that you keep that publication page to to date for this reason.
    • If the option is there, claim your Knowledge Panel. Google will allow you to make changes.
    • Register your books with Google Books to make it easier for google to have them show up in the results. It is free for self published authors

 

Dr. Patrick Finn:

He was a very fast, very intelligent speaker, and honestly his speech was dense, academic, and a lot of it went over my head. Here's the main points he talked about.

  • He is anti social media. Studies have shown that constant exposure reduces happiness and health. This is primarily due to the way these sites are designed, they are designed to invite emotional response, regardless of the positivity of the message. Negative posts are rewarded because they get more interaction, and social media has a literal toxic effect on the body.
    • That said, social media is a necessary tool for writers. It should just be used carefully. Use your website as your home base and use social media to direct readers back to it. This is because you have more control over your mailing list and website than you do over social media. Keep interacts brief, and positive. Anything negative can and will be dragged up at the worst moment, and lives can be ruined in a moment.
  • RE: Negative things being brought up, he says that many countries world wide are looking to enact legislation aimed at changing what can legally be said online. The aims of this legislation are to curb misinformation and trolling, and that people can and will be held liable for the things they've said online. So if you got into a Twitter fight with someone and called them names 5 years ago, they might be able to sue for libel. Be VERY conscious of what kind of persona you are projecting.
  • If this legislation goes through it will cause a VAST shift in the internet landscape. Companies will rise and fall, and it will be chaotic.
  • He also says we are in a paradigm shift. The last time the transmission of information changed this much was the introduction of the printing press. That saw vast changes in the world, the church lost a great deal of power. The same thing is happening now on a global scale
  • He also believes Art, and particularly writers, are vital for the future. The prime way of communicating is story based, and the world is thirsty for story tellers.

That's the brunt of it. He said a LOT more, but those are the more relevant things.

I don't know if anyone is still with me after this wall of text. If you are, tell me below what you thought was most interesting. Do you have any questions? I could try to clarify what I wrote down.

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