The Challenge of Promoting, Part 3

#promotion, #books, #ebooks, #authors

62609322-78_thumb1We covered the first 3 important steps in Part 2, but now we take smaller steps and some time aside before turning to the other 5+ steps. After the previous two installments, you now have one primary resource upon which much will depend — your site’s newsfeed.

Do Not Be a Headless Chicken!

Most of you have heard the saying of running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Okay, that is a disgusting and potentially offensive simile. That is exactly what you become when you try to manually promote on social systems or elsewhere…

Please do not do this! Rigging your newsfeed correctly is paramount to later routing it into social accounts, so you will have fewer headaches (and lost efficiency) in the long run. The “how” of connecting will depend on the individual social system and (hopefully) setting up a “page” in your social accounts for a “professional” presence as an author.

More on this later, as there are further preparations of what you have so far before you begin. There are also preparations that apply directly to you and how you use your promotional tools.

See also “The Challenge of Promoting” Part 1 and Part 2.

Social (Non-)Reality Check

When you publish an article/post to your blog-enabled site, all (or part) of it goes into your newsfeed. You will decide how much later herein. You should place a visible sidebar link to this feed on all pages, especially the arrival page, and it is possible your host system will do this for you. And even this is not enough.

People are lazier now than ever before. They often pick one social system forevermore as their primary life on the internet. Even if they visit your site, they will look for a way to:

  1. “follow” your news in their preferred social system, or
  2. “subscribe” to news via email updates, or
  3. “subscribe” via an online or application newsreader, or
  4. “visit” your site regularly.

They do so in this exact tiered order of predominance. Subsequent tiers are likely 1/4th or less of the one directly above. Yes, this is a guess but an experienced and conservative one. The situation is getting worse based on other factors, one of which is social (vs. political / commercial) nepotism.

People choose a social system based on family, friends, and colleagues recommending a particular one, or (worse) a barrage of advertising, first, second, or third hand. Such recommendations are based on what a person is recommended by someone else and/or advertising. Generally they stay in that one system… forevermore.

If your writing colleagues have done this with you, do not listen to them.

Regardless of preference in your personal life, you cannot afford to choose one system for your (potential) professional life as an author. As previously stated, social systems wax and wane in effectiveness for authors. They will do so more into the future where social promoting is concerned because of manipulations by the social systems themselves in trying to lure users from one to another.

Yes, lure, for those systems lumped together have nearly maxed out the global user market. Use only one system, and eventually you lose.

If you succumb to social (system) nepotism as an author, then you become a headless chicken, though not running anymore. You have lost all awareness. Social systems are not your “friends”; they use your friends, family, and colleagues like a hatchet through managed commercial tactics. Open your eyes before you lose your head!

1.3.1 Integrated Newsfeed Configuration

We cannot cover all known hosting systems. As we explain steps taken by NDAS (using Blogger.com), we hope this gives you clues for what to look for in your chosen host system. If half or more of these steps cannot be taken, you are using the wrong host for your needs as an author. Find a better one. Just as with social systems, you are not as locked in as you assume… or as those systems want you to believe.

Summary vs. Full Article

You have a choice to make here, but it is one you can alter / refine later. Posting a full article into your newsfeed is counterproductive for social promoting. If your audience in those systems gets the whole article, then why should they bother visiting your site?

This is a no-brainer, though a headless chicken would not think of it. We at NDAS have been stunned by how many new authors make this mistake and undercut the effectiveness of their social promotions. As an example, in the Blogger system:

  1. Enter your site’s administrative interface (login at www.blogger.com, which now will likely route you to a main Google systems login).
  2. If you have more that one site in the list after login, select your author’s site.
  3. Select “Settings” and then “Other.”
  4. For “Allow Blog Feed,” select either “Until Jump Break” or “Short.”

NOTE: If you do not typically insert Jump Breaks in your posts / articles, or you do not (yet) understand what this means, then select “Short.” This will post only the article’s first 400 characters to your newsfeed and ignore any jump breaks (manual “read more” links).

At the end of all articles in good newsfeeds is a link to the article’s origin. This is displayed in news items you will (eventually) distribute to your author’s social pages. And we repeat—page, not wall/timeline. We will get to “how” later, for it is a bit complicated. Linked news without full content is also your primary way to drive traffic to your site in social promotion.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is no longer as effective as social promotion, though SEO should not be ignored. The only people who will do a cold search for your site are those who already know (of) you or have read one of your books. You do not want to ignore this faction, but your top target demographic is always the reader who has never read one of your books.

For those of you on hosting systems other than Blogger.com, there should be a similar way to limit the word and/or character count of all posts / articles shunted into your newsfeed. If not, then once again, find a better host system; they do exist besides Blogger. Without the ability to control newsfeed content, you have no control over encouraging social system users to visit your own site. Fact.

1.3.2 Newsfeed & Comment System Configuration

Perhaps you never thought about this connection. Truth be told, you want people talking about you and your work on the social systems, not on your own site. But still…

Some social systems combined with certain site host systems echo visitor comments from the first to the second. Less so these days, but you still want to control site comments. Fail to do so, and well, you must really enjoy managing spam. In the Blogger system…

  1. Enter your site’s administrative interface (login at www.blogger.com or the main Google systems login).
  2. If you have more than one site in the list after login, select your author’s site.
  3. Select “Settings” and then “Posts and Comments.”
  4. For “Comment Location” select “Embedded.”
  5. For “Who can comment” select “Registered user,” not “User with Google Accounts” or “Anyone.”
  6. For “Comment Moderation” select “Sometimes” (in combination with #5).
  7. For “Show word verification” select “Yes.”

NOTE: Time for cruel honesty, regardless that NDAS uses the Blogger system. It has improved slightly in recent years, but overall its native comments system is the second worst (behind LiveJournal) of the many systems used / tested by our staff members over nearly two decades.

Solutions are possible and will be addressed later, though you can see the one we chose on our site. And still, site commenting is dwindling, and social systems are where you want people talking about your books.

The above settings are critical for controlling spam without over-hampering visitor interaction. The “Registered user” option will include much better third party logins such as OpenID.

Once again, for other host systems, you should have at least control over #5 above and preferably #6 in combination. If not, well, you know our thoughts by now.

There is also the option of embedding a third party comment system that is much better than what is offered by most host systems. Better for you and your visitors. We will get to that at another time, as it does not directly affect primary concerns for promoting.

1.3.3 Newsfeed & Content Priorities

This is not about settings. It is about how you author any article or post to your site. You have configured a limit on how much of that goes into the newsfeed. That first section of a post should thereby be where you state early on something intriguing about the rest of that post or article. That is where you set the “hook” to pull social system users to your site. But a few words of caution…

The Three Sins of Authors

We have seen too many authors using certain tactics; they saw too many others doing so and followed blindly. Now that you have a promotion-oriented site set to use, we want to warn you off these bad habits before you connect that feed to your social “pages” (not personal wall/timeline). You need good habits and intentions before we take you to the next major steps.

  1. Author Nepotism
    Who is your audience, particularly the one that will buy your books? Readers, not other authors. Too many new authors try to gain attention and establish “author(ity)” by writing to other writers. Readers do not care about this. There may be a small faction who take occasional interest in peeking inside the world of authors, or specifically your world. Your author’s presence on the web (if you aspire to be a real “professional”) should speak to readers and potential readers… not other authors. Avoid nepotism from the start and forevermore!
  2. Author Charlatanism
    This one is not always apparent. Even when it is, the guilty (and desperate) justify it in a knee-jerk reaction and a lot of fallacious citations. It is about mentioning something of interest unrelated to their works in that first 400 words. And when the visitors arrive to finish reading, they are hit with a hidden sales pitch of “buy my book now!” There is nothing wrong in stating your book is now available, or even reminding people of this later, but do it up front. Leave the snake-oil tactics to others!
  3. Author Egotism
    You are not the ultimate authority on the quality of your own work. No, your are not. Even the (professional) reviews of your published work are not the final word in this. It is only the collective voice of your readership that counts. Do not ever try to tell them what their opinion or viewpoint (not the same) should be, before or after they have read your work. Make such an assumption and you will pay for it, whether or not your work merits it. The number of authors who have gotten away with this is infinitesimal… for good reason. Most vanished (along with those who failed) before they could be counted.

These tactics will work against you faster than every before. If visitors to your site feel tricked or abused, guess what they might do when they return to their social system?

Another old saying stands: bad news travels fast(est). It is like rolling ball-lightening when it happens on social systems. Trick your visitors — potential and current readers — and you deserve to be fried chicken… headless fried chicken!

Time for Another Pause

While this entry did not take you all the way to full social promotion through your site, there are obvious good reasons found herein. Social promotion is not just about… social promotion. It is about having a sound foundation for it and preparing correctly in how to use what you have so far and what comes next.

Next time out, once you have prepared, we will get to the tricky part—connecting and distributing to your chosen social systems in Part 4 of “The Challenge of Promoting.” Thank you for joining us again.

—J.C. Hendee

N.D. Author Services [NDAS]

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