The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Checking in to promote books: Foursquare vs. Get Glue

Last week I attended a Publishing Point talk with Foursquare co-founder @naveen.  Foursquare is currently the most hyped of the location-based social networks that have been taking the social media world by storm these past few months: Google Latitude, Gowalla, Loopt and Whrll (among others, of course.  I think I’ve discovered at least two more since starting to write this post a few days ago).  LBS services are still in their infancy — Foursquare has two million users vs. 500+ million on Facebook — but they’re starting to command a lot of talk and thought (not to mention venture capital).

This is basically how Foursquare works:

1. You check in at various venues — your local coffee shop, a restaurant or a bar, the gym, your office, etc.  (There’s an ongoing debate among users as to whether checking in to your home is kosher — or safe.)

2. You can leave tips at venues, e.g., “This restaurant has the most amazing Eggs Benedict known to man,” or “The line of treadmills closest to the check-in desk all slope upwards.”

3. Badges are awarded for the completion of various “tasks,” like checking in 25 places or checking in to the gym 10 times in a month.  (Yes — of course I have the Gym Rat badge.)

4. The user who has patronized a location the most times in the past two months is designated as the “mayor.”

5. You can friend request others (and vice versa), but for privacy reasons, most users don’t have as many Foursquare friends as Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

At the talk last week, people naturally wondered if authors / publishers can use Foursquare to promote books.  The answer is that there is no obvious way.  (Which doesn’t mean it can’t be done, just that we’re going to need to do a lot of thinking to do it right.)

First off, if you want to even think about using Foursquare to promote a book, join.  Now.  And use it.  Frequently.  That’s the only way to understand the nature and spirit of the application.  (You do need a smart phone to use the application, since that’s the only you can check in.)

Because Foursquare is all about where you are and what you’re doing, the candidates in the publishing industry who are in the best position to promote books in the spirit of the “game,” are bookstores.  Many stores will offer discounts to users — at one point Starbucks, for example, offered a free frappucino to all mayors.  Or Tasti-D-Lite offered a froyo for $.99 (regularly $3.99) to users who showed that they had checked in.  I only found a couple bookstores (in New York City) that offer Foursquare discounts (although feel free to let me know if I’ve missed any):

Aperture Foundation

Word

Don’t be disappointed if I’ve burst your Foursquare bubble, because Get Glue is a similar application that is all about talking about your favorite book or author (or movie or music or website).   (As with Fourquare, you can sign in to Get Glue with your Facebook account and you can also download the mobile app for your smartphone.)  This NBC clip explains how Get Glue works.

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Do you use Foursquare, Get Glue or other similar applications?  How do you feel about using them (or not) to promote books?

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August 4, 2010 Posted by | Social Networking | | 5 Comments

Tips for using Facebook both personally and professionally

Last week, Facebook announced membership had hit 500 million users.  In other words, most everyone using the Internet is on Facebook (or at least it sure seems that way).

The tricky issue is that where Facebook was once primarily used to connect with family and friends (IRL — In Real Life — friends, that is), it has since become an online meeting spot for friends, strangers, businesses and more.  Many users wonder who to friend request?  And perhaps the more delicate question is whose friend request do you accept?  High school and college classmates?  Colleagues at work?  Professional acquaintances?  Your boss?  Readers of your book or blog?  Which leads to the question: can you use your Facebook profile both for personal and professional encounters?  You’d probably get different opinions from different people, but my answer is yes, and I do (largely because maintaining one profile takes enough time; managing two would be impossible).

While there’s nothing wrong with ignoring a friend request (I do when I have absolutely no clue who the requester is, when I can’t see their profile because it’s locked down and when there’s no personal message to me explaining who the heck they are), if I (remember) I’ve had contact with the person — either in real life or over email — I usually do accept the request so as not to seem rude.  And on the upside, becoming friends on Facebook can lead to genuine friendships or at least professional relationships.  Also, my News Feed, made up of status updates from the myriad people and companies I “friend” or “like” is like a personalized newspaper: it serves to provide a good picture of what is going on not only with my “real” friends, but also in the publishing and media worlds.

For those of you who do use Facebook for all aspects of your life (and work), here are a few suggestions about how to manage your online profile:

Turn on your Privacy Settings so your profile can only be viewed by your friends, i.e., people in your network by going to Account (on the upper right hand of the page) and then clicking “Privacy Settings.”  You can have one setting for the entire profile; you can also set additional privacy settings for each portion of your profile — the Wall posts, Photos, Basic Information, Friends, etc.  (At one point, some high school and college students, alarmed that potential employers were scanning their profiles, changed their Facebook names or shut down their profiles entirely, which seems rather complicated and inconvenient since it’s easy enough to prevent people from seeing parts — or all — of your profile.  It’s also possible to hide your profile — also under Privacy Settings — so you won’t even come up in a search of your name.)

Use Facebook’s Friend Lists by going to Account and then “Edit Friends.”  This enables you to make certain posts / photos / sections of your profile available to only certain people (or visible to all your friends except for certain people).  For example, I have a list entitled “People I Don’t Really Know” and the people on that list cannot view certain personal information, photo albums or status updates.

This type of list can be particularly useful for authors — or anyone else — who may wish to grant family / friends more access to a profile than readers / colleagues / random acquaintances.  (In case you’re wondering, no author or colleague has access to my entire profile — I did say I’m pretty liberal about accepting friend requests, so you know the axe is going to fall somewhere — but most friends do see most of it.)  Of course, utilizing Friend Lists for the sake of privacy requires that you add people to Friend Lists — which nowadays can be done when sending or accepting a friend request.  (At one point I did have to go through my then 400-person friend list and add everyone to at least one list.  Better done sooner rather than later, needless to say.)

Turn on notifications for when you’re tagged in a photo or video by going to Account, then Account Settings, then Notifications.  Most Facebook users will use discretion when posting photos of themselves.  But many of us don’t necessarily trust our hundreds (or thousands) of friends to exercise the same discretion while tagging photos of us.  (Of course, sometimes there’s absolutely nothing wrong / illegal / incriminating about a photo other than the fact that you look god awful.)  Either way, by turning on notifications, you’ll know the moment someone tags you in a photo or video, although you’ll need to get to a computer to untag yourself since that can’t be done from a mobile device.  (You can also change your Privacy Settings so that only certain people can see the photos posted — by others — in which you are tagged, which is different from the photos posted — by you — in which you are tagged.)

Hide status updates you don’t want to see.  Let’s face it — some people (and companies) are really boring and it just gets annoying seeing their status updates about politics or religion.  All.  Day.  Long.  To get rid of a status update, let your cursor hover over the right side of the update.  You will see a “Hide” button pop up that will allow you to permanently hide updates from the person.  Status updates from all Facebook applications (like Farmville and Mafia Wars) can also be hidden in the same manner.  FB allows you to block all, say, Farmville updates from a user, without blocking all of that user’s status updates, which is incredibly useful because some Farmville players are really quite witty and amusing when they’re not, say, trading eggs and building barns.  Or perhaps you’d like to see what they’re reading via GoodReads, but not whether they’re riding a tractor.  You get my point.

And lastly, regardless of how high your privacy settings, always post as though your mother and your boss can see everything in your profile.  Murphy’s Law and all …

If you’d like to find out more, check out the All Facebook’s 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know.

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Do you use Facebook for both personal and professional reasons?  Why or why not?  And if you do, what are some of your tips for managing the balance?

July 28, 2010 Posted by | Social Networking | , , , | 3 Comments

How do you track online “buzz”?

These past couple months have been incredibly busy, so I haven’t posted except on Fridays, when I do the NPR Books Watch wrap ups in which I list the books / authors that have been covered on the national NPR (National Public Radio) shows.  Book publicists — and anyone in the business of book promotion — know what a national NPR hit means, which is to say sales.  And typically lots of them.

One of the reasons why I hit upon doing the NPR Books Watch is because it’s easy enough (if time consuming) to look up book stories on the NPR Books page and then check sales rankings on Amazon.  In fact, Amazon is the quickest and most accessible way for anyone to get a snap shot of book sales (although you’d need to take the numbers with a grain of salt since they only reflect online sales rankings — not sales, per se — on one site).

But the truth is that a lot of what we do as book publicists is generate “buzz” — in other words, our efforts may not translate into immediate sales, even if down the line people end up buying more books.  Which brings me to the topic of this post.

The other day, I attended a Publishing Point talk with Martha Stewart Executive Vice President Gail Horwood and she shared a few simple tools the folks over at Martha Stewart use track (online) buzz:

Click throughs.  Link trackers like bit.ly or applications like HootSuite enable you to see how many people have clicked a link.

# of Friends/followers on sites like Facebook and Twitter

# of Comments on Facebook / blog / website posts

—  Retweets and @replies (if you use  Twitter)

How do you track buzz?  (I know the above doesn’t include web analytics applications like Google Analytics, but that’s the topic of another post …)

July 6, 2010 Posted by | Online Marketing, Social Networking | | 8 Comments

Facebook profile or fan page? Who should set it up — author? Publisher?

The other day I was discussing an author’s Facebook fan page with a colleague — we’d set up the page, but months after the book’s publication, we didn’t have time to maintain it.  So what to do?  Shut down the profile?  Post an “out of office” status message?  I’ve blogged about this before, suggesting that book publicists not maintain Facebook pages and profiles for authors.  And in fact, while we did establish the page, we made it clear that it was set up by the publishing house … except no one saw that.

This raises two issues (at least for those authors and publishers interested in promoting a book on Facebook, which often is a good idea — but not mandatory — for all titles):

1) Do you set up a profile (typically for people), or a fan page (for people or products)?

Profiles and fan pages allow you to connect with friends or fans in different ways.  (For example, if you friend request someone, they need to accept your request; on the other hand, anyone can become a fan of a book or author.)  But what it really comes down to is that there needs to be a real person, i.e., not a book publicist or marketing team, behind a profile — with more and more authors on Facebook these days, users automatically assume that any author profile or fan page is maintained by the author.  (If you as a book publicist or author are getting pressure to do otherwise, send the powers that be the link to this post.)

There’s a little more leeway for a book, i.e., product, fan page — for example, I assume the folks behind the Red Mango fan page to which I belong are on its marketing team, but that doesn’t make the suggested flavors / toppings any less yummy.

Some authors choose to set up both profiles for themselves as well as fan pages for their books, which is great as long as an author has the time to maintain both.  The advantage is that a user looking up either an author’s name or the book’s title will find something.

2) Who should set up and maintain the Facebook page or profile — author or publishing house?

Although I am advocating authors getting involved in their Facebook profiles / pages (if they are interested in social networking), there’s still plenty that the publisher can do.  A book publicist (or someone else at the publishing house) can help set up a profile / page by:

— providing content about the book (text, JPEGs)

— adding information about in-person and virtual author events

— helping to update the page / profile with links to coverage of the book or author

In addition to any of the above, an author should:

— maintain the page / profile by interacting with readers

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Facebook, realizing the increasing popularity of its service, has published its own tips for creating pages and profiles.  Also, Buzzmarketing Daily offers good social media tips.  Do you use Facebook profiles?  Or fan pages?  If you’re a book publicist, how much do you and how much does the author do?

February 3, 2010 Posted by | Social Networking | | 21 Comments

How book publicists can be Trust Agents

Back when I started The Book Publicity Blog about a year and a half ago, I looked around to find interesting and informative marketing / PR / social networking blogs from which I could draw information that would be of use to book publicists.  Every so often, I’d link to Chris Brogan’s blog, which provided a trove of handy information.

Imagine my surprise and delight when Brogan’s publicist, @cincindypat, asked if I’d be open to a guest post from him.  (Brogan is now also the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling co-author of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust.)  Who better to talk about how to successfully publicize a book?  Voila.

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As you struggle to survive the attention wars, finding ways to connect your authors to valuable audiences has changed. This isn’t easy. Working with bloggers isn’t the same as traditional journalists, but connecting with journalists isn’t all it used to be, either. Getting mainstream coverage is more and more difficult. Budgets are tight. What’s a book publicist to do?

I’m writing this from a strange perspective. My book, Trust Agents reached the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal lists within two days of release. We speak about trust and how to use online tools to build relationships using new tools and new channels, and in the process, we had two publicists helping us as well. So, I have two sides of the coin in mind when I write this, or maybe three. I write it as an author, as a professional blogger, and as someone thinking on how the publicist might develop their efforts. Here’s what I have for you.

Find The Audience You Need – The easiest way to start on this is to grow bigger ears. Use tools like Alltop.com and Technorati.com to find who’s writing in the space your author is trying to reach. Don’t be swayed by big numbers, but instead, pay attention to the people who might connect with the work, and get to know them. Don’t reach out yet. We have more to do.

Do Your Homework – Use sites like Compete.com to find out if the bloggers you’ve picked have a decent audience. Check their blogs for numbers of comments and level of engagement overall. Determine whether the blogger has done book reviews in the past (though don’t let this sway you).

Comments Come First – Leave comments about other posts over a week or so. Make them relevant, and never pitch your author at these points. Just connect on posts that make sense. Don’t ever hide that you’re a professional publicist. This is the art of building relationships before you need anything. It sounds like work. It is work. And yet, the yield is much better.

Break the Big Lie – Want to earn my respect forever? Acknowledge that there are other books from other publishers that are well done and/or that complement your author’s work. Stun people with your grasp of the real world. I say this with a bit of sarcasm, but realize that media makers like bloggers and podcasters know that there are other books out there, and we’ve maybe even read them before.

Build Non-Book Relationships With People – By getting to know people on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on blogs, you’ve got to talk about non-book things from time to time. This is part of the whole relationship-building experience we’ve written about in Trust Agents. People don’t want to hang out with promoters. They want to spend time on online social networks with friends who interact with them, ask them questions, and talk about things beyond their business interests. It’s not wrong to talk about your author or authors. It’s wrong to make that the primary thrust of what you talk about.

This all adds up. Over time, it’s connecting in these human-shaped ways that will make all the difference in the world. People connect with those they know and who make them feel comfortable. Earning trust before you need something for business is a fast track to getting the kinds of coverage your authors deserve. This is how we’re seeing it done. There’s more to it than just showing up and typing, but these are some of the ways I feel you’ll be able to do business in the new social space. I hope they work for you.

Chris Brogan is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling co-author of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. He writes about social media and how human business works at chrisbrogan.com.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Online Marketing, Social Networking | 8 Comments

How Twitter works and why people in publishing should consider using it

Someone walked into my office the other day and saw my Twitter screen.  Caught in the act?  Actually, it was about 4:30 p.m. ET on a Thursday and I was in the middle of a #followreader discussion about successful book promotion strategies.

You see, Twitter is possibly the most robust network to link readers and the publishing community since Gutenberg built his printing press.  I realize Twitter doesn’t work for everybody and I’m not suggesting that everyone use it — there are days when even I don’t have the time (or simply can’t be bothered) to type even 140-character status updates — but what must be recognized is  that Twitter is no longer the latest fad among tweens; it has since evolved into an incredibly powerful communications tool (and it can be fun, too).  I realize I’m pretty much preaching to the choir with this post, but please feel free to share the following with colleagues / authors.

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Most people now know the Twitter basics: you have 140 characters to update your status and you have a list of people whose status updates you follow and a list of people who follow your status updates.  But for all practical purposes, what does that mean?  Why should authors and people in the publishing industry use Twitter?  Here are some reasons why:

Networking: Although most publishing houses, literary agencies and book publicity firms are in New York — which means many of us see each other in person — many are not.  And of course, media exist all over, as do readers.  Twitter is how we meet.  Publisher @artepublico uses Twitter to connect authors with the media.  @calli526, a book publicist, uses it to connect with the media.

Promotion: Twitter can be used to talk up a book, blog, event, author, giveaway or pretty much anything else.

Feedback: For example, @benrubinstein polls his followers for ideas and suggestions.

And here are some specific examples of how Twitter works:

#followreader is a weekly publishing discussion conducted on Twitter on Thursdays at 4 p.m. ET and moderated by @charabbott and @katmeyerwho also blog at Follow the Reader.  (Summaries of the discussions are posted on the blog for people who miss the Twitter conversation.)  Here’s a tip, though: for Twitter discussions, it’s best to use an application that’s optimized for chats like Tweetchat.

@RustyShelton and his colleagues at Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicity  developed a Tweet the Author service.

— Author Anastasia Ashman posts about how she uses Twitter.

@meredithkessler points out that Robert Olen Butler’s @TweetsFromHell was picked up by @LATimesbooks and followed by major critics and Butler fans.

— Literary agent @janet_reid found a panelist for a publishing conference via Twitter and has also used it to fact check some locations/spellings/customs.

— When I write a blog post, I try to tweet about it (and include a link to the post).  That means my post could potentially be seen by the 1,267 people who follow me.  Realistically, a tweet won’t be seen by all of one’s followers, but even if only a fraction of those people see an update and click through to the link, that still amounts to a lot of eyeballs.  (And certainly a lot more eyeballs than if you’re not using Twitter.)  Similarly, some authors will tweet about upcoming events to let readers know where and when they will be speaking or about reviews and interviews.

— And lastly, how do you think I found the examples for this post?  Yup, you guessed it.

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What are your Twitter success stories?  Do share.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Social Networking | 24 Comments

Finding friends on Facebook

With so many more people joining social networks, of which Facebook is one of the most popular, the question becomes how to find connections since, after all, a network is only as good as its contacts.

Facebook’s Friend Finder function will allow you to go through your email address books to find contacts who are already on Facebook (and other networking sites have similar applications).  Once you’ve friend requested your contacts with Facebook profiles, you will be asked to invite your contacts who do not have profiles.  Do *not* invite them.  This is the thing: you’re not the first one on Facebook.  Your friends have profiles … that were opened with alternate email addresses.  (It’s 2009 and lots of us have multiple email addresses for multiple purposes.)

It is, in fact, frustrating getting a request from a friend that’s been sent to the “wrong” email address since there’s no way to redirect the request to your profile to accept it.  (Well, maybe there is a way to redirect the request / look up your wayward friend, but that certainly can’t be done after you’ve accidentally deleted the request because you thought it was spam.  Which may or may not have happened to me.  More than once.)  Any who.

Facebook also has a “Suggestions” function that, well, suggests people you might know.  It finds people who are friends of your existing friends and, although I don’t have this on good authority, I swear it now also trawls through your address books automatically.  (I’ve seen people pop up in my suggestions box who are not mutual friends of any of my friends but whose names I know are in my email address books.)  A third way to add friends is to simply scroll through the Friends list of one of your friends.

If you find yourself adding friends willy nilly, you will want to make sure that you either censor yourself so that your posts are appropriate for a general audience (and by “general” I mean “your boss and your parents / children”) or you should set your privacy settings / group your contacts so that your narratives of your enchanting but untoward behavior is not shared with people with whom you should not be sharing enchanting but untoward behavior.  (Authors should use the lowest privacy settings, however — unless a profile is for personal use only — since the point of joining Facebook is so that fans and readers can find and see everything.)

Different networking sites will have different etiquette when it comes to “friending” people you do not know.  On Twitter, for example, most people follow friends as well as random people who just seem interesting.  On Facebook, though, while some people (like authors wanting to connect with readers) accept friend requests from everyone, many others prefer to only accept requests from people who are actually friends.

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For those of you looking to join / become more active on Twitter, check this post about the Follower / Following lists.  Do you belong to other networks popular with people in publishing like Good Reads?  Any tips / tricks for finding contacts?

July 23, 2009 Posted by | Social Networking | 9 Comments

What kind of web presence is right for an author?

I was in a meeting yesterday when the issue of author websites arose.  Of course, these days, “website,” actually means “web presence,” because depending on the book and author, an author may opt for a website and / or a blog and / or a social networking profile.  The point is, when a reader Googles a title or name, something in addition to a buy link needs to pop up.

But as a book publicist, how do you know what’s best for an author?  Realistically, most authors don’t have the time to manage a website anda blog and a social networking profile (not to mention write and promote their book).  So here are some pointers for all three types of sites in order of least to most interaction:

Author Websites

Pros: Don’t need to be updated as frequently as other online ventures.  Look more professional than social networking profiles and most blogs.

Cons: Unless you use a free DIY web template (which looks free and DIY), websites cost money to set up.  Because many sites are maintained by third parties, changing / correcting the site can be cumbersome.

Best for: Authors who don’t have the time to update a site and / or who aren’t comfortable with the web, but who can pay someone to update the site for them.

Social Networking Profiles / Fan Pages

Pros: Free.  Quick to set up (the basics — fleshing out a profile and acquiring friends takes time).  Easy to post pictures, video and links.  Once you’ve acquired friends, easy to send messages to them to promote events / news about the book.

Cons: Takes (some) time and (some) familiarity with the web to maintain.  You don’t own the information — the social network does — so you’re at their mercy when it comes to layout / rules / etc.  Of course, if the network goes under, so does your profile, information and friend list.

Best for: Authors who do want to interact with readers and who do have a little time to maintain their profiles (status updates, accepting friend requests, reading and writing messages, etc.) but who don’t have the time or the inclination to maintain a blog. 

Blogs

Pros: Can be set up and maintained for free (or for a minimal monthly charge).  For authors who blog consistently and who are successful at building an audience, a proven way to increase readership of their book(s).  Fairly quick to set up the basics (although creating pages, blog rolls and other features takes time).

Cons: Posts must be regular, i.e., at least twice a week, for the blog to gain a following, so blogging takes a lot of time (and inspiration).  It can take a while to build a following on a blog, so you must commit to blogging for several months at the very least.  Blogs don’t magically acquire an audience; they must be promoted just as books must be promoted to reach readers.

Best for: Authors who have the time to write weekly posts and who are willing to make a long-term commitment not only to writing the blog but also to promoting it.  Good for repeat authors (who have an incentive to keep up their site over the long term) or for authors who have a cause and / or organization they want to continue championing even after the promotional window for the book has ended.

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Those are the basics (anyone have anything to add?) but keep in mind that an author can mix and match.  So, for example, you could have a basic website + Facebook profile.  Or a DIY website for which you pay a small monthly fee — these sites look pretty decent and for authors who have some web savvy, it allows you to post updates yourself.  Or you might have a blog and a Facebook / Twitter profile.  (So many bloggers belong to one or more social networks — these are great ways to connect with others in the blogging community and promote a blog — that if you’re not comfortable with social networking, you probably shouldn’t consider blogging.)

The bottom line is that while a web presence is essential for authors these days, what’s just as important is that you pick the site type(s) that works best for you.

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Blogs, Online Marketing, Social Networking | 16 Comments

Don’t know anyone on Twitter?

Last week a college friend posted a question about Twitter as his Facebook status.  He’d just signed up, he said, and was having trouble finding friends who use Twitter.  Several of his friends — Facebook veterans, obviously — said they’d tried Twitter but “didn’t get it” or couldn’t find anyone.  (Although Oprah, who finally got on the bandwagon and started tweeting, picked up almost 500,000 followers in less than a week.)

Just in time, Wendy Kaufman of NPR’s Morning Edition explored, earlier this week, how businesses are using Twitter as a marketing tool and how individuals use it to keep up with the news in Thumbs To The News: Public Turns To Twitter.  Yesterday, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd debated — in her typical sardonic fashion — To Tweet or not to Tweet.

The dirty, little secret of Twitter is that it’s really basic: it lacks the bells and whistles of Facebook or LinkedIn, no photos, no audio or video, no groups, just 140-character status updates.  The Twitter website isn’t pretty.  It crashes all the time (displaying the much hated “fail whale”).  Still, it works well enough that fire departments use Twitter — among other tools — to track wildfires, doctors use it to share information and L.A. foodies use it to hunt down mobile taco trucks.  (Not to mention it’s a handy tool for those of us in book publicity, allowing us to follow the news and network with authors and others in the industry.)

Guy Kawasaki, Internet guru and How to Change the World blogger, showed How to Demo Twitter earlier this week, covering why one would want to use Twitter, how to find people to follow and what desktop applications can run Twitter.  (That’s the summarized version; for more, check the Twitter section of his news aggregation site Alltop.)

For more Twitter basics, I’ve posted about how to get started on Twitter and how to figure out the Following / Follower lists.

And for a glossary of Twitter terms, try this recent post from Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists.

Lastly, for those of you inclined to regurgitate at another mention of Twitter but who understand that one must nevertheless adapt to change, Dave Fleet suggests (non-Twitter) Social Media Baby Steps.

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For those of you in the publishing industry, don’t forget that Jennifer Tribe of Highspot maintains a directory of bookish tweeps.

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Social Networking, Trends | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Follower / following — explaining the Twitter lists

Yesterday’s New York Times piece, Putting Twitter’s World to Use , showed how Twitter can be used, from uniting disgruntled Moldovan youth to assisting doctors in surgery.  (As big a fan of Twitter as I am, I’d still have to question whether the operating room is the time or the place to be … tweeting?)  Another article, by publishing reporter Motoko Rich, explored how two days of online venting on Twitter led Amazon to correct a cataloguing error.  As a book publicist, I use Twitter as an RSS feed of sorts, to keep tabs on what’s going on with the media and in publishing.

A lot of people have already signed up for Twitter — if you haven’t but would like to, check here for information about how to get started — but the question is: once you’ve signed up, how do you actually make use of it?

Twitter works by connecting people with “followers.”  Thus, everyone has two lists: followers (people following you and reading your updates) and “Following,” a list of people whose updates you follow.

Finding people to follow

Look up individuals.  This can be pretty laborious since a lot of people don’t use real (or full) names.  You can search email addresses too, although that can also get confusing  since a lot of people use multiple email addresses and you won’t necessarily know which one they’re using for Twitter.

 — Crib from someone else’s Follower / Following list.  You know what I’m talking about: you’ve done this before on Facebook and LinkedIn.  When you find someone interesting, look through their lists for people to Follow.

#FollowFriday.  Every Friday, people list others they like to follow.  This is a great way to find people who tweet about a certain topic (like ebooks or book acquisitions).

Getting people to follow you

Those of you familiar with other social networking sites but who are new to Twitter will no doubt find it creepy that strangers follow you.  This is a common practice on Twitter.  Although you can protect your updates and change your settings so that you approve all followers, most tweeple don’t make use of these functions.  (After all, your profile displays virtually no personal information.)  Here’s how to get followers: 

Post your Twitter handle.  Post your “handle,” e.g. @yodiwan, on your blog / website / in your email signature.

Follow others.  Some people will “autofollow,” which means they have applications that enable them to automatically follow you if you follow them.  Others don’t autofollow, but will scan through their follower requests and follow those people who look interesting.

Tips for Facebook users

—  The Twitter application for Facebook.  You can download the Twitter application in Facebook (use the Search function to find it) which will enable you to have all your Twitter updates automatically posted on Facebook.  (It doesn’t work the other way.)  A few considerations: how often do you update your Twitter status?  It’s fine to post 50 times a day on Twitter; FB users will simply get annoyed by that many status updates.  Also, your Twitter Follower list will likely differ from your Facebook Friend list and the same updates may not be appropriate for both groups.

Tips for Blackberry and iPhone users

Many people tweet from cell phones.  Popular mobile applications include Twitterberry (for the Blackberry) and Tweetie (for the iPhone).  Think tweeting from a cell phone is a waste of time?  It’s actually one of the best ways to get real-time coverage of an event (from surgery to the plane crashing in the Hudson to a conference panel).

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Social Networking | | 3 Comments