Or maybe because Tina looked at me and saw G-U-L-L-I-B-L-E tattooed across my forehead.
Anyway, I have been assigned the dubious privilege of presenting this portion of our Asked & Answered series. So, without further ado, let’s get right to some of the questions and concerns our Seekervillagers have submitted.
“Twitter hashtags confuse me.” Well, guess what. They often confuse me, too, especially the really random ones. Basically, the purpose of a hashtag is to label your Tweet according to a popular or trending search topic. That’s why many of our Seekerville Tweets include hashtags like #amwriting, #writetips, and #pubtips. Anyone interested in following Tweets about the business of writing can search for any of those hashtags and find a whole stream of Tweets from Seekerville and others who post on writing-related topics.
Other hashtags writers and readers regularly follow: #giveaway #Kindle #motivation #inspiration #quotes #ChristFic (short for Christian fiction) #amreading #sweetromance #FHLAuthor (promoting members of the Faith, Hope & Love chapter of Romance Writers of America) #MSWL (manuscript wish list, often used by agents and editors!)
The key to using hashtags effectively is to avoid getting too creative with your own. Instead, if you want your Tweet to reach the most people, do a search of the terms you’re considering and see which ones generate the most results. Regular Twitter users have favorite hashtags they follow, so you want to make sure your Tweet shows up in the appropriate lists.
“I still don’t understand how to post a pic on Twitter. It never works for me.” This is really pretty simple. If you have your Twitter window open on your computer, you’ll see a little window near the top with “What’s happening?” in faded type. That, of course, is where you enter your Tweet. Now look just beneath the white box. You should see a camera icon. When you click on it, you should be able to choose an image from your computer and add it to your Tweet. Easy-peasy!
Of course, there are optimal image sizes for various social media outlets. For Twitter, the ideal in-stream image should measure 440 px wide by 220 px tall (minimum) up to 1024 x 512. Here’s a handy reference with recommended graphics sizes for several popular social media sites: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet of Photo & Image Sizes on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Other Social Networks
If you access your social media accounts from a smartphone or tablet, the easiest way to post an image is to select a picture you have saved on your phone, then bring up the menu that lets you choose one of the share icons. That should allow you to post directly to Facebook, Twitter, or one of your other supported profiles.
While we’re on the subject of social media images …
“What are the best apps for creating and editing social media graphics?” A popular and easy-to-use online tool is Canva. Canva gives you a wide variety of image sizes to fit just about any social media need. They offer many free layouts, backgrounds, text fonts, and images, plus even more you can purchase for $1 each. (Be sure to read the disclosures about how and where you can use any images you purchase.) The site also has a tutorial to walk you through the steps of creating your own designs.
Picmonkey is another image editor worth trying. You can choose from one of their templates or start from scratch.
A new online graphics program I’ve recently started using is Stencil. It has both free and paid versions and works a lot like Canva, although it lacks some of the image editing/resizing tools. While they have a huge collection of images to choose from, you can only use them as backgrounds for your own uploaded images or with their limited selection of icons. Then you can add text to create unique and attractive social media graphics. You can also easily convert a rectangular Twitter graphic, for example, to a square Facebook or blog graphic, without having to start from scratch.
I also highly recommend Unsplash, a FREE source of hundreds of amazing and gorgeous photographic images! Their website says it simply: “Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos.”
And here’s one more free resource Seekerville just came across: The Ultimate Guide to Designing Epic Social Media Images.
“Social media: time, content, which ones to post on?” It’s true, social media can be a HUGE time suck! There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for which one(s) you should focus on. Basically, it comes down to a combination of where you’re personally most comfortable AND where the audience you hope to connect with usually hangs out.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Facebook and Twitter that you may find helpful: Difference Between Facebook and Twitter. Or check out this article, The Difference Between Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, YouTube, & Pinterest, for a rundown on all the major social media outlets.
One simple tip for making Twitter or Facebook easier to navigate is to create lists. Group the people you’re most interested in following into category-specific lists. Here are a few of my personal Twitter groupings:
- Other Writers
- Publishing Pros
- For Fun
- Movies & TV
This way, when I visit Facebook or Twitter, I don’t have to wade through the entire feed. Instead, I browse through my lists, where I’m seeing only the status updates I’m most likely to be interested in. For Twitter, you can create, manage, and view lists directly through the Twitter site, or you can use an application like Hootsuite (my personal favorite). Here’s a screenshot of a few of my list feeds:
As you can see, Hootsuite also lets me create tabs so I can group related lists on their own pages. With the free version, I can access Twitter from three different profiles. With the paid version you can add even more profiles, including many of your other social media accounts. Find out more at Hootsuite.com
“I’ve heard Instagram has changed recently. Should I have a business page there?” I’m definitely not an Instagram expert, but based on things I’ve read, I haven’t come across any real advantages to converting to a business account. I enjoy Instagram for the personal connection. I don’t use it to buy products, and I tend to skip right over any posts that even remotely smack of advertising. (Same for Facebook and Twitter, BTW.) Here’s an article you may find enlightening: Why Converting to Instagram Business Is Not a Winning Brand Strategy.
“Are platforms needed for unpublished authors?” “Platform” can be a confusing, even intimidating, concept. Nonfiction writers have it much simpler because typically they have particular knowledge about a subject and may already have a speaking platform. A fiction writer’s platform is not always so clear-cut. Jane Friedman offers her insights here: A Definition of Author Platform. In light of our discussion of social media, one of her key points is especially noteworthy: “being an extrovert on social media will not, by itself, lead you to a platform that interests publishers.”
“People say unpublished authors should have web sites and author Facebook pages. That seems kind of premature.” Again, I’m going to refer you to a Jane Friedman post, 3 Reasons to Have a Website If You’re Unpublished. I completely agree with her point about getting past the learning curve! As for whether an unpublished writer needs a Facebook author page, my opinion is no. An author page is mainly there to interact with readers and to share news about your current and upcoming releases. Instead, focus on an attractive, user-friendly website that editors and agents might refer to if they’d like to learn a little more about you.
For tips on how to use Facebook more effectively, read How to Engage on Facebook WITHOUT All the Stress & Strife on Edie Melson’s blog.
You can garner more detailed information on other aspects of social media from these posts that previously appeared in Seekerville:
Adventures in Social Media, Part 1, with Audra Harders
9 Ways to Boost Your Social Media Presence, with guest Edie Melson
Be a Successful DIY Author Techie, with guest Angela D. Meyer
Switching gears, let’s address one last techy-type question. A Seekervillager asked us to share some Scrivener tips and tricks. Obviously, Scrivener is WAY too extensive a topic to cover in a couple of brief paragraphs! For starters, check out this guest post from Scrivener expert Gwen Hernandez: Scrivener—Everything But The Muse. Learn even more by taking one of Gwen’s online Scrivener classes! You can also follow @ScrivenerCoach (Joseph Michael) on Twitter for daily tips and tricks.
Two giveaways today! Join the conversation for a chance to win a Kindle copy of Edie Melson’s social media guidebook, Connections, OR a paperback copy of my historical romance novel The Sweetest Rain (Flowers of Eden, book 1). Just mention in your comment if you’d like to be entered in either or both drawings. Winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.
About Myra: Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Myra is a two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards and winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction. Originally from Texas but now residing in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband love the climate and scenery, but they may never get used to the pulled pork Carolinians call “barbecue”! The Johnsons share their home with with two very pampered rescue doggies who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.” Myra and her husband are also currently harboring their younger daughter and family (six in all plus a kitty!) as they transition toward their next missionary calling. With grandkids underfoot ranging in age from 14 down to nearly 3, there’s never a dull moment!
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