Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Social Media 101 with Terry Kate

RHYS BOWEN:Last spring I heard Terry Kate speak at the Romantic Times convention. Everything she said was an eye opener for me. I had been mystified about how to improve my online presence so I grabbed Terry the moment she left the podium. She sat me down, called up my website and pointed out everything I should be doing. It all made so much sense that I asked her to become my web guru.
I'm happy to share her expertise with you today, so welcome to Jungle Reds, Terry. First question: What should writers be doing to improve their online visibility?

TERRY KATE: I think the first step is realizing what online visibility is. It goes beyond billboards, newspapers, and book store displays which are the physical options of the past. Online there are more elements that come into play and they are less obvious and more complicated than a neon sign pointing buyers your way. On the most basic level “visibility” covers how many places readers can be exposed to information about your work. The greater the coverage and availability of information the better your odds are in reaching your audience. Your website is the first tool towards increased visibility. Easy presentation of information to those visiting your site. All your other online efforts are to direct readers to more and better information at your site or Amazon or your publishers site.The more time a reader spends on these sites, seeing your covers, reading about you, or checking out reviews, the bigger the benefit since they will notice you and your name any time they come across it in the future.

RHYS: Okay, I've got a website and a blog. Where should I look for greater exposure?

TERRY: Your website and blog cover longer exposure to all of your information, but guest blogging is a great option as well. This reaches out to readers who follow that blogger and have been brought to a central hub by the other authors previously there. Once again make sure you are providing clear and useful material to readers every time you send out a post/interview/press release.Guest blogging may sound simple. “I write a post and give it to them.” but there are a number of factors and time saving approaches. Get help. - Recommendations from other authors where they had good results.- If you have worked with a blogger ask them who they know that might be a good match for you and your book.- Also ask amongst other authors if they need content for their personal or group blogs.There are no magic answers to what blog will be a good fit, but this gives you a starting point. The way blogs and guest blogging works is its own LONG discussion, but a quick mention for blog tours. This is a way of getting help, so look at what the different companies that offer to organize one for you are offering. Are you tossed into their machine with all the other authors regardless of genre? If you are paying them less than you make in an hour at your day job or what your time is worth, how much time are they spending?It all comes down to time. How much will you spend on the posts, interviews, responding to comments? You need to make every second count.
RHYS: Which ties into my next question about increasing visibility.... what exactly is SEO?
TERRY: Search Engine Optimization - The big scary statement that everyone sees and few know what exactly it means and what it does for you. In simplistic terms we use the Internet to find information. We Search. We want the best answer and Google wants to give it to us. SEO helps Search Engines find you. By setting the foundation every time you put something online it builds and begins to be noticed. 10 items online that are optimized are worth 100+ that are not. If you do not take some time and put some effort into learning online efficiency the work you are doing will be less effective. With SEO you can do less and have it work harder for you. Increased Visibility and SEO are NOT things to be afraid of. Someone who knows what they are doing can break this down for you. If they say it is Dark Witchcraft you will never understand that is not a good sign. SEO can be a great benefit. Traffic to your site/blog/book is usually the goal in the pursuit of online sales. So links to this information need to be where people can find them. The idea being to leave them like a trail behind you everywhere. Hence Social Medias roll in online promotion

RHYS: Ah yes. Social media. We could spent all day Facebooking, Twittering, doing Goodreads and Linked In. So why is social media so important these days? Do we writers really need to be active in this sphere?

TERRY: Friends buy your book, fans buy your book, readers who have interacted with you buy your book. Social Media is SOCIAL. In a million, voices calling out “Read my mystery.” Readers want to feel that you care about them. Then they will want to find out more. Tying back in to SEO and how visible other quality information is once you spark that initial interest.Social Media allows you to stay connected to readers and attract new ones. This does not mean hours of commitment - though that does not hurt - it means quality time. Develop relationships.- Comment/Reply on Twitter if someone is reading a book you have. TV show, movie, or food works too and chances are that person will look at your profile which should say “I’m an author...” and have a link leading to further information. - Be honest. “I write...Don’t tweet much, but always respond to Direct Messages(DM)” Readers know that you are there, but they understand if they want to connect they need to take the first step.- Make times where you ARE available. “I am on live every Friday morning and I love meeting new readers/writers.” Set aside that time to be social even if it is once a month.- These sites are also a faster way to post links than blog posts or website updates.

RHYS: All terrific info, Terry. So tell us a little about yourself and how you got into this?

TERRY: I came into publishing as a filmmaker and got caught up. I always read and then found out I liked to talk to authors. So I grabbed a camera, then started a web site, met other bloggers and publishers and listened. I ask tons of questions too.When I started there were a lot of tears. I was taken advantage of by designers, lost money on silly things and mistakes and then cried again as I painfully researched. The days while I learned code my boyfriend hid. I spent 12-16 hours a day and countless ones since learning how to do this better and how things work. I also created the Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference held every March and open to authors. Bloggers and Publishers work together so often now, it is important that we understand how the other operates. The hope was that if we educate from the top there will be trickle down to the other bloggers and from publishers to their authors. To prepare I spent hours talking to house publicists, marketing directors, small publishers and the big boys.How I ended up here? I desire to help people. I love books and appreciate the work that goes into writing them. So I want to help the writers, and I was taken advantage of too often. So I have thrown my hat into the ring with others to offer services through Paco Media Group http://pacomedia/ I will be on for the next few days to answer questions and respond to commentsOr email me at my primary account with questions Thank you so very much for having me on!

RHYS: Thank you, Terry. And Terry will be stopping by to answer your questions.


  1. Terrific article! I'll have a few questions for Terry later.

    Meanwhile, can you fix a couple of broken links in the post? (The last two given - hover with the mouse over the beginning and end of each to see the problem.)

    I discovered Terry's website recently (pacomedia) and perused the Blogger Manifesto. What a gold mine -- lots of good info there!

    Thanks, Terry.

  2. Thank you Terry for the wonderful information. It's a post I will refer back to as I'm one of those who are intimated by search engines. I will venture out - gingerly - thanks for taking some of the voodoo out of it!

  3. Hi Avi,

    I love the Manifesto myself - I also got a kick out of calling it a manifesto. We spent hours on it. Had it in a shared doc gone over by any bloggers interested.

    Please ask away on questions. I am happy and hopefully prepared to answer.

    Thanks for the comment!

  4. Hey, Terry! And welcome..

    Twitter. I see the power--but it seems very "out going" to me--I mean, my messages go OUT, but I don't really corral what's coming IN. Should I?

  5. So interesting, Terry. And though I know there's no formula, IF YOU WERE advising an author how to apportion 100% of their electronic face time, how would recommend dividing it?
    ?% Web site
    ?% Blog
    ?% Facebook
    ?% Twitter
    ?% Blog touring

  6. Hi Terry,
    Welcome. Yes to Hank's question (she is my guru, after all.) And is the real value in the tweeting or in the hope that someoen else will RT your tweet?

  7. Ah Twitter,
    Twitter is a beast - Gorilla - Elephant.
    There are a couple of levels twitter works on.
    1- A reader that already knows you and wants your news will follow you on twitter and pay attention to you.
    2 - They find you somewhere online - think you are interesting and begin taking notice of you on twitter.
    3- You engage people on twitter.

    Hard core tweeters look at the @ and the RT - and respond. They also look at those and then check out who it is that RT etc. They are then reading your profile so make your twitter profile count.

    You can also jump into conversations. If I set aside 20min to be on twitter I usually watch the discussions that fly by and see if any of them are interesting.

    You can also take that approach with a hash tag #writing - Search that and see what conversations or topics are being talked about. The hash tag allows you to respond to people you would not come across otherwise.

    The idea behind social media is being social, so set aside a little time to just talk and share. Strike up a little conversation. You need to spend time engaging because if it is just sending out you limit your audience and run the risk of becoming noise.

    Hope that answered it.

  8. Hi Hallie,

    with 100% - You won't even give me 110%?
    I am going to approach this during a non-release time of the year.

    This is a hard one because the establishment of a complete web presence is HUGE. The outlay of time is enormous.
    Making accounts - developing a site - gaining followers.
    Once the MASSIVE part is over - or you have paid to get it over with. Then you can break it down more easily. Some of these elements take longer to establish then less of a % of time to maintain.

    You guest blog to always be reaching out to new readers and reminding those familiar with you that you are around. This is something that should be done every month of the year with or with out releases. This is different than touring more like maintenance. If you want to skip the guest blogging you can just visit different blogs and leave thoughtful comments.

    Having your own blog requires you to bring in traffic - load the post - promote it. It will take a higher % of your time so dedicate the % based on return.
    1- The blog drives traffic to your site
    2 - People have said to you - Oh I found you through that blog.
    3- Emails and comments that readers of your blog are being engaged.

    Twitter and FB I usually give equal time.
    So I am considering the Blog Touring as time spent commenting and being a guest on any site other than your own blog. Once your site is correctly established it should be very little work.

    Website: -5%
    Twitter -FB: +15% each
    Your Blog: 35%
    Other Blogs: 30%


  9. Wow. That's SO interesting. Even though there are potentially more eyes on FB and Twitter?

  10. Good post, Terry. I'm just getting started and trying to get my act together. I more or less understand Twitter and have made great contacts and found great information there. I just don't "get" Facebook--can you direct me to a good resource or help me sort out what makes a good author page there? Both on Facebook and Goodreads, I can't seem to keep the "personal" and the "author" separate. Thanks!

  11. @hank
    Basically I can get more done faster on twitter and face book to make them equally effective. To create content that you are directing them to - that takes longer. Hence the bigger percent.

    If you do not have something fresh to share you and become spam you will lose those that followed you.


  12. Hi Pamela,

    Have two separate facebooks. Unless it is purely a business/author account it is really hard not to have things bleed over.

    Family on one side and readers on the other?

  13. Hi, Terry. Thanks for your help today.

    I want to choose a blog server. (A free one, please.)

    One tip I got was to use one that has a button for the sight impaired (button with sound). Have you heard of this feature?

    Which blog server do you recommend?

    I have looked at blogger, wordpress, typepad. And I know there are many more. It's a big overwhelming ('cuz I'm a newbie) and I don't know enough to make an educated decision! Help.

  14. @Avi - I use for my blog and website. It's free, and I did quite a bit of research before choosing it as my homebase. I have used blogger, but did not care for the platform as much (just a personal preference).

    Wordpress is really easy to get started, has wonderful templates, and quite a few perks. You'd be surprised how many professional-looking websites use Wordpress.

    If you have any questions about it, feel free to contact me. The JRW ladies might have some other suggestions.