Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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December 22, 2017

Social Media Habits that Support Your Brand AND Your Life

With people all over the world averaging at least three to four hours each day online, social media marketing is something we just can't get away from. People use their phones and mobile devices for more than half their time online and 90% of that time is spent in apps. They are browsing, cementing friendships, shopping and making many of their buying decisions based on the posts, videos and recommendations of people in their online circles. 

The rub: unless you are retired, spending that much time online takes away from the other important responsibilities in your life.

My intention with this series of posts is to help you make decisions about how you spend your time online, and how you find online content that provides the most traction for your brand and your book sales. 

What is "your brand?" Simply put, your brand is the image that forms in peoples' minds when they hear your name. You want to shape that perception with content that cements the brand that you want.

Remember, social media marketing is not about dousing your followers with periodic buckets of updates. It is a thousand drops of water, one dribble at a time, that will help your online presence flourish.

Developing a posting schedule that doesn't run you ragged...

Here are my time hacks for fitting a variety of quality social updates into your busy schedule:

1. Schedule time to create your graphics and videos. 

Just as you would schedule an hour of writing time, schedule an hour or two of time to create graphics. Doing them all at once, when you are on a roll, allows you to have cohesion with your brand and images. I highly recommend a tool like Canva that allows you to make social media sized graphics, banners, etc. 

Laura Drake did a fantastic post on Canva.

You don't have to schedule this time every week, but it will pay off if you do. Perhaps one week of the month will be for creating photo shares, another will be spent recording videos and a third week will be spent browsing for graphics to use as background for quotes (these are always popular).

I wait for those "100 images for $100" deals on Deposit Photos so I can run targeted searches for images and save them to my account for later use. Two things take more time than anything else on social media, at least for me: finding images and engaging in discussion about what you post.

Note: You want to include your logo or website on each graphic. This is so people can find you when they see your graphic, and so someone has to work to pirate your images. Yes, people steal photos all the time, without observing copyright. If it's yours, label it.

2. Use Google Alerts.

Google Alerts is an easy-to-set-up free tool. If there are topics you need to post about - i.e. mermaids or underpants or how to macrame - set up a Google Alert for each topic and you will receive an email whenever it's mentioned in the news, anywhere in the world. Easy-peasy.

You can save even more time by keeping a list of these tweetable/bloggable links, either through an ongoing email, a Word or Scrivener document, OneDrive or Evernote, or even a draft post on your WordPress dashboard.

Time-saving Tip: You need to have an easily-accessible, ready supply of social shares that fit your brand. This lowers your "content" stress level by a mile, decreases the amount of time you spend online each day, and helps your branding stay consistent. Many people keep a social media calendar for this reason.

3Let IFTTT to bring the content to you (and even post it).

IFTTT has saved me loads of time. It stands for "if this, then that" and it's a free tool to help all your apps and devices talk to each other. Below is a sample of some of the applets I use IFTTT for.

  • Don't want to go looking for GIFs? IFTTT has an applet that will email you a list of the trending GIFs for the day from Giphy. You can then share them any way you see fit.
  • No time to do Instagram and Pinterest? I love them both but Instagram is mobile only, which means I'm more likely to have my day-to-day "life photos" come from there. There are applets you can set up to post to various Pinterest boards based on your Instagram hashtag. Here is my Urban Gardening Board, which is more than half populated by my Instagram feed.
  • Want to shake up your Twitter feed with some of those same "life photos?" There is an applet to copy Instagram posts to Twitter as "native photos" rather than as a link. You get two-for-one and the ability to spend your social media time connecting over the photos rather than posting them.

I highly recommend spending one of your online hours setting up a few IFTTT applets. You can always delete the ones that don't work for you, or populate one Pinterest board at a time. This is for you to decide. 

Note: Do not set up applets for apps you have no intention of monitoring. The goal is to spend less time posting so you can spend more time being social. There's nothing you can do to piss off people more on social media than NOT being social.

4. Scheduling isn't always bad.

Tools like Hootsuite and SocialOomph and Sendible remain popular for a reason. You can't be online all the time, and we all have busy lives. We have readers in Europe who are 7-10 hours ahead of us and we want some of our updates to show up when they are awake.

Note: Doing 100% of your social media updates via a scheduling tool when you are never online is spammy behavior. We don't want to be called spammers...that's bad juju.

BUT scheduling some of your important updates, and being around to monitor the results, is just practical.

Jeff Bullas did a great post on the Top 5 Social Dashboards.

What kinds of posts go viral...

There are many many schools of thought on what gets others to share your content, but I decided to go with science because we want results that can be duplicated. Scientific American published a fascinating article that concluded the following:

"..content that elicits an emotional reaction tends to be more widely shared. In addition, stories stimulating positive emotions are more widely shared than those eliciting negative feelings, and content that produces greater emotional arousal (making your heart race) is more likely to go viral. This means that content that makes readers or viewers feel a positive emotion like awe or wonder is more likely to take off online than content that makes people feel sad or angry, though causing some emotion is far better than inspiring none at all."

Here's a good social media rule set from Sendible to help keep your brand image out of trouble.

Finally, in the new world of Instagram where you are allowed only a single URL in your bio, a tool like LinkTree has become invaluable. Make LinkTree your single bio link so people can find your other important links - your book page, your blog, or whatever other page drives your fancy this month. Here is my LinkTree, just to give you a sample: https://linktr.ee/jenny_hansen_ca

More than anything, you want your time online to be fun and productive. If your time online is both those things, you're less likely to resent the time you spend there. Hopefully some of the ideas above will help you have a dependable social media presence that helps your brand and doesn't drive you insane. In January, I'll give you some more targeted ideas for content.

Now it's your turn! What are your tips and shortcuts for building your online brand? Do you keep a social media calendar? Do you set a timer? What do you do to maintain your work/life balance?

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About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, or here at Writers In The Storm.

37 comments on “Social Media Habits that Support Your Brand AND Your Life”

    1. You are so welcome, Lisa. And trust me, I learn new stuff all the time. But I'll confess, it helps that I dig technology...that makes me more likely to try the new things that come around. If you pick a few platforms and hang out on them, you'll be shocked at how fast you pick up followers.

  1. This is a treasure trove of useful, applicable information! From someone who feels as if technology is NOT on my side, many thanks. Bookmarked for future reference!

  2. Living in a remote area (from my friends, anyway), social media is a lifeline for me. I get up at 3 am, and do my posting first thing. I try to get back at least once a day to interact, but I admit, I often don’t make it.

    You’re right, honest interest and interaction is best! Great post, Jenny, thank you!

    1. You are welcome! And you're ahead of the game, cuz you've already read Part 2. 🙂 I have to say...if I lived where you live, I'd be online ALL THE TIME.

  3. Great post! I’m saving it to my reading list. (Funny- I woke up this morning thinking, oh maybe I won’t think about social media until after Christmas, ha) I also recommend PromoRepublic, the paid version. This gives me premade image posts specific to the month, holiday, special day, season. I just add my logo. I can also make posts, like in Canva and they have lots of backgrounds. But wait- there’s more-I can schedule my posts. I generally do this for most of the month and then fill in with other posts that I find. The post I got the most likes for EVER was the meme that was going around about the dog smashing the scale. Merry Christmas

    1. But I'm not sure if the link goes in the bio box, which is what LinkTree says, or if I change my entire website to the new URL. I'm NOT a good techie.

    1. Gabriella, I'm so glad! And you aren't the only one who needs to get organized. One of my goals for 2018 is to keep some sort of social media calendar. I can't push the goals I need to for myself AND my clients without implementing this tool.

  4. I do the majority of my social media tasks first thing, because I'm not coherent enough to do anything creative. I schedule Tweets and a couple of FB Page posts. Then it's just a quick check a couple times a day. I ignore 98% of the news feed--too depressing.

    1. Amen on ignoring the newsfeed! I'm a huge fan of interacting with the people who interact with you, plus about 10% more. Doing that on a regular basis builds a nice circle of people you really, really like.

  5. Social media. I feel the goosebumps rise on my arms at the mention. But I am getting better. Maybe 2018 will be the year I learn to love it. Yep, that's a BIG maybe.

    1. I'm hoping that even if you don't learn to love it, you learn how not to hate it. Think of it like a math or metrics project. You have to do so much of X before you get Y.

  6. Great info, Jenny. I can't wait for the rest of the series. I'm sure I'll be picking your brain as I evolve my publishing and marketing strategy over the next year,

    1. You've got this, Eldred! Kristen Lamb swears you can do social media for 15 minutes a day if you are consistent. I'd up that to 15 minutes 2-3 times a day, but it is doable.

  7. I'm just beginning my journey into crafting novels. Should I be concerned about any of this before I even get a book published? I'm active within the author community since I've been reading/reviewing for four years. The first part of 2018 I want to game plan so I don't have to backtrack and waste time. I also have a blog.

    1. Do you already have a blog, Eileen? Perhaps for the reviewing side of you life? You can start fashioning your own brand via that vehicle. Or, if you want to start in on the writing side of you life, leverage the audience you've already built on the reading/reviewing side. You can do this with mentions of your own interests, actions, accomplishments, even as you share all of those you have been interacting with for four years. Does this make sense?

      1. I'll have to rebrand myself, somewhat. My blog is called Booktalk with Eileen, perhaps I need to capture my new approach with something like Journaling my Journey. I can still review of course, but will be more analytical -- talking about certain aspects of a novel. Hmm... You've got me thinking. Thank you, Jenny.

        1. Exactly! If you've already built an audience, it's a shame to let that go. You will have to work a little harder initially - a review post, an analysis post, an about you post. All of those might happen in one week for a few months but then you can start dropping the ones that you want to discard and increasing the posts that build your new brand.

  8. I don't know how you keep up with all this great tech stuff, but I'm really glad you do! And that you share it here. Thanks for such practical info. I'm going to checking out some of these amazing resources.

  9. Thank you so much, Jenny, for pertinent tips. As a sixty something living in what could qualify for the sticks, branding and advertising myself on social media is a huge giant that terrifies. i will set out with renewed confidence to tackle said giant after reading this blog!

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