Are You Taking This for Granted?

Censorship. It’s a big concern for many people. The problem appears to be growing, not diminishing.

Last year, the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) launched the Internet Freedom Watch. One of the tenants of this organization is to protect and stand up for freedom of speech.

NRB saw a growing problems of viewpoint censorship on the Internet, especially suppression of Christian and conservative views. The organization has been documenting incidences of social media profiles that are being censored or shut down due to conservative or religious content.

The major social media players—YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—have all participated in some type of censorship. These social sites have suspended, shut down, or demonetized accounts due to their religious or political beliefs. As this trend has grown, citizens have become concerned.

In addition, each of these companies now use algorithms that determine who sees the content that is posted. No longer are users assured that their followers and fans will see what they post. Rather, each social media site determines who sees what. Some people feel that this is another form of censorship—control over the flow of information.

As the concerns grow, new options are being offered. There are two new sites offering an alternative choice for social media users.

1. AllSocial.com

AllSocial.com is a brand new social media platform that aims to be the way social media was meant to be. This site does not use an algorithm. All posts made are shown to all a user’s followers. In addition, all points of view are allowed and users will not be banned for religious or conservative content.

2. Blessings Through Action

Blessings Through Action‘s goal is to provide a virtual community for Christians on a social media platform that allows people to engage and encourage each other to more action.

I applaud the efforts of both of these services. However, I know that they have a huge uphill battle. I have seen many social media sites come and go over the years. A few have risen to the top—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest—and dominate most social media users attention.   A few other sites that are geared toward a specific topic— like Goodreads for book lovers—have also survived and thrived.

While I think your best course of action is to continue to develop and grow an audience on the social media platforms that you are already established on, I would also encourage you to check out and support these new social media platforms.

Let’s not take our freedom for granted. Lend your support to those who are helping ensure that we will be able to maintain our freedom of speech. If we fail to do this, one day, we may not have the freedom to publish Christian books.

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Don’t Abandon Facebook

Instagram appears to be the hot new social media site. That site is growing by leaps and bounds. However, before you jump on the latest trend. Let me caution you:

Don’t abandon Facebook.

Yes, Facebook has received a bad rap lately. Yes, Facebook’s algorithms are frustrating and leaving many out in the cold. But, Facebook is still the largest social networking site.

A new survey from the Pew Research Center shows that just about one out of every four Facebook users think they have no control over what appears in their News Feed. The survey found that the older the user, the more likely it is that they have not taken steps to influence their News Feed with the tools that Facebook provides.

You can still be effective on Facebook. The best place to start is by educating your friends and followers about how they can have more control over their Facebook News Feed, especially in respect to seeing your posts.

You can show your followers how to prioritize who to see first to make posts from people or Pages appear at the top of their news feed. Facebook explains how:

To view your News Feed preferences:
  1. Click the down arrow in the top right corner of any Facebook page (example: your home page).
  2. Select News Feed Preferences.
To adjust your News Feed preferences:
  • Click Prioritize who to see first to make posts from people or Pages appear at the top of your News Feed.

Side note: While you adjusting your preferences for your own News Feed, make sure to prioritize posts from Christian Small Publishers Association’s Facebook Page so that you don’t miss any of our great post with useful information for you.

After you have encouraged your friends and followers to prioritize your posts, next follow these recommendations for posting on Facebook and other social media sites for maximum effectiveness.

Co-Schedule looked at the numbers from 10 different data-driven studies to find out the optimal number of times to post on each social media site. The company’s research found the following:

  • Facebook: 1 post per day
  • Instagram: 1-2 posts per day
  • Twitter: 15 Tweets per day
  • Pinterest: 11 Pins per day
  • LinkedIn: 1 post per day

Remember, you don’t have to post on every social media network. It is best to focus on two platforms and master these before spreading yourself too thin.

If you are already invested in Facebook, don’t abandon that platform. Instead, educate your followers on how they can see all your posts in their News Feed. Then, once a day, give them information that enriches their lives.

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How to Improve Your Social Media Success

How much time do you spend on social media each day?

How much time should you spend to on social media for marketing purposes?

Every author struggles with knowing how much time to invest in social media. Social media is a time vortex. You can spend hours upon hours each week creating, publishing, monitoring and engaging with content on social media. The important question to ask yourself is whether you see a proportional return for the time you spend on social media.

 

Maybe you feel like you are wasting your time with social media. You are not having much engagement with your material and you are not seeing any return on your investment.

To ensure that you are not wasting your time on social media, first define your goal. Do you want:

  • To increase awareness of your books?
  • To increase engagement with a community of fans and readers?
  • To increase web traffic and book sales?

Know which one of these you want to focus on the most and then plan your strategy based on your goal.

Awareness

If you are looking for awareness on social media, then your goal is to post things that people will share. The more people share your content, the more people see you, increasing awareness. The type of posts that people are most likely to share are:

  • Entertaining
  • Inspiring
  • Storytelling
  • Educational

So, tailor your posts to these themes if you want to raise awareness.

Engagement

If you are seeking more engagement from your followers on social media, then tailor your posts to match those that people engage with the most. A recent study by Sprout Social showed the following:

  • 58% of people prefer visual content, specifically graphics, images and produced videos.
  • 90% of people are more likely to engage with company personality posts.
  • 50% of people are likely to engage with new product posts.
  • 31% are likely to engage with storytelling content.

Create posts that generate engagement. Ask questions, take polls, and share stories to encourage your fans and followers to comment on, react to, and even share your posts.

Web Traffic and Sales

To increase your web traffic and sales offer freebies that are available only through your website. Create incentives for people to come to your website in your posts. Use services like Pay with a Tweet that encourage people to get your freebie as well as share it wider on social media to increase your website traffic.

With as little as 30 minutes a day spent on social media, you can begin to see more success for your efforts as long as you stay focused and create content that engages people toward your goal.

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Photo courtesy of Alexa Suter.

Are You Using Social Media Correctly?

Contrary to popular belief, social media is not a marketing channel.

You are probably thinking, “What?! I thought social media is how you build an audience for books.”

Exactly! Social media is an audience building tool, not an advertising tool. Unless you are purchasing ads on social media sites or offering your followers an announcement or special on your books, the information you share via social media should not be broadcast marketing messages.

Many authors don’t understand this concept. These authors use social media to shout about their books. Recently, an indie author had the courtesy of asking if she could post about her book on Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) Facebook Page.

This author wrote:

“Good evening! I’d love to post a blurb about a faith-based children’s book that I wrote and published on your Facebook page. Is this something you allow publishers to do?”

I wrote her back and informed her that the purpose of CSPA’s Facebook Page was a place for sharing information and encouragement related to publishing and marketing Christian books, not a place for book promotion. The author then asked:

“Do you happen to know of any Christian associations that do allow promotion for books of faith? I have self-published and am having a hard time getting the word out there.”

This author was not a Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) nor are the Members of CSPA her target audience. She has no relationship with the audience for the CSPA Facebook page and was simply trying to use the Page to advertise her book.

Getting the word out about your book is not an easy task. However, posting information about your book on various social media pages, wall, and feeds is not the answer to this problem.

Social media is not a sales channel. Rather, social media is a marketing support. It is best used as a channel to amplify your message and broaden your visibility and exposure.

It’s like being a speaker at an event. As a speaker, you are there to share information and entertainment with the audience. Yes, you can mention your books, but that is not the focus of your talk. Instead, you are sharing your knowledge and experience with the audience.

Social media is to marketing what the microphone is to your speaking. The microphone allows more people in the audience hear what you have to say. The same is true for social media. It makes what you are already saying louder so more people can hear.
People do discover products on social media and then buy them. In fact, one survey found that 78% of surveyed adults discovered a product on Facebook (compared to 59% on Instagram and Pinterest). Over half of these people ended up buying the product later, but only 11% did so immediately.

As an author, you want to use social media to develop an audience that trusts you and looks to you for answers. These answers come in the form of your books. If you use social media correctly, you will enlarge your audience and expose more people to your books—and some will buy!

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7 Social Media Facts You Should Know

Nothing stays static when it comes to technology. Just when you think you have the latest gadget or social media site figured out, either the current one changes its interface or a new one comes along that you have to adapt to.

Social networking is a constantly changing and evolving tool. To stay relevant and use social media to best connect with a target audience, authors can’t stay stagnant. Instead, we must adapt our strategies to fit the trends.

Following are seven social media facts from a recent Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults. I encourage you to use the findings from this survey to inform you of best practices in using social media to reach readers.

1. Facebook Is Still the Most Popular Social Network Site.

A little more than two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) are Facebook users. Nearly 75% of these users check Facebook on a daily basis. With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans of all generations use Facebook. Facebook is still an important place for authors and publishers to connect with readers.

2. Most Americans Use Three of the Major Social Platforms.

The average American uses three of the eight major social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and WhatsApp). Know your target audience. Find out which three social networks these people use the most and be present on these sites.

3. Instagram Shows the Most User Growth.

Pew Research has been collecting social media data since 2016. Over the course of the past three years, seven percent more U.S. adults now use Instagram then did in 2016. The percentage of adults who use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest remains the same as it was in 2016. Instagram is now the second most popular social platform for Americans.

4. Women Are the Primary Users of Pinterest.

Pinterest has always been heavily used by women. The Pew study found that 41 percent of women use Pinterest compared to just 16 percent of men. Since women influence 83 percent of all consumer spending in the United States, books geared for men can still be promoted on Pinterest.

5. LinkedIn Is Most Popular With College Graduates.

Around 50 percent of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, compared with just nine percent of those with a high school diploma or less. Studies have shown that people with higher education read more. LinkedIn remains a great place to connect with people who read.

6. Most of Senior Citizens Don’t Use Social Media.

Only 37 percent of those over 65 use social media. If your target audience is retired folks, then don’t spend a lot of time on social media promoting your books. Use more traditional channels to reach this age group.

7. Few People Have a Lot of Trust in the Information on Social Media.

I found this finding the most surprising. Only three percent of social media users say they have a lot of trust in the information they find on social media. It appears that earning people’s trust via social media may be an uphill battle—and trust is required for people to buy your books.

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Photo courtesy of Tracy Le Blanc.