Six Secrets to Automating Your Social Media Communication

How can you make your social media communication easier? Are there any tips or tricks to use to reduce some of the heavy lifting you have to do just to get your messages out to the public?

Since I do social media communication, for myself and for clients, I use several shortcuts to automate a lot of what I do. Rather than posting a blog, and then posting the headline and URL to Twitter, then over at Facebook, and again at LinkedIn, I try to do it in one step. Or rather than uploading photos and videos to Flickr, Picasa, and YouTube, and then uploading them to a blog post to share them, I’m able to do it all at once.

I wrote this for Martin Earley, who is the new Inn-Bedded Resorter at The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire. I was one of five finalists, and got to meet Martin during our stay there. I think he was a great choice, and I know he’ll have a good time. But he also has to report what he’s doing via social media, which can be difficult if you’re trying to post content to both your site and a work site, so I offered him some tips to make his work easier. As I started writing them out, I decided it would be just as easy to put it into a blog post.

Here are a few of the tricks and tools I use to make my life a whole lot easier:

  1. Bit.ly: We’ll start with this ubiquitous URL shortener, because it will figure into nearly everything we do. Set up a bit.ly account, and then put your API key somewhere easy to find. (It can be a pain to go back to bit.ly to find it each time you need it.) Learn how to use it, and figure out their analytics section.
  2. TwitterFeed.com: Twitterfeed will visit your blog once every 30 minutes – 24 hours to see if you have anything new. Once you have a new blog post up, Twitterfeed will scoop up your headline and the URL, shorten it with bit.ly (see? We’re using it already), and then send it out to your Twitter feed and Facebook status updates.
  3. Ping.fm:You can expand TwitterFeed’s reach by sending your feed to Ping.fm, instead of Twitter. Not only can you send your new blog posts to Twitter and Facebook, but to MySpace, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, and even your Ning networks. Plus you can go to Ping.fm and directly post medium-length messages to Blogger, WordPress, and TypePad.WARNING! Do NOT set up Ping.fm to post something TO your blog if you already set up a Twitterfeed-Ping combination FROM your blog. This will create an infinite loop, which will tear a hole in the space-time continuum. This could be bad.
  4. Posterous.com:I’ve been playing with Posterous for a few months now, and really like it. It’s an email submission blog platform. Basically, you email your blog posts to your Posterous account, and it will post it for you. Your subject line is the headline, the email message is the body copy, and any photos you attach will be placed within the message. Then, you can notify your networks, just like Ping.fm, including populating your other blogs with your Posterous content, and even using bit.ly to shorten your URLs.Now, I know Blogger and WordPress both do this, but Posterous does something that the others won’t do: if you upload photos, Posterous will also send them to your Flickr and/or Picasa accounts. Upload a video, and Posterous will send it to your YouTube account.

    So, if you take some photos on your cell phone, attach them to an email, and send them to Posterous, you can send them to any special photo accounts, as well as populate your other blog feeds, which are then sent out to your Twitter, Facebook, etc.

  5. ScribeFire: This is a great blog editor that you use directly inside Firefox. Instead of going to your blog and logging in, you can open it up in Firefox, write your post, and hit upload. Rather than using a web-based interface, you can use an interface right on your computer. Both ScribeFire and Posterous are great if you have a slow Internet connection. (MacJournal is another program I’ve tried. There are Windows-based programs that do this as well.)
  6. TweetDeck: I use TweetDeck on my laptop for my Twitter communication. And when that’s all it did, it was awesome. But now TweetDeck is even awesomer, because whenever I send out a tweet, I can also send it as both a Facebook and LinkedIn update. I can also schedule tweets to take place at odd times — 1:53, 10:27 — instead of the every-5-minute intervals HootSuite limits you to. And best of all, it uses bit.ly as its default URL shortener. I can even pop a URL into TweetDeck, shorten it, and then cut it to use somewhere else. But the URL still gets pushed over to bit.y’s website where it gets included in the analytics.

While I don’t recommend automating everything you do in social media, like message creating, it’s at least a great way to lighten your load and make your life easier.

Photo credit: genewolf (Flickr)

Why Writers Need a Dedicated Website or Blog

Writers are some of the worst self-promoters I know.

“I’m a writer, not a marketer” is the familiar lament.

Writers suffer from the all-too-familiar “if you build it they will come” syndrome. If I write something, publishers should leap out of their chair, shouting that their lifelong search is over, and take the private jet to my house and sign me to a huge book deal. Problem is, it just doesn’t work that way.nude woman with write or be written off

Show me a writer who’s not a marketer, and I’ll show you a failed writer.

Fellow humor writer Bruce “8 Simple Rules” Cameron (yeah, those 8 Simple Rules) recently said in an email, “So, despite the fact that nobody can prove to me that a writer needs a dedicated web site, I re-designed and re-launched my writer website last month.”

There are any number of reasons why writers need their own website. First and foremost, it’s a marketing tool. You build awareness with your website, you give this increasingly-online world a place to find you. Before it was easy to build a website, Bruce built an email subscription list of 40,000 people in 52 countries in the late 1990s. That was his marketing tool, and one he used to great effect, but it wasn’t easy to find or join.

Secondly, it’s a publishing tool. If you’re just starting out as a writer, there’s no better way to start publishing and finding readers. Set up a blog, write stuff, and gather readers. Then, keep writing stuff and gathering more readers. Eventually, your writing will be seen by influential people, and you’ll find newer and bigger opportunities.

So to answer Bruce’s question, and in keeping with his writings, I give you…

8 Simple Rules Why Writers Need Their Own Dedicated Website:

  1. Readers and editors can find you.
  2. Your readers become big fans. Big fans tell their friends, who also become big fans. Big fans buy your books, that you were asked to write by the editors.
  3. You hotlink to your book on Amazon, and drive your big fans to it so you can sell your book. Your big fans buy your book from your Amazon affiliate link so you make a couple bucks more with each sale.
  4. People who pay speakers a few thousand bucks to speak at corporate gigs can find you.
  5. People who see you speak at their national corporate event become big fans.
  6. You remember what big fans do, right?
  7. You need a place to tell people to go when you’re on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.
  8. What do you mean, you’re a writer, not a social media geek?

You don’t need a dedicated website that cost $5,000 though. Maybe if you want some funky graphics or an ecommerce site, you can spend that much. (I can even put you in touch with the people who can help you.)

Instead you can just get by with a simple WordPress.com or Blogger.com website. Or if you want to get really complex, lease some server space, download WordPress.org to it, and you can have your own look and design, and even add your own plugins. (Our Pro Blog site is made with WordPress.org.)

The great thing about WordPress and Blogger is that they all allow you to add pages. You don’t have to deal with the typical blog look of only having one page. Not only will you have your blog page, you can create additional pages for your bio, contact information, videos of you doing book readings, and useful links.

While you don’t have to sell your soul and become a dedicated marketer, it won’t hurt to start thinking that way. (We’ll give you a good price for it.) If you still don’t want to, don’t worry. There are still thousands of writers — many of whom are worse than you — who are out promoting and marketing themselves online, being found by editors, and having important meetings about special projects. But you can console yourself with the thought that you didn’t resort to marketing (eww!) to promote your work.

You’ll need to when you see their books in the bookstore.

Photo credit: Djuliet (Flickr)