My Social Media and Content Marketing Predictions for 2014

It’s the annual end-of-year-what’s-happening-next-year prediction time, something I have proved to be very bad at ever since 1997, when I got pissed at the Indianapolis Colts for cutting quarterback Jim Harbaugh and bringing in some hick rookie from Tennessee to take over a playoff contending team.

Peyton Manning

This guy. It was this guy.

But I’m going to keep trying, because as my fantasy football record shows, there are people who are even worse at making predictions and they still get to keep their high-paying TV jobs. Apparently a 3-for-10 success rate is good enough in baseball and sports predictions, so if those idiots can make it, I’m certainly not giving up.

Here are my three social media and content marketing predictions for 2014.

1. Facebook’s and Twitter’s replacements will be born in 2014

I’m not saying Facebook and Twitter are going to die, but I think people are getting sick enough of their shenanigans that the networks that come after the two giants will be born in 2014. We just won’t realize what they are until a couple years later, when there’s a frog-in-slowly-boiling-water migration to the two newcomers. Keep your eyes peeled for Twitter alternatives next year and claim your favorite username while you still have time.

Part of me still hopes App.net could be Twitter’s successor — I even put $50 into their Kickstarter campaign in 2012 — but I haven’t used it enough to know how well it’s doing.

2. SEO professionals are going to continue to suffer

Google is never as happy as when they’re messing with search engine optimization professionals. The last three years of SEO changes have seen the end of many strategies that the cheaters and spammers employed to trick Google. The latest nail in the SEO’s coffin iteration of Google’s algorithm, Hummingbird, not only made high quality content a requirement, they also stopped reporting keywords, making it harder for SEOs to know why people came to their site in the first place.

These changes are going to continue until the only thing an SEO professional is good for is reading the analytics reports (and there are software packages that can make pretty dashboards with the click of a button). 2014 isn’t going to let up on them either. Look for another major shift in Google’s algorithm, and the continued closing of SEO companies that refuse to make the switch from code chaser to writer/video producer/audio engineer.

SERPFruit screenshot

This is a screenshot of SERPFruit’s analytics dashboard. Just connect it to your Google Analytics and get simple charts for your organic traffic.

3. Content marketing will become the new trend

Remember when everyone was clamoring for social media? Ah, those were the heady days. When a 26 year old could get hired as the VP of social media at a fast food chain, and when interns and recent college grads were handed the keys to the most public-facing communication channel a company had. Media had not been that much of a Wild West frontier since the very early days of radio when anyone with a transmitter could call themselves a radio station.

Now that everyone has calmed down about social media, and it’s becoming just another marketing channel, it looks like content marketing is becoming the Next Big Thing. There are companies, websites, and entire conferences dedicated to content marketing, and we’re starting to see predictions like three Fortune 500 companies will hire chief content officers. That does seem a little specific — what’s next, chief video officers? Chief analytics officers? Remember, a Chief ____ Officer is one of the most senior executives in a company. A Content Marketing Director seems more likely — but it does illustrate how important companies will realize content is to their marketing efforts.

It also means there’s potential work for all the professional journalists who have been losing their jobs at the newspapers and magazines. My only hope is that the same people who were hiring the college kids to run their social media marketing will actually take the time to find the best writers, and not assume that everyone who was born with a computer on their lap knows how to write.

Look to see an increase of content marketing production hires, as well as an increase of content marketing spending by CMOs, not only to the detriment of traditional marketing, but maybe even social media and (hopefully) SEO as well.

Okay, maybe “predictions” is a strong word, but based on the trends of 2013, I can only assume that numbers 2 and 3 are going to continue in the new year. Pay close attention to history, kids, because that’s where you’re going to learn your most valuable lessons.

By my count, I’m 6 for 10 in my social media predictions over the past three years, which is twice as good as the football pundits who rumble about their picks every Sunday morning. I’m hoping this year’s predictions can boost my total, thus helping me forget my Peyton Manning flub 16 years ago.

Google’s Search Results Don’t Paint an Accurate Picture

You can’t trust your Google search results. They’re biased, and they don’t reflect the true reality of what everyone else sees.

“But Google’s, well, Google! It’s the biggest search engine in all the world! What do you mean, we can’t trust it?”

You can’t trust Google’s results, because it’s trying to be so helpful and useful to you.

Let’s say you need to find someone to build a deck for your house. You go to Google, and do a search for “deck builder.” The results that pop up will be all kinds of deck builders within a 10 – 20 mile radius of where you happen to be sitting at that moment. That’s because Google can tell where you are. And if you’re logged in to your Gmail or YouTube account at the same time, Google even knows who you’re connected to.

Google search for Deck Builder in north Indianapolis, IN

That means the results you see are based on your location and who Google thinks you’ll want to talk to. It will even show you a little map of all the deck builders in relation to where you’re sitting.

This is a useful little feature that Google has, because they figure you want to see the deck builders who are closest to you, and not the ones who have the best optimized website but are 1,000 miles away.

Want to See the Real Results?

But what if you want to get a more accurate picture about what Google “really” ranks as #1? Maybe you’re doing a national search for some company or manufacturer, and you’re not as concerned about whether they’re 10 miles away.

For this, you would do an anonymous search, where Google doesn’t know it’s you. On your web browser, open an Incognito or Private browsing session (look in the File menu). That turns off all cookies and identifiers so Google and every other website doesn’t know who you are and won’t track you. Now do the same search.

You should see some different results. In fact, depending on your search terms and your location, you’ll see some wildly different results.

That’s because Google doesn’t know a thing about you. They’re showing results that anyone who’s not signed in to Google would see. They’re as close to objective, unbiased results as you’re going to get. But even then, Google is trying to figure out where you are, so it can try to give you the results you would most likely want.

Do that deck builder search in an Incognito search, and chances are, you’ll still see the local results, but the rankings will be different. Some pages will drop and other pages will appear, but they may still be locally-focused.

Take that one step further: Do the same search while you’re sitting in a hotel room on a business trip, and Google won’t show you deck builders in your area. They’ll show you deck builders within 20 miles of your hotel room. (Google knows where you are, based on your IP address, which it can pinpoint to your physical location.)

Again, that’s because Google wants to be as helpful as possible. They want to show you the results closest to you, and the results all your Google+ friends have shared or created themselves.

Why This Is Bad for Businesses

This creates a serious problem for businesses who do this to check their Google search rank. The first thing an eager marketer will do is search for their best keywords to see where their own website ranks.

And, because Google is so helpful and kind, it figures, “A-ha, Shelly wants to see her website. Let’s show it to her!” and places her little website at the top of the search results page, where it outranks giant mega-companies who have been doing this for years.

WE WON GOOGLE!” Shelly hollers at the top of her lungs, running around the office, high-fiving everyone.

Then, because she’s eager to show her husband how awesome she and her web team have been, she makes the 30 mile commute home, pops open his laptop, and does the same search only to find that in a few short hours, her company website has dropped from 1st to 87th.

It only gets worse when she goes back to work, checks again, and sees she’s winning Google once more.

You’re Not Really First

This is a problem for anyone who relies on Google search results to see how their search engine optimization and website design are performing. They get lulled into a false sense of security by Google’s personalized results, and slack off their SEO. And without realizing it, they slip lower and lower in the real, objective results, disappearing from everyone’s view except for their own.

If you want to get a real idea of how well you’re doing, you need a Google rank checker like WebCEO, which will check the actual rankings and tell you where you reallyrank for your chosen keywords.

This is true whether you’re doing the searches for your company, or even your own name (very handy for a job search, because it tells you what the recruiters and hiring managers will see).

In its efforts to be as helpful as possible, Google has inadvertently tricked us and lulled us into a false sense of success, which creates problems for us that we’re not even aware of.

But rather than rest on your laurels, you need to keep track of how things are really going for you. Use a rank checking website like WebCEO, and run a report at least once a month. Then, focus on new SEO techniques — a regular blog, social media promotion, submitting blog posts to Google+ — that can help move you up in the actual rankings.

Ultimately, you may end up getting your personalized search and actual search rankings to match up.

Co-Citation Will Replace Anchor Text, Make My Life Harder

SEO professionals are about to lose another search signal in their optimization work, only to have it replaced by something that requires more work by content marketers, but will ultimately make Google better.

According to Rand Fishkin in a recent Whiteboard Friday, we’re about to lose anchor text.

Anchor text is a string of text that links a word or phrase to another page. In the previous paragraph, Whiteboard Friday is the anchor text.

Hungarian football match between Videoton FC and FC Basel

I never thought I’d write about how Hungarian football relates to blogging.

It’s long been an SEO practice to backlink to a website by linking a keyword or phrase. For example, Pro Blog Service’s president, Paul Lorinczi, runs a Hungarian football (soccer) website. If he wants to promote the site with anchor text inside a backlink, the html code would look like this:

<a href=”http://www.hungarianfootball.com/”>Hungarian football</a>

This tells Google “this link, HungarianFootball.com, is about ‘Hungarian football.'”

Problem is, all that is dying. Stupid spammers.

Spammers Ruined It For The Rest Of Us

For all good things that SEO did and was, the spammers screwed it up for the rest of us. They’re the ones who created the link farms that had thousands of backlinks on hundreds of pages. Pages completely unrelated to whatever the links pointed to. A link to a site about jewelry from a page about construction equipment.

Fishkin says anchor text will nearly die — it won’t die completely — and instead be replaced by co-citation.

Co-citation is a new method where Google looks at important words on a page, not just official keywords, and draws a relationship between them. Then it determines what the page is talking about — e.g., does it refer to another page or brand? — and makes the association that “these words and these words go together. And they’re referring to the topic of this website over here. So we’re going to assume that the two go together, and we’ll give the website a little boost.”

In other words, instead of backlinking to a page about Hungarian football with Paul’s name, Google now has an entry in its giant massive database where the two have been linked just by being mentioned on the same page.

Another Co-Citation Example

Ernest HemingwayI write a lot about Ernest Hemingway and blogging, including one post about whether he would be a good blogger or not. I’ve written about the two topics so much that when I do a Google search on “Ernest Hemingway blogging,” my tag page on Ernest Hemingway shows up (a compilation page of all posts I’ve tagged with Hemingway’s name).

(In fact, it’s ranked 6th on Google, which would be cool if anyone actually ever did a search for that term.)

Next, let’s say I had another website called ErnestHemingwayBloggingTips.com. Google would be able to make the association between my blog posts on “Hemingway and blogging” and this new website. Google would essentially say, “Here’s a blog post about Ernest Hemingway and blogging, and — ooh! — here’s a whole website devoted to that topic! SCORE!

What would further cement the relationship is if my name appeared on both pages, like, say, in an author bio. Then, Google has another link in that chain, and whenever someone did a search for “Ernest Hemingway blogging,” my new website has a better chance of ranking very high because of the co-citation between Ernest and blogs.

Google search results for Ernest Hemingway blogging

This tells us some important things about co-citation:

  • I don’t use Hemingway’s name in every headline, just the one post, but Google still picks up on the keyword “Ernest Hemingway” in all of the posts. It understands, because of the tag and the body copy itself, that Papa is integral to the text. That means while headlines may be useful, your posts aren’t going to be ranked only on headline keywords.
  • The tag page is a dynamic page created by WordPress. If I add another post with “Ernest Hemingway” as the tag, like this one, the page will change. That means tags are important to Google, so use your tags properly. Don’t abuse them. Otherwise, Google’s going to take those away too.
  • Google is indexing synonyms. It’s not only looking for the word “blogging,” it’s also keying in on the word “blogger.” How long will it be before exact keywords are no longer important, because Google will understand what we mean, and not just what we said.
  • Freaking out about keywords and trying to find the exactly-perfect-bestest one is (almost) unnecessary. It used to be you had to limit your headline and topic to a single keyword, and you scoured Google AdWords and WebCEO to find just the right one. Now you’re going to get some Google juice for different keywords and their synonyms, not just the one in your headline.

Like all things Google is doing, co-citation is going to make life both harder and easier for content marketers. It’s going to drastically change our strategy, and make us have to work harder. Because, as you can see in Fishkin’s video below, co-citation doesn’t always help your page, unless it’s on someone else’s page. That’s what anchor text and backlinks did for us; we linked back to our sites using the right anchor text.

And since Google is focusing on quality content — because crappy content farms were decimated by Google Panda, and Penguin foreclosed on the link farms — that means we need people to talk about us and our keywords on their sites.

That leaves us with two strategies, both of which will take a lot of work, but will have a huge SEO payoff.

  1. Blogger outreach. This has been a public relations function. Now PR has to work with SEO in order to boost rankings. This means PR flaks who have already been doing blogger outreach will be at an advantage. They’ll be ahead of the game once co-citation becomes a real thing.
  2. Create extra content in offsite blogs. Can’t get other people to talk about you? Start another blog on another site. But you can’t put up crappy content that’s been run through an article spinner. You have to write real, effective, valuable content that real people are going to read. Google Panda killed the low-value schlock that some black hat SEOs were using, so your offsite blogging has to be just as good as your onsite blogging. And since a lot of people are already struggling with their actual blogging, this extra work is going to be a killer. Advantage: good bloggers and guest bloggers.

I can’t decide if I’m happy or annoyed by co-citation. We were already doing some of this at Pro Blog Service, which means we’re in a position to take advantage of it. But now that it’s going to become a real thing, it means we have to do more of it.

 

Google AuthorRank: When Personal Branding and Content Marketing Collide

The new AuthorRank search signal from Google (which has not been implemented yet), is an interesting collision between personal branding and content marketing.

As I noted in an article last week, SEOMoz writer, Mike Arnesen, said:

People want to read content written by credible and knowledgeable people and using AuthorRank as a major part of their search algorithm just makes sense.

It’s like Klout for writers.

Erik Deckers AuthorRankAuthorRank is an interesting combination of personal branding and content marketing. Where Klout measures your social media influence, AuthorRank will measure your ability to generate a lot of effective and trustworthy content.

As content marketers, we already create that kind of content. It’s good for our clients and our own businesses. Good content marketing gets our companies noticed, which helps them make money.

But now, the writers of those pieces are going to be tied to the quality of that content as well. It means we have to write good copy, and those who don’t, will rank poorly. It means you can’t lend your name and your website to outside paid links. It means you can’t slack off on the writing, but that you have to feed the Google Beast on a regular basis.

In Branding Yourself, Kyle Lacy and I talked about the importance of blogging as it relates to growing your personal brand. This new move by Google represents a merging of personal branding and content marketing.

AuthorRank = AuthorReputation

It means that being a good writer, or at least a passable one, affects more than just your personal brand. In some ways, you can be a good writer and be totally anonymous. But now Google can figure out that you’re a good writer, and you’re someone whose work should appear in their search results.

The best way to improve your AuthorRank? First, make sure you write good stuff, and don’t do any keyword stuffing. Also, don’t put a bunch of ads on your blog or website. That chips away at your page’s TrustRank, which will in turn affect your AuthorRank.

It also means that you need to protect your AuthorReputation (I just made that up). You wouldn’t publish photos of you doing keg stands on Facebook for every hiring manager to see. You also shouldn’t publish articles on low-trust article sites or sites that have run afoul of Google Penguin’s algorithm updates.

It means you need to add one more social network, Google+, to your arsenal and learn how to use it effectively. It means you need to continue to be a good sharer of other people’s work on all of your social networks, so they’re more willing to share yours (remember, Google is also looking at social signals as part of search, which means they’ll probably be looking at your social signals as part of your AuthorRank).

Twitter Screws Up IFTTT.com For The Rest Of Us

I love Twitter, except when I’m pissed at them.

Today I’m pissed at them.

Twitter, for whatever reason they’re spouting — I can’t really understand what the hell they’re talking about — is no longer going to allow IFTTT.com to use tweets in their recipes.

ifttt Twitter recipe

I’m going to lose this little gem, thanks to Twitter.

IFTTT.com is a great site that’s built on the logical construction of If This, Then That. If this condition is met, then that action will take place.

You can use it to create recipes like “email me whenever someone uses ‘No Bullshit Social Media’ in a tweet. (Or to put it in their vernacular, if “No Bullshit Social Media” is used in a tweet, then email me.)

Except now you can’t.

That’s because Twitter continues to drop brick after brick into their garden wall so no one else can use their tweets except them. It’s stupid things like this that make me glad I backed App.net when I did. (I’m user #264 or something.)

Here’s the email IFTTT sent out to all their users, from CEO Linden Tibbetts.

In recent weeks, Twitter announced policy changes* that will affect how applications and users like yourself can interact with Twitter’s data. As a result of these changes, on September 27th we will be removing all Twitter Triggers, disabling your ability to push tweets to places like email, Evernote and Facebook. All Personal and Shared Recipes using a Twitter Trigger will also be removed. Recipes using Twitter Actions and your ability to post new tweets via IFTTT will continue to work just fine.

At IFTTT, first and foremost, we want to empower anyone to create connections between literally anything. We’ve still got a long way to go, and to get there we need to make sure that the types of connections that IFTTT enables are aligned with how the original creators want their tools and services to be used.

We at IFTTT are big Twitter fans and, like yourself, we’ve gotten a lot of value out of the Recipes that use Twitter Triggers. We’re sad to see them go, but remain excited to build features that work within Twitter’s new policy. Thank you for your support and for understanding these upcoming changes. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at support@ifttt.com.

Linden Tibbets
IFTTT CEO

* These Twitter policy changes specifically disallow uploading Twitter Content to a “cloud based service” (Section 4A and include stricter enforcement of the Developer Display Requirements (https://dev.twitter.com/terms/display-requirements).

Sadly, IFTTT’s comments are the same hopefully-optimistic-trying-to-be-calm happy face that every other third-party developer has had to put on after getting royally screwed by the messaging giant. That, “we really think they’re bastards, but we’re too mature to actually say so” tone that people adopt after finding out their spouse tells them they want a divorce and you have to leave the house.

Times like this, I fire up the App.net page and start using it even more. I worry that Twitter is going to turn into another Facebook, where they can’t see beyond their own success, and think they’re immortal.

I really do want Twitter to succeed, but it’s days like this that I wonder if they’re going to be around in a few years. Networks like App.net are constantly baying at their heels, like a pack of hounds trying to bring down the stag. The stag may be a badass, but one day it’s going to trip, and the hounds will overtake it.

How a Radio Theater Troupe Uses Social Media to Gain a Worldwide Audience

Social media has played a big part in the success of Decoder Ring Theatre, a Canadian radio theater troupe that produces audio plays reminiscent of old-time radio. Their two mainstay characters, Red Panda and Black Jack Justice live in Toronto (Red Panda during WWII, and Black Jack a few years after). Decoder Ring Theatre also produced six of my radio plays last summer.

I interviewed Decoder Ring founder and leader Gregg Taylor, and asked him about how social media has played a success in what they’ve done, and what their strategy has been over the years. These are his answers.

Decoder Ring Theatre cast

Cast of Decoder Ring Theatre, an audio theatre company in Toronto.

1) How much of your success do you attribute to your own social media networks vs. sheer doggedness and word of mouth?

I kind of lump our social media presence under the broad heading of “sheer doggedness and word of mouth”, so it’s hard for me to seperate the two! Really, Facebook and Twitter have evolved into ways for us to be a part of the daily lives of those listeners who want that kind of relationship.

I started both pages at the specific requests of listeners, and I do try and keep the content on each a little different, for the benefit of those who follow both pages and also our fan boards at audiodramatalk.com.

Yes, I certainly do let our corner of Facebook and Twitter know when a new episode goes up, or a new book comes out, because let’s be honest, everyone loses track of these things sometimes, even when you’re as predictable as we are (new episodes on the 1st & 15th of every month, year-round!).

But I do want our social media presence to be just that… social. Facebook offers those listeners a chance to react not just with me, but with each other, to discuss what they like and what they don’t (and of course, in the process, have us appear in the timelines of their friends)… Twitter started out as a little more “behind the scenes/this is what I’m working on right this second”, and still is that kind of sneak-peek for those interested, though by extension it also has become a “welcome to my brain”… again, it’s like the DVD extras for the really big fans. I think we pick up some new listeners that way, but for me, it’s about the enhanced experience, being a part of the extended Decoder Ring family.

2) Are you seeing a lot of traffic coming in from outside referrals (i.e. Twitter, Facebook), as opposed to repeat listeners? Where do they come from?

Listenership has been solid and steady. It’s often hard to tell where it comes from, in a way… when you’re just starting out and you get an extra 80 downloads it’s like “Holy Hanna, look at that spike!”. It has to be a pretty big event for it to really register as an abberation in our patterns these days. Well, big by our standards anyway. I think we’re getting to be big enough now to really properly understand just how tiny we are… we’re comparing ourselves to outfits with gobs of money and wondering just what we’d have to do to make an impact. There have been some serious spikes.

Roger Ebert gave us a shout-out a year or two ago, and that was nice. He tweets a LOT though. I’ve followed him on and off, and there’s no way you can check out everything he mentions unless you have a powerful amount of time on your hands. Still, I have a lot of respect for him and for him to think we were worthy of a mention was exciting.

I guess the biggest single event in terms on new listenership was when we unexpectedly got profiled by the BBC’s technology program last year… just a little piece, but it played all weekend on BBC and around the world on the world service. That was large. Our UK numbers passed Canada immediately and never looked back, which is pretty surprising, considering that the Red Panda Adventures is pretty much the only pulp hero universe in which you’ll hear about the Dieppe Raid, or have a cameo by WLM King, our wartime PM.

I guess what’s great about our listenership is that once we have someone hooked, they tend to stay with us forever, and they get that wonderful evangelical zeal that folks on the internet so often have when promoting things that they love to everyone they know. That’s what really makes us go.

3) What’s your biggest source of listeners?

America. I know that’s not exactly what you’re asking, but I think I ran on a bit in the last question. We have listeners all over the US, but seem to have some super-concentrated pockets in Washington State, in Southern California, in Texas and New York and in Iowa. Lots of Iowans. Don’t seem to have a lot in the Boston area, though. I keep shouting-out to my beloved Patriots and I rarely get a holler back. It is just possible that the crossover audience between NFL football and on-line old-time-radio-style mystery and superhero adventure programs isn’t as great as I imagine it must be. Still, never hurts. Go Pats.

4) You were recently in a radio theatre voting contest. When I last looked a few weeks ago, you were 3 – 4 TIMES ahead of the entire pack, if you had combined all their scores. How did you spread the word about that?

Yeah, I try not to do that stuff too much. I did mobilize our social media folks/fanboards to push for the Podcast Award in 2010, mostly because I was sick and tired of not winning it. Then we won it and it really changed absolutely nothing. Nice to win, made no impact on our audience. In all fairness, I’m not sure “Cultural/Arts” is really a high impact category for a lot of people. I’m sure it carries more weight in other divisions. Actually, come to think of it they never even sent us an award, or certificate or anything. Still, like I say, it was exciting to win, and I bugged people quite a bit about that. But I don’t like to do it too often.

The New Radio Theater contest was different because rather than competing for a non-existent trophy, it’s a cash prize, and I’d love to be able to give a little scratch to some of the folks who have worked so hard on the shows over the years. Really, I think the contest was devised to get people excited about either writing a script for their broadcast radio program New Radio Theater or allowing them to play something already created. It doesn’t take a prize to get me up for that, I love a little radio play wherever I can get it (Can I give a little shout out to Midnight Audio Theatre on Central Ohio’s NPR station WCBE 90.5, now playing Black Jack Justice? – Oh-me-oh, oh-my-oh, Columbus, Ohio! Thank you)

5) Did you end up winning?

Well, it actually runs until January 31st, and I’m writing this on Jan 26th, so I don’t know. (After the 31st, Decoder Ring’s play “The Albatross” ran away with online voting at 1,013 votes.)

Voting is only one part of the process. There are 6 official judges, and the on-line voting counts as a 7th judge. Who can tell? Maybe winning the popular vote in a landslide will actually work against us.

There are also some folks in the audio theatre world that don’t like what we do because we’re old-school. We’re telling stories set in the era when radio was king, but we’re not doing that because it makes us more or less marketable, we’re doing it because these are the stories we want to tell. You have to love what you do, or you can’t expect anyone else to.

We focus on the story and the characters, rather than sound effects, because those are the stories I want to write and we want to create. And also to hear. I think that love comes through in the work, and I think it’s why we have the audience that we do. In any event, there are some great shows in the running, and the judges are some very, very qualified people, I’ll respect their decision whatever it is.

6) Did you feel even a little guilty for exercising your social networks for this contest, almost like you had a social media cheat code?

No way, baby. We have an audience. That’s what everyone putting themselves out there on the Internet hopes for first, and most never find. We’ve developed a group of people who are passionate about the work that we create, that want to be involved and to help where they can, and we’ve developed networks that allow us to reach out to some of those most passionate people directly.

We’d be fools not to use it. It would be like wanting to fail. We can’t influence how the judges will vote, but if you put something out there that’s in our power to effect, by golly we’re going to go out there with our small but hardy band of internet ruffians and get it done.

7) How have you gotten most of your social media connections?

 We promote them on the website, and periodically give them an audio plug in the programs themselves, for those 50% or so of our listeners who get the programs from a podcatcher like iTunes and probably never visit the site directly. It gives our champions one more way to try and convert their friends to our cause.

8) Are they listeners who found you on social media, or are they people who found you on social media and started listening?

 I think both. It’s a bit of a longer shot on Twitter… “Hmmm… this guy seems to share my love for the wisdom of @GoddamnBatman, maybe I’ll listen to his radio show…”, but it happens.

9) How would you incorporate your social networks into a Decoder Ring production or promotion?

We have done a number of “live tweet recording days” from the studio, with various members of our ensemble popping on with comments throughout the seasion. Those were pretty fun. A lot of tweets in a short time though, and I try not to take up too much real estate on anyone’s feed.

10) What advice would you give to radio theatre and live theatre troupes who want to start using social media for their own promotions?

 Do it, but be yourself. You can’t just be out trolling for listeners/customers. You have to be giving something of yourself in the process, and it can be hard to keep up. I still haven’t gone near Google+…. really, I just haven’t had the time. I need to see some evidence that it’s going to stick before I can carve off another piece of myself for that!

11) Have you ever thought about video taping a show and editing it together for a YouTube promotion? Sort of a behind the scenes look at a Decoder Ring show? Better yet, how about uStreaming a taping one night? (I’d watch that one in a heartbeat.)

Yep. We’ve thought about it. It hasn’t happened for a few reasons (a) We run about a year ahead of releases, so it’s spoiler city (b) Making good video is a lot more time/trouble/expense than making good audio and (c) It can be a pretty big distraction when we’re already trying to get a lot done in a short time. Someday!

Three Ways New Fiction Writers Can Promote Their Work With Social Media

How can a writer promote their own work, especially if they are just releasing their first published work? Thanks to ebooks and ereaders, as well as print-on-demand and self-publication, any fledgling writer can publish their work and make it available to the general public.

But how can they get readers before they have even established their writing career? Here are three ways new writers can promote their newly published works to a wider audience than their moms.

1. Find readers on Twellow and Facebook.

Twellow is a Twitter directory that lets you search people’s Twitter bios. Look for anyone who would fit your target readership. If you write sci-fi, look to see if anyone has science fiction or sci-fi in their bio. Chances are they’re fellow writers, but you’ll find a lot of sci-fi fans too.

Check out the Facebook pages and groups too, and start friending and connecting with people in those groups. As you follow the other two steps, they’ll be the people you want to reach out to.

2. Pre-release the book in blog form.

As you’re writing your book, try publishing sections of it on a blog. Invite reader comment and ask them to give you feedback, ask questions, and make any suggestions. Make your changes from the blog and incorporate them into the final manuscript.

You’ll also get readers who start to follow along because they get drawn into the serial nature of the story. Plus, don’t worry about people not wanting buy the book because it’s on the web. There are plenty of people who have written books that were originally posted online first, and went on to great success. They’ll be willing to pick up your book too.

3. Create an audio version of your book.

Seth Harwood released the self-published Jack Wakes Up book as an audio podcast. He would read approximately 45 minutes of the book each week and upload it as a podcast. While that seemed to fly in the face of conventional publishing wisdom, the Jack Wakes Up ended up garnering enough attention that it was then picked up by Three Rivers Press and published.

It’s possible with some publishers that you can keep the audio rights to your book. If you’re self-publishing it, you own all versions, including audio and ebooks. So take advantage of that. Get a decent microphone (I prefer the Blue Snowball USB mic), and start reading it. Don’t launch until you get at least half the book recorded though. It builds in some extra time in case you run into a production delay.