Mary Matthews talking about the importance of Social Media to the Author
04 Apr 2017
In Attendance: Olive Cutting – chair, John Cutting, Mary Matthews, Hazel Newton, Derek Newton, Fiona Caithness, Frank Burns, David Seaton, Denny Gaudin and Sally Runham,
Apologies from: Sue Worthington and Patricia Burn.
Welcome and notices
Olive welcomed everyone to the meeting. Arising from the committee meeting in March, a list of members eligible for the writers’ awards at the June AGM had been prepared by Hazel. Categories are Writer of the Year (less than 3 years membership) and Writer of the Year (three years or more). The committee will determine the Writer of the Year – Commended category. Those who have received the award are then ineligible for the next two years. Voting papers were circulated at the meeting. Papers will be given out in May to those absent this evening. Hazel will also email members to obtain the overall results.
Olive introduced Mary Matthews to discuss the use of social media for writers. Olive sceptically raised dark issues and negative news in the press but Mary rose to the challenge in her interactive talk.
Mary Matthews on Social Media
Social media has taken advertising forward. It allows free advertising and promotion of work for a certain input of time. There is flexibility to control the amount of publicity that you create and you can target certain areas and age ranges. Mary uses her presence on social media to sell books and develop her publishing business. Mary referred to her husband’s use of two Twitter accounts. One is for socializing including a now extensive group of likeminded Bruce Springsteen fans. The second is for his work as development officer for local team’s football referees.
With respect to popular music concerts, Mary mentioned Periscope, where people attending concerts can share their periscope views of the artists. Mary has put a lot of time into developing social media platforms as a tool for her writing and her publishing business. The time invested is starting to reap rewards with invitations to events and finding people who assist with all aspects of publishing and who will support her proposed new book launch later in the year.
It is felt that whether you publish traditionally or self-publish, you need to have a presence on a range of social media platforms. Mary opts mainly for Twitter. The viability of Twitter as a business was discussed but, as no other platforms provide such a role, it is likely that Twitter will develop income streams for better sustainability.
People promoting themselves may use a website and have a blog. The blog can be used for book reviews, to place small piece of writing or a poem. Most people want to share their writing at some point. There is a need to gain interest through social media platforms such Twitter and the photo type communication tools Instagram and Snapchat.
The process is to write a blog post, people then say if they like it, they click and share it on such platforms as Twitter, this generates traffic to your site, people can leave comments, syndicate to other platforms to spread the interest in your work. Add a photo to your tweet to gain interest. Some people use this very effectively and can edit photos using Photoshop. Authors follow other authors and are very supportive. They will review your books.
Twitter is great for the introvert, good for networking, to get traffic to your website or blog. It is not possible to do a hard sell here. Some people try to use it for this but this can put off their potential audience. You can liaise with other authors that you admire. Big name authors may respond to tweets. Use this to sell yourself and not your book. There is a protocol of courtesy and good spelling, need to get good first impression (just like meeting someone). Mary herself has not experienced ‘trolling’ where someone becomes a nuisance or abusive about your input.
A Tweet has a maximum of 140 characters so concise messages to the point are needed. A photo will always help and are not now included in the 140.
With Twitter you Follow and Unfollow. Use Hashtag authors to choose who to follow. Follow those with the same interests. You can follow up to 5,000 and then you must gain some followers yourself before you can proceed. If there is abuse or upsetting comment you can block this (where the abuser knows you have blocked) or mute (where they are unaware) and no further contacts from this person appear. Mute is more effective than ‘Unfollow’ here, as even if you unfollow, that person is still following you and they can still bring their tweets to your attention.
“Tweet” is fresh from you and “Re-tweet” is passing on someone else’s that you like.
‘Pin a tweet’ can be used to raise a profile without obvious advertising.
Use #cyclists to find cycle interests, is an example of the search facility.
Facebook. Many people are on Facebook which they use to keep in touch with family and friends. You can choose who to be friends with and thereby access to your personal life.
It is necessary to have a profile on Facebook as yourself or your pen name. This could be kept separate from your personal file. You cannot put advertising on your personal timeline or use it for promotion. No restriction on characters. Videos and pictures may be added. In summary, Mary said that it is important to present yourself as you wish to be perceived, such as business like, professional, decent, and sensible.
Refreshments followed and there followed lots of discussion about the use of social media
Questions and discussion on the social media presentation
Points raised included the possibility of isolation if people use this method to communicate rather than face to face. Do ‘unreal’ relationships develop? Can it lead to people becoming reclusive with extensive use? On the other hand, the group felt that it liberated the shy and reserved person, enabling them to communicate as well as anyone else. That it is also a huge boon to the housebound, enabling them to overcome problems, loneliness and in many cases to even earn a good living whilst babysitting or caring for someone. The discussion was excellent and introduced some people to the terms blogs, hashtags and posts. It also enervated those who use social media infrequently and languidly. A whole world is out there, fellow writers! “Fascinating!” said one member. The evening finished with a general discussion on the more traditional approach to getting published.
Olive thanked Mary very much for all of her hard work and the excellent presentation that allowed lots of shared ideas.
The meeting closed at 9.30pm.
The next meeting is on 2nd May 2017. We look forward to seeing you there.
Events Ahead and Sources of Support
Hazel has flyers for the Bridport Prize competition. The closing date is 31st May 2017. Poems, short stories and flash fiction are among the categories and the prize money is serious. www.bridportprize.org.uk
Patricia encourages members to write for the website. She suggests blogs of about 500 to 700 words www.huntingdonwriters.com. On Any Theme. Please visit the website frequently and create new links to the website through Facebook and other media in order to raise its profile above earlier (and now defunct) HWG websites. Email all website contributions to Patricia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hazel - Local Radio as a way of broadcasting our work.
Sally- Please refer to www.threeshirespublishing.com for help with self-publishing. I attended a course in February and found this source really supportive. Help with all aspects such as editing, proof reading, cover design and promotion can be sought. One person on the course is making superb progress with publishing a story based on his family history that has been on his agenda for many years. You no longer need to leave your bestseller to fester waiting for the right agent or publisher to come along.