An American Editor

November 3, 2014

The Practical Editor: 5 Social Media Sites You Should Be Using (Part I)

5 Social Media Sites You Should Be Using (Part I)

by Erin Brenner

Almost every editor — heck, almost every person — is familiar with the Big Three of social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you use social media at all to market your business, you likely use at least one of them.

And why not? These sites have lots of users, offering you a big pool of potential clients. Even better, companies with big marketing budgets are spending large chunks of those budgets on studying how to use the Big Three, and results are published in reports and articles all over the web. There is no shortage of ideas for how to use these sites.

The downside is with so many people on these sites, how do you get heard over the din? How do you stand out from among all the other freelance editors in the crowd?

There’s something to be said for being on a smaller site, with less competition.

This time and next, I will review five social media sites that you should use in addition to the Big Three: Google+, Goodreads, Storify, SlideShare, and Pinterest.

Google+

Google+ was created to be a Facebook killer. Three years in, it hasn’t caught the social media giant yet. There’s a perception that on Google+ you can hear the crickets because there’s so little going on.

Yet Google+ has 359 million monthly active users (MAUs). 359 million. I don’t know about you, but if the smallest percentage of that audience hires me, I’ll be very successful. True, the numbers don’t compare to Facebook’s 1.3 billion MAUs, but they do to LinkedIn’s 300 million monthly active users. What’s more, Google+ is growing 33% each year, while Facebook is growing at a mere 3%.

Let’s forget about MAUs, though, because what really matters is whether there are enough users who would be interested in your services and who would engage with you to warrant spending time on the site.

So who hangs out on Google+? According to Adjust Your Set:

  • 63% of the audience is male
  • 35% of users are ages 25–34 years, 15% are 35–44 years, and 11% are 45–54 years
  • Tech workers are a strong presence

If any of these demographics describes your audience, you should consider using Google+.

Google+ Pro Tips

  • Set up a Google+ Page for your business. You’ll get free data, and it’s one more place to be found.
  • Follow people on Google+. Because users are still trying to find their audience on the site, they will more likely follow you back than they would on other sites.
  • Make use of circles to target your content. Create circles that make sense for your audience, such as topic, client type, or job title. Share content specifically to one of these communities.
  • Participate in relevant communities. There are plenty of writing and publishing communities to join. Look for one with recent activity. Also check out the Copy Editing community (no connection to the newsletter). Because there’s less bloat, your comments are heard more clearly. Be sure to follow those members who comment frequently.
  • Participate in a Hangout. Hangouts are real-time conversations (with or without video) and can be a great way to network.
  • Host an Event. Events are Hangouts that have been scheduled. Invite others to join you for a conversation on a topic important to their business. Try interviewing your published authors on the publishing process or a designer on the importance of book design. Record the video and share it on your site later.

Goodreads

Owned by Amazon, Goodreads is a site for listing, reviewing, and sharing the books you read. What better way to show an author that you know what’s what in horror books than by talking about them intelligently?

How big is the Goodreads universe? According to Quantcast, each day Goodreads has:

  • 950,000 unique visitors
  • 1.1 million visits
  • 5 million page views

That means most folks (83%) visit once a day and look at five pages while there.

Other stats from Quantcast:

  • 22% of users are ages 25–34 years; 20% are 35–44 years, and 16% are 45–54 years
  • 28% of users earn $50,000–$100,000, and another 12% earn $100,000–$150,000
  • 42% are college grads, and another 22% have graduate degrees

Sound like your audience? Here’s how you can use Goodreads better.

Goodreads Pro Tips

  • Create custom bookshelves. Goodreads gives you three standard shelves: read, currently reading, and to read. Create your own shelves to organize books in a way that helps potential clients. How about a shelf of books on your chosen subject matter or books you’ve written, edited, or reviewed?
  • Write professional, useful book reviews. Book reviews follow books, so you can attract new followers or potential clients with your reviews.
  • Share your reviews and books with your other social media audiences. Connect your Goodreads profile with your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or Amazon account, and then share your activity, such as publishing a new book review. Not only are you creating content for the other sites, you’re drawing people to your Goodreads account, inviting them to know you better.
  • Recommend books to your top influencers. “Top influencers” are your biggest fans, the people who love to spread the word about you. By sharing something exclusively with them, you’re making them feel special and getting your content out to more people.
  • Participate in Groups. There are Groups for writers and editors. When I last checked, Goodreads had a list of 1,000 tags used to categorize Groups. Choose a Group with recent activity, and follow those you talk with in the Group.

Coming up in Part II: an overview of Storify, SlideShare, and Pinterest.

Erin Brenner is the editor of the Copyediting newsletter and the owner of Right Touch Editing. You can follow her on Twitter. Erin is also a guest presenter at various conferences on topics of interest to freelancers.

The Practical Editor: 5 Social Media Sites You Should Be Using (Part II)

April 6, 2012

Worth Noting: Google Eyeglasses

Filed under: Worth Noting — americaneditor @ 4:00 am
Tags: ,

This week there have been several reports about experimental eyeglasses being developed by Google. I can’t decide whether they would be boon or bane, but here is a video from Google showing what it envisions the future will be:

The project was the subject of an article in the April 5, 2012 New York Times. In a way, this would be a counterrevolution: With the advent of laser surgery to correct vision and remove the need to wear eyeglasses, a lot of eyeglass wearers have had the surgery. Now Google is experimenting with a way that would require people who do not wear eyeglasses to wear them. How the tables turn.

If these Google eyeglasses were available now at a reasonable price, that is, at a price competitive with “regular” eyeglasses, would you buy them? Is this the type of technology you are anxiously awaiting?

December 8, 2010

The Google Wars: Taking the First Step

The first salvo in the Google Wars occurred with Google’s opening of its long-awaited, but greatly disappointing Google Books. In yesterday’s post, Will You be a Googler?, I suggested how things might be, a Christmas of the Future so to speak. But if Google plans to be a real presence in the digital book world with something more than poorly scanned public domain books, it needs to put on its battle gear and get moving toward the front lines now. What follows is one suggestion for first battle orders.

What is it that Google has that no other competitor to Amazon (i.e., no other pbook or ebook competitor) has? Well, there are several things, but most important are the name Google, which is both a noun and a verb and thus ubiquitous in the online world, and the financial resources to do battle on equal terms. The former we need do nothing about; the latter we need to spend.

Let’s move beyond the basics that Google needs to address — the poorly designed Google Books website. That is easily cured; Google can hire any computer-literate high schooler and get a better design. What is not so easily cured is Google’s lack of reputation as the place to go for books. And that is the area of greatest need.

In one online discussion, someone asked whether the Kindle has become the kleenex of ereading devices; kleenex in the sense of a generic name for all devices. I know that when people see me reading on my Sony, the first question asked is, “Is that a Kindle?” How valuable to Amazon is that association of Amazon-Kindle-ebooks?

So step one for Google is to adopt a hardware device as a Google device and for that I nominate the Sony PRS-950. A partnership between Google and Sony is the way to go because the Sony gives more reading real estate and superior ergonomics and build quality when compared to the Kindle. But simply adopting the 950 is not enough.

As part of the adoption process several things need to happen, the most important being these:

  • Sony needs to rewrite the firmware so as to open up the Internet capabilities of the 950 to more than just the Sony ebookstore
  • Google needs to create a modified version of its Chrome browser to work on the 950
  • Google needs to underwrite part of the cost of the Sony 950 so that it can be sold competitively priced to the Kindle
  • Google needs to arrange for the Sony 950 to be usable anywhere in the world

Given a choice between a Sony 950 and a Kindle 3G, with easy-to-use ebookstores with similar content available, I think people would choose the Google-Sony 950 more frequently than the Kindle.

Yet that is only the start. Google needs to attack Amazon where it is most vulnerable, which is in book selection. Right now it is clear that the difference between the Amazon and Google (and Barnes & Noble and Kobo) ebookstores is the difference between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Yes, there may be scattered titles that one has and the others do not, but for the most part, each has an identical inventory available. (Pricing is a different matter and not one that needs to be addressed at this point.)

But Google can give Amazon a run for its money in exclusives — and it should. Remember when Amazon announced that certain forthcoming books from popular authors would be available exclusively at Amazon for 6 months to 1 year? We haven’t heard a lot about that recently but it is time to stoke the exclusivity war with Google plunging in. And Google offers something that Amazon doesn’t and can’t — search engine ranking. Entry in Google Books can be made to appear in the number 1 position on a search results page.

If I were Google, I would approach the top 25 authors in multiple categories — romance, fantasy, science fiction, historical novels, etc. — and offer an exclusive Google Books deal (I can think of lots of terms that would be appealing to authors to induce them to sign on, but we can save that discussion for another day).

I would also offer an inducement to readers to buy the Google-Sony 950. Buy one and pick 10 ebooks from our vast catalog of ebooks. If the agency folk scream about it, reverse the order: Buy 10 ebooks and get the reader with our compliments.

One more thing I would do in the this initial battle, and that is create exclusive ebook packages. The packages could be special omnibus editions of a single author’s work or it could be a themed collection that combines a major author’s work with similar type works from indie authors. I actually prefer the latter because it would expose readers to more authors. But imagine being able to buy a Dean Koontz backlist title along with 6 similar-genre titles written buy indie authors for the price of the Dean Koontz title. Granted this would require a lot of cooperation among authors but such a scenario could be a win-win for the indie authors, Dean Koontz, and Google, as well as for consumers.

Special omnibus editions would fit within the Agency 5’s hopes to sustain a viable competitor to Amazon. There is no reason, for example, why the first 3 novels written by Tom Clancy, for example, couldn’t be packaged into a single, special, Google Omnibus where readers could buy 3 for the price of 1 or 2. It is in the interests of publishers to help create a real competitor to Amazon, especially now that they should be recognizing that Apple isn’t the answer and is unlikely to ever be the solution as opposed to a future problem.

At least this would be a start down the competitive pathway. Will Google do anything more than what it has done (i.e., announce and open Google Books) remains to be seen, but this is the one hope right now of creating competition in the book world.

December 7, 2010

Will You be a Googler?

Yesterday, Google Books opened for U.S. residents. This is the long-awaited bookstore, although after a browse of it, I’m not sure why. The question that remains to be seen is whether this bookstore will be very competitive and whether it will challenge Amazon.

Also in yesterday’s news was the rumor/announcement that Borders, in conjunction with the private equity group that currently is keeping Borders afloat, plan to make a bid for Barnes & Noble. This will be interesting.

But the two bits of news really belong together.

Google Books has one thing going for it: it will be a way for independent bookstores to provide an ebook service to their customers. Powell’s in Portland, OR, has already indicated it will be partnering with Google Books. But a look at the Google bookstore doesn’t leave me chomping at the bit to buy books from it, whether print or ebooks.

Try finding customer service. I had difficulty finding it and, more importantly, had difficulty determining whether Google Books is a cloud-only service or a combined cloud-download service. The former I would never buy from (unless I absolutely had no choice) whereas the latter at least gives you the option of maintaining a copy of your purchase on your desktop. But what happens if I purchase a book only to discover after purchasing it that it is not downloadable, something that appears very easy to do at Google Books? Trying to get your money back and have the book removed from your cloud-based library looks to be a herculean task, in contrast to the ease of access to customer service at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Sony, to name a few competitors.

There are lots of problems with Google Books. One would think that a company as resource-rich as Google would hire better specialty designers, but I guess even money doesn’t cure the hit-or-miss school of design.

Yet, I suspect that in the not too distant future most of us will become Googlers, that is, buyers of books via Google Books, unless we become Amazoners. I think that the foretold shakeout of the ebook retail industry has just begun. Here’s why and what I would do —

I’d like to be sitting on the cash — note it is cash — that Google is because I would now take the steps necessary to thwart Amazon and Apple’s ebook business. First thing I’d do is buy B&N. Google can do it for cash; Borders can’t compete, Jobs doesn’t believe in reading and so won’t compete, and Amazon could never buy B&N and get past antitrust concerns. And no matter what Leonard Riggio thinks, a serious bid for B&N by Google would be insurmountable by Riggio. It isn’t exactly like he has been such a great leader in recent years that private equity would simply line up and beg him to lead a takeover.

Second, I would put Borders out of its misery. Buy it and merge it into Google Books. The only real value to Borders is its customer list.

Third, I would approach Sony and offer a deal for its ebookstore. I doubt Sony could resist any reasonable offer, especially if Google made a deal to scrap the nook device and help Sony make its devices more price competitive. The reality is that the Sony devices are probably the best dedicated reader devices available except that they cost so much more than the Kindle, nook, and Kobo (and other third-party devices), they can’t get the kind of traction in market share they deserve. Combine Google financial power with Sony technology and suddenly you would see a truly competitive ebook market.

Finally, comes Kobo. The Kobo device isn’t something I would write home about; it’s OK but not a class leader. But the Kobo ebookstore is a different story. If the ebook race were to be decided simply on the quality of the ebookstore and customer service, the race would be between Amazon and Kobo, none of the other major players would even be a blip on the horizon. Kobo is aggressive and provides customer service at the vaunted Amazon level. So what I would do is see if I couldn’t partner with Kobo, perhaps pay a fee to bury the brand and merge it into the Google Books brand but have the Kobo personnel essentially run Google Books.

Ultimately, I think the only ebook bookstore survivors of the major brands will be Amazon, Google, and Kobo. Sony’s ebookstore isn’t bad, but Sony hasn’t got a clue how to promote either its reading devices or its ebookstore. B&N and Borders are mismanaged; B&N does do some great promoting but drops the ball after the promoting. Borders doesn’t seem to do anything right. Apple is really a nonentity as regards ebooks. It’s hard to become a real competitor when the only person who matters doesn’t believe in reading.

Google Books is the unknown in the lion’s den. Google certainly has the fiscal resources to take on Amazon, which is the key player today, but whether it has the vision and the stamina to do so remains to be seen. If we begin to see improvements in the Google bookstore, especially in customer service options, and see Google make moves to create a true competitor to Amazon, then many of us may well become Googlers. Until then, I think Google Books will be last in the race.

January 22, 2010

From the Frying Pan to the Fire: Amazon to Apple

Let me begin by saying this: I just don’t get it. What hallucinogen are publishers imbibing? The music industry would love to trump Apple and the publishing industry would love to trump Amazon; but only the movie industry is thinking the matter through.

There are lots of problems with publishing’s looking to Apple for salvation; here are a few: First, if there is a bigger control freak in the media industry than Jeff Bezos, it is Steve Jobs. Have publishers forgotten that the music industry was unhappy with iTunes pricing but couldn’t budge Jobs? Publishers can’t budge Amazon’s $9.99 pricing, what are they going to do when Jobs demands $6.99 pricing?

Second, if rumors are right and that what Apple is bringing to the table is a tablet and not a dedicated reading device, what makes publishers think tablet buyers will suddenly become book buyers? Why do publishers think the tablet will be the Damocletian sword over Amazon’s head? Or do publishers plan to simply cut out Amazon altogether even though it commands 20% or more of the book-buying market?

And what about the expected premium price for the Apple tablet? If book buyers are complaining now about what a Sony Reader or Amazon Kindle costs, what makes publishers think they’ll jump at Apple’s pricing?

In addition, studies show that when a multimedia device, which the tablet will be, is used, the user’s time is spent listening to or watching audio and video media or playing games, not reading books. All a publisher needs to do is read the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation study of children and teens ages 8 to 18 years and how they use their multimedia devices for the publishers to know they are barking up the wrong tree.

Third, are publishers so lacking in imagination that they have to give up control of their industry to not one player but two? What are they going to do when Google starts throwing its weight around? Close their doors?

Yes, there has been drooling by some ebookers for the Apple tablet, with pundits assuming its arrival will cure whatever ails all media businesses. But what ails publishers is not curable by any device. It’s like having a fever and assuming that a thermometer will cure it — it isn’t going to happen. If anything, publishers are setting themselves up to fail and fail mightily, especially if there is an initial but unsustained burst in book sales concurrent with Apple tablet sales.

Let’s assume that publishers get very favorable terms from Apple. How long do publishers think that honeymoon will last? My guess: until Jobs decides that people really do read books and realizes that he needs to do to publishers what he did to the music companies. This may be a win for consumers, but not for publishers.

As each day goes by, I worry more about the world of publishing. Publishers have been important to the spread of quality literature and of knowledge, but they are rapidly marching to their funeral pyres. Publishers need to recognize that their salvation lies in their own hands, not in the hands of the Bezos’ and Jobs’ of the world.

If publishers need a role model to emulate, look to the video industry. The Economist reported that 5 of the 6 big studios (Disney is working on a similar solution by itself) want to join, along with some other firms and retailers — but not Apple — to create a single download video format and a single firm to track purchases. They are looking to create what I called a repository in an earlier Modest Proposal. The consumer will buy the video online at a partnering retailer who will then link the buyer to the repository. According to The Economist, “Consumers will be able to buy a film once and then play it on different gadgets….[The] initiative aims to stop a company doing to film what Apple has done to music and Amazon threatens to do to electronic books.” At least the movie industry is thinking with its brains and not sitting on them. Shouldn’t publishers be doing this?

Publishers need to grapple with their problems themselves and not look to external fixes by companies and persons that they ultimately can neither influence nor control. Trying to use Apple to thwart Amazon is jumping from the frying pan of to the fire — it is the tolling of the death bells for the big publishers.

The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

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