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Five Tips to Polish Your Presence on Pinterest

Five Tips to Polish your Presence on Pinterest

Pinterest has made several changes over the last year. If you’re on Pinterest, it’s worth taking a little time to polish your profile

Today I’m sharing four tips to polish your presence on Pinterest, and one tip for pinning:

  • Choose your Profile Cover
  • Add a Board Cover Photo
  • Sort your Boards
  • Section your Boards
  • Use hashtags

1. Choose Your Profile Cover

Pinterest have introduced a profile cover photo. But this isn’t the same header image or cover photo as on Facebook or Twitter—you can’t design and upload your own image. Instead, Pinterest forces you to choose from three options:

Latest Pins

The most recent Pins saved to your profile, whether you’re pinning your own pins or other people’s pins. The advantage of this option is it is current. The disadvantage is that what you pin might be personal, not around your author brand. Do you want your Profile Cover to display your Pins and your books, or  recipes for cauliflower pizza and obscure Dr Who memes?

Recent Activity

Pins people saved from your site and linked accounts. This shows which of your pins are the most popular, which implies some of your pins are popular enough that other people are saving and sharing them. My Pinterest analytics say this is the case, but my Recent Activity cover doesn’t share the same message …

Not too sure what happened with this one!

Pick a Board

I think this is the best option. For published authors, pick a board that includes all your book covers. For unpublished authors, pick something that’s consistent with your author brand, and interesting or inspirational (not the cauliflower pizza). Don’t pick a group board or something like writing tips unless that reflects your author brand and target market.

I share about reading and writing on Pinterest (that’s one of the beauties of Boards: people can choose to follow only the Boards they are interested in). I went through several Boards trying to decide which to use. Did I want to use a group board (no), a board about writing (no), or a board about reading (yes).

I eventually settled on using my Favourite Quotes board, as that highlights great lines from some of the books I’ve read. It does (unfortunately) include one quote three times, but hopefully that will change as I add more quotes to the board.

Pinterest Profile Cover

Action Point

Head over to Pinterest, go to your Profile, and click on the grey pencil (top right-hand corner) to choose your preferred Profile Cover.

2. Add a Board Cover Photo

Did you know you can choose which Pin shows as the cover on each of your Boards? This gives you another opportunity to reinforce your author brand visually … and to give your Pinterest visitors a clear picture of what they can expect to find on your Board.

Board Cover Photos on Pinterest

While Pinterest prefers vertical images as a rule, your Board Cover Pin should be square, as that is how it is displayed on desktop and mobile. My Board Cover Pins are 800 x 800 pixels, and I created them in Canva.

To Create your Cover Photo

  • Create a branded image in Canva.
  • Go into Pinterest.
  • Click the red + button at the top right-hand side of the page.
  • Select Upload Image.
  • Upload your branded image.
  • Add the URL of the relevant page on your website.
  • Add a description of the Pin (this could be the same as your Board description).
  • Click Done.
  • Go to your Boards page.
  • Click the grey pencil at the bottom of the relevant Board to Edit your Board
  • Click Change cover.
  • Select your branded Pin.
  • Save Changes.
  • Repeat for each Board you want to brand.

Action Point

Create and Pin branded Cover Photos for your author boards.

3. Sort Your Boards

In case you didn’t know, you can also sort your boards. This is a good idea, as it means you can position your branded boards at the top to promote and reinforce your visual brand. If you don’t sort your boards, then Pinterest will choose how they display the Boards (Last saved to, A to Z, Newest, or Oldest). This might not be the image you want to send …

  • Go to Pinterest.
  • Display Boards.
  • Go to the Sort Boards menu to the right, and select Drag and Drop.
  • Drag your Boards into the order you want. Start with the Board you want at the top, and work across, then down.

Action Point

Sort your Boards to reinforce your author brand by placing your most important Boards at the top of your page (but without looking entirely self-promotional).

4. Section Your Boards

You can now section (aka segment) Boards within Pinterest. This is a great idea, as it means you don’t have to have a gazillion separate boards. Instead, you can have one board for a topic (e.g. Food), then divide that board into appropriate sections (e.g. breakfast, lunch, keto, chocolate).

Illustration of Pinterest Board sections

This is also great for authors, as it means you don’t have to have separate Boards for each book (which can look self-promotional and self-indulgent). Instead, have one Board for each series, with individual Pins sectioned by book.

How to Section a Board

  • Click into a specific Board.
  • Click Add Section.
  • Click Organise (at the top right-hand corner).
  • Select the Pins you want to move. Click Move.
  • Hover over the Section you want to move the Pins to until you see “Move X Pins here”.
  • Click.

This means you can combine and eliminate small Boards … which is good Pinterest practice anyway. To combine Boards, go to your Boards page, click Organise (at the top right-hand corner), and move Pins from their current Board into the appropriate Section of your new Board. You should have a minimum of five Pins on each Board (and ideally at least twenty).

For more information, see this post from the Pinterest blog: Organise Your Ideas on Pinterest.

Action Point

Section your larger boards to make them easier to navigate.

Tidy up your Pinterest account by combining and sectioning some of your smaller Boards.

5. Use Hashtags

In September 2017, Pinterest official announced that they would now support hashtags in the same way as Twitter and other popular social media apps. The principles are the same: choose relevant hashtags people are likely to search. Twitter suggest using no more than twenty hashtags on a single pin, but other Pinterest experts suggest four (as using too many hashtags looks spammy).

Action Point

Add up to four hashtags to each Pin (e.g. the hashtags you’re using when you post to Twitter or Instagram).

And If You’re Not on Pinterest …

If you’re not in Pinterest, perhaps you should be! Pip Reid, Kiwi author and co-owner of Bible Pathway Adventures, has collaborated with Mark Dawson of Self-Publishing Formula to write a short introduction to Pinterest. It’s available free from Amazon: Pinterest for Authors.

 

 

What tips do you have for using Pinterest?

What's Changing at Twitter (Hint: no more spam)

What’s Changing at Twitter? (An #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop Post)

Today’s post is part of the monthly Author Toolbox Blog Hop. The Hop is organised by Raimey Gallant, and has over 40 participating blogs. To find more posts, click here to check out the main page, click here to search #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop on Twitter, or click here to find us on Pinterest.

What’s Changing at Twitter?

I had planned to continue my series on email lists and giveaways this week. But I discovered Twitter have announced changes to their rules and policies around automation, and the changes come into effect on Friday (23 March 2018). These changes affect me directly, and indirectly affect all my fellow #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop participants. That’s why I’m covering it today.

These changes affect:

  • Anyone who manages multiple Twitter accounts.
  • Anyone who posts the same Tweet more than once (i.e. recycles Tweets).

If you don’t fit either of these categories, congratulations! You’re good to go. Otherwise, read on …

The Background

As we all know, social media has become a lot less social. In early 2018, Facebook announced they are changing their algorithm to reduce the number of posts from businesses, brands, and media so we’re better able to use Facebook for the original purpose: to stay connected with the people who matter to us. The subtext to this announcement is that Facebook are going to push businesses, brands, and media to pay to advertise or to boost posts, because that’s how Facebook makes money.

Now Twitter is taking a similar approach.

There are three ways to post a Tweet:

  1. Direct: A direct Tweet posts immediately from Twitter.
  2. Scheduled: A scheduled Tweet posts at a set date and time in the future, and may be scheduled in Twitter, or in an external app.
  3. Automated: An automated Tweet is when someone uses an external app such as Audiense ,Buffer, CrowdFire, Dlvr.it, Hootsuite, MeetEdgar, SocialJukebox, or TweetDeck to tweet on their behalf. Automated tweets are often duplicate Tweets.

Twitter have noticed (haven’t we all!) that a lot of Tweets are automated sales tweets, fake news, or spam. I often come across accounts where the Tweets all appear to be automated sales Tweets, sometimes coming from multiple accounts. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Authors are not innocent in this. I’ve read blog posts teaching me how to upload hundreds of Tweets to a programme like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, so the Twitter account can automatically Tweet sales messages. I’ve seen authors Tweeting these sales messages as often as every ten minutes. One author I know of has over 370,000 Tweets, but less than 5,000 followers … and just 16 Likes. If that’s not spam, what is?

What’s Happened?

I’m sure we all agree that Twitter would be a lot more social if there were fewer automated Tweets … especially automated sales tweets. So Twitter have updated their rules. Twitter now explicitly prohibits certain actions, and these changes come into affect this week, on 23 March 2018.

Twitter says:

  • Do not (and do not allow your users to) simultaneously post identical or substantially similar content to multiple accounts.
  • Do not (and do not allow your users to) simultaneously perform actions such as Likes, Retweets, or follows from multiple accounts.
  • The use of any form of automation (including scheduling) to post identical or substantially similar content, or to perform actions such as Likes or Retweets, across many accounts that have authorized your app (whether or not you created or directly control those accounts) is not permitted.

Twitter will police these changes, and suspend or terminate accounts which break the rules.

The first two points only apply to people who operate more than one Twitter account, so the easy solution is to stick to one account!

People who do operate more than one account now have to be sure they are not duplicating content across the accounts.

This is easy when the accounts have a different focus (e.g. an author who also sells homemade cards on Etsy may have two accounts, but they are unlikely to be posting the same content). It’s a little harder when the two accounts have a different but overlapping focus (e.g. an author account, and an account for a group blog).

I have access to three Twitter accounts: my personal account, and two accounts related to group blogs where I’m part of the administration team. I don’t simultaneously post identical or substantially similar content across all three accounts, but I’ll make sure my team members know not to do this as well. We will also be careful about retweeting between accounts, as that could attract Twitters attention in a negative way.

Posting Multiple Updates

The third point is the one that has many authors worried: posting identical content.

The use of any form of automation (including scheduling) to post identical or substantially similar content, or to perform actions such as Likes or Retweets, across many accounts that have authorized your app (whether or not you created or directly control those accounts) is not permitted.

This is a change of wording, but not a change of official policy. When I wrote my previous blog post on the Twitter rules, this was one of the rules:

[Do not] post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account

Twitter says they do not permit multiple duplicate updates (i.e. recycled content) on one account. But they have historically permitted recycled content as long as the posts were at least twelve hours apart (according to dlvr.it). Dlvr.it say:

Twitter is now poised to enforce this policy much more aggressively by restricting all duplicate content posting, even if it the posts are made even days or weeks apart.

Most Twitter apps and Twitter experts are saying this means the end of recycled content. For example, MeetEdgar says:

Moving forward, it means you should expect scheduling tools that have allowed for automated content recycling to no longer offer that service for Twitter accounts.

MeetEdgar is planning an upgrade that will enable users to upload multiple variations on the same Tweet at the same time. Tweets will be marked as sent, and won’t be resent. They are also considering a spinnable text option.

Twitter have also updated their rules to specifically prohibit users from creating additional accounts to get around the “no duplicate Tweets”rule. The updated rule is:

[Do not] post duplicative or substantially similar content, replies, or mentions over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account, or create duplicate or substantially similar accounts

Under this updated rule, “duplicate content” has become “duplicative or substantially similar content, replies, or mentions”. Users are also now expressly forbidden from “creating duplicate or substantially similar accounts.”

So recycling Tweets is against the Twitter rules, and has been for some time. The difference is Twitter will now be policing this more strongly. This will directly affect me, and may indirectly affect all my fellow #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop participants. Why?

Because I currently recycle Tweets.

I recycle Tweets using two different apps:

Buffer

I use Buffer’s Power Scheduler feature to Tweet all my new blog posts seven times over the next year. I currently alternate between two tweets for these, so each individual Tweet gets sent three or four times.

Buffer does allow me to create a unique Tweet for each share, so I will utilise that feature going forward—the only problem will be getting creative enough so each Tweet is not “substantially similar”. This is the approach recommended by Digital Decluttered. Problem solved.

SocialJukebox

I use SocialJukebox to share my blog posts, #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop posts, and posts from the two group blogs I administer (Australasian Christian Writers and International Christian Fiction Writers).

This is more of a problem, as SocialJukebox (like MeetEdgar) is a once-and-done solution for recycling Tweets, which means repeat Tweets are duplicate Tweets. However, I can control how often the posts repeat, and I have now set this to 90 days. At most, any individual post will be seen no more than three or four times a year.

I hope this will be enough to escape the attention of the Twitter suspension team. But my Twitter account was briefly suspended last year, so I need to be careful. If I get suspended, I’ll pause all my SocialJukebox streams and hope that solves the problem.

I’m not sure what this will mean for SocialJukebox. It’s a paid service, and my renewal is coming up soon. The only reason I use SocialJukebox is to recycle Tweets. SocialJukebox have not made an official announcement about changes to their service relating to this update.

Do you administer more than one account? Or post identical updates to one account? How will this change affect you?

Building Your Author Platform: Do I Need to be on Social Media?

Building Your Author Platform: Do I Need to be on Social Media?

Yes. And no.

In terms of building an author platform, you need methods of attracting potential new readers. Some people call this outreach. Social media is great for outreach. It’s not so great for selling.

The disadvantage of social media is that you don’t own the platform. If you infringe the rules of the social network, they can delete your account. This leaves you with no way of engaging with or converting potential readers. And that’s why a website and email list—things you own—are the two most important foundations of your author platform.

This happened to me last year: Twitter suspended my account. I got it back, but what if I hadn’t?

As I see it, there are two main functions of social networking for authors:

  1. To help us connect with readers
  2. To help us connect with other writers

This is why social networks are important. Writers often work in isolation, and online social networks provide us with valuable and necessary ways to connect with others. My favourite social network is Facebook, and I think of it as the water cooler in my virtual office, the place I head for a short break to recharge before starting the next item on my to-do list.

Connecting with Readers

I believe connecting with readers is more important to an author’s long-term success, because it is the readers who are going to buy your book (or books). For this reason, my suggestions around social networks are more focused on connecting with readers than with other writers–as this is the weak spot for most writers.

We need readers.

We need readers because they read our books. They talk about our books. They review our books. They buy our books. Sure, writers are also readers (or should be). But there are more readers than writers.

Connecting with Writers

Yes, connecting with writers is important, especially in the early stages of your writing. You need to learn to write, and other writers are going to be the people who help with that. Writers will be your first teachers, your first readers, your first fans. They will give you advice on what do, and what not to do. They will help you find a community, essential if your writing is ever going to be anything more than you and a computer.

But in the long term, connecting with readers is more important. Because while all writers are readers (or should be), not all readers are writers.

So what do you want or need from a social networking site:

  • The ability to connect with other users
  • A market demographic that matches your target reader

This means the social networks which are right for me might not be the same as those which are right for you. For example, I discovered as I was researching this post that there are specific social networks for specific groups (this probably shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did). For example:

  • MyMFB has 1.5+ billion followers, and is touted as the Muslim alternative to Facebook.
  • Twoo is a Belgian site geared to teenagers and twenty-somethings.
  • Renren (everyone’s website) is China’s largest social platform.
  • VK.com is the Russian version of Facebook.

None of these are appropriate social networks for me, as my target reader is a Christian with English as their first language.

But these social networks could be great options for writers targeting non-Christian readers in these countries and people groups.

So, no, you don’t need to be on every social network. But you probably do need to be active on a couple of social networks. And you do need your own author website (discussed in this post), and you almost certainly need an email list (click here if you’d like to join mine!).

Do you …
Know you need to start building your author platform but have no idea where to start?
Have a blog and a couple of social media accounts but don’t know what to do next?
Have a website, but aren’t sure if you’re on the right track?

Then join my March Marketing Challenge: Kick Start Your Author Platform. Click here for more information.

What’s your favourite social network, and why?

Twitter Account Suspended

5 Lessons Learned from Getting My Twitter Account Suspended

Or, how I accidentally violated the Twitter Rules and got my account suspended three times, shared here in great detail so you can learn from my mistakes and ensure you don’t get your Twitter account suspended.

Last weekend, my Twitter account was suspended for allegedly exhibiting automated behaviour that violates Twitter’s rules. Long story short, my account was suspended three times before I worked out what I’d done wrong (at least, I hope I worked it out. My account has now been active for a whole 72 hours without a suspension).

I’ve since discovered that other authors are having similar problems, hence this blog post. Yes, I know I said I’d be posting about plotting with Michael Hauge, and I will. But first I want to cover what I did wrong, and how you can prevent the same thing happening to you.

Avoid Using Twitter for Blog Comments

The first time my account was suspended, I was trying to use Twitter to authenticate a comment on an unrelated book review blog. I thought this was the problem. In hindsight, it may have contributed to the problem, but I don’t think it was the cause.

The comment was a form of automated behaviour, which well have triggered something in the Twitter algorithm that got me shut out. Or it could be one of several other factors (as you’ll see).

Lesson One: Don’t Use Twitter as a Login Unless Necessary

This is actually good online practice. If you use Twitter to log in to every app in cyberspace and someone hacks your Twitter account, they can do a whole bunch of things in your name. Not good.

Avoid Autoposting from Social Networks

I’m a book blogger, and I spent a few hours on Saturday uploading book reviews to sites such as Amazon, Goodreads, and Riffle. I was behind, so I probably uploaded ten reviews to five or six sites each.

My Goodreads and Riffle accounts were both set to autopost certain links to Twitter (which I knew was the case for Goodreads, but had forgotten with Riffle). Again, there weren’t a lot of tweets—maybe ten or twelve over a two-hour period—but that might have been enough to trigger the algorithm.

I reviewed my Twitter feed, and found the Goodreads and Riffle tweets. I deleted them, and edited the settings on both accounts so that nothing is automatically tweeted.

Lesson Two: Don’t Autopost to Twitter from Social Networks

Even when the social network gives you the option. I have to admit, this annoyed me. I was trying to be a good member of the bookish community by sharing links to reviews of books I’ve enjoyed, and I got punished for it.

As I was looking through my feed, I noticed some Tweets that were autoposts from Instagram. This isn’t a good idea. Apart from possibly falling foul of Twitter’s rules, the picture doesn’t show up. You’re better posting directly from Twitter.

Be Careful About Using Autopost Apps

I use Buffer and SocialJukebox to retweet old blog posts and book reviews, and RoundTeam to retweet from members of one of my many writing groups. Blogging experts typically recommend you promote your evergreen posts on social media. There are many tools designed to assist: Buffer, Hootsuite, ManageFlitter, MissingLettr, RoundTeam, and SocialOomph, to name a few.

Some experts recommend tools which automatically post based on selected keywords. I abandoned that idea after about three minutes, when I realised that using “Christian” as a keyword (or even “Christian fiction”) would get me a combination of faith-based content, and content that was decidedly more steamy.

So my practice is a little more time-consuming, but it means I have personally read and curated every Tweet. Well, almost every Tweet, because I was using RoundTeam for that small group of trusted writer friends. My bad. Because something, somewhere, decided this automation was violating Twitter rules.

I had no idea what I was doing wrong, so I shut off posting from Buffer and SocialJukebox. I’ve switched Buffer back on, but I think I’ll wait a few more days before restarting my Jukeboxes. (If you don’t know about these two programmes, check out my previous posts: Introducing Buffer and Introducing SocialJukebox.)

Lesson Three: Limit the Number of Apps you Use

This situation showed me I actually had no idea how many apps I was using with Twitter.

Review Your Twitter Apps and Permissions

Twitter settings include a list of apps we have allowed to access our Twitter account. So I checked out my list (in my Settings and Privacy menu). It was a lot longer than I thought. Many of them were apps productivity or curation apps I’d checked out, decided not to use, and forgotten about.

But I hadn’t revoked Twitter access.

My bad. I was unpleasantly surprised to realise how many of these could post on my behalf. I couldn’t see any tweets from them on my timeline, but what did that mean? Had they been autoposting and the posts deleted?

I clicked Revoke Access to pretty much everything (although most of them were read-only access in the first place), leaving only the apps I have paid subscriptions to (e.g. Buffer and SocialJukebox), and those that seem necessary (e.g. apps to comment on WordPress blog sites).

Lesson Four: Don’t Give Apps Posting Rights on Your Twitter Accounts

Unless you need them, of course. I’ve trialled perhaps a dozen apps, but only use two on a regular basis. But the others still had posting rights, and some might even have been still posting (e.g. MissingLettr, which schedules Tweets for up to a year in the future).

Be Careful With Multiple Twitter Accounts

I’m also the “owner” of a group Twitter account for a writers group, Australasian Christian Writers. The ACWriters Twitter account uses a different email address than my personal account, but both accounts use the same mobile phone number for authentication . . . which effectively links the accounts.

I happened to mention I’d been having problems with Twitter to one of the other group administrators. She checked the ACWriters account and saw it had been suspended (interestingly, when I checked it, everything looked normal).

I logged into the ACWriters Twitter account, and had to go through the whole unlocking rigmarole. Three times. This got me wondering: was it my “bad” behaviour that got my account suspended? Or was the ACWriters account suspended first? I don’t know, and I guess I never will. But it did show me that actions (and suspensions) on one account impact on the other.

Most of the activity on ACWriters is automated. The account doesn’t generate any native tweets, but posts links to new posts on the Australasian Christian Writers blogs, retweets @mentions, and retweets Tweets from blog members … including me. And Twitter might have interpreted that as me trying to toot my own horn.

Lesson Five: Don’t Have More Than One Twitter Account

Or, if you do, run them off separate email addresses, separate mobile numbers. And don’t have Account A set up to retweet Account B and vice versa, because Twitter calls that spam. Yes. The Twitter Rules contain dozens of possible ways you can spam, and some of them surprised me.

So while I never set out to violate the Twitter Rules, I did.

I’ve tightened my account, reviewed who and what can post, and done as much as I can to break the link between my two accounts.

I’ll be back next week to update you on my progress, and to talk through the Twitter Rules and work out what I might have done wrong … and what you might be doing.

Meanwhile, have I missed anything?

Reader Question: Should I Hire Someone to Build my Social Media Presence?

Today I’m visiting Australasian Christian Writers to answer a question from a reader:

Building Your Social Media Presence

An agent liked my manuscript, but said I needed to build my social media presence before he’d consider representing me. I work full time. Should I hire someone?

Short answer: Maybe. Long answer …

Maybe. It depends on what your agent means by a social media presence, the kind of books you write and plan to write, on your brand, and on what God wants for your writing …

To read the rest of this post, click here to visit Australasian Christian Writers.

If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer in a future blog post, please email me via www.christianediting.co.nz/contact, or tag @iolagoulton on Twitter.