twitter

3 Dangerous Book Marketing Ideas which Drain Your Bank Account

Bookmarks…jewelry…spa items…promo items in general…

You can put your book cover or author name on anything nowadays and though these items do get a lot of attention (Who doesn’t like free stuff, huh?) are they a worthy investment? Are you wasting your money on these items and not seeing a large return on sales?

Here are 3 Dangerous Book Marketing Ideas which Drain Your Bank Account...followed up by suggestions on how to better invest your money, get more attention for your books and still get the write-offs. Continue reading

How to Do an Automatic Tweet Campaign – Part 3

twitter-128Sorry for the delay on getting this last part posted. So much for marketing & timing! This is part 3 of a 3-part series. Here are the links to the other articles in the series:

Creating Your First Campaign

I’ll recap the 50,000 foot view mentioned in Part 1:
  1. Create a Hootsuite account (Hopefully, you’ve done this by now)
  2. Populate an MS Excel spreadsheet with your tweets (template below)
  3. Upload the spreadsheet into Hootsuite’s Bulk Scheduler
  4. Sit back and relax, feeling accomplished *sigh* Continue reading

Twitter Hashtags and How To Use Them

Twitter Expert? Hardly!

twitter-128(This is a republication of the article I posted on my reader blog.)

I’m going to state right up front…I am no Twitter expert. I will say, however, having just recently come to finally understand the concept of how Twitter works AND how other people use Twitter, I’m able to grasp the concept of how it can help me communicate with readers. With that said, if anyone else has anything they can add or correct me on, please leave comments. We can all be better at using this amazing social networking venue if we all pitch in.

Since I’m a fiction author, I’ll be sharing this information from the perspective of novels and that portion of the publishing industry, so this article is probably more geared toward the fiction author who wants to learn how to use Twitter to get the word out about their novels, but the concepts covered here can be applied to almost anything, so read on. This article is long, but covers the following topics (click topic to go straight to it, BUT click the MORE button below if you’re not in the actual article.):

  • The Purpose of Twitter
  • How to Use Twitter – The #Hashtag
  • Hashtags for Author, Readers, Writing and Publishing
  • Leveraging Mentions and Twitter Names
  • How to Run a Twitter Campaign (which mentions some Twitter Clients that make using Twitter easier) Continue reading

Self-Publishing Earns Authors More Money

Author Earnings
My friend and fellow author, Genella deGrey, shared a wonderful article called The 7k Report, written by Hugh Howey of Author Earnings. It’s a long read, but WELL worth it. Go ahead. Go read the report. I’ll wait. *Arial gets up and grabs a cup of coffee, peruses her e-mail and does a little marketing while she waits*

There! See? Very informative and pretty thorough = wonderful. There are two reasons I’m sharing this article, and I will thereby summarize the article for those who aren’t ready to spend the time to read the entire entry:

  1. Actual Data – Finally, we authors can see a fairly reliable source of information that lets us know whether or not writing for ourselves is worth the plunge.
  2. Prove a Point – I have always touted to my author friends that traditional publishing is not worth anyone’s time or effort unless the publisher is willing to do the work to sell your books for you. My explanation to follow.

Admittedly, today is a bit of a rant. Many representatives of the Big Five1 have been quoted as saying eBooks and self-publishing are killing the publishing industry2. At a minimum, many articles in general have been waving that colored banner rather vehemently. I will say such chatter has died down as of late, especially from the Big Five…but that’s because everyone has definitely called, “Bullshit” on their claims. Wasn’t it just last year that Amazon announced eBooks outsold print?? I’m just sayin’.

The article above illustrates just how much money publishers are making on the backs of authors. What has always burned me is how those publishers have complained like a whiny kids at a lemonade stand that their sales have dramatically declined and they blame eBooks and self-publishing. What specifically ticks me off is it’s completely UNTRUE!!! Well…in all fairness, it was a twisted truth. Their PRINT sales dramatically declined. But while they were whining and wailing to the world about their woes, tons of money was coming in through the back door of their digital sales. Self-publishing didn’t invent eBooks. It just made it more lucrative and accessible for the author. Publishers were already putting out their own eBooks. Self-publishing just made it a popular purchase.

Summary of Article

Like I said, the article is long but well worth the read. However, a quick summary of the post is the co-author of the article created an application that combs the internet (specifically Amazon.com) for rankings and sales figures. The article then goes in depth with charts and information generated from a sample of book data – the top 1000 or so bestselling books – then breaks it down into which of those books are ,”Indie Published, Small/Medium Publisher, Amazon Published (from imprints like 47North), Big Five published, and Uncategorized Single-Author.” Honestly, I’m not sure how they are defining “Indie Published” versus “Uncategorized Single-Author.” I’ve sent them a message to get clarification.

As it turns out, even though the Big Five publishers are getting the lion’s share of the sales, the amount of money the traditionally published authors actually pull in from the haul pales in comparison to the royalties gained from self-published/indie authors.

Amazon gives 70% of the sale price for self-published books priced at $2.99 – $9.99, and 35% outside of those price ranges. Whereas the average royalty an author gets from the Big Five is 25%. Howey says what I say…it’s worth it to self publish! And he even goes into three scenarios of the self-published author who…

  1. doesn’t make anything and their book(s) get lost in the plethora of books in Amazon’s catalogue.
  2. sells enough to at least pay their bills.
  3. is hugely successful.

All three scenarios – even #1 – sound better than a contract with the Big Five.

My Two Pence

To Traditionally Publish or Indie/Self-Publish? No Question for Me

I use indie and self-publishing as interchangeable terms, for the record.

So why I am all down on the Big Five? Would I ever turn down a contract from them? It depends on the situation, which I’ll ‘splain in a sec. Would I actively seek a contract with them? No. There’s no reason for me to do so…and many authors are in my boat. In all honesty, no publisher would approach me right now because my novels don’t have the kind of sales they’re looking for. So the only kind of contract I could hope to get from the Big Five is the no-money-down, 25% royalty rate AND I do all the marketing. As such, why would I want the contract?

I have many author friends I know personally who have Big Five contracts and they’re getting little-to-no advertising or marketing through their publisher – especially from the new digital imprints. For clarification: These are contracts where the author receives NO book advance and a 25% royalty rate. As mentioned above, any publicity for such contracts are usually through genre-related ads or blog posts on the publisher’s website.

Sheldon Butternut

That’s nice.

When was the last time any of you went to Random House’s blog – or the blog for Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan or Penguin – and checked out their latest releases. Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Sorry, authors…you can’t count the times you went there to see if your own or your best friend’s announcement was posted. This is specifically if you went there because you find the blog entertaining and want to know the latest releases so you can run out and buy them, being an avid reader. TOR might qualify, though…it definitely has such an appeal.

I also have friends who have Big Five contracts, which included a cash advance and a sometimes better than 25% royalty rate. And each of them are definitely successful. Why? Because the publisher pushed their books.

Please note: Of those author friends of mine who are EXTREMELY successful, every one of them were successfully self-published first. Now, that’s just in my world, but it says a lot to me. The only advantage of a traditional contract these days is the book advance. If the advance was enough to cover my expenses for at least long enough to write the next book, then I would go for it! Otherwise, it’s not worth my time. I give the same advice to other authors. It’s not that we should reject the Big Five…we just need to be smart with our choices. Being an author is, after all, running a business.

Catherine Bybee (left) &      HP Mallory (right) – Successfully Self-Published FIRST, then publishers offered a decent contract

My Publisher of Choice: ME

Self-publishing is a great testing ground for publishers and agents. If a self-published book is hugely successful, then the publisher has less to gamble in giving away a book advance with no guarantee they’re going to make that money back. And I get it…it’s business. They don’t want to fork over four to seven figures and not have some confidence they’ll get an ROI. IF a publisher gives an author an advance, they’d be stupid not create specific or focused ads for that book. They want to make their money back, so if an author is going to get a Big Five contract, my recommendation is, “Show me da money!” Their investment in an advance proves they’re going to push the sales of your book. And today, publishers are only going to give a large advance if they have a guarantee.

As such, there is absolutely no reason NOT to self-publish…period. If I’m the one who has to bust my tukass to get my books out there on blogs, go to conferences and peddle my POD (Print On Demand) books and throw ads all over the place – all at my expense and time, which takes away from my writing time – I’m going to want 70% of the cut because I’m doing 70% or more of the work. If the same efforts are going to get me the same sales, I’m going to want to make sure the money is coming to me. Make sense?

Let’s do the math and let the numbers speak for themselves:

Author A – Traditionally Published

This author has a Big Five contract with no advance and 25% royalties. As described above, the author has to do most, if not all, of the promoting. They have three books under their belt with said publisher and sell 25 copies each of their books – a total of 75 books by the end of the month. The sale price of each book is $3.99 (Big Five publishers usually price their books more than this – as noted in the aforementioned article – but let’s compare apples to apples for the sake of argument).

Also for sake of argument, we’re going to say the author gets 25% of the $3.99 shown here. They actually get it off the wholesale price which is less, but since publishers charge higher AND that elusive “wholesale” price is hard to nail down, the solid 25% should not only make up the difference, but even put the traditionally published author in a more favorable bracket of figures.25% of $3.99 = $0.99 ($0.9975 to be exact – ouch) x 75 books = $74.81

Author B – Self-Published

This author has created her own cover, has a reliable editor friend and the author knows how to do her own formatting (we’ll get into expenses in a minute). She also knows how to publish her books in the various formats and posts them on the various venues – Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc. (which means she has a more limited retail outreach than trad. publishers). She has 3 books under her belt priced at $3.99 each and has also sold 75 books at the end of the month.70% of $3.99 = $2.79 ($2.793 to be exact) x 75 books = $209.47

Wow! Quite the difference, no? That right there should have authors clamoring to get their books self-published. At least that’s how I felt once I saw this explained to me. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and my own income from my books has definitely been an enjoyable bowl of succulent pudding…comparatively speaking. And I look forward to enjoying more than just dessert as I continue to write and promote.

Self-Publishing Expenses

The biggest argument people have against self-publishing is the author doesn’t have to put any money into their books when they go through a traditional publisher, and self-publishing has expenses. Granted, those expenses are up-front, but authors most certainly pay for the editing, cover art and the publisher’s contacts with retail stores through the huge royalty cut they take, so don’t think traditional publishing doesn’t cost you anything. You do pay. It just comes out of your back end on the sales…uh…I mean your sales through the back end. (Heh…even that sounded bad.)

The more you can do on your own, the less expensive it is to publish your own book. All-in-all, I will say you can easily spend anywhere from $100 to $2000 per book if you pay people to edit, format, publish and design the cover for your book. Definitely shop around and if you have skill to offer inside or outside of publishing, you might be able to exchange services. Example: An author friend of mine needed some editing and we needed some construction work done on our house. He helped my husband and I tear down and put up drywall and I edited his short story collection. We both saved each other a lot of money and accomplished our goals.

Now, I will never be the one to advocate a book going out there without any editing. I’m a firm believer in getting your book edited before the public sees it. But don’t let that expense stop you. Fifty Shades of Grey was HORRIBLE in structure, grammar, storyline and character development and collectively the series has sold over 15 million copies. I’m just sayin’. I’ve seen plenty of grammar, spelling and typing mistakes in Big Five books, so they aren’t perfect either. If you can’t afford an editor now, afford one later. Get your stuff out there!  BUT a good cover is crucial! Spare no expense into a getting professional-looking, quality cover. THAT will be your primary point of sale. If your cover looks bad, you won’t sell books.

Read my article on To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish for more information on what it takes to self-publish.

Conclusion

I don’t know about you, but I can pay my car insurance and gas bill from that income mentioned above…and I do! Not only does self-publishing offer greater returns, the self-published author has more flexibility. The author can experiment with pricing, can give away as many copies of their books as their little heart desires and can even do the “loss leader” where at least one title is perma-free or at a discounted price (I’ll have to do another post on that one and other marketing strategies). Though some digital imprints are letting authors give away as many copies as they want, most publishers (even small presses) limit how much you can give away. And some do experiment with pricing, but you have to ask them. Call me a control freak, I want to price my book my way. It’s working for me so far.

Do you have a publishing success story you’d like to share? Traditionally published or self-published. Do you agree or disagree with self-published authors making more money? I’d love to hear your comments.
That’s my two pence…

Arial 😉

1 For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “Big Five”, be advised it used to be the “Big Six”. These terms refer to the largest players of the publishing industry. See Valerie Peterson’s article on About.com for a more extensive explanation.
2 Visit the article eBooks are Killing Publishers, and Other Post Facto Nonsense at the Digital Reader Blog

How to Do an Automatic Tweet Campaign – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3-part series. Here are the links to the other articles in the series:

How to Schedule a Tweet with Hootsuite

Even though you can schedule messages for the other social networking platforms, I’m just going to cover how to work with tweets for the purposes of this article. Most of this will apply to the other social network accounts.

Why would you schedule a single tweet? Or perhaps just a small handful? Perhaps your readers are in a different time zone and they’re awaken when you’re sleeping or driving home in rush-hour traffic. Perhaps you want a few timely messages to go out while you’re at an event or at work. You could set up a small group of tweets to remind people of a seminar you’ll be teaching and you want to be sure they’re on time. Telling them to watch for a certain hashtag could alert them on their phones while you’re getting ready to teach. Be creative! Here’s how you would schedule a single message through Hootsuite:

  1. Login to your free Hootsuite account.
  2. In the top‐left corner of the home screen, there should be a text box containing the words “Compose message…”. Click inside that text box (see Figure 1).
    Figure 1
  3. When you do, it will expand to look like Figure 2. Go ahead and type the message you wish to tweet in the expanded text box.
    Figure 2
  4. Notice as you type, a counter appears at the bottom with the Twitter logo (See Figure 3). This lets you know how many characters you have remaining for your message. Also note there’s a text box that says “Add a link…” You guessed it! This is where you can put a link, should you wish to include one. The benefit of using their link option is 1) they’ll shrink it for you and 2) their “owl” links will create click statistics for you. Yes, you will be able to see how many people actually click on your links. GREAT for figuring out how to improve your marketing approach. Let’s go ahead and add a link to see how it works.
    Figure 3
  5. When you click into that text box, it will also expand and a new “SHRINK” button will appear (as you see in Figure 4).
    Figure 4
  6. Type or paste your link into the text box and click the SHRINK button (see Figure 5).
    Figure 5
  7. When you click the SHRINK button, it will not only make the link a shorter link, but it will also insert it at the end of your message (see Figure 6). At this point, you can just hit the “Send Now” button and it will be posted onto Twitter as if you’d posted it live at Twitter.com. This is how you use Hootsuite as a social media management tool. You can send live messages on all your accounts within a single application. However, for this tutorial, we want to schedule this tweet.
    Figure 6
  8. Just above and to the left of the “Send Now” button, there’s a little calendar icon (labeled with the dark-grey “Scheduling” balloon in Figure 7 below). When you click on that calendar or Scheduling icon, the window will expand and show a mini calendar with other options. Using the mini calendar, you can click through the months and click on a day and it will automatically update the date text box to the right of the calendar (see Figure 7, #1).
    Figure 7
  9. Set the time by clicking on the drop-down boxes (Figure 7, #2) and AM or PM by clicking on the corresponding buttons (Figure 7, #3). NOTE: If you’re scheduling a tweet/message and you want to be notified when it goes out so you can be online to answer questions, tick the “Email me when message is sent” check box.
  10. Once you’ve composed your message, shortened your link and scheduled a date/time, click on the “Schedule” button in the bottom right-hand corner of the window (see bottom-right of Figure 7). The scheduling/message box should shrink back to the small text box we saw at the beginning and you should get a confirmation the message was scheduled (See Figure 8).
    Figure 8

The Rules of Bulk Scheduling in Hootsuite

In general, a tweet campaign can be anywhere from 10-100 tweets sent out in one day, or thousands spread over several days. Due to the limits of Hootsuite, you can only schedule up to 350 tweets in your queue at once. If you took advantage of that max number, to have several campaigns scheduled over a few weeks (a couple of days here and there, let’s say), you can imagine how long it would take to schedule each and every tweet for a campaign if you followed the above instructions. What a nightmare! Remember, to best utilize your valuable time, use the above method for those one/few messages you need to schedule. If you need/want to schedule more than 10, I recommend the Bulk Scheduler.
Bulk scheduling does take some time to initially set up, but once you’ve created your first campaign, you can repeat that campaign just by making some subtle changes. Hootsuite has a list of rules and formatting restrictions that aren’t really necessary to go over here because the spreadsheet I’ve provided here will handle most of the formatting and some of the other things are “fixed” automatically in the scheduler. However, those rules are in the Bulk Schedule Updates window, so the first time you go through this, you might was to read them to educate yourself.
However, there are a few rules the should be addressed or you’ll get errors when you try to upload your spreadsheet:
  1. Duplicate Messages Not Allowed – You cannot use the same exact wording, character for character, in more than one tweet in your campaign. Not sure if Twitter/Hootsuite has some kind of timer (perhaps 24 hours), but this doesn’t mean you can’t send the same exact message tomorrow. The purpose of this rule is to prevent people from spamming the same message multiple times. However, you can change your message by at least one character (even a space) and the tweet will not be rejected (e.g., using “&” instead of “and” will change the tweet; even “Click here!” and “Click here!!” are different just because of the extra exclamation point).
  2. 10-Minute Restriction – You cannot schedule the first tweet in your campaign within 10 minutes of uploading your spreadsheet. So if it’s 7:00 am and my spreadsheet has my first tweet firing off at 7:10 am, by the time I login to Hootsuite and upload my spreadsheet I’ll have run into that 10-minute window. I don’t recommend doing a last-minute campaign, but I’ve woken up many-a-morning, gasping into an upright position in my bed, exclaiming, “@#$%?*@! I forgot to schedule my campaign last night!” and staggering bleary-eyed to my computer in my pajamas. NOTE: Although it isn’t a rule, I don’t recommend scheduling your tweets less than 10 minutes apart, either. It’s just plain obnoxious.
  3. 115 Characters ONLY – Hootsuite has a CSV template you can download, but they don’t tell you that even though you are allowed 140 characters in a tweet, you actually cannot have more than 115 characters in your message PLUS your link. The spreadsheet I’ve included here will solve that problem.
Okay, we’re getting really long here again for a single post, so I’m going to take this over to Part 3!
CLICK HERE to read the next post.
Cheers!
Self-Publishing Earns Authors More Money

How to Do an Automatic Tweet Campaign – Part 1

Sorry! Taking a quick break from converting eBooks to multiple formats in favor of the upcoming Black Friday shopping event. Marketing is timing and I thought this would give people enough time to get their Tweet Campaigns ready for the biggest shopping day of the year! GO TEAM!

This is part 1 of a 3-part series. Here are the links to the other articles in the series:

twitter-128Twitter Works!

There is no doubt about it! Twitter is a great tool to help market your books by word of mouth. My friend Catherine Bybee SWEARS by Twitter because that’s how her books gained recognition. Go check out her Amazon rankings and see how ultra successful she is!

She stated in a recent Twitter workshop, “People need to see your name 7 – 10 times before they’ll buy your stuff!” And Twitter will help you do that! (*Arial clears her throat…* “Arial Burnz…Arial Burnz…”)

I would also recommend you get Kristen Lamb’s book Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World where she shows authors how to leverage social media as a whole. What I show you here is only a part of what she touches upon in her bestselling book.

I hear some of you protesting, “I’ve already tried Twitter and it didn’t work!” (Or you know a few authors who have and failed.)

Well, it depends on how you measure success. Read Kristen’s book and she’ll tell you how to do it right. But also take a closer look at what you/your author friends did. First, let’s look at who is following you. Most authors have authors following them. We want READERS following us. Authors are great emotional and professional support, but let’s face it…the vast majority of us don’t buy or read other authors’ books. We can’t! We have our own books to write and we have TONS of author friends. Just how many books can we buy to support our multitude of friends before we go broke? Authors are not the pond in which you should be fishing. (More on finding and properly fishing in the Readers ponds in another article.)

Secondly, did you have a constant stream of BUY MY BOOK tweets? That can be a sure-fire way to cause many eye-rolling gestures with massive unfollows in your wake or many people ignoring you. It’s just annoying, and you’ll know what I mean if you watch the Twitter feeds.

In this series of articles, I’ll not only show you how Tweet a little more personally, but do it more effectively without spending all day at the computer or on your smart phone. You’ll be too busy checking your stats!

The Personal Touch

Using Twitter with a genuine flair is the best approach to an organic response. What does that mean for us authors? Be yourself and stop sounding like a ticker-tape stream of adverts.

Here’s a general rule I learned from an author friend (Thanks, Heather Lyons!) and her publicist: For every 1 BUY MY BOOK (BMB) tweet you send, send 5 that are more personal or reflect who you are as a person/author. I call it the 1:5 TMR (Tweet Marketing Ratio). We’re not recommending ultra personal information, like posting pictures of your unmentionables or stalker-worthy details. Instead, let your personality come through. Here are some ideas for personal filler tweets:

  • Favorite and inspirational quotes by other authors, public figures or people you admire.
  • Jokes or humorous quotes. People LOVE to laugh and it’s a great way to win favor with others.
  • Share information about OTHER authors and help them promote their books by exchanging tweets. And swapping tweets with authors of the same genre is great cross-promotion, too. IDEA: Get a group of authors together to exchange tweets and you can save some time in composing about 50% of those personal filler tweets by promoting your friends using their tweets.
  • Share links to useful, funny or tear-jerking articles, videos or pictures. And it’s even better if they’re related to what you write. For example: My main character is a hot Scottish vampire named Broderick MacDougal, so I retweeted this picture with the tweet, “Broderick MacDougal needs 2 get one of these!” and mentioned several of my rabid fans…
Get creative and see what you can come up with! Even adding humor, drama or teasers to your buy-my-book tweets can be personal. These are some of the tweets on which I’ve received favorable comments or they’re retweeted often:
  • Woo hoo! My book MIDNIGHT CONQUEST is perma #FREE on #Amazon now!! *Does the Snoopy dance* http://ow.ly/qNOX4
  • Want a hunky Scottish #vampire in your hands? Download MIDNIGHT CONQUEST #FREE at #Amazon! http://ow.ly/qNOX4
  • “I want the taste of you on my soul.” Favorite #quote by #vampire Broderick MacDougal in MIDNIGHT CAPTIVE *sigh* http://ow.ly/qNTiN
  • OMG! I got an AMAZING #5Star review at #Amazon!! *falls off office chair* http://ow.ly/qNTGh #vampires #witches #werewolves Oh yeah!!
I wrote an article about Twitter Hashtags & How To Use Them, where I cover #hashtags and how to leverage Twitter. Be sure to check that post out if some of the above tweets looked strange to you OR if you haven’t quite figured out how to use Twitter.

What’s a Tweet Campaign?

In short, a tweet campaign is a stream of tweets you send out over a period of time for a promotional purpose, like a book release day, a free book day, spreading the news for a blog tour stops, or the like. You can do a campaign that spans an hour or even days.

“How the HECK am I supposed to do a campaign for DAYS?? My books aren’t going to write themselves!” I hear many of you screeching out there.

No worries!! Remember, at the beginning of this article when I said you won’t have to be sitting at the computer all day? Well, I meant it!

Hootsuite is Your Friend!

I’m a gal who likes to share a good thing, ergo why I have this blog. Now I can say to all my author friends, “Go to this article I posted!” And one great tool I discovered earlier this year (I know…I’m slow) is HOOTSUITE!

Hootsuite is a web-based social media interface that allows you to post on various social media networks, like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, foursquare, WordPress and mixi. AND you can even connect with multiple accounts (e.g., I’ve connected my Arial Burnz Twitter and Facebook accounts and my Mystical Press Twitter account). Very convenient, as you can literally post one message and have it posted to all those networks with one click! I kid you not! LOVE this tool! There is a free account and a premium account. More on that later.

What I like BEST about Hootsuite is you can schedule your tweets (or whatever other messages you’d like to blast). And I don’t just mean typing in your tweet, scheduling it on the calendar for a date and time in the future and then rinse and repeat fifty times, like you have to do with TweetDeck. I mean BULK SCHEDULE!! Like up to 350 tweets at once! No joke!

More screeches echo across cyberspace. “OMG! Who would send out 350 tweets in a day!?” Well, very obnoxious people, to be sure. But I am not advocating you do that. That’s just how many messages can be queued/scheduled at once in Hootsuite.

How to Bulk Schedule a Tweet Campaign Using Hootsuite

I can almost hear those wheels turning and tumblers clicking into place. I think you know where I’m going with this. If you spend a little time up front planning and preparing, you can schedule several days’ worth of social networking posts – days and even weeks ahead of the event!

Here’s our 50,000-foot view:

  1. Create a Hootsuite account (WAIT! Don’t do it now! I have some money-saving tips for you, so keep your shirt on and stay here!)
  2. Populate an MS Excel spreadsheet with your tweets (template provided)
  3. Upload the spreadsheet into Hootsuite’s Bulk Scheduler
  4. Sit back and relax, feeling accomplished *sigh*

Create a Hootsuite Account

Hootsuite is free to join and it allows you to set up to 5 social networking accounts. However, there are several wonderful features that are only available to paid, premium subscribers – and the Bulk Scheduler is one of those delightful features. The fee is only $9.99 a month if you pay monthly and you can cancel anytime. $8.99/mo if you pay for the year at once – but that’ll be to the tune of just under $108. Ouch! Click here to see what each of their plans has to offer and all the nifty features.

But don’t fret too much about the money right now! Hootsuite gives you the chance to try their services for free in two ways, giving you 37 FREE days you can do campaigns! And I recommend taking advantage of both:

  1. 7 Days FREE – Join for free and, when you’re ready to use the Bulk Scheduler, they’ll tell you it’s a premium feature. But at the bottom of the window that pops up, it has a link to try it free for 7 days. I would recommend you plan a couple of campaigns first before you start your 7-day free trial.
    Note the link UNDER the big, green button!
  2. 30 Days FREE – Did you like your 7-day trial? GREAT! After your 7 days are over, you can plan your next few campaigns and then sign up for the premium account. You’ll automatically get get the first 30 days for free.

You will have to enter a credit card, though, but they won’t charge you during that 30-day trial. You cancel anytime before the 30 days is up, so if you can’t afford the $9.99 per month…put a reminder on your calendar. If I remember correctly, Hootsuite will send you several e-mails reminding you…but it doesn’t hurt to have your own reminder as a back-up.

I am confident, though, once you try the Bulk Scheduler, you’ll see how valuable this tool can be for your marketing campaign and forego that one night a month you go to a movie or take a sack lunch to work instead of going out to lunch. And remember, that $9.99 per month (which is the plan I use) is a tax write-off because it’s business related. 😉
So…visit www.hootsuite.com and sign up for your free account. But don’t trigger that 7-day trial until you’re ready to do a campaign! Right now, I encourage you to explore and set up your accounts and feeds. Hootsuite has a lot of useful walk-through steps that will show you how to add a social networking account and other functions in the web application. I encourage you to explore everything to see some of the amazing free features and what the premium account has to offer – like click reports, retweet statistics, Google Analytics, Facebook and LinkedIn Insights, Twitter and Facebook Aggregates and more! You can even see all your followers AND who they follow in a single glance by look at your contacts. Obviously, I’m in love with this tool.

To be continued…

This post is getting a little long, so I’m going to split this up. I’ll cover how to schedule a tweet and then show you how to bulk schedule a campaign in the next article. However, if you’re too impatient, I give a smaller version of using Hootsuite in that article I linked above to my reader blog, which I’ll probably be moving to this blog once I’ve finished this series. Here’s the link again: Twitter Hashtags & How To Use Them
In the meantime, go create your free Hootsuite account and do some exploring.
CLICK HERE to read the next post.
That’s my two pence…
Arial 😉