Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: spam

Is THIS what’s holding up your author brand?

Recently I put my foot down with the link spam on #MyWANA, because without love there is no community. Thing is, #MyWANA is my hash tag so my rules. A lot of the WANAs cheered and promptly began helping me smite the spammers on our beloved hash tag.

Some might think I am being a tad harsh, but I had actually blogged a couple of times earlier, gently asking those who liked to rely on automation to please refrain from using #MyWANA and use #WANAblogs, because no one expects community on #WANAblogs. On #WANAblogs, folks expect a list of links and resources, but #MyWANA has been reserved for community. It was to be the author water cooler. I didn’t mind a link or two from those actively engaging on #MyWANA, but any automation or link spam was not welcome.

Yet those greedy spammers continued.

One person in particular just makes me shake my head. I won’t mention any names because 1) anyone who has been paying attention to #MyWANA knows exactly who I am talking about and 2) I am just classy like that :D.

Anyway, this individual was notorious for spamming #MyWANA and all other 25 hash tags she could cram into a single tweet. Supposedly her goal was to help writers, yet she was apparently too important to talk to any of us or engage with us. She used #MyWANA as her personal non-stop infomercial.

Her behavior was so bad that the WANAs sent me direct messages, very upset that this woman would not quit spamming #MyWANA, so I told them to warn her then report her. I even tweeted this woman and nicely asked her to please stop spamming #MyWANA.

Here is the real gem.

This woman was reported by so many people that Twitter suspended her account. So what does she do? She creates a NEW account, which she again automates for people to follow her at her NEW identity…and uses #MyWANA.

Seriously? Lady, what is wrong with you?

Author Platforms Founded on SPAM are Useless

Take a good look at the picture below. Is this what you are building your author platform on? Does it look appealing? Does it look stable? Does it look like something you would want to eat? If not, then why would we feed this to others?

Ooh! YUMMY! Don’t you want a BIG bite?

Marketing has Changed in the Digital Age

In the old days, marketing was static and fixed because the marketer had no way of really creating a dialogue with consumers. The goal was to blast a message out to as many “eyes” as possible, and even though the ROI (return on investment) was never all that great (about 1-5%), there really was no other way to get traction for a product.

If our service or product wasn’t on TV, radio, in a magazine or a phone book, then it was effectively invisible. Direct mailings were common, but no company expected the person receiving the mailing to then photocopy the mailing and pass it on to friends and family.

Marketing in the Digital Age is different. We tolerated the non-stop ads years ago because, frankly, we weren’t expecting a conversation. Most of us hadn’t been on the Internet and the notion of “social media” was relegated to the realms of science fiction. Face it, in the 90s, none of us expected to be chatting real-time for free with people all over the globe. Mass marketing didn’t bother us as much because we had no basis for comparison.

These days? We are tired of ads, sick of spam and we loathe people who continue to shove this crap down our throats. We know it is possible to talk to us and to care about us and when you don’t? At best we ignore you, and at worst we report you (then blog about your @$$clown behavior).

Link spam is lazy marketing!

SPAMM= Selfish People Adore Mass Marketing

What I find really fascinating is that this woman who link-spammed #MyWANA wanted us to be on Twitter. She wanted US to be present so that we could drop everything and serve her agenda. But her? Oh, she was too busy and important to participate, whereas we had nothing better to do.

The shocking part was that this woman was sent numerous messages to please stop spamming, and yet, strangely…she never got them? THIS is the problem with automation. Some people have their “tools” set up so effectively that they don’t even have to be bothered talking to the communities they spam. Take, take, take and too important to give.

Oh, but we are giving. We give for FREE! FREE! Download our stuff NOW! Cheap advice and FREE! stuff.

Yeah, um. No.

Free really doesn’t impress us that much these days. People who are willing to talk share, and give first? Those folks get our attention because they earned it. See, social media is SOCIAL. It is like a big water cooler. After 4:30, it is like a big Happy Hour and by 7:00 a cocktail party. By midnight? We are your weird friends who won’t go home and who sleep on your couch and eat all your food.

Who in their right mind would show up at a company water cooler, Happy Hour, or a cocktail party with a credit card machine and a fistful of flyers? What if I just showed up to some bar and set up a table and started selling books? Consulting? Author coaching? How long would it take for me to be escorted outside?

Yet, this is what people are doing on Twitter every day and they are ruining Twitter. If everyone automates, then people get tired of looking at a non-stop infomercial so they go play on Pinterest or hack up monsters on XBox. The only way Twitter can help us build a platform is if people are tuned in and paying attention.

Solid Author Platforms are Built on Community not SPAM

Relationships are solid. Relationships will outlast fads. Relationships will help our platform remain stable even if Twitter collapses and Facebook implodes. Yes, relationships take time and effort, but we should not expect from others what we, ourselves, are unwilling to give. It isn’t right and people will (rightfully) resent us.

I know this is hard. It is hard to find the time to do everything, but here is the deal about love and kindness…a little goes a long way. We will remember the person who congratulated us on word count or who complimented pictures of our kids. We will have warm fuzzy feelings for the person who asks about our day. Make an effort to get on social media and just engage five times a day. Our goal is not to blast out marketing messages. Our goal is to forge friendships one post at a time.

Does your platform look like this? (WANAs in SoCal)
Or this? (WANAs in NYC)
Does an author platform get awesome-er than this? (WANAs in Anaheim, CA)
This is what a WANA platform looks like and YES, we have a Bouncy House (WANAs in Costa Mesa, CA)

So the next time some social media “expert” touts all the wonders and advantages of pre-programmed tweets or form letters, I want you to ask what you want your author brand to rest on…

This? (WANAs in Soho)
Or THIS????

Few people willingly eat SPAM. Spam in a can is a ham-like substance, and SPAM on social media is a human-ish substance. It is a poor substitute for the real thing. Can we take it in small doses (mixed with macaroni & cheese/good conversation)? Sure. But we can’t feast on it and expect long-term health.

If we are using automation and pumping out link-spam, then every tweet erodes our platform and taints our name. Do this long enough and just the sight of our name makes people angry, just like the woman who continues to cluelessly spam #MyWANA. She is oblivious to the depth she has poisoned her brand. When people see her name, they see red. Not exactly the best way to sell books and services.

I believe we need to all work together to clean up social media. When we see people who continue to fill the place with automation, we owe it to the social site to report them, especially when they abuse hash tags. Twitter is a lovely playground but we need to crack down on litter bugs (SPAM bots/link-spammers).

A huge shout-out to my rock star assistant Chad Carver who took all these lovely rather nauseating pictures of salty gelatinous meat stuff.

So what do you guys think? Am I being too harsh? Have you grown weary of the non-stop infomercial? What would you recommend we do to make social media more social? What tips would you like to add?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of August, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of August I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

Ah, it’s the last WANA Wednesday of 2011, and we are careening toward 2012. There are all kinds of writers and all kinds of paths to publication these days, but the down-side is that the competition is growing exponentially by the day. Many writers who would have simply made a resolution to query an agent with that finished manuscript are now just going to bypass the agent and upload their novel for sale. Not that this is a bad thing, but it can open a Pandora’s box of problems. We will talk more about that in the coming weeks.

The Tough Truth About the Brave New World of Publishing

Here’s the hard reality. Saying we are a “published author” these days means almost nothing. It did mean something when back when publishing was locked up tighter than Martha Stuart’s liquor cabinet with gatekeepers. To say we were published meant our work met a certain standard of quality. These days? Rankings and sales will probably become the new mark of author validation. Ok, we are published, but are we #5,339,076 on Amazon? Or are we in the top 100? 50? 10?

I’ve met writers who proudly paid to have beautiful covers designed and build web sites for their self-pubbed book, and yet, when I got a look at their first pages, I wish I could have stopped them. That’s the problem with being new. When we are really new, we are too dumb to know what we don’t know.

So before we make a decision to self-publish, we must make sure we get a professional to look at our book and let us know the hard truth, even if it hurts. It is way easier to have an editor send a private e-mail telling us that our book is a disaster than for a book reviewer to do it on a blog or for readers to blast us on Amazon. Also the BEST way to positively impact sales is to write excellent books. No amount of social media can help a bad book.

But this is another blog.

Not all self-pubbed or indie pubbed books are poorly written. Quite the contrary! Some of the freshest and most innovative writing is now coming from the non-traditional routes. Yet, when an author decides to go it alone, without any support from a traditional publisher, it is a lot of work no matter how excellent the writing.  Don’t let anyone fool you. When we go it alone, we are an entrepreneur and we will have to work like a dog to be successful. Ah, but here is where I can help. Why work harder when we can work smarter?

Writers are Not Car Insurance and Books are Not Tacos

There are a lot of marketing experts who are benevolently offering flawed advice. They don’t mean to. Most of these experts (at least the ones I have met) have a genuine desire to help and serve others. They see writers who need to market so they offer what they believe is a good plan. And, it very may well be a good plan…just not for books.

The problem is that most marketing experts have a disconnect. Since most of them are not writers to begin with and haven’t worked in the publishing industry, they often fail to appreciate that not only are writers unique, but our product is too. What works for Starbuck’s and Levis and Joe’s Car Wash will not work for authors and books. Why?

Yes, Writers Really are Special, Unique Snowflakes

First, the CEO of Honda is not personally responsible for building every car. An author, however, is solely responsible for producing the product. Not just a product, but an EXCELLENT product and in a timely fashion. Writers cannot be on a half a zillion sites, doing blog tours and pod casts and on and on…and still have time to write good books.

Yet, even if we could change the fabric of space-time and add more hours to the day, it wouldn’t matter how many social platforms we blitzed with marketing. Why? Traditional marketing does not sell books. Never has and never will. Don’t ask my opinion, mega-agent Donald Maass  (and anyone working in publishing) will tell you that there are only TWO things that sell books…good book and word of mouth. Period.

I remember years ago hearing that traditional marketing didn’t work for selling books. I didn’t want to believe them and I did a lot of running my head into a wall. Finally, I realized they were right, so I wanted to understand what made this particular product (books) so different from pizza, televisions and Frappuccinos. After a lot of study, a few cases of Red Bull and a massive brain cramp, I came up with my own theory that I call The WANA Theory of Book Economics—WANATBE (get it? Wanna to be? I crack myself up). We have talked about this before, but it is worthy of mentioning again, especially this time of year.

Why Does Traditional Marketing Bomb when it Comes to Books?

The WANATBE  is going to super-duper simplify Marketing 101 so you guys can plainly see why blitzing and advertising about your books non-stop is a bad plan that will do little to drive sales. Yes, traditional marketing will drive some sales, but won’t offer the life-changing numbers all of us want. WANATBE is very simplified, but I tend to believe in Occam’s Razor—the simplest explanation is usually correct. Time to explore why traditional marketing doesn’t sell books.

Commodities are often divided into two types of commodities:

Low Consideration Purchases

High Consideration Purchases

Low consideration purchases are of low social influence. If I drop three bucks to buy a tube of toothpaste and hate it, it is not big deal to toss it in the trash and buy a different kind….unless you are my mother.

Most of us aren’t paying attention to friend recommendations for toothpaste and I would guarantee we aren’t surfing the web looking for blogs and articles about the latest developments in fluoride so we can finally settle the Crest versus Aquafresh debate. We won’t need support and approval from peers that we made a good choice in toothpaste.

And if you do? That’s, uh kinda weird.

High consideration purchases on the other hand, are like cars, vacations, 3-D televisions, and jet skis. These are products where peer opinion weighs heavily upon the decision. If I am about to drop 30 grand on a bass boat, you better believe I have lost my mind I am going to check out consumer reports and on-line resources to get opinions from others.

High-consideration purchases are almost always emotionally driven.

Corvette. Enough said.

But what about books? Some books cost even less than a tube of toothpaste and none cost nearly as much as a flat screen TV. Are books high-consideration or low-consideration?

Reconsider the Potential Market—Tunnel-Vision Will Get Ya Killed

First, I want all of you to forget the mythos of the Book-A-Week Reader. To the person who devours books like candy, books are a low-consideration purchase. The problem, however, is that this type of reader makes up a VERY small fraction of the overall literate population in need of entertaining or informing.

You want to know how Stephenie Meyers, J.K. Rowling, and Dan Brown became such mega-huge successes? They mobilized the fat part of the bell curve made up of people who normally would not define themselves as readers. There are people out there who have never read any other books, but who own every last hard cover of Harry Potter. These books ignited word of mouth so powerful, that they were able to mobilize the largest segment of the population that is traditionally the toughest to move.

Peer Pressure–Not Just for Teenagers

These authors’ books became so popular that they transformed into a social definition. I would have never picked up The DaVinci Code or Twilight on my own. But, finally so many of my peers had read the books that I felt like an outsider. To “fit in” with my peers, I had to read the books.

Peer pressure is the only explanation I have for why The Girl books are popular. I tried reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I just couldn’t get into it (Please don’t send me letters. I don’t have to like all books). Yet, I can’t count how many times someone has said, “Oh, the first 100 pages are rough, but once you get past those the books are amazing!”

Who in their right mind would give a book A HUNDRED pages to get interesting? Peer pressure is what makes the difference. Peer pressure was the only reason I gave the book 50. I NEVER give books more than 20. Ah, but with peer pressure, everything changes. Enough people around are promising a pay-off.

Back to my point…

The fat part of the bell curve—people who believe they do not enjoy reading—is like a huge boulder sitting on the edge of a cliff. It takes a lot of energy to get moving, but once it does? There is no stopping it. And this is how legends are made.

Yet, too many writers are focusing all of their efforts looking for the ever-elusive avid reader. Why? Who cares if someone only reads one book a year if it is your book?

How much advertising is happening in bookstores, on book blogs, book review sites, author web sites, and in Facebook “reader groups” (which is code for “bunch of authors trying to sell books”)…the very places we will probably NEVER find regular people in need of entertaining or informing? Writers are all in search of the White Stag (the avid reader) and, in the process, passing up thousands of brown deer. Wait too long on an anomaly and we can starve.

So What is Our Mission?

A massive percentage of Americans do not consider themselves to be readers, so to them, books are now a high consideration purchase. If we merely look at price, we can get sucked into this notion that books and toothpaste require the same low-consideration purchase approach. But, when we look closer, we see that books cost something more precious than money…TIME.

Books are tricky. To the avid reader, books are a low-consideration purchase. This is why traditional marketing does not drive the big sales numbers. Traditional marketing (for books) targets a select group of people who already love to read. They don’t have to be talked into giving up their time to read. This person was going to be reading anyway. Traditional marketing does work for this small percentage of the population, because they love books and simply need help choosing from all the options.

Yet, for the BIG numbers, we have to mobilize the fat part of the bell curve, and that can be a MONUMENTAL task. We have to convince this non-reading group that our book is worth giving 12 hours of undivided attention (average time to read a novel). Unlike music or video, reading is not a passive activity where we just soak up entertainment like a sponge. We can watch a movie while we fold laundry or listen to music while we do dishes. Books are different. They require our full attention.

Thus, our job is to convince this non-reading group to forgo all other fun hobbies for an activity they don’t even believe they enjoy. We have to convince them to turn off Monday Night Football, stop chain-sawing monsters on X-Box, or turn off Dancing with the Stars. Traditional marketing does not have the power to do this. If writers approach social media using a traditional marketing approach, what happens is we become no better than spam. It’s a TON of work for very little pay-off and it will leave next to no time to do what’s most important….write more books.

Learning to affect peer influence is not as tough as it might seem, but we are out of time. We will talk more about this next week. If you must know the answers right away, I encourage you to pick up a copy of my best-selling book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.

What are your thoughts? Opinions? Challenges? I love hearing from you.

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of December I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books!

Today we are going to talk a little bit about Twitter. Why? Because I have some really unique methods to help you guys build massive social platforms with less work. We aren’t going to talk about all of those tips today, because your mother told me you needed to work on patience. Ha!

That and you guys have to understand the hashtag and how it works. If we don’t know how to properly use a tool, we can easily become a tool, if ya dig ;). Too many writers mistakenly believe they need to be on social media eight hours a day to build an effective platform. Um, that would be a no.

My tips involve the hashtag conversations, but if you don’t know what a hashtag is or what it does, the tips will make no sense. Feel free to scroll down if you happen to be hashtag savvy.

For the rest of you, you might find yourself asking, What the heck is that # thingy I see all the time?

Here’s the deal. If you bought my #1 best-selling We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media then you downloaded TweetDeck at the first available opportunity. Wait, what? You didn’t?

Okay…we’ll wait. *whistles, checks watch*

Kidding! But, seriously. Download TweetDeck (or a similar application. Yes, HootSuite is fine). Trust me. It will make life simpler.

What is a #? That little # symbol is going to help you build a worldwide following. I know. That’s partly how I did it.

So what is it? Well, when you first join Twitter, you are all alone…save for the celebrities that Twitter gives you, but it isn’t like you and Lady Gaga are going to chit chat (though Kim Kardashian might be available). This basically means you are going to have to make some friends or Twitter is gonna be a seriously lonely place.

Hashtags will help you meet people who love to talk about the same things you do. When you place a # with a keyword at the end of your tweet, Twitter slots your tweet into a conversation shared by people all over the world bound by topic.

Some popular writer hashtags are:

#writegoal (place daily writing goals and keep each other accountable), #amwriting, #pubtip, #indie, #amediting, #nanowrimo, #agent and the one hashtag to rule them all is, of course, #MyWANA.

Thus, when I tweet about my blog, often it looks like this:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #MyWANA #nanowrimo #pubtip

My Tweet now will not just go out to my specific followers, it will be seen by the THOUSANDS of people all over the world who might be participating in those three popular hashtag conversations.

Why I recommend you download TweetDeck is that you can slot each hastag into its own column and then follow the people and conversations. When it comes to social media, we must interact and be vested in others, or we risk being perceived as fake and selfish. The hashtag is to help us meet and converse with others. It is not a new way to spam our fellow tweeps.

Thus, to help you guys out, today we are going to talk about three Twitter Tool Tactics, but then I will follow each Tool Tactic with a Tweep Tactic. I never criticize unless I can offer a solution.

Without further ado….

Tool Tactic #1

Using an auto-tweet system with hashtags.

BAD idea. This can get you banned to Twitter Limbo.

I am totally against authors using auto-tweets anyway. If our face and name are our Twitter identity, then our tweets need to be US. Writers are not @Starbucks. We can’t get away with auto-tweets. No one expects to have a conversation with @BestBuy. They will, however, expect conversation from us. And don’t think you can cheat. People are smart and will smell an automatically generated message a mile away…and then promptly ignore you, report you or unfollow you.

At the very least, they will think you are a big fat phony, and, in an age of people looking for authenticity, that is bad. It won’t win any friends, so I recommend just avoiding anything automatically generated. We really don’t need a Thank you for following me. Check out my awesome blog (link) sent to our direct messages. It’s not personal. It’s spam….and it seriously ticks us off.

It really is better for you to tweet less, but it be genuinely you, than it is to assign a machine to pump out your message. Millions are gravitating to social media to escape spam. Bring these tactics into their sacred space and the penalty can be steep.

But, okay, you feel you must auto-tweet. Don’t say I didn’t try to talk you out of it. Do NOT include a hashtag. It is very likely you could clog up a whole column with your spam…um, tweets. Maybe you didn’t mean to, but since you weren’t present, you didn’t get to see the mess your auto-tweets were creating (think Mickey Mouse and the brooms). Then people get angry and they report you and Twitter bans you from using the most powerful tool you have to connect with people worldwide.

You could accidentally gum up all three hastag conversations like this:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

@Kristen LambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

Now, I might have meant well, but folks on Twitter use these hashtag conversations to interact with a broader pool of people. If they see my tweet over and over and over and it is taking up the whole column, do you think it inspires them to like me? Or hunt me down with torches and pitchforks?

Also, the reason that I recommend TweetDeck is that you can see if your tweets are gumming up a column. I scan the #writegoal column to make sure I don’t already have a tweet talking about my blog in that column. If I do, I use another hashtag #amwriting or just wait to tweet about my blog. I try to only tweet 3 times a day to self-promote my blog. Morning, afternoon, evening to catch different Twitter crowds.

Tweep Tactic #1

Be a Genuine Peep

Make it a rule to promote others more than yourself, and you will rule the Twitterverse and even make some really awesome friends. Forget traditional marketing. Social media is a team effort. Help others, talk to others and just…be cool.

Twitter Tool Tactic #2

Nonstop self-promotion.

Yes, we know you have a book to sell…really. Using Twitter as a free and easy way to spam people is annoying and grossly ineffective. It is also traditional marketing, which doesn’t sell books. Never has and here is why. The best way to sell a lot of books is to write a darn excellent book. Tune into this blog Mondays and I will help you. Beyond writing a great book? Talk to people and be genuine. People buy books from who they know and who they like. That simple. Leave the spamming to the p0rn bots.

Tweep Tactic #2

Again…be cool. Just talk to people. Socialize. Let others promote you. It’s more authentic anyway.

Twitter Tool Tactic #3

Not changing the hashtags when we RT (retweet)

We all need to pay attention to this tip. All of us, at one time or another forget to delete or change the hashtags at the end of an awesome tweet we long to share. Ah, but we can unintentionally gum up an entire column with the same information and that is bad juju. Why this can be really bad is this can kill a hashtag. People will start ignoring the # or close the column or not use the # because it is always backed up with redundancy. Only you can prevent Column Constipation.

Tweep Tactic #3

Now that you know what hashtags are, add them or change them when you RT for others.

I might see a writer who has an outstanding blog…but she didn’t add any hashtags. So, when I RT, I stick in a couple. Try not to do more than 3. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, it just (to me) feels less “spammy.”

But, what if one of your peeps has a GREAT blog and they did use hashtags? If you RT and leave the same hashtags, then you risk gumming up a column with the same link. So change them.

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

RT @KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help you build your platform? (link goes here) #amwriting #fiction #writer

Now my message will go into three totally different columns. This helps more writers SEE my blog and I don’t risk clogging up the conversation. People who follow the # conversations will really appreciate that. Also, it makes it where I don’t have to add 8 hashtags to the end. I know my tweeps will help me out.

At the end of the day, Be a Tweep, Not a Tool and success will surely be yours. Thought? Comments? Recipes for world domination using a cupcake maker and trained hamsters? Share! I love hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of December I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books!

Dr. Twuth–Because social media shouldn’t make you want to drink heavily.

Welcome to Tuesdays with Dr. Twuth, here to anwer all your questions, problems and concerns about social media. Since social media (done properly) involves interacting with other humans, it is just a good plan to have an advice column handy to help navigate the emotional waters of keeping thousands of friends happy and speaking to us.

My alter ego, Dr. Twuth can be counted on to give you the best information on social media. And, since a spoon full of sugar humor, makes the I’d rather be punched in the face than read about social media marketing medicine go down, fun is always a guarantee here with me, Dr. Twuth, Text Therapist. The tips offered here are all based off my #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media  and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach ALL social media differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule social media–regardless of platform–without devolving into a spam bot. If social media makes you want to slam your head in a door, then you are in the right place. Just call on Dr. Twuth, because the Twuth will set you free.

On to our peeps in need….

Dear Dr. Twuth,

I found a Direct Message from “MomCat_Reviews” and the message says she “Uses TrueTwit validation service. To validate, click here,” and then there’s a link to click on. Well, I already know those kinds of links are usually from a hacker and have a virus. So I tried to send MomCat_Reviews a DM asking if she sent that Tweet and telling her I think her account might have been hacked. When I tried to send the tweet, I got a message saying, “Recipient Not Following You.” I thought someone had to be a follower to send a DM. Is that correct? And since the tweet won’t go through, I suspect a hacker sent this, and I wonder how they were able to send a DM. Do you have any advice for us about Twitter hackers?

Thanks, Dr. Twuth.
Hoping For Better Tweet Days

Dear Hoping,

You are a good tweep looking out for your peep this way. Humans have to stick together to keep the machines in their place. Your letter actually has a number of points that need addressing. First of all, validation services. DON’T USE THEM. For normal people who are only befriending a handful of peeps they know, this might be okay. But, those of us who are on social media to build a large platform need to remove as many barriers as possible to others trying to follow us.

When it comes to Twitter, it takes ONE click to remove and report a bot or offensive person. So this whole need for a validation service is kind of lazy. It isn’t like we have to get an order from a judge to remove someone. Just CLICK. We can all do this.

Validation services make people who are trying to follow us click on a link and go through steps just to follow our tweets. I can’t speak for everyone, but as for myself? I ignore anyone who makes me jump through hoops. I have real family to make me jump through hoops for approval. I figure I have enough high-maintenance relationships in life without volunteering for more.

Validation services not only make others trudge through cumbersome extra steps, but they also make them leave Twitter. This can open our followers up to hackers and phishers. Giving our Twitter followers a digital social disease is not exactly a way to make long-lasting friendships, if ya dig.

If any of you get weird tweets or DMs (direct messages) with a link to click, this is often the work of a hacker. DO NOT CLICK FISHY (PHISHY) LINKS…PERIOD. If someone sends you a tweet or DM that they saw a picture of you or a video, THIS IS A HACKER. Even if someone sends you a link via DM that looks legit, I recommend you do a little confirmation before clicking. Send this person a DM or even a tweet confirming the person actually sent you a link. It takes a half a minute and saves a lot of heartache.

And, yes, the person must be following you in order for you to send them a DM.

If you cannot DM the person and warn them they might have been phished, just send a polite tweet. Hey, I am getting odd DMs from you. You might need to change your password. If this person gets irritated or defensive, then the worst thing they can do is unfollow you. Not that this is a bad thing. High-maintenance people are almost as annoying on-line as in person, so just unfollow and move on. Avoiding toxic peeps will keep your hair from falling out in clumps. Prevention is key.

As far as what we can do to avoid bots…

Be careful what you tweet about. If you talk about s_ex AT ALL, the bots will pick up certain key words and light on you like fruit flies on an overripe banana. Same when we talk about any kind of medicines or high-tech gadgetry. If anything you mention is something spammers love to fill your e-mail with– offers for se-x, p0rn, hydroc0d0ne, peeeeenis enlarge-ment–first of all, there are better things to talk about on-line.

But, say you just came home from the hospital and want to tell your tweeps you are alive from being hit by an ice cream truck. If you tweet, Hey, I am fine. All I need is rest and oxycodone…the bots will get you.

So, we have to either not talk about these things on social media (Twitter especially) OR we can camouflage our key words. Earlier in the year when I bought a Ma_c com-puter, I always used spaces and hyphens to fool the word search technology that spammers loooove. Humans will understand what a M-ac co-mputer, an Ip0d and an XB-0x are…bots will not. This is the defense.

Ah, but the best defense is a good offense. When anyone tweets you just a link, click on their profile. If this looks like a spammer, block and report on the spot. Better yet, block and report then retweet and add @Katy456789 is a nasty spam bot. Everyone please block and report her. If Twitter gets 20 people blocking and reporting a profile, they will terminate @Katy456789 with extreme prejudice. No muss, no fuss.

You guys know I am all about teamwork. If we all go on the offensive with a Zero Tolerance Spam Policy, these bottom feeders will scurry off elsewhere. With enough collective vigilance, we could drive the spam bots to the brink of extinction, and wouldn’t that be lovely?

All the best,

Dr. Twuth

See how easy this is? Do you have a social media dilemma? Is someone making you crazy? Do you feel alone, afraid or unsexy? Leave your question in the comments or if you would like to maintain anonymity, e-mail Dr. Twuth at kristen at kristen lamb dot org. Just put GIVE ME THE TWUTH in the subject line.

I am about love and offering a human touch to this digital world. My Dr. Twuth identity is #MyWANA certified, or certifiable, I can’t recall which. But, hey, it’s free so if you don’t like my advice, I promise to give you 100% refund (There will be a $15.99 processing fee for said refund).

Let me, Dr. Twuth, help you out. Remember, the Twuth will set you free.

Tweet ya later!

This blog Welcome to the ninth installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brandwill help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–The Twitter Tool

Twitter is one of the most powerful tools for building a platform. But just because we have a tool, in no way gives us license to BE a tool. Twitter is one of those platforms that actually does much more than people realize, but those powers are best used for good.

The search function on Twitter is a writer’s best friend. Yet, I have seen this used for evil spammy behavior. It doesn’t work. It is annoying and anyone I see do this I report as a bot.

The search function allows us to comb the millions of tweets floating in the Twitterverse for key words. So I can run a search (word filter) for any word used any time on Twitter. Maybe I love James Rollins, so I want to know not only what @JamesRollins is talking about, but I want the skinny on anyone discussing “Altar of Eden.”

The search function can help me see any time certain key words are mentioned. “James Rollins” or “Altar of Eden.”

What is UNCOOL is when writers (particularly self-published writers) use this function to steal attention.

So say I am chatting with a friend and I tweet:

KristenLambTX: OMG…I just finished Altar of Eden by Rollins and it was sooo good.

Within 20 seconds I get:

@thrillerguy If you liked “Altar of Eden, check out the book reviewers are raving about “Bones of Cairo” (link to his book).

And if this isn’t bad enough, when I click on thrillerguy’s profile, I see:

If you liked “Altar of Eden, check out the book reviewers are raving about “Bones of Cairo” (link to his book).

If you liked “Altar of Eden, check out the book reviewers are raving about “Bones of Cairo” (link to his book).

If you liked “Altar of Eden, check out the book reviewers are raving about “Bones of Cairo” (link to his book).

If you liked “Altar of Eden, check out the book reviewers are raving about “Bones of Cairo” (link to his book).

If you liked “Altar of Eden, check out the book reviewers are raving about “Bones of Cairo” (link to his book).

@thrillerguy is using the search function to spam for him. UNCOOL IN THE EXTREME. Not only am I annoyed because someone hijacked my conversation, but then I find it isn’t even a genuine compliment. It is automated self-promotion. UGH!

Don’t be a Twitter Tool. There are a lot of gadgets offered, but that doesn’t mean they are a good use of our time or even that people enjoy being on the receiving end. People are flocking to social media to get away from this kind of junk. We don’t appreciated being spammed in our sacred space.

Twitter Tip–Use Twitter Search as a Tool (to Connect)

Writers tend to get on Twitter and congregate with other writers, which is okay, but readers aren’t all writers. Twitter’s search function can be used to connect with people who have the same backgrounds, interests and passions and then make friendships based on these commonalities.

I come from a military family and am a military wife. I have a Twitter column searching for terms like Air Force and USMC, and have made friends with other military wives and service men and women all over the globe. These are people who read my blogs even though they aren’t writers, and who are excited to know a writer and eager to help me become successful.

When we befriend people who aren’t writers, they are often way more impressed with the fact we finished a novel than our writer friends. Unlike us, these folk don’t have a hundred writer friends. To them, we are kind of a celebrity, even before we publish which is seriously COOL. These people can grow to become some of our strongest supporters as READERS.

Using the search function to make friends and forge relationships is always a great idea. How? Free-write a hundred words that describe you and your interests. Take time to run searches for people who love to talk about the same things–knitting, pets, kids, teenagers, music, jazz, bellydancing. Make some friends! One day, they will be your greatest cheerleaders.

And, if you want to know the ins and outs of how to use these additional Twitter functions? Buy a copy of We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I use small words and PICTURES to walk you through all kinds of cool Twitter features like the search function.

Tweet ya later!