Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Automating Your Social Media Output, Part 1

A frequent misunderstanding in some of my blog posts is that because I'm writing about a topic, I'm promoting or endorsing it, which is not the case. This topic in particular, I discuss online tools that I use, but am somewhat on the fence over their actual value or effectiveness. I'm not a fan of spam-style marketing and although this post describes automated online social media posting, I'm a proponent of everything in moderation. Part of me fears these tools are the first step in turning people into spam-bots. However, these services only broadcast to your 'followers,' so ultimately, misuse can come back to haunt the user if they alienate their fan base with mindless spam.

Because indie authors need to market their books, having an online social media presence is a popular way to do this. And as you know, the sheer volume of social media outlets can be daunting. Deciding which ones to use and how often to use them can be time-consuming, to say the least. After all, time is money, so looking for methods to efficiently communicate with your followers is not a bad thing.

IFTTT (If This, Then That) is a free online tool that allows you to post to multiple social media outlets at the same time. To be fair, IFTTT has more features than this, but in my opinion, its primary purpose and value is consolidation of online communication.

IFTTT, which is characterizes itself as "a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: if this, then that." IFTTT lets you create a 'recipe' that triggers an event on your social media outlet's personal webpage. For example, I created a recipe that sends a message (including a link my blog) to Twitter every time I post a new Blogger entry, i.e., If Blogger postthen send notification to Twitter.

Unfortunately, I've found IFTTT is not a complete one-stop-shopping for every social media network you may use. Although IFTTT currently features 71 'channels' ('If this' options of social media sites) such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Instagram, Linkedin, YouTube, Delicious, and GMail, it currently does not include the heavy-hitters Google Plus, Pinterest, or Reddit.

The benefits of IFTTT are that it is simple to use, does what is says, and allows you to use (copy) recipes that others have made, which is even faster than creating your own. It also allows you to auto-archive your posts, etc., by sending copies to Dropbox or Google Drive. On the minus side, I have noticed IFTTT has failed to trigger on occasion, and that to guarantee my recipes 'trigger' I have to log on to the site and manually activate the trigger. I've also encountered a problem trying to activate Hootsuite on IFTTT, and currently am unable to use that 'channel' on IFTTT.

The IFTTT About page has more details, if you're interested. Next post I'll examine the similar but different online tool called Hootsuite.

Author Update: My editor has finished reviewing Crimson & Cream, and having read through her suggestions, I've decided to do another re-read and edit of Mirrors & Mist before sending it to her. Through the editing process, I've learned a lot about the dangers of head-hopping and excessive exposition, and think I can improve Mirrors & Mist significantly with this new-found knowledge, saving both me and my editor time by eliminating some of my chronic mistakes.




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