Vocus Social Media Strategy Tool – Day 2, The Results

So, how’d y’all do with the homework assignment? If you remember from yesterday, we talked about the Vocus Social Media Strategy App, the cool (and free!) tool that will hopefully help us writers craft our social media strategy. During the 6 step process, I learned that I need to concentrate on the following goals from my SM campaign:

IMPROVE BRAND OR PRODUCT AWARENESS

IMPROVE BRAND OR PRODUCT REPUTATION

INCREASE SALES REVENUE

IMPROVE PUBLIC RELATIONS

IMPROVE SEARCH ENGINE RANKINGS

INCREASE WEBSITE TRAFFIC

And, here are the challenges I face to reach those goals:

IMPROVING SEARCH ENGINE RANKING POSITIONS

IMPROVING BRAND AWARENESS OR REPUTATION

INCREASING WEBSITE TRAFFIC THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION

ACHIEVING OR INCREASING MEASURABLE ROI FROM SOCIAL MARKETING

PROGRAMS

CONVERTING SOCIAL MEDIA MEMBERS, FOLLOWERS, ETC. INTO PAYING

CUSTOMERS

DEVELOPING AN EFFECTIVE AND METHODICAL SOCIAL MARKETING STRATEGY

Here are some of the questions that the Vocus app asked me about why I may not be reaching my goals:

Why aren’t audiences engaging? Are you using social media channels for “push marketing/PR?” Are you sharing information that isn’t timely or relevant?

Why can’t you convert fans?Are you selling a commodity or an experience?

Why do you have an ineffective social media strategy?Have you completed audience research? Do you understand how your market uses social media channels? Have you tried to align your social media planning with organizational goals and objectives? 

Why can’t you measure ROI? Did you set up proper metrics for each tactic and/or campaign? Do you have analytics set up properly?

And while my Vocus SM Strategy Assessment went through several pages of how Vocus could help me maximize SM to sell books, which also included links to several articles/blogs/etc that pertain to my SM goals. If you haven’t taken 10 minutes to go through the 6 steps of the Vocus SM strategy app, I highly recommend you doing so. Whether you are a Self-pubbed author or you are traditionally published, SM is something that’s up to you. Having a better understanding of how it works, and a better understanding of your SM goals will pay off time and again in the years to come.

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

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Vocus Social Media Strategy App – very Cool and very Free

Social media is perhaps the only way that we unsung heroes of our own life stories, aka the novel writer, has a chance to shout out our worthiness to the world. “Here I am! Here’s my book! It’s won awards! It is worthy of your time, trust me!” Dallas/Fort Worth’s own social media guru Kristen Lamb, who is the writer’s best friend when it comes to social media, probably put it best about SM for writers: “Another key tactic to managing social media is to create friendships and community. When we all work together, creating a platform is far easier. We can rely on others to help us if we actively seek to help and support them. I liken it to a barn-raising. When we all do a little for each other, big jobs suddenly become more manageable. Since we aren’t doing everything alone, we need to spend far less time on social media to still be effective.This is one of the reasons that using traditional marketing tactics on social media is so ineffective.”

Because understanding SM and using it effectively is such a HUGE deal for us writers, I wanted to take these next two days to talk about the VOCUS social media strategy App. Vocus took the best of their social media research, including their 2010-2011 benchmark reports and turned it into an interactive tool that lets the user create a custom strategy tailored exactly to our needs. Here’s a description of the app in a nutshell: “In just six steps, you drag–and–drop your goals, answer questions and select the route and resources that are right for you. The tool does the rest, building you a 35–page workbook with a detailed plan based on your choices. You’ll find insight, next steps, worksheets, links to resources, and data that shows you where you stand compared to your industry peers.”

I’ve already done this and it gave me multiple articles and pdfs to research for my specific goals. So, go ahead and try it out, it takes about 10 minutes and its free. Like me, you may be surprised at what your SM goals are versus what they should be. We’ll go over my results in tomorrow’s post. Happy strategizing!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

The “Baffling” Case of Katelyn Markham

As writers, we are also researchers. To make our stories come to life, jump off the page and resonate with readers, we must make the details as real as possible. That means we must contend with current events that are often disturbing, but nonetheless captivating. 

On this Mystery Monday, let’s look at the current case of Katelyn Markham, a girl that’s been missing without a trace for two weeks now. While we need to respect the fact that this is a case about a missing human being, we can also use the details of this case to enrich our own stories, which may actually help our readers deal with similar tragedies in their own lives, or help them explain the inexplicable.

Here are some of the details of Katelyn’s case so far:

1. There’s no evidence of foul play, not one scrap. Police have searched on foot, on ATVs and even from airplanes and have found nothing.

2. Authorities have gone through Katelyn’s cell phone and computer records. There’s nothing to indicate any reason why she would leave or any evidence that something bad has happened to her. In fact, the only thing missing is her cell phone.

3. Investigators and family members and friends alike are “baffled” by her disappearance. Said Police Chief Mike Dickey in  a TV interview, “I’ve been doing this for 40 plus years, and I can’t recall a case where there’s simply no evidence whatsoever. It’s almost like she just vanished.”

4. It’s only a month before she was going to get her college degree, and family members said there’s no way she would have run away before she completed that important goal.

So where is Katelyn Markham? And, for us writers, how can we use the details of this baffling case to influence our writing? Most times, when writers construct mysteries, there’s a certain sequence, however twisty is may be, for readers to follow. But at least there’s a sequence. What if the story was about a case like this one? Where there seems to be no rhyme or reason? And what about the details of the case? No evidence of wrong doing, no evidence of even a struggle. The boyfriend and family members, the first ones that are typically checked out by police, seem to be clean. If you were writing a story from the boyfriend’s or father’s perspective about a case like this one, would you have them moving heaven and earth to try to find her? But if a police chief with 40+ years experience can’t figure out where to start, where would that character start? Finally, what do you think happened to Katelyn Markham? And do you think that it’s right to use such tragic cases to help formulate the novels or short stories that you write? Should there be a “grace period” before mining these news stories and possibly turn news nuggets into novel gold?  

To the keyboards!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

Hatch martini and a book with attitude

On this, the 63rd day of above 100 degree temperatures in Dallas/Fort Worth, I thought it best to beat the heat with a little heat. It’s Hatch chile time in these parts. For those that don’t know about the Hatch, it’s a mild chile from Hatch, New Mexico. There is an extensive website about the annual Hatch Chile Festival that has videos, recipes, etc about all things Hatch.
 
To celebrate the beginning of Hatch season, my great local paper, the Fort Worth Star Telegram decided to run some recipes that have Hatch chiles in them, including this one for the Hatch Martini from our very own Blue Mesa Grill, a restaurant franchise in the Dallas area:
 

Prickly pear and Hatch martini

2 slivers of Hatch chile (divided)

Ice

1 1/4 ounces Ambhar Platinum tequila

1/2 ounce Fruit Lab hibiscus liqueur

2 ounces prickly pear juice

1/2 ounce lemonjuice

Splash of soda

1. Muddle one sliver of Hatch chile in a metal shaker until the chile breaks up. Add ice, tequila, hibiscus liqueur, prickly pear juice, and lemon juice. Cover and shake intensely to mix. Add a splash of soda.

2. Strain into martini glass. Garnish with a sliver of chile and serve.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 182 calories, trace fat, 17 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, no cholesterol, 13 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 2 percent of calories from fat.

— Recipe by Blue Mesa Grill

Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/08/23/3308119/try-these-hatch-chile-cocktails.html#tvg#ixzz1W3XxiTW3

And, speaking of heat, I just finished Moonlight Mile, Dennis Lehane’s follow up to Gone Baby Gone and while the story wasn’t nearly as good as GBG, the dialogue was superb. In the blue-collar neighborhoods of Boston, it’s all about attitude, and Lehane captures it brilliantly in the way his characters interact, especially his lead, Patrick Kenzie.  From his description, Kenzie is five foot nothing and a hundred and nothing sopping wet, but he has a bulldog’s heart inside that small body. He’s a scrapper and don’t we all love characters that are scrappers?
 
Cheers and let us know how you like the Hatch!
 
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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

Notes, Really Smart Notes

The web has brought us all kinds of ways for us writers to organize our thoughts, but for this App Wednesday, I thought I would share with y’all a free product called Springpad. A “smart” note system, Springpad allows you to, for instance, take a few notes while you’re out and you see something that’s inspired you. Then, it allows you link actionable items, like a reminder to do something with that idea later when you are back in front of your computer. Plus, it’s always on the web thinking about your note. Say you visited the Washington Monument in DC and you had an idea that one of your characters is one of the engineers that was examining it after the earthquake yesterday and as he was looking in its nooks and crannies he discovered a lost document or a secret code carved into one of the tiles that fell off in the basement, or you get the idea. Well, Springpad will organize current events that are about the Monument and group it with that idea so you can keep up to date on what’s happening. Cool, huh?  Plus if you’re out to dinner and enjoy a bottle of wine, type in the name and you can see where you can buy it, or take a picture of a bar code of a book and you can buy it from your phone.
 
So, try out Springpad and let us know what you think!
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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

The Hero’s Journey – from Star Wars to Fairview, Texas

 
 
Could you write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days? That’s what writers across the nation will be attempting this November during National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO). Some have done it. Some even got book deals out of the experience. Many more tried and didn’t quite cross the finish line.
 
A small group of us met this past Sunday at A Real Bookstore in Fairview, Texas to begin our “boot camp” to prepare ourselves for NANOWRIMO. There’s about 20 of us and we come from all walks of life, all ages across the spectrum, too. We are having 3 physical meetings total, one each month before Nov 1, and we are also setting up a Facebook chat room to have virtual meetings. It is my first time to attempt this feat, but I couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of folks to be in my writing foxhole with me. If you’re interested in joining our group, even if you live outside the DFW, Texas area you can at least join us for the virtual chats, just comment on this blog post.
 
Case in point, at our first meeting this past Sunday, Southern Methodist University (SMU) creative writing professor Suzanne Frank presented “The Hero’s Journey” to us, and basically reminded us that the novel should be one basic format, the same format, by the way, that goes back thousands of years. The highlights: There are three acts, you need to know how your story ends before your write it and then work backwards, and there’s a great documentary on PBS called, “The Hero’s Journey in Star Wars” where George Lucas talks about how he used this basic storytelling format, which he borrowed heavily from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, for his epic Sci-Fi adventure.
 
Suzanne also recommended a book that we should all run right out and get: The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. I’m getting mine ASAP. And if you want to take on the insanity of writing a novel in a month, come join us!
 
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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

Local versus National and all the numbers in between

I usually reserve Mondays for “Mystery Monday” where we discuss all things mysterious, but I got an intriguing e-newsletter today about the power of social media – specifically, should we, as writers, use social media to cast our net as wide as we can across the nation or the world, or should we use SM to build better relationships with the “locals?” Most folks live in an area where, within 50 miles, there are 50,000 or more people. Well, guess how many books you have to sell to get on the NY Times bestseller list? That’s right, 50K.
 
Anyway, here’s the link to today’s edition of the Search Engine Land newsletter. BTW, if you are thinking of, or already are, in the midst of using SM to get more readers, take a look at the SEL site. It’s chock full o’ good stuff. And best of all…’tis gratis.
 
Oh, and if you’re wondering how our first NANOWRIMO meeting went at A Real Bookstore, stay tuned until tomorrow night!
 
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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com