I haven't written a tech piece in awhile. I've recently been updating my website and trying to organize my social media presence. Yeah, as if. Didn't I just do this? I'm on more social media networks than I can count. I'm sure I'm on some I've forgotten I signed up for. I try to keep up with the big ones: Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, deviantArt.... This could take awhile.
Writers can spend so much time on their social media and promotion that they stop writing. I've seen it happen. It's happened to me. It's easy to become stretched thin in the age of social media, but with a little thought and planning I think an author can be available to readers, promote their books, and still have time to pen that next great novel or short story the fans are waiting for.
The first step is an anchor. If you don't want to get lost in the raging sea of social media you need to be tied to something. It can be your favorite spot - Twitter, Blog, Facebook - or your website, but you need a base and then you can tie it all together and optimize your time online. I've decided that my anchor is my website. That's where I'm building my platform and connecting the web of tether lines.
As I said, it can be anything, but you need a hub - a base of operations, a headquarters, or an "evil lair" (voice of Dr. Evil). I spend most of my social time online on Twitter. I link my twitter feed everywhere. Next would be my blog where I review great books and write stuff like this. But I want to be wherever readers look for me. So I need to tie it all together. Twitter doesn't let me list all of my social media connections in my short profile. I could use the blog but...
My strategy is simple - I create a hub website with links to everything. I cross link what I can (twitter feed and blog to facebook for example) and post my main page url everywhere I can. Visitors come to my webpage and find links and info for all of my books, links to all of my networks so they can friend/like/follow me if they want. I even have my twitter feed running on the sidebar. But I'm not trying to pull it all onto one page, that would take days to load.
One problem in the age of widgets and apps is how easy it is to add content to a webpage or blog or social profile. Just copy and paste or in some cases point and click. You can have all of this cool stuff for your visitors to interact with. Problem - data rates and load time. If you fill your page with gorgeous graphics, cute animations, and awesome widgets your page takes forever to load and eats up data on small devices like phones. Your visitor just left before the page loaded.
I'm old school, like back in the day when everything was text and we still used DOS and batch files on our desktops and social networks were IRC. Do you remember Dial-up? I couldn't believe how fast my first 56k modem loaded pages. One thing mobile devices have done is turn back the clock. That awesome page that loads in a few seconds on your Alien Ware game computer just lost another visitor logging in from Droid. If you really need all those graphics and widgets you should at least set up a page for mobile users.
I've decided to keep it simple. Who needs flashing text and revolving graphics? What users want is information, not multi-media entertainment. If they wanted to rent a movie why are they looking at your books? The audience we are after are people who actually READ. I know, not many of us left. But we are readers and writers and text is our stock and trade. If you need all of those bells and whistles on your webpage how are you going to keep someone interested in your book?
It's not hard to optimize a page for small devices while continuing to be appealing on larger screens. Again, I don't need the cute little mouse pointer that sprinkles snow across the page when I move it around. That is so last century. And that music or video that auto-loads is annoying. If I want to watch your awesome book trailer I will click on it (don't get me started on book trailers - but yes I made one for The Collective). But maybe I don't want it loading on my Droid right now. Okay? I'll watch it later. I want to load your book into my Kindle App.
Text based web design is coming back. It may go all graphic and widgety when phones are more powerful than Big Blue in a few years, but for now simple is good. So my "hub" will have a lot of text links users can click on - easy to tab through and quick load times. I also have dynamic load items that visitors can click to load additional content without loading a new page - small data cost. I'm leveraging xhtml and xml and server side controls to keep it fast and simple. The new website will go live with the release of .45 Caliber Jitterbug before Christmas.