Though undoubtedly obvious, it may help to define what is generally understood by the term ‘schedule’:
– ‘A programme or timetable of events.’ (Oxford English Dictionary)
– ‘Plan for a particular time.’ (Oxford English Dictionary)
– ‘A series of things to be done or of events to occur at or during a particular time or period.’ (Dictionary.com)
Twenty-first century life with its immediacy and ‘in your face’ culture is far more hectic than it was for previous generations. Whether it really needs to be so is another topic not under discussion here. The result: most complain they are too busy. This is especially true for independent (indie) authors who besides the demands of everyday life (family, work, etc.) also have to undertake all of their own publicity and marketing not to mention the time they need for actually writing. Consequently, anything that assists with time organisation must be welcome.
To be effective in marketing and publicity authors, in the majority of instances, need to have developed some sort of relationship with their readers, fans and customers. It is a very rare thing indeed for an author to find success without these relationships. Of course, that is not to say it does not happen, it occasionally does but is by far and away the exception rather than the rule.
In modern society the most notable way for authors and readers to get to know each other is through the internet, more specifically social media. Whether liked or loathed, hated or embraced, no one may deny the prevalence of social media and the necessity of utilising it if awareness of a publication’s existence is to be achieved. The multiplicity of social media sites does not help.
There are various schools of thought regarding how may sites an author needs to join. Some recommend limiting themselves to one or two while others suggest it is to miss opportunities if they do not have a presence everywhere. There are also those who recommend joining as many sites as possible but to constrain regular activity to one or two while visiting the others once or twice a week. No matter which option is favoured the issue of time availability remains. As already mentioned, to be effective, the author should be regularly active. It should not be forgotten, in addition to publishing posts etc. the author should be engaging in conversations, responding to comments, sharing other users posts they think their readers, followers etc. may find interesting or helpful, and, of course, they should also be commenting upon those posts if they have something to contribute (they must never utilise the option to simply promote themselves or their works (spam)). How may all this be achieved?
As with any project or business, forward planning and preparation are important. (Authoring, with all the additional activities required, IS considered a business.) Most people, professional and lay, conclude such planning is crucial to success. This is not the place to discuss publicity and marketing plans in detail except to say there are various means for preparing them e.g. spreadsheets, graphs, formatted documents, etc. Naturally scheduling should form an integral part of those plans though it may not be necessary to go to the extent of preparing spreadsheets etc.
Note: At this stage it is wise to clarify this discussion is intended to relate to Social Media activity only: posts, tweets, sharing, etc.
The most basic method an author can use for preparing posts, tweets, etc. ahead of time is to create a document of pre-drafts which may be copied and pasted into the appropriate social media account as and when they wish (usually on a daily basis). Though this method has the advantage of providing the author with a permanent record it has disadvantages:
- Necessary to open the document to highlight and copy text;
- Each account has to be individually accessed to paste the text;
- Where the post or tweet is not linking to an article, the photos folder has to be opened to locate a suitable image. (Well known that posts/tweets with images gain more attention.);
- If post/tweet does link to an article (includes a website or blog post) the URL is usually unwieldily long (impacts upon tweets in particular) and frequently unsightly;
- All the above has to be repeated for each individual post/tweet.
Clearly, the above process is slow and time consuming. Time that could be better utilised undertaking other tasks.
Whereas having documented drafts of posts, tweets, etc. may have been of benefit in the past, recent changes to various regulations now mitigate such advantage.
Following the difficulties and issues Facebook management faced earlier this year (2018) far reaching changes in policy have been implemented. See Facebook – News Feed Changes for details. In essence these changes will result in the following being given priority:
- Posts by friends and family;
- Posts that friends and family have interacted with;
- Posts with higher levels of comments, shares and likes;
- Posts the user has commented on, shared or liked;
- Posts that have generated substantive interaction.
Of course this does not mean posts may not be pre-drafted but in most instances, if the post is to meet the above criteria, the writing of them will occur in real time.
The following is an extract from the Twitter rules indicating what is not permitted:
- ‘if you post duplicative or substantially similar content, replies, or mentions over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account, or create duplicate or substantially similar accounts;
- if you post multiple updates to a trending or popular topic with an intent to subvert or manipulate the topic to drive traffic or attention to unrelated accounts, products, services, or initiatives;’
Users should not be distracted or mislead by the mention of ‘multiple accounts’. Though some may have more than one account, most indie authors limit themselves to one and therefore, for them, it is the ‘multiple duplicate updates on one account’ that must be taken note of. In effect the change means users are not permitted to share the same, or similar, tweets multiple times whether it be through one or more accounts. The principle has been in existence for a long time but has not been regularly enforced in a draconian manner. However, primarily due to misuse, as has been widely publicised in recent times, Twitter will now enforce the rules. It is not clear at present whether the principle applies ad infinitum (whether it will be permitted to repeat a tweet within days, weeks or months or never).
The preparation of a document of pre-drafted tweets may therefore no longer be worth the author’s time and effort unless they from part of a longterm marketing plan though care must be taken to avoid repeating (tweeting) the same or similar content.
3rd Party Scheduling Software
As already intimated, fulfilling all the suggested requirements for maintaining a relationship with readers, fans, customers, etc. which should also include regular posting and tweeting is no easy task. Thankfully some enterprising companies have software packages available to help.
To avoid this article becoming over lengthy, everyone has limited time, consideration of some of these third party softwares will be reserved for the next author related article.
In the majority of instances, authors need to build some sort of relationship with their readers, fans and customers. The days when they could simply publish a book and expect it to sell without much effort are long gone. This is particularly true for independently published books which rarely gain a presence on the shelves of brick and mortar bookshops. The internet, primarily social media, is now the main channel for building relationships and for alerting readers to a new publication.
To be as effective as possible, in all aspects, and to have workable publicity and marketing plans, authors should have some sort of scheduling in place. As time tends to be an issue for most the utilisation of automated scheduling software is something authors should seriously consider. The next author related article will consider some of the software packages available to authors.
Important Reminder: In the past repeatedly re-posting and tweeting the same or similar information was usually permitted however, recent changes in regulations and rules now prohibit this. All users, whether an author or not, need to ensure they take these changes into account to avoid their accounts being suspended or worse.