Archive | Social Media

New Gig

One of the perks of living in LA (and I have to admit that there aren’t many) is that I get to meet famous people.

Okay, maybe meet is a strong word. I get to notice famous people, as they live their lives and our paths occasionally cross. And it’s the strangest thing, because you see someone, and you’re thinking “I know this person,” but then, after you’ve been staring at them for an uncomfortable period of time, you realize, no, you don’t actually know this person, you just recognize their face from your favorite TV show or something. Then you feel kind of like an idiot for staring. Then you tweet about the famous person standing next to you. Then you go on about your day.

But sometimes I actually do get to meet said famous people, either because my guy is working with them, or their kid plays on the same soccer team as ours. And sometimes you actually get to know them a bit. Which leads me to my latest news – I have my first celebrity ghost-blogging gig!

I just turned in my first post, and I actually enjoyed working with him(her?) quite a bit (can’t give you any hints as to who it is or I wouldn’t be a very good ghost blogger now would I?). I hope this turns into a long-term, reoccurring assignment, because it really was fun to write. No offense to the executives I ghost blog for (not that I think any of them actually read my blog), but writing for a celebrity is much more fun. They have pretty glamorous lives.

As much as I enjoy bashing LA, I have to admit, I never would have made the connection that landed me this project if I lived in, say, Portland. So I guess I’ll have to take that into consideration from now on (but I still miss the REAL stars).

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Face Time With Real Humans

I think social media is making me tense. I’ve been working on integrating my Twitter, Facebook and Google+ feeds onto the G+ platform, but I can’t ditch my Hootsuite just yet because I have all my client accounts there and I’m much more comfortable with that interface. Also, my favorite part of Hootsuite, the Hootlet app, doesn’t seem to want to work with Chrome. I feel like I spend hours every day not only checking with all my SM friends, but trying to iron out kinks in my system. And all the while I am painfully aware that I am not writing.

Social media is important to me. It’s a great way to keep connected, especially as a writer who hardly ever leaves the house. I enjoy it, usually, but over the last ten days it is definitely making me tense.

The tension, along with struggling through a second draft of the novel, makes me crabby and short tempered. Yes, it’s true that my daughter is going through a particularly tantrum-rich period and the little guy has started crawling and getting into everything, but snapping at them really doesn’t help anything. I knew I was being awful, but I couldn’t seem to shake the cranky.

Until this morning. Little guy woke me up at 5:30 and I popped out of bed like it was nothing. I was all smiles and cheer when my girl got up around 7 (which is WAY sleeping in for her). It took me a couple hours to realize why the sudden change – it was my writing group.

Last night my writing group met (well, three of our five met – the other two are on vacation), and it was so good to sit and have a few hours of real conversation. It changed my whole attitude. The whole thing is making me realize that while social media is great, there is no substitute for face time with other humans.

So I’m setting a goal to tend my real life social network. At least once a week I will go to lunch with a writer friend, or meet someone somewhere for drinks after the kids are asleep. I have some pretty awesome friends, and I don’t see enough of them, so this resolution should be easy to keep.

If you happen to be one of said awesome friends, holler. We’ll do lunch. 

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Confessions Of A Tech Nerd

It was only about four years ago that I didn’t blog, didn’t have a website, and assumed that tweeting was something you did late in the evening, usually at a club. Then a friend (Brian McGakin – whose book, “Broetry,” is coming out any day now) convinced me that setting up a blog might be worth while, so I did, and I loved it immediately.

As I stepped further and further into the world of social media I was reminded every bit of the way of a line in “Fight Club,” where Ed Norton’s character says “No matter what happens in life, I’ve go that couch thing taken care of.”

I thought, every time I embraced a new social media tool, that I was finally done. And this attitude held for a long time, but something happened this weekend that made me realize how I’ve changed.

I read an article in the newspaper (I was at my in-laws house – they still get a real daily periodical, and I love browsing it), about a new iPhone app and I ran for my phone to download it. I then spent a few hours playing with it, and then it hit me – I love this stuff.

I love Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Hootsuite, and all the many, many apps I have on my phone. I’ve written blogs on all kinds of platforms, and attended seminars on how to make the most of social media. I read articles about it. I think about it in the shower. I can’t wait for the next cool thing.

And here I thought Daniel was the official family nerd. 
Step aside, my love. 
Step aside.

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Professional Tweeter

As a part of my freelance work (which has been mostly writing website content and other marketing material), I’ve recently begun ghost writing social media campaigns. I was reluctant to get into it, because I see myself as a writer, not a professional tweeter, but I have to say I’m really loving it.

I’m thinking of expanding my self-promotion on this front by revising my website with a new page to advertise my services, but to do that I feel I need to be able to quantify what a good social media campaign does for a client. Right now the vibe I get out there in the business world is that companies feel they need a social media presence because they “just do.” A lot of them, however, don’t want to deal with stepping into this new way of promoting their endeavors. It seems that most of them are much happier to pay someone to manage it for them.

So my challenge is to make a good argument as to why they need me. More than “just because.” And I think I’ve discovered a new tool I can use to support my personal pitch. I recently signed up for Hootsuite to streamline all the Twitter and Facebook accounts I manage, and they have a function where you can create a report about how many people click through to your site as a result of your Tweets/posts. If I can create a few of these (using my current clients, anonymously of course) I can at least argue that my work brings eyeballs to a website.

The question then becomes: how do I quantify increased profits resulting from that increased web traffic, particularly when dealing in service industries, not online retailers. I need to do more research on this. It’s something I’m very curious about. If anyone out there know a good source for info on this, tweet me.

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Time Away

As I mentioned, I went down to the WordCamp conference in Orange County last week, which meant leaving the kids and hubby for two nights.

Aside from the fact that time away from the baby is kind of tough while nursing (for the uninitiated I won’t go into the details of breast pumping, but the moms out there who’ve used one know what I’m talking about when I say UHG), I was really looking forward to a little time away.

Grown up time. Nobody crying, needing my attention, or spilling anything. Every mom should get the occasional day or two off, and I was really enjoying it, but it’s so bitter sweet these days.

I sped through security with my roll-aboard, took my time in the little stall of the bathroom without worrying my daughter was making a break for it, and even had a beer with my refrigerator sushi, because, hey, I wasn’t nursing any time soon. But within the hour I actually began missing my little Cling-ons.

It was a strange, visceral longing. I didn’t actually miss parenting, per se. Parenting is ridiculously hard most of the time. What I missed was the feeling of my family. My daughter’s blond fro tickling my face, curling up next to my guy at night, the way my baby nuzzles his nose into the crook of my neck right after he spits up all down the back of my shirt. These were the things I missed. The physical sensations of being close to the people I love. The longing just kind of hovered in my mind. Not overwhelming, just kind of always there.

Well, for better or worse, it was only a two day trip. I kept thoughts of those three precious souls in my heart, and let the rest of my body just relax for about 30 hours. It’s true what they say – absence does make the heart grow fonder.

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WCOC

I went to Word Camp Orange County this weekend. A conference all about WordPress. Super nerdy. Super fun. And I learned a lot.

I went because the company I’m working for (Tripepi Smith & Associates) does a lot of work in WordPress. I’m writing content for them, and the boss wanted me to be able to navigate WordPress so that I could post the content for clients myself.

Well, mission accomplished. I feel absolutely able to work with WordPress now. In addition to some basic WordPress-specific skill seminars I also attended talks on SEO, Content Creation and one titled “Social Media and Social Change” (this one gave me some great ideas for my soon to be launched “Digging Deep” website inspired by the Month Without Monsanto project – I’ll be bloggin more about that soon).

More than anything the day sparked a shift in my head. Until now, I’ve seen every upgrade in technology as a final step. I signed up for Twitter and thought “okay, finally, I’m all up to date, I can relax now.” Then came Twetdeck and I had to muster the energy to try the new technology. Then my boss suggested Hootsuite, which I resisted at first, but now I love.

After listening to the WCOC geeks all day I feel like I’ve come to a new understanding that this is a continual evolution. It won’t ever stop, and though that is in some ways daunting, as long as I can keep flexible and evolve along with the technology, I can (without too much trouble) keep up.

So I’m thinking I’m going to attend the Word Camp in LA in September, too. I think I will probably attend as often as I can. It was a great event. Really well organized. Even the box lunch was delicious. The only thing it was lacking was coffee. I mean, seriously. In a room full of programmers and writers, how on earth can it be okay to put the coffee away at 10am?

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The Social Media Dilemma

I’ve been thinking a lot about how my professional and personal lives overlap, especially in relation to my online activity. As a writer, who blogs about my own writing, there are bound to be personal details that come up (for instance, I’m due to give birth pretty soon – you can bet that will influence my posts to some degree), but for the most part I try to keep it professional.

For me, that means not writing about my family or friends (except insofar as they influence my life as a writer). The question is, how should I use sites like Twitter and Facebook to promote my writing, without telling the world every detail of my personal life? Twitter is pretty easy – I really only use that for work/writing related ideas, but Facebook is another story.

The solution I’ve come up with is to create an additional Facebook page for my “business” of writing. The new “April Dávila – Writer” page is very low on privacy – everything on it is intended for the public. Right after I created it, I increased the privacy settings on my personal “April Dávila” page so that only friends can see the embarrassing photos of me drunk in Vegas. This isn’t to say I won’t share photos on my new “professional” page, but this way I have a little more control over who sees what.

The hard part is that now I don’t want to use my personal page to promote things like my blog, or articles that are published, but only a handful of my friends have signed up for my professional page where I intend to post about my writing. How to I get my old friends to sign up for the new page? Does it even matter? Every time I think I have all this online self-promotion business worked out I realize I’m just a babe in the woods.

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You Are Not Your URL

I was talking with a friend last week about good resources for writers. I directed her toward my usual go-to sites, like Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest, and for those of us looking to submit shorter works for publication: NewPages.com.

She in turn introduced me to a few writer websites that are pretty awesome. My favorites right now are “Sage Said So,” the site for Sage Cohen, and Rosetta Thurman’s self titled website. I like to look at these two sites side by side. Sage is a poet with an impressive publication list, and Rosetta is a blogger writing about social change. I’m fascinated by how their websites seem to totally match their personas.

At the New York Summer Writer’s Institute I met a young man who engages in none of this kind of self promotion. He’s not even on Facebook. While I admire that sort of literary homesteading, I personally hope to give myself every advantage in growing my career as a writer, and so I need a kick ass site. Every time I look at Sage and Rosetta’s sites I get to thinking.

Is it time to revamp my site? What kind of site design says “April Dávila”? Right about then I hear a Brad-Pitt-In-Fight-Club like voice in my head laughing and saying something along the lines of “you are not your URL.”

Still, I can’t help but click over to my site and think about what colors would better represent me, what fonts would more adequately help people know who I am. Silly? Yes. A necessary part of being a creative individual in the modern age? Also yes.

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The San Francisco Writers Conference

If I learned one thing this week at the SFWC, it’s that there are a million things a writer can do besides write.

In two and a half days I sat in on eleven seminars and three key note speeches, and every one at least touched on how to utilize Twitter, Facebook, blogs, websites, LinkedIn, internet radio, you name it. It’s very exciting, and very distracting.

Ultimately the thing that matters the most (and this came up many times over the weekend as well), is that your writing be good. No, not good – excellent. You can tweet your heart out, and gather thousands of followers, but if your novel sucks, all the networking in the world simply won’t matter.

This brings up a swell of anxiety in me that only the Maverick surfers would dare ride, because I did very little writing this weekend. True, I wrote a few posts for my other blog (if you haven’t seen it yet check out www.monthwithoutmonsanto.com), but after going three days without touching my fiction work, I’m surprised how distant it feels. I guess it was a busy three days, but still, I’m having trouble even remembering where I left off.

So I need to exercise a little time management today. I can blog, and tweet and book my face off, but I also need time to turn off all those distractions and sit quietly with Talulah Jones, because really, it’s all about her.

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