Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sean Cranbury workshop: “New Ideas in Socal Media” (for Writers) at SIWC

Workshop at the Surrey International Writers' Conference (SIWC), October 2014.

Sean's background:
“These days I am a General Manager of the legendary Storm Crow Tavern in Vancouver’s Commercial Drive neighbourhood and moonlighting as a social media/communications consultant for literary and arts organizations.“

He hosts the CBC Radio show Books on the Radio. Was an indie bookseller for  20 years. He worked at the once-beloved Duthie Books downtown which, he notes, is now a lingerie store: “Well, that’s what sells.”

Many of the keynotes give at SIWC are available to hear in the archives at:

Other places online to find Seanish info:

Sean put out an awful lot of information in an hour and a half. He could have pirouetted, impressing us with a lot of hip-sounding tech mumbojumbo. He chose not to. He could have rolled his eyes when one audience member asked him to explain what a hashtag was; instead he simply explained it in easy terms. 

He gave us a fast-paced and informative presentation which he could hardly get out because the audience interrupted him with so many questions, about which he was genuinely magnanimous. 

  • “You cannot break the Internet. The way you learn is by starting.”
  •  “Use your own name [writers using social media]. These tools are ‘awareness generators.’ You want people to know who you are.”
  • Separate accounts for personal and work on Twitter, Facebook etc. “It all depends…” He has several for Sean Cranbury, Books on Radio, etc.
  • It’s a big transition we are all part of. We’ve gone from the long format to reading onscreen instead of on paper.
  • Engage!  “The only way to increase your chances is to continually engage in those areas.” (social media)
  • Social media strategy. “Can’t be done in two months. Plant seeds now. Spend those early days just listening” [while you figure it out].

  • Who to follow on Twitter?  “Follow all the people who are using the hashtag #SIWC14. That’s your community. People you have something in common with because you are here. Those are the people you want to emulate. There’s an art to it. You can learn by following good people.
  • Egg stage @ Twitter.  “Get rid of the egg. Upload a photo, anything. Nobody takes Eggs seriously on Twitter.
  • To be Followed or to Follow? “Good users have more followers than they are following. For example [SIWC long-time board member and previous conference chair, author] kc dyer follows about 70 people, but she’s being followed by 4,500.”
  • Twitter > important. “I think Twitter is important—it’s the cleaner stream. But   have a Facebook fan page for your book.
  • “Twitter is a listening post. Follow your competition. It is a filter. Any info you’re getting is tuff that you’ve chosen [to give].”
  • “Follow comedians. It’s a very creative medium and comedians use Twitter very creatively.
  • What is a hashtag? Some in the audience didn’t now what a hashtag or Twitter stream was so we went back to the basics. “A hashtag is the number sign (#) with no space in between it and a word, an acronym about what is going on” – like #SIWC.
  • Hashtags as hangers. It’s a way to communicate with people on Twitter or Facebook. It acts as a kind of hanger and hangs that tweet with all the other tweets with that hashtag. For example, a tweet now:  I am at SIWC – just blew my pitch, no chance of ever getting published – hashtag #SIWC. Then we all commiserate.”
  • Creating hashtags. “A hashtag is only useful if people know about it, and care.”
  • Mention him with @seancranbury.
  • People to follow to learn about social media
              Sarah Wendell
              Chuck Wendig
              (“I was on a social media panel with them – the best ever.”)
  • How do you now if anyone’s paying attention? You don’t.
  • Best times to post (“Put-out Days”)
          -- “Friday afternoon, especially in publishing--everyone’s drinking.”
          -- “Monday morning everyone is like ‘Oh, crap—actually working.’”
          -- “Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday mornings are your optimal times… 
               the highest likelihood people are paying attention to those platforms.”
          -- Tuesday morning 7-8AM of a regular week (no Monday holiday)
              may be the optimum time to post, do your website, etc.
          --  Monday morning—no. Friday afternoon—no.”
  • What is HootSuite? “A Vancouver-based social media management tool.” He uses TweetDeck.
  • “I am a platform agnostic: The internet is full of tribes [who like various social media platforms].
  • Open Source. “Means ‘always being built’ [improved].”
  • is open source. Create a website for free.  “It’s not professional but a good place to learn. It’s Wordpress on training wheels.”
  • Domain. “The real estate you own on the Internet.”
  • Domain address. For a writer ideally it’s “your name dot com. You want something that defines your career, where you’re going. i.e., Not: title-of-my-first-book dot com. The question is: will that name still be relevant ten years from now? Think about it in terms of the long game.”

  • Read: Astra Taylor’s book: The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age(Read a bit here). Her talk is on BooksOnRadio. 
  • Netfirms he recommends for getting your domain and hosting your website. “Netfirms’s servers are in Canada (important; meaning your account is not accessible under foreign domestic laws as it is if hosted in the U.S.).”
    “DreamHost is okay. GoDaddy may keep your domain if you leave."
    Wordpress.word will host once you have a domain (servers in U.S.).
    “Anything that says ‘gator’ – don’t touch. Never. Ever.”
  • .com or .ca?  Advises getting a .com rather than a .ca. “You’re in the global marketplace” – and many in the U.S. for instance have never heard of a dot-ca  [so they may mistrust it].
  • GoogleAnalytics. It’s the only way you know if people are reading your posts unless they are talking to you about it or re-tweeting – you can check but there’s really no way to know otherwise.
  • Your “About” page. Make it clear, concise and up to date. Update it frequently so it’s not stale news: “Cultivate the garden—take care of it.”
  • “People are not for marketing-to. As soon as you start marketing, I lose interest.”
  • Goodreads. “is good for the author but I wouldn’t put it as an essential. A good example of a book-specific social network [owned by Amazon].”

Up&coming social media sites:
  •  SoundCloudAudio-sharing community. $16/month for unlimited uploads. (The free version is only 4 hours a month.)
  • Ello“It’s only going to be useful if people are there. And sooner or later they’re going to have to monetize it in some way” [meaning they may need to post ads, or use your information to get advertisers, etc.]
  • Doxing.  Zoë Quinn is at the heart of “Gamergate,” a discussion online about the depiction of women in video games and how misogynistic it is. To dox, v.: “A person finds out your home address, your cellphone number, embarrassing photos, whatever – and they post it on Twitter” or blackmail you not to.  >>> For example, when you register your domain you provide your name & address and it displays. But you pay to have it hidden.
  • Parting words:  “You don’t have to do anything on the Internet.

-- Margo Lamont

(c)2014 Margo Lamont

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