Befriending a Blogging Clique: How Not to Become Cyber Toast

An author and newbie blogger friend of mine said she wanted to ally herself with a group of powerful mommy bloggers and promote her book to them, but she didn’t want to become the victim in a cyber remake of Mean Girls. So, I gave her a few basic tips that I thought I’d share here. The good news is there’s a simple way to begin developing a relationship with your topic A-List bloggers: comment on their blog posts.

Reach out. Read their blogs and comment intelligently. It will give you visibility with your target audience (her readers who are interested in your topic) when you begin interacting with the blogger.

Contribute to the conversation. If you have personal experience, knowledge or special insight to the topic, share your information and opinions by adding to the discussion. It helps build community with the other bloggers and introduces you to their readers in an organic, non-invasive way.

If you disagree with the point a blogger has made in her post, you can open a polite debate by expressing your position and asking a question that allows her to expand on her position. But that can be tricky and shouldn’t be done unless you have read and participated on the blog long enough to have established a relationship and know how the blogger will respond in situations of disagreement. Do NOT go to another blogger’s site and pick a fight. It might even be better to use a trackback and keep your differing opinions on your own blog if you think the discussion will become too heated.

Don’t sell. Think of visiting other blogs like going to a backyard party. Everyone is standing around talking about a particular topic. Then you walk in and say the equivalent of: “Hi! I’m not interested in joining the conversation, I just came here to tell you about my great book/product/service.” Bad move. That kind of behavior can get you duct taped to a cyber tree. You’ll draw attention to yourself and not in a positive way. Read your comment aloud before you press the submit button. If your comment sounds like you are promoting yourself and trying to sell something, rethink your wording. Sharing information vs. sharing information about something you have for sale are two very different things.

If the blogger feels you are using her site for your own book/product/service promotion, she may delete your comment and ban you from posting on her blog, or worse—call attention to your breach in etiquette by posting about your rudeness. I know bloggers who have dealt with sales-y comments in those ways. Don’t be a comment spammer. It places you, your book/product/service in a negative light.

Leave a trail. Make sure you post comments using your full name rather than choosing the anonymous option. Include the URL to your blog in the comment sign-in form; that will make your name “clickable” in the comments window, so readers can find their way to your blog if they are intrigued by what you’ve said or want to find more information about what you’ve shared.

If the comment sign-in form does not allow for a direct click-through to your blog, you can end your comment post with a one- or two-line signature block with your name and your blog or website URL.

If you’d like to follow that particular thread of conversation, you can select the option to receive email notices when someone else replies in the comment section. This is particularly helpful if you want to continue participating in the discussion or if the blogger’s call to action has encouraged other comments containing useful information you would like to receive.

Give props. If a blogger has a particular post that you think would be great information for your blog readers, write your own commentary about the topic (you can also use an excerpt of the content you’re referencing), and suggest that your readers visit her site. Include a clickable hyperlink (use the permalink) to the relevant post on the blogger’s site. It’s free advertising for her and increases her blog traffic, in addition, it shows her you’re looking to establish a relationship of mutual support. And, it allows your readers to see you as a filter when you provide another useful source of information.

Overall, the concept is quite simple. Establish your online relationships the same way you would in person—a little bit at a time.

What tips do you have that worked for you?

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Mashable: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Social Media

mashableWriters, if you haven’t yet taken the head-first plunge into networking and promoting yourself and your writing through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogging via WordPress or Blogger, it’s time for you to join the online revolution. For a great go-to place for social media news and information to get you up to speed, check out Mashable.

All of this “online stuff” may seem daunting to writers who spend their time in quiet seclusion, creating characters and engaging stories, or writing to share information or a message. I know a lot of you feel that in social networks there is just so much noise, so many people… The technology is advancing so quickly. How could you ever keep up? Where do you begin? What do you do to get your message out there? How do you get noticed? What is it really all about? Does any of it really matter?

The answer is—Yes, it does matter. Social media is a great way to get your message heard, to reach out to people with common interests, and to make a difference. There are so many positive reasons to embrace and participate in social networks and not a single negative reason not to.

Here’s a quick-start overview of basic tools to get you going in the right direction:

  • Explore the articles in Mashable’s How-To List
  • Carve out a piece of cyber real estate for yourself—establish a blog. (I recommend WordPress.)
  • Begin to expand your social networking circle by joining Twitter.

Twitter is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get your social networking feet wet. I wrote a post about Twitter back in August last year that also included a video tutorial. Since that time, Twitter has gone even more mainstream and has been used in so many great ways to connect with people—even by our current president!

On the personal side, Twitter has been directly responsible for my book, The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir, being optioned for adaptation to a cable television series; book sales; reviews and interviews on high-traffic websites; increased traffic on this blog; visibility and personal connection to major players in the publishing industry—and just this morning, I was surprised and excited to find myself on Mashable’s list of Nonfiction Authors to Follow on Twitter! All of it has grown organically from sharing what I’m thinking and doing, providing help when I can, commiserating and offering support, chatting about random topics, and generally enjoying the people I meet. That’s what it’s all about.

Writers, if you need some help getting yourself and your writing out there, I have an upcoming workshop, Online Author & Book Promotion, that launches in June. You can drop me an email with any questions you have or sign up on the workshops page.

Social media is here to stay. It will only get bigger and better with an incredible global reach and so many diverse and wonderful ways to use it. Check out this video interview with Mashable’s Pete Cashmore about Social Media for Social Good.
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Are You On Twitter?

The question of the day: What are you doing? It’s simple enough to answer–but you can only use 140 characters to do it.

That’s the premise behind a growing social networking phenomenon at

The posts are called “tweets” and they allow you to let friends and colleagues know what you are doing at times throughout the day (or night). It’s fast and easy microblogging that is much like an instant message that can be sent from your computer or your mobile phone.

But, what is the point of adding just one more thing to do to an already overflowing social networking calendar? That’s a question you will have to answer for yourself. There is only so much time in the day to research, write, market, pursue publication, and…oh yeah, have a life.

What can you do to make Twitter a productive social networking choice for you?

  • Meet and network with fellow writers.
  • Follow posts about topics or people of interest.
  • Promote your own book, blog, or articles.
  • Post mini lessons or tips that help establish your brand.
  • Keep track of trends.
  • Reach out to your audience.

And my personal favorite: keep yourself accountable for what’s on your to-do list. Nothing will keep you on task like announcing what you are working on to the entire list of your followers!

Take a
peek at who is saying what on Twitter. Go to (bought by Twitter). Type your topic into the search field and you can see who is talking about writing, blogging, book promotion, parenting, cooking, gardening, relationships, etc. It’s a great way to have an immediate finger on the pulse of your topic.

Some Twitterers to follow:
Peter Shankman – HARO/Help A Reporter –
Seth Godin – Unleashing the Idea Virus –
Penny Sansevieri – Red Hot Internet Marketing –
Denise Wakeman – The Blog Squad –
BloggersBlog – News and Trends in Blogging –
Pete Cashmore – Mashable –

If you sign up, look me up:
I’ll be the one talking about Jen’s cat’s banana addiction.

Here’s a great Twitter tutorial (tweeted by fallenrogue, one of my tweeps):

Tweet to you later…