I’m blog touring today, and I’m thrilled to have author (and martial arts instructor…cool!) Stephen L. Brayton guest blogging today, and talking about making contact with readers through social media.
We all understand, or should understand, how social networking is essential to marketing and eventually, producing sales. We also understand the problem of spam, Internet viruses and other harmful software, and identity theft. Let me address these issues in reverse order.
Everybody knows about Facebook, Twitter, and many other social networking or community sites. Most of these places have privacy settings. You are allowed to show the public exactly what you want to show. If you don’t feel like giving your birth date, then don’t. If you don’t want to even add a picture, you aren’t required. Especially for a place such as Facebook, You can provide as little information about yourself as you desire. Facebook gives the option of not allowing any stranger to view your information unless that person is accepted as a friend.
This same information holds true for your personal website or blog. You may give as much or as little information as you are comfortable giving. I am a member of several .ning sites and they have many options when it comes to posting blogs. There’s one option that allows only the poster to see the blog, which doesn’t make much sense unless you just want to create an online journal or diary. (Again, this doesn’t make too much sense because these are social networking sites.) You can allow anybody or nobody to comment on your blog. And of course, we’ve all seen some of the hoops we have to jump through in order to comment on some blogs, including discovering HOW to comment.
I understand the need to keep personal information private. I’m certainly not advocating giving out your social security number, the name of your bank, and the whereabouts of your children at any given time. I think responsible parents should monitor all activity your children have on the Internet. If they want to have a diary, fine, buy them one. You can still purchase diaries and journals with actual paper pages. I know, I bought one for my niece last Christmas. I mean monitor ALL Internet activity. This includes Facebook and MySpace friends if they are allowed those pages. It includes knowing about and monitoring postings, message public and private, and any presence in chat room. Your child does not have but very limited privacy when living under your roof. Look at it this way: You wouldn’t allow your child to walk up to a stranger on the street corner and start talking about personal things. It is no different than the people in these chat rooms. I know, I’ve been to many chat rooms and talked with strangers. Let me tell you, they are not shy and can be very devious.
If you are an author with a website and an active blog, you DO want to be seen and interacted with. You need to have ways for the public to contact you in regards to various matters. How to buy your book. How to inquire about interviews or guest blogging. How to inquire about book reviews.
If you do not want people phoning you, then don’t list your phone number. If you want to only have people email you list the address. You can even list the address in broken form so it’s not as easy for spammers to send their crap. What I mean by broken form is this.
My email address is: email@example.com. Go ahead, contact me. I love email. If my system doesn’t recognize you, then it’ll throw you over to a spam file website where I regularly check and dispose of the garbage. If you end up there, chances are I’ll recognize you and give you an ‘okay’ with the system. A broken form listing might be: slb (at) mahaska (dot) org. I’ve seen plenty of sites with this type of listing and it’s fine.
If you are a book reviewer or a blogger who accepts interviews or guest posts, do your public a huge favor and make it easy for them to contact you. Don’t bury your email in an obscure location where people have to wade through the muck to find it. If you have an ABOUT section or a CONTACT page on your website/blog, then either of those would be an excellent place to list your contact information. Make it prominent. We’ve all seen cluttered websites and blogs. There is too much information coming at you either with advertising or other material. Sometimes it’s very difficult to enjoy the site and its offerings. If it is a site you’d like to connect with, then finding the contact information might be difficult.
What I’m saying is, if you don’t want people to contact you, that is your prerogative. But if you are accepting reviews or interviews, don’t make the contact process difficult. Recently I’ve run into several sites where I’ve given up because even though it is a pretty cool place to visit, and the owners accept interviews / guest bloggers / book reviews, I couldn’t find contact information.
I attended a seminar regarding martial arts websites. My website has a page for my taekwondo club. I came back from the seminar and immediately changed the format of the page. No, currently I am unable to do all that I want to do with the page, but you will notice my phone number and email address are listed at the top of the page without the reader needing to scroll down. My website’s contact page lists my email in large bold letters. My blog and review blog list my contact information either on the home page or the ABOUT section.
This post is not about visiting my sites (although if you would, I’d be grateful. Sorry for the BSP). This is about making sure YOUR sites are as user friendly as possible. This is about making sure people can reach you if you so desire.
It is a fast-paced Internet and people lose interest quickly. If they don’t see what they’re looking for within a reasonable amount of time (and that time varies from person to person), they’ll move on and you lose.
Stephen is a Fifth Degree Black Belt instructor in the American Taekwondo Association. He started martial arts training in 1991, earned his black belt in 1993, and gained my instructor certification in 1995. His Mallory Petersen series features a private detective who is also a martial artist!
JK here again! I think Stephen is right on. So many times I’ve been frustrated by an inability to find simple contact info on a website that obviously welcomes contact!
How about it, folks? Is your website up to snuff (for that matter, is mine?). Does this grip resonate with you?