Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dealing with Twits—A Social Media Rant

This is what I look like when I use Twitter
For some time now, I've been experimenting with Twitter on the advice of an author platform expert who shall remain nameless because she insisted that it's an essential social media platform for authors. I confess that after having used Twitter for several months, I have absolutely no idea why she'd think or say this. Does she even have a Twitter account, I wonder. Has she seen what's going on in there? 

For the uninitiated, here's a brief summary: Twitter is a "social broadcasting" platform. Users "tweet" short messages that presumably announce something important. A quick run-down of my Twitter feed suggests just the opposite, however; it's teeming with celebrity gossip, perennial outrage, public shaming, links to suggestive and virus-laden web sites, and pictures of Kim Kardashian's naked ass (which has become boring because we've seen so much of itquite an accomplishment on her part, considering the predilections of our modern society).

That last item yields a relevant observation, though: Unless you're a celebrity of some stripe, Twitter is a sea of words in which an average person's voice drowns the instant it launches, lost forever in a surfeit of nonsense. Hash-tagging helps somewhat, but even then not so much unless the topic is trending. For us proletarians, tweeting is like whispering in a middle school cafeteria during lunch period. It's unlikely anyone will notice. Average Twitter users might as well shout down a well; more people would "hear" that than find his/her one tweet in the never-ending stream of insipid ones clogging the feed.

I digress, however. The thing I hate most isn't the usual mind-numbing, lowest-common-denominator tweets. What I hate most is the unending stream of private messages that I've been receiving in my inbox, all of which contain advertisements for products and services. Lately it has become chronic, and it's annoying as hellso much so that I recently added "DON'T PM ADS!" to my user profile. Of course, that's done little to fix the problem.

How do these messages come? Here's a brief walk-through. A user logs into her account to find ten people have "followed" her since yesterday's log-in. As a courtesy, she "returns the follow"and maybe greets new followers in a tweet (although I've stopped this practice after reading that this is a no-no on this blog). The user then logs out, happy that her list of followers is slowly-but-steadily growing. Twenty-four hours later, she logs back in to find eight private messages from yesterday's ten new followers, six of whom have already "unfollowed" her because their sole reason for following was to send her a private message containing an advertisement for products/services. Additionally, eight brand new followers are now waiting to be followed so that they may do the same thing tomorrow.

For the record, Twitter's Terms of Service forbid sending advertisements to users via private message. A friend pointed this out when I shared that I was replying to spammers with my own business ad. Apparently, two spams don't make a right, so I had to stop. Shortly thereafter, I discovered a handy "report" option on the drop-down box for each private message. Lately, I've been using that option frequently. It doesn't matter if the ad offers something for free. Spam is spam, and I treat all such ads equally.

Twitter's 140-character limit makes it a poor forum to effectively hook readers, so its value to authors is questionable at best. Even so, the lion's share of spam comes to me from "book promoters" whose marketing strategy seems no more sophisticated than just incessantly tweeting/private messaging about their clientele's books. (In fact, one established more than twenty different accountsone for each book genre, it seemsand then followed me from each "companion account" so that spam could be readily sent.) Ironically, the goal of all this spamming is to hook me as a client so that they can send out even more spam ads. What a catastrophic marketing strategy for authors, allowing amateurs to annoy potential customers/readers with their book/brand! I wouldn't dream of paying for it, yet the evidence suggests that many authors do.

The worst advertisement I've received thus far, however, came three weeks ago and had nothing to do with book promotion. I was copied on the message alongside a dozen other women. It said something along the lines of: "Hey! I just had to share some exciting news with you about a great new product from <a woman's name doubling as a company's>. It's a newly designed and innovative TAMPON that will change your life forever! Women will not believe how amazing and convenient this product is..."

Before I continue, some observations: First, tampons are not now nor will they ever be innovative, nor is news about them ever exciting. Also doubtful is that the product is newly designed, as its specifications must conform to a female anatomy that has remained unchanged since the dawn of mankind. There's nothing new under the sun there. Finally, forgive my rampant skepticism that a little cotton-fiber plug is going to change your life forever. Most women are not as clueless as those people who worry about touching a "germy" hand soap pump right before they wash their hands. It's a period, not chaos theory. As a rule, we ladies have it covered. So, I replied "Seriously?" accompanied by the "meh" emoji, reported the message as spam, and deleted it.

Let's go back to Twitter, though. If that forum is about anything other than pop culture nonsense and maladroit business people hustling for clients, I have yet to see any evidence. Perhaps I'm doing this Twitter thing wrong, though. I'm asking you to tell me. How does a non-celebrity squeeze any value out of this platform? Or do you, like me, find Twitter to be a waste of time?  Please let your thoughts be known in the comments below.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Amazon Giveaway of "Publicize This!"

I'm very happy to announce my second book Giveaway, this one via

"Publicize This!" is a beginner's guide for community and/or nonprofit groups who need to grow their membership, raise awareness of important issues, and solicit donations to advance their objectives—despite the fact that they have a limited or nonexistent marketing budget. Packed with practical advice, this brief and to-the-point book details specific steps that groups might take to make a simple marketing plan, compile a custom media distribution list, advertise group events, capitalize on post-event publicity opportunities, and generate ongoing word-of-mouth that furthers the group's overall goals. All it takes is "some dedication, a little targeted research, diligent collection of relevant information, and steady application of what is learned along the way." Quick and easy fundraising ideas are included, as well as samples of blurbs, announcements, a radio script, and other promotional pieces for modeling purposes. 80 pages.

If you'd like to be entered to win one of three copies of Publicize This! Promoting Your Group/Nonprofit on a Limited or Nonexistent Budget, visit this link and follow me on Twitter (@KPVermaelen) today!

Good luck!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Two Poems Down...

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for Suffolk County Poetry Review 2015 in the gorgeous Hunt Room at Dowling College, where I read "God's Mother," one of two poems of mine that appear in the issue. I also enjoyed hearing many other talented poets read their work at the event.

What I didn't know going in is that this is the inaugural issue of Suffolk County Poetry Review, the very first in what will be a long and successful line of poetry anthologies featuring Long Island poets. I am so honored and thrilled to be included alongside the many talented poets in this first issue.

"God's Mother" can be found on page 88. This poem was inspired by my older son's past penchant for drawing endless pictures of our solar system, which he then left around the house in piles. When I told him "We have no more room for your solar systems," inspiration struck. I began to wonder what She might have told Him while he created the universe with reckless speed and abandon.

"Virago," which appears on page 89, was inspired by dual definitions provided in a word-of-the-day email from an online dictionary. The dichotomy of this noun, which applies exclusively to women and has both positive and negative meanings, inspired some (admittedly bitter) thinking about why such a word exists, especially as there seems to be no equivalent noun for men.   

Suffolk County Poetry Review contains the work of over 50 local poets and was edited by current Suffolk County Poet Laureate Ed Stever, Pramila Venkateswaran and James P. Wagner (Ishwa). If you love poetry, consider picking up a copy of Suffolk County Poetry Review: An Anthology of Suffolk County Poetry from Local Gems Press today.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

"Publicize This!" Goodreads Giveaway

Got publicity? If not, please enter my Goodreads Giveaway for a copy of "Publicize This! Promoting Your Group or Nonprofit on a Limited or Nonexistent Budget," which runs until May 3rd, 2015, by clicking on the "Enter to Win" link below:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Publicize This! Promoting Your Group or Nonprofit on a Limite... by Kathleen P. Vermaelen
Enter to Win

Good luck to all who enter! Here's hoping I send the winning copy to you.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Blogging Haiku

This blog's on the list:
Things that I should be doing
that never get done.