Prediction: A Paradigm Shift in Social Media Sharing

By Neicole Crepeau, Contributing {grow} Columnist

Google + Circles has finally provided sharing in the way that most people want. Even Google may not realize the avalanche of changes it has started, though. Google’s implementation of Circles will usher in a new paradigm for sharing: one where we no longer focus on where we want to share but instead focus on who we want to share with.

The current state

Right now, when you share content you pick the network you want to share to. You click a Tweet or Retweet button to share to Twitter, click a Facebook Like, etc. This is because social sharing began with social networks–locations where people congregate online.

Some of your contacts operate mainly in one location, say Facebook or Twitter but you’re probably connected with other contacts across multiple locations. And still other contacts are mainly accessible via email or text messaging. To reach all of the people you’d like to reach with a piece of content, you have to make the effort to go to each network and share or use a tool such as Hootsuite or ping.fm to share across multiple sites.  If you want to share selectively within each site, such as to only certain LinkedIn groups and Facebook friends, it becomes even more time-consuming and difficult. Even in the third-party tools, there is poor support for sharing to select Lists, pages, or groups.

Circles and Lists will let you focus on people

Now, Facebook, Twitter, and others will be forced to catch up with the Google + model (though Facebook could have been leading the change). Facebook will follow suit and add Circle-like capabilities. (Breaking news–Between drafting this post and publishing, Facebook announced changes in their Lists and sharing features to begin matching Google Plus.) Expect Twitter to enhance their List feature in response, as well.

As each social network implements a rich user experience and feature set equivalent to Google + Circles, it will be easier to focus on who you want to share with. While you will still need to go to each social network to share, you will be able to more easily select groups of people within each network that you want to share with.

Instead of having a choice of sharing publically or to friends-only on Facebook, you’ll easily be able to share to selected groups, such as Work Colleagues or Gamer Friends. Similarly, you’ll be able to tweet at your list of Gamers in order to share selected tweets and content just to the people most likely to be interested in that information.

Thus, at first, you will have two-step process of choosing where you want to share and then who you want to share with.

What we need are Enhanced Share buttons

Google Plus will likely lead the way in providing a Share button for websites that lets you select the Circle you want to share with right from the button. (Breaking news–Google Plus just announced on 8/24 that they are enabling sharing via the +1 button–and the ability to select the Circles you want to share with.)

Shortly after that, I predict Facebook, Twitter, and others will add the ability, so that you can target your sharing to specific groups of people in their network, as well.

Evolution – Third party tools consolidate circles across platforms

Before long, though, third party tools will enable you to consolidate your Circles/Lists across platforms. (And if you’re a VC, contact me and we can talk about being the first of these tools!)  You’ll be able to create meta-circles that let you define your different social groups, ala Google + Circles. However, you won’t have to worry about whether your contacts are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Using these third-party tools (unless Google, itself, decides to build it), you’ll be able to authenticate with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., and then assign your contacts from across these networks into Circles or groups. You can build your Professional contacts, your Best Friends and Family group, your Gamers group, etc. People may reside in more than one circle, of course, so that Joe is in both your Best Friends and your Gamers group.

Similarly, you’ll be able to use Circles to segment your audience. If you have followers on Twitter or fan of your Facebook page, you’ll be able to group them into segments, such as Product Managers or Marketers, Small Business CEOs, Bloggers or Consultants, and so on. Again, people may reside in more than one Circle and you may have contact with them via more than one social network.

Retweet, Like, and other buttons are replaced

At first, people will use these third-party tools to share to their meta-Circles. Instead of going to each social network and sharing a piece of content within it, you will be able to simply use the third-party application. For example, Feedly might build in this ability and you can share content to your meta-Circles from it. You’ll select the Gamers or Bloggers circle to share your content to. The application will then use the Facebook, Google +, Twitter and other APIs to find the appropriate Lists or Circle in each social network and share your content just to those audiences within each network.

You won’t have to think about where your audience and contacts are. You will only have to think about who you want to share with.

Then, one or the other of these third-party tools will create a single Share button that publishers can put on their website. With this button, you can share to your contacts just by clicking the button and selecting the circle of people you want to share with.

Share with Circles Paradigm

Your content will then be shared with the correct groups of people on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and whatever other networks you’re active in. You won’t ever have to think about where your audience lives. All you’ll have to think about is who you are targeting with this content or status update.

And that’s the paradigm shift we can expect in the next one to two years!

Neicole Crepeau a blogger at Coherent Social Media and the creator of CurateXpress, a content curation tool. She works at Coherent Interactive on social media, website design, mobile apps, & marketing. Connect with Neicole on Twitter at @neicolec

How to self-publish your book

Many people dream of writing their own book and the exciting news is that today, you don’t necessarily need a literary agent or book contract to experience publishing success.

One very viable option is self-publishing. That was the decision I made for my first book, The Tao of Twitter, and here are some lessons learned that can help you get started on your own effort.

The essential question

There are many good reasons to publish a book: awareness, income, self-gratification, an entry point for speaking opportunities, etc. Before you decide which way to publish, think about WHY you’re doing it.

For me, I was looking to solve a problem. The number one question I was asked was “Can you help me understand Twitter?” That is just not something I could do in a phone call or over coffee. The available Twitter resources were too long, too boring, missed the point, or were out of date. Plus, I wanted to go through the learning experience of publishing a book.

I had been approached by three publishers about doing a book but the timing wasn’t right for me. They all expected a book tour and  promotional efforts and I did not have the time in my life to do that.  Also, they expect a book of certain “heft.” The length of a book is associated with the price point. The book I had in mind was going to be short and aimed at busy people. I didn’t want to make it as long as what they wanted and it would have required a lot of fluffy filling. That’s not for me. So self-publishing became a viable route.

Getting organized

Obviously you need a chapter-by-chapter outline for a book.  Here’s a technique that worked for me. I literally had easel-pad pages for each chapter “decorating” my dining room.  On each page I had sticky notes with ideas, resources, and assignments for each chapter.  This is very low tech but it helped me visualize the entire flow of the book and what was going to go where.

Challenges

It’s much different writing a book than a couple of long blog posts.  Obviously there is a significant time requirement. I wanted to make sure my wife and family was on board and understanding that this would be ON TOP of everything else.

My biggest challenge was keeping focused on the continuous flow of the book — much harder to do than stand-alone blog posts.  One of the things that helped was blocking out large chunks of time, primarily over the holidays, to write. At least for me, I couldn’t write the book in small increments because I was spending too much time having to ge re-acquainted with the flow.

Picking a platform

I did a lot of research on picking the right publishing platform. I ultimately chose CreateSpace, a division of Amazon, and I’m so glad that I did.  I highly recommend this company. They have an easy-to-follow, step-by-step process with lots of help at each stage.

Also, they offer paid assistance at each step.  For example, if you want an editor, they can provide that.  If you need help with cover art, they can do that. Marketing? Same thing.  And their customer service is superb!  It was quite painless to get both the print copy and the electronic copy ready for Amazon.

Unfortunately I had to go through another company Lulu, to get it produced as an iBook. Nine months after I paid them, it is still not produced. This company has been a nightmare to work with. Their service is awful.  Avoid them at all costs.

My out-of pocket costs

One advantage of this model is that it is an inexpensive path forward.  You don’t have to sell too many books to break even. Here were my approximate expenses:

  • Upfront CreateSpace set-up costs $99
  • Licensing fee $99
  • Graphic design $150
  • Proof-reading assistance $120
  • Website for book $300 (www.thetaooftwitter.com)

So basically I was ready to go for under $1,000. Of course you can get into a lot more expense if you use the CreateSpace paid options. I saved money by using my own trusted freelancer friends.

Profits

You have complete control of the pricing of your book.  CreateSpace charges you a flat fee for producing the book (usually between $3-$5 depending on length) and after that, the profits are yours. If you actually sell books, this can be much more profitable than going with a publisher. You can also change the price of the book at any time.

The amount you make is also affected by the distribution channel.  The most profitable source is selling right from CreateSpace. If you go with Amazon, they’ll nick you for another $1 or so per book. And big distributors force even lower profits.

By the way, all books are not automatically picked up by Amazon. It has to go through a review process.  Thankfully, my book was selected for their channel and nearly all my sales come through Amazon. It’s evenly split between paper and electronic copies and I have priced it so that I make about $3/book.  It won’t make me rich, but most important, it’s priced fairly so even students who need it can afford it.

Another advantage to this model is that there are no inventory costs.  The books are produced on demand. So whether you need one book or 100, they can be shipped to your door, or the customer, in a matter of days.

Marketing the book

Probably the biggest irony of my career is that I do a lousy job marketing myself. I’m too busy helping other people and it is ever so much more interesting to market something other than me! So, I’m not a best practice in this category!

Sadly, my entire marketing plan was to write one post and put a little ad on the blog. Thankfully the book became very popular despite my shortcomings.  Many people have been kind enough to write The Tao of Twitter and recommend it without my prodding. You know why? Because the book rocks.  It really does. I believe in it. And that is important. If you don’t have great content, you’re not going to have much of a marketing plan anyway, no matter what you spend on it.

Another key idea is having a built-in network.  Again, it all depends on your goals, but I have a friend who has high hopes for a self-published book but he has no online network.  His goal is make money from the thing so he is basically hoping for a miracle unless he is ready to plow a lot into marketing.  There is no marketing more powerful or cost-effective than an engaged network of fans.

Results

  • Despite the lack of proactive marketing, the book has reached number three on Amazon’s list of business communication books.  Through word of mouth alone, it is selling well enough so that it would be considered a “best seller” in the business book category.
  • It is being translated into Spanish, Mandarin and Portuguese.
  • The Tao of Twitter is being used as a business or PR textbook at seven universities.
  • I am planning an updated and expanded second edition of the book in 2012.
  • It is providing a nice passive income stream. I broke even in six weeks.
  • Most important, it has met my goal.  Anybody, anywhere can read this book in about 90 minutes and have a path forward on Twitter.  The people who have read it, LOVE it and I get wonderful reviews and feedback on it every day.

I am working on a new book (announcement soon!) and have decided to go with a traditional publisher (McGraw-Hill) for this work because of the scope and complexity of the topic.  So, I’m in the middle of another learning adventure I will be able to share with you when the project is completed!

Are you thinking of self-publishing?  What questions do you have about it? What’s holding you back?

Take the Mystery Out of Twitter!

Become a Twitter Ninja in just 90 minutes with the The Tao of Twitter, the best-selling Twitter book in the world!  Learn the three elements behind every Twitter success, 22 ways to build a relevant audience, strategies to create personal and business benefits, and hundreds of amazing tips and time-savers.

Click on the image for a Special Amazon promotion!