I was lucky enough to be one of the 600+ people who attended the first (I’m sure to be annual) #OCSMS aka Orange County Social Media Summit this past Friday (see blog for details).


I’d like to focus on some of the cool stuff that made my brain feel like mush when I left. In a good way.


As you may know by now, I’m always looking for new media authors, bloggers, and businesses can use to engage, create content, and sell their products without constantly spamming links on Twitter. A multi-platform approach is smart. Look at it this way: if you’re spending an hour each day on Twitter — thus putting all your eggs in one basket so to speak — why not switch it up a little? There are lots of eggs on other networks. Split your hour up three or four ways and reach more eggs in less time.


That’s called reach, my friends. And now I’m hungry.


See, when I wear my author hat, I’m known as the Queen of Snark (not self-proclaimed by the way). When I’m here at BRHM, I’m the Queen of Anti-Spam. Don’t spam your friends. Don’t spam your mom. Your mom is on Facebook. Unless you live in Hawaii, nobody likes spam. So cut it out.


Okay, sorry. (See, I can’t help myself. Can’t fight the snark.)


So…what did I learn? A lot! I’ll focus today on the visual media tools.



  • Instagram: Holy moly, did @AngryJulie do a fabulous job explaining how addicted we will (or have) become to this app? Not simply because it’s a visually cool tool (and IMHO easier than Pinterest and also more attractive to the fellas – and yes, I just said fellas and tool in the same sentence – but in a good way), but because it’s a great way to engage, share, and comment.


It’s also a smart app; with the click of a button, Instagram will follow all your Twitter and Facebook friends for you. Me likey.


WHY YOU SHOULD USE IT: I wouldn’t personally make it my main source of social media (though many have), only because I’ve established myself with Twitter, Facebook, and blogging. That said, I think it rocks and it integrates smoothly with those platforms, which makes it rock even more.


From iTunes, I just downloaded the free Instagram Tips app (fairly basic), Instafy mobile to track stats and Statigram on my MacBook. All in about three minutes.


Here’s the deal: for my purposes, as an author and consultant to other authors and small businesses, it’s a terrific way to engage on another level.


  • YouTube: @ChelseyVeturis did a great presentation on using YouTube as more than just a place to watch cat and Justin He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named videos. (I just laughed when I wrote that. My husband did not. “Justin who?”). Sigh. 


Chelsey has some terrific ideas about using video to wield your social media influence for good.


While doing that, you can also learn how to promote whatever you’ve got going on – whether it’s a charity, book, event, or said cat/unmentionable dude video – by using tags, links, and other cool tools.


WHY YOU SHOULD USE IT: YouTube ranks just behind Google and Facebook as the top Internet sites globally.


Why are you not using again?


  • Spreecast: Not included in the presentations, but my own new video broadcast fav, is Spreecast. It’s a wonderfully interactive, easy to use social video platform. Unlike Skype (which I also use frequently to consult with clients), Spreecast allows you to plan events or create them on the fly. 


Simple set up and controls, I can’t say enough about my delight in discovering this gem, thanks to @LorcaDamon of @GoodeReader who uses it frequently for virtual author signings and oh, wine parties (shhhh). Think of it this way: if you’re familiar with say, #pubchat on Twitter, you can do the same thing on Spreecast, only live. Cool, right?


In fact, if you want to check it out, join @Moha_Doha and I today at noon PST for a discussion on self-publishing, branding, and engagement. We’re there to answer any questions you may have! (Between the two of us, we’ve published seven books this past year alone.) And you don’t even need an account – simply sign in with your Twitter or Facebook credentials. (If you don’t want to show your face, just use the IM feature.) You can even have private chats, which makes me wonder if it will, at some point, usurp Skype.


WHY YOU SHOULD USE IT: It’s easy, interactive, and I guarantee hundreds of your Twitter and Facebook friends, readers, and potential clients are already on there using it. The question is: why shouldn’t you use it?


In my next post, I’ll cover StumbleUpon, Digg, and Reddit – terrific sites that many people are unfamiliar with and have asked me to cover in greater detail. (And of course, I promise to cover Pinterest as well. Though if you’re dying to find out more, just Google or YouTube it. It’s a great site and has lots of features to increase your social media footprint.)


Please share your experiences using the above visual media sites and any pros and cons.


I’d love to hear your comments!







  1. Justin Bog on May 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I want to go right over to Instagram now . . . but the pull of resistance is hitting and must . . . must . . . stay and leave a comment. Thank you again for the tips on navigating the expanding Social Media world, Rachel. I rely on your information, and I know how much it has really helped me in my writing life.

    • Rachel Thompson on May 21, 2012 at 8:49 pm

      JBo — so funny and sweet. How do you do that? I must take lessons.

      One key to remember: pick your favorite and make that your Earth. The rest are just satellites.


  2. Ciara Ballintyne on May 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I don’t even know what Instagram is… Clearly I’m ignorant.How can an author use YouTube? Apart from uploading book trailers ifthey have them.

    • Rachel Thompson on May 21, 2012 at 8:53 pm

      Hi Ciara — Instagram is a way cool visual pic app. You can like or leave comments for others. Kinda like easy Pinterest, w/o all the wedding stuff. Guys like it much mo bettah.

      As for YouTube, bloggers and authors use it (or social media peeps like me) to leave brief teasers. For example, you could give a 1-minute synopsis of your latest post. Or talk about your latest chapter & the character or plot twists. People remember more of what they SEE than what they read or hear. #pictureisworthathousandwords

      You create a channel (easy — you already have an account) and the tools are brilliantly easy. You can even watch a YouTube video about how to create a YouTube video!

      Hope that helps. :))

  3. Raine Thomas on May 21, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    You’ve given me plenty of food for thought, Rachel. I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed with all of the social media stuff right now, but you’ve made some great points for considering stretching myself just a bit more. Thanks for the info!

    • Rachel Thompson on May 21, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      As I told Justin, pick your center. What’s your fav? If it’s Twitter, stick with it. That’s where you’ve made your name. But it’s always good to pick something “new” that has a visual component. It’s not simply about self-promotion as you know, Raine. That’s why being an author is awesome for visual: book covers make for great content and engagement. I do enjoy Pinterest but find it’s too time consuming for me. Others have found ways to make money off it. I’m mostly sharing other people’s stuff on it — which is fine, too.

      Again, it’s about engagement across channels and building an interactive following who want to know more about you and will eventually buy your books! Peace.

  4. Lorca Damon on May 21, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks for the article shout out! I am humbled!

    I have really enjoyed the opportunities from Spreecast. Our first live author signing was a HUGE success, with over 100 people coming in during the one hour event to chat with author HP Mallory. Of course, we’ve had the drinking parties you mentioned (blush) and those are a really fun way to interact with fellow authors.

  5. Rachel Thompson on May 21, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Everyone knows you over there at Spreecast — what a terrific group of folks.

    And wow! 100 people, that’s amazing. I would encourage any writer to use it for an author signing in that way. Perhaps not with such amazing results but hey…

    and wine parties rock! Nothing to be embarrassed about there … you’re a terrific person to know, Lorca. On many levels. I appreciate all you do for authors. Can’t wait to see you at BEA!

  6. eden baylee on May 21, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Sometimes I feel like a hamster running on a wheel of media that is moving WAY too fast! Thank goodness for you putting it in all together so clearly,

    • Rachel Thompson on May 22, 2012 at 10:07 am

      Thank you, Eden. It CAN be overwhelming. And as writers, we need to write. Choose a time in the day, plan your social media (as I know you do), and add even just one more channel a bit at a time. One pic on Instagram a day or even every other. A YouTube vid each week. Whatever works for you.

      There is no right or wrong — you curate your own social media life.

  7. D.C. on May 22, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I will definitely have to go check out Instagram. Thanks!

    • Rachel Thompson on May 22, 2012 at 10:05 am

      Instagram rocks, D.C. It’s quick and easy.

      I think people become overwhelmed by so many choices and as authors, we need to write! That’s why Instagram is so convenient — wherever you are, take a pic and share. Or share pics of others you admire. Stuff that makes you laugh. Whatev. Engagement is key.

  8. Jessica Kristie on May 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Love instagram! Been on it for awhile now and dig it. There are a lot of cool free apps to use with it. Definitely another fun way to be creative. You can get stuck on it for hours though. Just like Pinterest… it sucks you in 🙂

    • Rachel Thompson on May 23, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      Sweet, Jess! It IS awesome. I try to visit just once/day and with it being tied to Facebook, that makes it even easier to connect with more people and engage. That’s the whole point — engagement. I need to find out about more cool apps and stuff to do w/ pix — though not knowing is keeping me off, so that’s a good thing! xo

  9. CEZAR on May 23, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Hey Rachel – love your blog… It’s got attitude and tells it straight up.. Love that! Not to mention, it’s got valuable content! haha 🙂 I’m already looking forward to what you have to say about StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit. Those are definitely more of the underground sites.. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how to use them correctly.. If you can clarify that, it’d be AWESOME..

    Stay bad..


    • Rachel Thompson on May 23, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Thank you, Cezar — pleasure to have you here. I do try to balance the snark with the content :). I allow myself a little more snark latitude over on my blog (shhh, don’t tell anyone).

      As for the other sites, I got sidetracked this week by a request to write about engagement. So that’s this week’s post (up tomorrow –Thursday). But I’ll definitely be reviewing those other sites next week. For now, if you have a WP site, consider adding them to your plug-ins and open accounts. At least Digg and SU. Easier to use. Stay away from Reddit until you’re prepared to really learn is my best advice. It’s a culture unto itself, though valuable for sure.

      All the best,



  11. Genia Adamcik on June 2, 2012 at 4:08 am

    I’m still learning from you, but I’m making my way to the top as well. I absolutely liked reading all that is posted on your site.Keep the aarticles coming. I liked it!

    • Rachel Thompson on June 2, 2012 at 10:53 am

      Thank Genia — love hearing from you! It takes awhile to get used to the whole blog world, so gleaning bits and pieces is a good idea. I read and learn constantly, try things out, see what works. Do what feels right but remember to always think of your readers. Can’t go wrong there.

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