Category Archives: Social Networking For Writers

How To Defuse The Negativity Of Trolls On Social Media | Web Design Relief

Once upon a time, trolls only existed in fairy tales, lurking under bridges and feeding on unwary travelers. Today they lurk on the Internet and feed on the conflict they create on social media.

No online community is safe from the risk of being attacked by trolls. Web Design Relief knows the dangers and difficulties of dealing with Internet trolls, and we’ve gathered some tips and suggestions on how to defuse negativity on social media.

Effectively Neutralize Trolls On Your Social Media

Identify what type of troll you’re dealing with. Trolls get their jollies by getting a rise out of you or your followers. Their intention is to humiliate or ridicule a targeted victim. They want to tarnish reputations and discredit businesses. But, it’s a mistake to believe that all trolls are teenage boys with too much time on their hands. While it’s true that most trolls are male, studies have shown that they are not always who we think they are:

  • Trolls don’t necessarily work alone. Some of them are part of well-organized groups.
  • They aren’t always uneducated. In fact, many are well-educated individuals, some with advanced degrees.
  • Most importantly, trolls are not all harmless.

Use agreeable phrases to reduce tension. Polite gestures such as thank you, I get your point, here’s what we have in common, and/or I see my mistake might de-escalate the situation or lead your attacker to believe you are not easily provoked. Of course, this doesn’t work in all situations. Your reluctance to take the bait may come across as being vulnerable and weak. Some trolls may not be challenged enough to continue. Others will think you might be easy prey. Another thing to consider when placating a troll is that you must be careful not to ostracize your followers or disappoint your friends in the process.

Respond with facts. Let’s face it: Trolls do not fight fair. They like to use disparaging off-topic comments to start fires in your social media feeds. If a troll accuses you of spreading lies or misinformation, you can handle it one of two ways. Either admit you were mistaken (if indeed you were) and apologize (believe it or not, folks, information does vary online) OR respond calmly with facts. Hose down inflammatory comments by identifying the resources that led to your conclusion. Show examples if possible. A good offense is the best defense. And don’t forget what we’ve said about using positive remarks to defuse negativity. Something as simple as I see how you came to that conclusion but this is what I found might help neutralize an attack.

Counter with humor. Treat trolls like comedians treat hecklers. Either disregard them and move on or respond with something that makes light of their virtual assault BUT not in a derogatory manner or personal attack (trolls hate competition). If enough followers chime in, the troll may feel outnumbered and throw in the towel. But a word of caution if you attempt to use humor to subdue trolls: Sometimes, this can backfire—especially if the troll feels embarrassed or ill-equipped to handle your humorous attempt to diffuse the situation. Keep in mind, Internet bullies do not like to be bullied or mocked.

Do not feed the trolls. You know those warnings about not feeding the bears, alligators, or your moochy cousin Albert? If you toss them some popcorn, you will be forever associated with food. Trolls aren’t much different in this respect except the food that nourishes them is negative human emotion. Show them one scrap, one teeny tiny morsel of anything remotely related to fear, pain, guilt, or insecurity—and they will know exactly where to go to be fed. No matter how hungry trolls are for controversy, feed them only positive comments or ignore them completely, and you will likely starve them out. Recognize the hunger signs early on and don’t be baited.

Block and report. Most social media sites have moderators who monitor discussions and intervene when someone is being toxic or a certain post is headed in the wrong direction. If a commenter continues to display inappropriate social media etiquette, the moderator can use the block/report feature to ban the person or people being discourteous.

Unless you appoint a moderator on your personal blog or website, you will be the one doing the blocking. If you are overly concerned about how people will respond to something you post, an option that might prove beneficial is to pre-approve comments before they go live. These safety features were created for a reason. But use them in moderation. Not every rude or disagreeable person is a troll. Some of them are just rude, disagreeable people.

However, there may be times when online harassment crosses the line. Hate mail, death and rape threats, and threatening comments toward family and pets are not uncommon tactics used by trolls on the Internet. These threats should not be taken lightly. Remember, not all trolls are harmless—some have proven to be very dangerous. If a situation escalates and you feel threatened, here are some things you can do to protect yourself:

Alert family and friends to the situation. This isn’t just for support. If people around you know what’s going on, they will be less likely to inadvertently divulge your personal information to strangers pretending to be friends.

Save screenshots of the harassment and/or threats. This will help if you are forced to involve law enforcement (see below). There are ways to unveil anonymous trolls.

Avoid posting your whereabouts or daily routine on social media. Data location apps were designed to help you discover new things, but keep in mind, they also make it easy for people to discover you and your precise location.

Disable the geotagging features on your smartphone. Metadata is like bread crumbs for stalkers. It will lead them right to you. Think it’s safe to take a quick photo of yourself using your cell phone camera to upload on social media? Think again, Hansel and Gretel. There is so much metadata recorded in a digital picture, it’s like a map and you are the red star right in the center of it. Be smart about your smartphone.

If it gets really scary, involve the police. They have departments specifically created to assist with cyberbullying. Depending on the severity, you may also want to fill out the Internet Crime Complaint form known as the IC3 on the FBI site.

You can also report cyberbullying on the Cyberbullying Research Center’s Report Page.

While the Internet might sometimes seem like a scary place with trolls lurking in every dark corner, taking these few basic precautions will help keep them at bay. And remember, there are lots of nice, friendly, interested people on the Internet and social media who simply want to follow you and your writing!


Question: Have you had to deal with an Internet troll? What steps did you take to deal with the situation?

10 Social Media Book Marketing Strategies Writers Should Avoid | Web Design Relief

These days, the life of an author is often divided between writing books and online marketing on social media. But do you know what kinds of posts and book promotions are unwelcome—or even prohibited— on social media platforms? At Web Design Relief, we know that even innocent efforts to attract new fans and friends may run afoul of the powers that be. And if your accounts are suspended, blocked, or banned, you’ll be cut off from your most powerful online marketing tools. Here’s how to play it safe when promoting your book on social media.

Social Media Book Marketing Strategies That Writers Should Avoid

Using Disallowed Strategies In Social Media Contests

A contest is a great way to create excitement about your book. And while it may be tempting to require your fans or followers to “tag their friends” or “share this post” as a way to submit a contest entry into your book giveaway, this option is expressly forbidden according to Facebook Promotion Guidelines.

Joining Too Many Groups On Facebook

There are thousands of public and private groups on Facebook that cater to book lovers of every genre. As an author, these are great places to do some online marketing by connecting with avid readers. However, if you join too many Facebook groups in a short period of time, Facebook is likely to red-flag you as a potential spammer. Best advice: Don’t join more than a few groups a day.

Sending Too Many Friend Requests

You want to build a big community, so it’s natural you’ll request new friends. However, if you send out too many friend requests in a short amount of time on Facebook or Instagram, these platforms may flag you as a possible bot. Rather than sending all your friend requests at once, do a few every day to avoid having your accounts blocked or suspended.

Furthermore, to avoid being labeled a book marketing spammer, it’s best to send requests to people with whom you already share friends, groups, or interests. If too many of your friend requests are rejected, those individuals may mark your requests as “spam.”

Posting Too Often And Too Quickly

As an author, you’re told to post multiple times a day and respond as quickly as possible to anyone who comments in order to keep your followers engaged. But if you upload the same exact post to multiple places within minutes, Facebook and Instagram will recognize this behavior as similar to that of a spam-bot. The platforms are likely to squash such activity with a suspension or a shadow ban.

Post frequently, and answer fast, but make sure to leave at least a few minutes between shares and posts so you don’t mimic the behavior of a software macro.

Automating Your Posting

There are many programs available that offer to help you automate your book marketing strategy on Pinterest and Instagram, but buyer beware: At the time of this article, both of these platforms prohibit the use of automated systems. Data scrapers are also banned from Instagram and Pinterest, so you’ll just have to gather the links or images you need for your next blog post yourself.

Facebook will allow you to schedule multiple posts in advance, and you can schedule Tweets on Twitter using programs like Hootsuite without any issues.

Putting Links In The Wrong Place In Pinterest

Pinterest has very specific rules as to where you can put the link associated with the picture you’re posting on your board. Click “edit” on a posted picture and insert the link in the box labeled “link.” You can be suspended or banned for putting your link anywhere else in the metadata.

Posting Violent Or Gory Content

Attention, authors writing serial killer or noir thriller novels! Community standards vary in terminology across social media platforms, but content that is perceived to incite violence, such as terrorist activity, hate speech, criminal activity, and cruel or insensitive content that’s directed to particular victims or classes of victims, etc., is prohibited. Most platforms also strive to stop and pull down images of graphic violence, including gory surgical procedures, and ban or suspend the accounts of those who post it.

Posting Pornographic Content

Attention, writers of erotica! You won’t be banned for sharing a photo of the naked sculpture of Michelangelo’s David, or for sharing a post that includes non-sexual nudity for educational or medical purposes, but remember to be mindful of the community standards of each platform when it comes to what is considered lewd or pornographic content. Most platforms will ban users who post prohibited content such as:

  • Child nudity or any sexually exploitive photos of children
  • Sexual violence
  • Nude or pornographic posts that target people with the intention of degrading or shaming them
  • Posts of private pictures for the purpose of harassment

Posting Copyrighted Content

Don’t pull random photos or graphics from the Internet to create your posts. While authors may gasp in horror at the suggestion that they would ever copy someone else’s intellectual property, copyright infringement happens often online—particularly when it comes to graphics and photos. Make sure the images you post are yours, that you’ve attributed them if necessary, and you have the right to use them. Limit your photos to those found on sites offering royalty-free images like Shutterstock. Multiple violations won’t only get you in trouble with the copyright owners, but they might land you in Facebook Jail or get you banned from Pinterest or suspended from Twitter.

Posting Hacked Materials

Twitter specifically prohibits posting hacked information that would expose personal identity content, trade secrets, or anything that might put people in danger. You’re not allowed to post a link to hacked materials, either.

If you do run afoul of social media platform rules, they’ll usually send a warning or, at worst, briefly suspend the account before taking more drastic action. Avoid this fate by protecting your accounts, and all the hard work you’ve done to grow them, by being aware of community standards and avoiding spam-like behaviors. In the end, the best way to avoid the Facebook Sheriff is to tailor your posts for high engagement by focusing on what makes you and your work unique and wonderful.


Question: What is your favorite social media platform and how do you use it?

6 Ways To Use Your Author Website As A Networking Tool | Web Design Relief

You made the right decision and created an author website. Excellent! Now when readers, editors, or literary agents google you, your author website will act as your online business card. But the experts at Web Design Relief have a warning: Don’t let your author website just sit there like a static, online poster with your name and headshot. Savvy writers use their author websites as powerful networking tools to elevate their author platform.

Unlike writers’ conferences or conventions that happen only a few times a year, an author website can help you build professional connections anytime, anywhere. Check out these easy-to-implement ways to boost your author website’s networking capabilities.

Turn Your Author Website Into A Networking Machine

Social media integration is a simple way to turn your website into a networking tool, especially if frequently updating your website seems like a daunting task. When you put social media icons or widgets in a prime location on your website (like your header or sidebar), you can connect readers and book buyers to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., where you can post effective marketing calls to action. Need new ideas to post on your social media accounts? Here is how to break the dry spell.

Contact forms are a must-have on any professional website, but especially for writers. Fans, readers, book buyers, agents, editors, publishers—they all may want to reach out to you! And you want to make it easy for them to do so while still keeping yourself safe online. Listing your personal email address on your website puts you at the mercy of trolls and hackers. A contact form gives you an extra layer of protection while still allowing visitors to message you privately about your writing.

Website hyperlinks are a powerful way to network. By simply placing a hyperlink to your author website beneath your signature on your emails, you make it easy for others to visit your site with just one click. This can be especially helpful when you are connecting with literary agents online, so they can have direct access and learn more about your writing.

A mailing list is a great way to build long-lasting connections with your audience. Social media platforms don’t belong to you, and you’re at the whim of ever-changing algorithms. But a mailing list gives you a captive audience and lets you keep in touch with fans and followers so that they never miss an announcement, update, or new release.

Build a blog and post often. When you regularly post to your website blog, it gives visitors a reason to keep coming back. You’re a writer—this should be second nature! Write creative, compelling blog posts and interact with readers via comments so that your website becomes a lively resource for fans and the writing community in general (which includes those always-important editors and agents). Want to double up on your networking power? Share your blog posts on your social media pages to draw more people to your author website!

LinkedIn has become the apex platform for professionals on social media. While other platforms like Facebook and Twitter have a personal touch, your LinkedIn account is all about your career as a writer and networking. You should have a dedicated icon on your author website for your LinkedIn account so you can connect with people who can help further your career. Find out how else authors can utilize LinkedIn.

Your author website shouldn’t sit there like a forgotten business card stuffed in your pocket. Use its technical capabilities to make faster, smarter, better connections and take your networking power to the next level. And if you’d like more tips on how to build a professional author platform, learn more here.


Question: Which way do you prefer to network with your fans and publishing industry insiders?

This 5-Second Rule For Social Media Saves Writers Lots Of Embarrassment | Web Design Relief

As a writer, your social media followers and fans hold you to higher standards of grammar mastery. So when you are posting on a social network like Facebook or Twitter, it’s important to make sure your updates are error-free. At Web Design Relief, we know that in addition to being a writer, sometimes you have… Continue Reading

4 (Almost) Effortless Ways For Writers To Meet Their Fans | Web Design Relief

Writing may be a solitary experience, but it’s important to your success as a writer that, at some point, you connect with your readers. While it’s always nice to meet your fans in person at readings, book signings, or conferences, the Internet experts at Web Design Relief know it’s easier than ever to interact with… Continue Reading

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