Browsing People

Learn about some of the great Twitter users out there. People you should follow, and why!

Tweeting with Zombies

I’m a lucky guy. Although I never received credit (I didn’t have an agent), I was fortunate enough to have done some “script-doctoring” on a few forgettable network TV series back in the 90s. Of course, as a writer, I also had aspirations of penning the next great American novel, or at least one that would be a best-seller. But then Al Gore had to go invent the Internets and I didn’t do much writing for over a decade.

Fast-forward a few years and social media, tablets, e-readers and e-books are changing everything. Indeed, there’s never been a better time to be an aspiring author. You can build an audience on your own, sell directly to your readers and pocket the cash without splitting a penny with a publisher or an agent. As a result, I’ve not only taken the dive back into writing, I’ve become fascinated with how writers are using social media to build their careers (and to sell more books).

In this post, the first in a series about how authors are using social media, I interviewed Jonathan Maberry, author of such zombie brain-feasts as Patient Zero, Rot & Ruin, Dust & Decay, Dead of Night and Wanted Undead or Alive (for more about How Jonathan uses social media and zombies, read the full, extended interview at Addicted to Social

Please tell our readers about yourself. Who is Jonathan Maberry?

Zombie Author Jonathan Maberry

I’m a professional writer and part-time writing teacher. I write thrillers, horror novels, post-apocalyptic adventures for teens, movie tie-ins, and short stories. And I freelance for Marvel Comics. I teach a weekly writing class for teens and run a few classes on novel writing for adults.

Before I went full time as an author I had a grab-bag of different jobs. I was a bouncer in a strip club (in my wild youth), a bodyguard in the entertainment industry, a college teacher, the executive director of a writers center, an Expert Witness for the Philadelphia D.A.’s office (for murder trials involving martial arts), and a graphic artist.

I live on Bucks County, Pennsylvania with my wife, Sara Jo.

When, and more importantly, why did you decide to start using social media?

I got involved with message boards early on, but mostly to communicate with like-minded people on subjects that interested me; martial arts, books, film, the paranormal, folklore…things like that.

Then, while teaching a program at the Writers Room in Doylestown, PA, one of my students made a presentation on the subject of a new thing called ‘social media’.  At the time the hot topic was MySpace. I wound up exploring MySpace and then becoming heavily invested in the online community.

That student was Don Lafferty, who is now a publisher, writer and a social media consultant of some note. He frequently advises a number of other successful authors on social media.

What platforms are you on?

I’m all over the place, but I’m most heavily invested in Twitter, Facebook (regular page and group page), LinkedIn, and GoodReads. I rely heavily on Yahoo Groups for my classes and special projects –such as an anthology I’d editing, and we use the message board for posting info, submissions, and so on. I also have a website (, and I belong to Shelfari, LibraryThing, and a bunch of message boards –many of which are connected to writers organizations to which I belong (The Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, International Thriller Writers, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

For authors, what platforms would you recommend?

The big three are Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. That’s where the crowd hangs out, that’s where they talk, and that’s where the most useful connections are made. I also recommend that all writers join GoodReads and LibraryThing, and also build a website that draws a lot of traffic to one central point.

What’s your social media strategy?

I spend most of my time having fun. I read a lot of the posts other people make, and comment as often as I have something interesting (or funny) to say. I also post a lot of humor. These are dark times, so lightening the mood seems to work. I post links to events and publications by other writers and to items that I feel are of general interest. I’m a science and pop culture geek, so there’s a lot of that in what I post.

So, my strategy is to post positive stuff and generally have fun on the Net.

One thing that has greatly increased the traffic to my platforms and dialed up the volume of interactive posts is to include my readers in my projects. I’ll have contests online for people to name characters (including letting them win the chance to have a character named after them); or to pick the title of my next book; or win something nice like a Kindle or Nook. And, yes, giving out prizes is fun for me, too.

Has social media helped sales? If so, how are you measuring that?

Social media definitely bumps up sales. I see it in the analytics that track click-throughs from newsletters or social media posts to purchase sites like online booksellers.

And with social media I’ve been able to build an international fanbase that I might not otherwise have built. Publishing houses can’t afford to send as many writers on tour these days, and even when they do it’s usually a limited tour.

What kinds of interactions do you see people/fans responding to?

It’s pretty clear to anyone who visits my Twitter or Facebook page that I’m having an enormous amount of fun driving my jet-ski at high speed through the social media seas. Fun is infectious; people want to play with the happy kid in the playground. Try it out. Make a negative post and count the ‘likes’ and reposts then post something fun like a link to a cartoon (I post a ton of cartoons), a fascinating bit of science trivia (zombie ants, for example), praise for someone else’s accomplishments and then see how many MORE hits there are. Positive trumps negative every time.

At the same time I believe that people respond to my integrity. I never bash, never descend to base humor, and I don’t use the Net to proselytize any political agendas. I think that also engenders within them a greater sense of trust in the quality of the products I have on the market. Integrity and good will are hard to fake in anything but the short term, so people who hang out with me online know they’re safe and that something weird or silly is going to happen. We all dig that vibe.

Do you see social media becoming part of the story telling process?

It already is. We use social media to engage interest and to share information. The Net encourages us to get to the heart of our message, and as a result we’ve learned (and continue to learn) how to do that. The 140 character limit on Twitter is brilliant, and the fact that you can post a quick message and a hot link allows people to jump right in.

From a different perspective, some folks are using social media as an actual delivery system for storytelling. The Japanese Twitter novels are an example of that, but that’s been going on for years and I don’t see it catching fire here in the States. That said, I think the door is open for some new kind of multi-platform and interactive storytelling that we haven’t seen yet. I’ll bet money that it will happen. And, yeah, once it’s there I’ll probably experiment with it.

I hear you’re in talks to develop one of your books into a TV series. Do you see social media/Twitter playing a role?

That’s one of those Hollywood horror stories. Sony Pictures had optioned Patient Zero for TV.  They hired Emmy Award winning writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach to do the pilot script, and he nailed it. They brought it to ABC, and we got all the way down to the wire so that it was pretty much a decision between my show and a remake of Charlie’s Angels. And they went with the Angels.

As of now, the option is open again and my agent has been fielding reach-outs from various producers, so we’ll see. We’re all pretty optimistic, however.

Once something does catch fire, social media will be crucial. I’ve seen how that worked for The Walking Dead, a show based on the comics by my friend Robert Kirkman. The production company was all over the Net with that. It was everywhere, and it paid off, because the show was an instant hit as it deserved to be. But without social media buzz, it might have struggled to gain an audience and might not have done so soon enough to get the nod for a second season. Social media greatly helped that show.

Do you think zombies make good tweeters?

They’re relentless and they never tire, so yeah…they’ll be tweeting 24/7 with only a short break for some fresh brains.

Can you recommend any zombie related Twitter accounts, our readers are dying to know (pun intended)?

For more about How Jonathan uses social media and zombies, read the full, extended interview at Addicted to Social And if you’d like to read any of Jonathan’s books, click on the links below.

Neal Wiser is the owner of Neal Wiser Consulting, a Digital Marketing consulting firm. You can follow Neal on Twitter (his handle is @NealWiser). Neal is also the Cofounder and Co-host of the Addicted to Social Media Podcast. You can also read more of Neal’s Twitip posts here or on his blog at

Why Twitter Lists are Less Effective

Image credit: Michael Hamburg.

Twitter introduced the concept of lists about 16 months ago to enable the manual grouping of people into categories.

If you visit Formulists or Listorious you can type a keyword and see the different lists that people maintain. Searching for the keyword apples, for instance, you can read Twitter biographies of the 491 people who someone added to a list about honeycrisp apples. You can either follow the list or follow its members individually.

Any Twitter user can create his or her own list, or follow an existing list — such as the above one about apples. (more…)

An Interview with TweetDeck’s Richard Barley

Richard Barley

Richard Barley

If you use TweetDeck then you may have heard of or met Richard Barley (@richardbarley), TweetDeck’s Community Manager. I first “met” Richard last year when he provided some thoughtful comments to a pair of posts I wrote about TweetDeck, 10 Features I Want to See in TweetDeck and 9 More Features I Want to See in TweetDeck.

I had planned to ask Richard for an interview, but it got put on hold on my end. Finally, after long delay, that interview is here (you can also listen to an extended version of this interview on my podcast, Addicted to Social Media). (more…)

The Power Of Having Twitter Conversations Off Of Twitter

Conversation by Rishi Menon, on FlickrI hear it so often: “Conversations on Twitter are impossible to have.”

Or,”It’s impossible to track conversations on Twitter.”

Both can be valid points, however, it all depends on how you use the service. For those just starting out on Twitter, having conversations is essential for your business and to develop your personal brand. The conversation aspect that Twitter brings allows you to show others what you are about. Are you real and not a bot? Are you transparent? Are you just trying to sell me a product? (more…)

Never Go Out Without Your Twitter: Wear It!

As Twitter enthusiasts, we are very proud of our Twitter feeds.: They reflect our centers of interest as well as our opinions. So why not integrate your Twitter account to your clothes?

This is precisely what myTwittshirt is intended to: with this web service you can create custom t-shirts that embed a QR-code (similar to a bar code, used by smartphones and the like) pointing to your Twitter home page. Scanning the QR-code will redirect to the wearer’s Twitter account!

Will you wear your Twitter too?

Did Twitter Kill the Video Star?

Today’s post comes from Jenni Izzo, a Drexel University graduate turned Central Florida PR professional with a social media obsession. Follow her at @jenniizzo.

It appears that MTV’s attempt at reviving itself with a Twitter Jockey (an updated version of a VJ) has fallen short. After a month of Twitter-focused challenges to find the most appropriate individual for the job (measured by MTV’s own TweetLevel), the network announced the top five contestants in their “Follow Me: The Search for MTV’s First TJ” competition – and people are angry. (more…)

A Twitterified Football World Cup

There were a lot of things that were new to the World Cup 2010. Of all the things that were new, one of it was the fact that this was the first World Cup after the onset of the Twitter fever.

A few days back I read a post somewhere that talked about Twitter having set a new record of about 3.2K tweets per second, thanks to the Japanese football fans. That is more than evidence that Twitter has changed the way we saw the World Cup. (more…)

I Wrote a Book with Twitter

You get out of new technology whatever you put into it.

So when people scoff at Twitter and say they don’t care what people had for breakfast, they don’t get it.

I wrote a book with Twitter.

As a work-at-home dad I found Twitter to be the ultimate commiseration tool. When my kids drove me nuts I could share stories and hear from other parents. I began to tweet more about my family. I posted the weird things my kids said. I told funny stories. I talked about our adoption journey. I recruited others to support the causes we love. (more…)

Why You’re Better Off Following the Little Guy

I know how you think. Here’s what you tell yourself about Twitter: “If I follow Mr. Celebrity Man and if I get Mr. Celebrity Man to notice and reply to me, I’ll get all sorts of new followers!” You heard the story of the girl whose life changed because Conan followed her, you’ve seen how cool it is when Shaq answers people’s questions, and you’re thinking that you’ve found your ticket to fame. (more…)

How to Fight on Twitter

With so many websites, blogs and books available on how to use twitter effectively, I’ve yet to see anyone dedicate an article, post or page on “How to Fight on Twitter“.  And there’s a perfectly good explanation for that–you just don’t do it. When you have a huge social media platform like twitter at your disposal, why would you want to use your 140 characters to spread verbal garbage in a viral way? Shouldn’t we use this tool in a positive manner? But twitter fights are happening daily, in fact I’ve experienced two twitter fights in my twittering career and so this a tale of “Why NOT to fight on Twitter” and the three reasons why. (more…)