It’s a Wide WIDE Virtual World!

POSTED ON Apr 13, 2020

Judith Briles

Written by Judith Briles

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By Judith Briles

If you were planning a book launch or marketing campaign this spring, most likely, either has been turned upside down.

Sure, you were planning on online pushing out … but, you were probably working on gatherings—whether in sites to bring in friends or patrons of the facility; maybe bookstores; maybe libraries; maybe planning on yummy foods for guests to nibble on; beverages; decorations; and of course, selling lots of books. Lots of maybes.

That was then … this is now … at least the now of Spring 2020. Until the all clear is given on COVID-19, we are in a self-imposed, self-quarantined environment in our homes—some quickly imposed by ourselves—many by the Governors in our states.

Most authors “get” what working virtually is about. Your book designer may be across town, in another city, state, even a country. The Internet has been your freeway. Your post on social media—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., may be part of your marketing platform. Podcasts open your voice and wisdom to thousands around the clock. You’ve learned from webinars via others.

Now it’s time to tweak your laptop and Internet skills. Grow them. Live author events, in-person events with face-to-face gatherings are “on hold” for the time being. The brick and mortar favored locations are “temporary closed” as are conferences and social gatherings.

So … what are we authors to do?

What are you going to do? It’s time to discover apps that enable you to connect globally. Some you may already know … others are new. Some are more age friendly.

Here’s a dozen to consider:


Typically, Zoom was geared more toward business. That changed with COVID-19 where now families can initiate a family reunion. (I did a virtual brunch with friends this past weekend—a dozen of us chatted and nibble together.) Personal groups of up to 100 people can meet online for free for 40 minutes. Up to 25 live “faces” can be seen by all at one time. There are business options include packages for sale that allow up to 1,000 participants.

1. Facebook Live

Viewers can connect from their cellphones, computers and even through their television set if you got the gizmos and gadgets to make that happen.

2. FaceTime

FT allows users to make video and audio calls to groups of up to 32 people. You need to get/download through the Apple store. For those with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, its already included on your device.

3. Facebook Messenger

Similar to FaceTime, the FB Messenger allows free video calling around the world for individuals or groups of up to six. It can be used on cellphones, tablets and computers.

4. Google Hangouts

This app is free in its basic form. Allows up to 10 participants at a time. You can even video chat through your Gmail accounts if you have one.

5. YouTube

You can do live streaming on your YouTube channel and then do a copy/paste with the link to you other platforms. More than a double dip for marketing!

6. Skype

This app has been around for some time. It can be used on computers, mobile devices, XBox One and even smartwatches. Groups of up to 50 people can be included at one time.

7. WhatsApp

Presently, there are more than 2 billion users on the WhatsApp. Both Android and iOS platforms welcome it–therefore, it works on a variety of devices. Not for a crowd, up to four users per session are allowed.

8. Tango

This free app restricts video contact to two people. You can also make voice calls, send messages and play games using Tango.

9. Instagram

Up to six people can video chat at once. Instagram is one of the newbies on the scene—so expect to see some expansion on what users can do.

10. Houseparty

Video game players are probably familiar with this platform. It’s a video chat app owned by Epic Games, which developed Fortnite. Those using it can play video games or test trivia skills through its interface. When my grandson is over, this is a portal he uses to jointly play with school friends. It is available through Android, iOS, MacOs and Chrome.

11. Snapchat

Alert—Snapchat is a freebie to use but can chew up a lot of data time. It’s wise to connect to a wireless network before making any calls.

12. Viber

This app is good for international calls and one-on-one video calls. Calls between Viber users are free, but a fee will apply for calling people without the app—that could be an ouch.

I know that there are many others … but this starts the scratch for those who are itching to stay connected.

A Work of Caution

Of course, anything that you decide to use should be checked out to make sure that it’s the right fit for you and your purposes. Because of the increased use of video streaming platforms, they become attractive to those who are bad players—hackers and thieves. Do research on Google for “complaints” – “problems” – “hacking issues” and see what surfaces. Don’t be like 90% of those who look up information and stop on the first page … make sure you read several pages in.

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Photo: BigStockPhoto

Judith Briles

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Judith Briles

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