I’m a relative newcomer to the wonderful world of social media and had resisted the trend to join until I released my first book through Amazon. At that point everyone said that I must join Facebook and get a blog, and, being a good boy, I did as I was told – after all, I’m sure they know what they’re talking about, don’t they. But, I must admit that recently I’ve begun to doubt how effective it actually is as a means of promoting myself and my books.
Now, as a social tool for friends it’s very useful, but this article concerns using social media as a way of generating business for writers. I’m aware that social media has, in the past, been at the forefront of promoting people, businesses and trends, but it could be said that it has grown so big that it has become a victim of it’s own success and become unworkable.
So before you shoot me down in a volley of Facebook and Twitter labelled arrows, please hear me out.
A Popularity Contest.
Social networking seems to have become a numbers game. “My accounts got more friends than your’s!” Has it just turned into a popularity contest or do the number of followers genuinely represent the number of people who want to know about you, your life, and ultimately (especially for a writer) your books? If everyone else’s social media accounts are anything like mine, there are simply too many people connected to it to be able to see what they are actually posting about. I don’t read the posts that come up on my news feed because there are simply too many, I scan through the first few then go and do something else. Take Facebook for example, my personal profile (not my business page) has 946 friends and I follow 826 other pages. If every one of those people and pages post just once a day, that is a total of 1772 posts that go on my news feed. It’s been reported that Facebook apparently only post something like 15-20% of posts to their actual destination, unless you pay of course?! But, lets assume that all 1772 posts get to their destination and I happen to have nothing better to do than be on the computer all day, and I spend an average of 5 seconds reading every post just in case it contains something I’m interested in, then I’m wasting 2 hours and 27 minutes reading posts! This sounds trivial, but I don’t have the time, and I’m sure others don’t either, to read about who’s fallen out with who, or how cute this picture of an animal is, or even, as exciting as it may seem to them, what they are having for their dinner accompanied by a picture of their actual dinner. But, these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. I also have a Facebook Fan Page and belong to 34 groups of writers and readers just on Facebook. I’m using my figures to demonstrate the volume of numbers that one person can be ‘connected’ to, but I know that my numbers of friends and followers are pretty small in comparison to others.
Connecting to Readers
Anyway – I’m beginning to go off course. I’m a writer and I want to connect with readers, but I’m not sure how many potential readers actually get to see my posts. My feeling is that they have turned off, sick of having the hard sell rammed down their throats and moved elsewhere. Hard sell is definitely not the way forward, by the way. I post about my life as a writer as well as the background research on characters and locations in my books. I even spend ages making little puzzles for readers to get interactive with my blog. But, even if you are a reader who has chosen to like or follow an author you are a fan of, chances are you will still find it very difficult to find that author’s posts amongst the slush of other posts.
As well as Facebook, I’m also a member of Twitter, Stumble, Goodreads, Pinterest, Linkedin aswell as having my own blog. I know there are many other social networks out there, and the list is growing longer all the time, but I’m limited to 24 hours in a day, and as a writer, I want to write (plus, occasionally I need to sleep, eat and spend time with my family, and work). When I look at the numbers of followers, likers and friends that I’m connected with across all medias it totals 12,536. That’s a lot of people! I know that some followers will be duplicated across the different media, but how can we expect our messages to get through so much other traffic.
What’s the Answer?
So, back to the first question – Has Social Media become too BIG to be effective? In my opinion, yes it has. Will I stop using social media? No I won’t. Although I don’t think it is an effective way to get readers to buy your books, I do think it is a useful place to find people who can provide Book Reviews, Editorial services, Artists as well as a place for advice and to connect with other writers. So, where can you find readers? I’m starting to concentrate more of my time and energy in promoting myself local to where I live – building up links with the local newspaper, going into schools and talking to kids that might want to read my books, getting involved with local bookshops, supporting the local businesses and meeting people face to face. We are not just a faceless line of code in a computer post! We are people and nothing is more effective than talking to someone face to face.
My advice to other writers who are new to self publishing – social media is useful, but don’t put all your efforts and hopes on it, it’s just one way to get noticed, but it’s not the only one, there are many others. Save yourself time by linking your blog to your social media accounts so they are all updated at the same time. And besides, you need time in the day to write.
As a little experiment, comment on this post or simply leave the message ‘I’m a believer!’ so I know how many of the 12,000 actually read the post and got this far! If you share this post to others then my faith in social media might well be restored. Apart from eating humble pie, I might even celebrate by offering a set of signed books to a random sharer, but I’m keeping the lid on my pen, just in case it drys up while I wait!
P.S. I’ve just spent an hour of my life writing this post, when I could have been working on my latest book!!?!?!!