Social media sucks

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by deadrats, Apr 18, 2021.

  1. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    I'm seeing it from the other end - for book sales I think organic engagement's time has passed. To put this in a restaurant context, Col. Sanders sold his recipe franchises door to door and built an empire. But nobody does that today, it doesn't have the return on investment.

    Five years ago, I'd be much more enthusiastic about social media engagement as a book sales mechanism, but the research seems to be rapidly pointing toward the platforms' value to authors is mostly from paid advertising now. And that's not a coincidence - this is their business model. Their algorithms are designed to interfere with the users' conversion rates, in order to funnel us to paid advertising. They've been boiling that frog for a decade.

    Matthew Inman (of The Oatmeal webcomic) brought this to our attention a few years ago when he learned that 5MM followers doesn't mean 5MM users can see his posts. Apparently at the time it meant his posts were viewed by about 250k recipients - the rest are suppressed from feeds by the algos. Hey, unless he wanted to pay FB to get 'boosts,' and he could compete with other celebrities in an auctioning system, to get his posts higher in their mutual followers' feeds. He calculated that to get all his followers to see his posts would cost a third of a million each.

    So what I'm saying is that actually, I think my concerns about ROI are contemporary, rather than me being behind the times.


    You raise a couple of points:

    1. Business sector. Yes. And within book sales, I'd even say there's a distinction between fiction vs nonfiction. This is based on a few years of observation and research. Nonfiction authors have a subjectmatter that can justify an impersonal feed. Just throwing out an example: photography bloggers can always review a new lens or film stock, stuff like that. I think fiction authors are challenged to come up with current content that isn't personal or industry drama. And as an analogy with your example: you're probably not booking reservations because people are excited about the busboy's political op/ed, or the hostess' cat posts last week. The feed's probably very focused on product. I have some ideas about how a fiction author can come up with on topic content, but it's iffy.

    2. Outsourcing. Yep. This is an active direction of research for me right now. There appears to be a spectrum of support levels, some of which might be right for me, assuming there's any benefit to social media for me at all. The challenge is that people who sell hammers say everything's a nail, and over 30 years of dealing with contractors, I have developed some cynicism.
     
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  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    The real question here I think is, which type are you? o_O :cool:

    I'm guessing you bypassed social media and came straight here to WF to display your misanthropic and profanity-laden nature among other writers (who tend to be the same way). Good move I think. :superagree: :supergrin:
     
  3. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Senior Member

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    Hm. okay.

    I didn't think strangers would be interested in me, either. But I'm an...internet extrovert? Is that even a thing? I like to talk to people online. I like chatting about minor things and sharing dad jokes and being friendly in a way that I am really, really not IRL.

    So when I first started with Twitter it was honestly just to have that hum of conversation while I followed my friends and interesting people. So I wound up chatting with random people about neat stuff, catching interesting threads about beekeeping or Indian muslin or just you know, whatever. I didn't think I'd have more than a handful of followers and it wasn't my concern to have a large number of followers.

    And then I started writing, and I knew you had to have a platform and I didn't really have one. a few hundred followers and that was it. So it was really surprising when I was on the call with the agent who represents me and she said, "and your Twitter account is excellent."

    I did it by accident. Simply because I used Twitter in ways I found enjoyable, entertaining, and useful.

    and I think it's like tiktok - you can't join tiktok with a master plan to sell books. those kids can smell a fake from a mile away and they will not have it.

    This is so weird to me. So weird. Twitter drives me to bookshop.org three or four times a week how can you--
     
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  4. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    I think you're over-estimating how many followers are needed to make a viable sales channel.

    Facebook page organic reach is trash and has been for years, that's fairly well known. They're only useful as advertising filters - get 5k genuine likes and tell FB to advertise to 'people like these guys who have said they like my stuff' and it's pretty good at sniffing them out. If you're on Facebook and want organic reach, groups are far better, and other networks like Twitter give you more reliable follower impressions.

    But the key thing about social media is that you've got a captive audience that it's free to contact - and if you are a social media person, it's free in both money and time because you're not doing it to sell books, you're just doing all the stuff you'd be doing anyway and the fact it's shifting units is a happy co-incidence.

    None of this changes the fact that if you're not naturally a social media person it's not really worth getting into, but I do think you're significantly under-estimating the value to people who are going to make use of it.

    Lukz, I know right? That shit is dangerous.
     
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  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Neither. I'm the idiot who keeps the roof over their heads and rubs their backs when they don't feel special.

    Chefs are artists. Very much like writers, which essentially makes me the publisher. I hire and showcase talented chefs to sell food to people who are hungry. Publishers hire and showcase talented authors to sell stories to people who like to read. I've got my ethnic styles of cuisine, they've got their literary genres. And depending on what people want to read/eat as trends come and go, we have to hire the right talent who can cook/write to expectations. It's not the same thing really, but the business decisions, talent vetting, and market competition are all eerily similar.

    Kind of why I take the publisher's side on this one. Not because I want to, or agree with it philosophically, but when I'm paying somebody, I expect them to pimp themselves and the business that showcases their talent. It's a symbiotic relationship. So if I'm a publisher, hell yeah... authors who have a following and can promote my magazine are definitely going to win the tie-breaker over those who don't. I want those authors I've published remembering that The Homer Journal did them a solid... be nice if they could do me one back by mentioning my magazine in their future posts every so often. You know, like, "Hey, the October issue is out and there's some great authors like #, #, #." Even if they're not published in a particular issue, they can throw a little love back. Start pimping other authors, they start pimping you, followers start to notice your names together, start looking for more of your work, start seeing the authors mentioning The Homer Journal...
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2021
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  6. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    I think this is where I'm getting at. This isn't my thing. I'm relatively outdoorsy. Spend my leisure time as far away from a computer as possible. This has been a black swan week in that my offshore team is on holiday and I have some slack time at work, but I'm chained to my desk in case there's a complication.

    After this, I may not log into online forums again until that slow week in September.



    I don't think I've logged into Twitter in years. None of my friends or family have accounts that I know of, so it never really comes up in conversation.
     
  7. Malum

    Malum Offline Supporter

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    I always regret deleting my original Facebook and losing the connections I made at university and throughout life in general. There's something about anyone being able to contact you at any time that is bothersome to me and any reincarnations have been pretty obscure. Personally, if any work is ever deemed to my satisfaction I'd embrace being elusive. Less can be more, at least for my favourite hip-hop artists. Let the work speak for itself and embrace being spontaneous - actions speak louder than words, unless your actions are words. Then again, I don't have any personal experience of releasing anything. Just my plan.
     
  8. watchtower

    watchtower New Member

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    10,000 contacts. 10 real friends.
     
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  9. DaiFesXII

    DaiFesXII Member

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    I have social media but I might as well not bother. Like the OP, I've tried everything to get engagement but it's all crickets. Even the hyped #writerslift (and other writing tags) don't do anything. Maybe I get a new follower or two from the tag before they drop out (ie unfollow.) So I keep my profiles for posterity and to claim my author username.
     
  10. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Senior Member

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    writers lifts are useless, though. i don't know who thought of them but that wasn't a good idea. it damages the quality of your timeline content and the follows are meaningless because they don't care about you or what you have to say.

    and writers hashtags are useless too, because the moment a hashtag gets any meaningful content and activity, the spammers and the buybots descend on it.
     
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  11. ruskaya

    ruskaya Senior Member

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    The idea behind social media is good, in principle . . . only. It is about keeping in touch, meeting new people, sharing information (of any kind, including our passions and interests, i.e.: writing), making news faster and more democratic, making knowledge of things easier and more accessible to everyone. But then what happens? On Facebook you have a gazillion contacts of people you don't care about and with whom you don't share any interests. On Youtube you watch videos of people gorging in incredible amounts of food, showing infallible hacks, explaining decor tips like how to achieve a rainbow bookshelf, following routines of famous people, doing anything random to keep your interest up. On Instagram you find posts depicting enviable lives moving at the beat of perfect pictures of style and fashion. On Twitter you find leads into latest news, latest products, latest developments, latest opinions.

    Everything is about creating conversation, but what kind of conversation exactly?

    I enjoy some of these platforms, because I can find a lot of things I am interested in, especially about hobbies and documentary-related material and more random things I watch for entertainment. I also found a lot of information that has been very useful in getting me started with writing. However, it is easy to get lost in clicking links for hours. I learned to stop myself. But the point is, that these platforms are self-serving to favor contents that gives a sense of need for clicking. It doesn't reward quality of content, it rewards entertainment value and emotional value that pushes you to continue clicking. I click on a lot of content that I find entertainment but that, at the end of the day, didn't make any difference in my life (including my mood).

    I do watch videos about hobbies, but mostly for learning some basic or beginner-advanced skill to practice the hobby. I noticed most videos on Youtube are like that: it is about getting started. If you truly are interested in something, as you progress you want to learn to do things yourself, or find a book or someone specialized who can explain you how to do what you want to do.

    My point is that social media works in a certain way, you need to understand what draws people's interest and adapt the content of your posts/videos/photos to include that. Most importantly you need to build a social platform first, before expecting that your post about your book draws lots of people in to check it out. It is a lot of work, unfortunately.

    However, I also think that there are a lot of people interested in finding ways to make these platform more effective for readers, aspiring writers, authors, editors, agents, publishers, etc., to find out about books, learn about writing, share knowledge and trends about publishing. Many posts about writing/editing and book reviews, a few post about pitchwars and making contacts with agents/publishers, but I don't think anyone is a real influencer online (if they are well known it is because of the work they do offline).
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2021
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  12. pyroglyphian

    pyroglyphian Word Painter

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    Yes, circle jerks basically, if you'll pardon the vulgarity. I see it all the time, as when writers conspire to follow each other to falsify an impression of popularity or coerce the algorithm. Instagram is full of them: innumerable 'poets' clogging up the noosphere with their soppy, sentimental clichés. There's really no substitute for creating value — the fuel of civilisation — but 'artists' don't want to hear this of course; they expect the world to be as in love with them as they are with themselves, with predictable results: disillusionment.

    God what a negative post that was. I do apologise. Here's some pom poms to make up for it :cheerleader:
     
  13. Teladan

    Teladan On the outside looking in. Contributor

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    One of the things I've never understood is why people say social media sucks them in. So many people say they're enslaved to their phones and that they feel addicted to social media posting. I really don't understand that mindset. You even see Youtube videos with titles like "Social Media is Ruining Your Life." No. Not really. I deleted Facebook years ago, and even when I did use it its main function was to message approximately five people... Also, it probably helps that I'm the type of person who throws my phone across the room when I'm done with it! You'd think someone born in 1993 would care more, but... eh.

    Edit: "Thrown" typo. Should've been "phone".
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2021
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  14. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I think it holds a much stronger appeal to people who don't have something creative to do with their time, and don't enjoy something like reading books. Building their social media presence I think gives them something like the same feeling we get from writing a story—that sense of crafting something that you can put a lot of time and effort into and it keeps growing.

    I think it also appeals strongly to people who want to be part of a big group. You seem like a person who marches to your own drum and doesn't care much what other people think about you. I'm largely the same, and I only peeked into Facebook briefly a couple of times when it was fairly new and saw all the people I knew online playing silly games and posting what they ate and I backed out and never went back. I was never even tempted to look at Twitter. I already have enough going on to fill my time thank you, and I'm not drawn to be part of a massive social network.
     
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  15. Teladan

    Teladan On the outside looking in. Contributor

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    I think that's probably true. One often sees references to dopamine hits in discussions of the perils of social media. I mean, when I was much, much younger I used to want my profile photo to look good and to make the page my own, but that was about it. I suppose in recent years I've been on wildlife/ecology groups, but I viewed that as a utility and definitely not something to get sucked into. I guess when people talk about social media addiction they're talking about the need to constantly check updates? Is that what it is? I can see how if one follows people one likes on Twitter that might encourage continual use of the platform, but it still seems a stretch to say that social media is ruining people's lives or that it's bad for you. Admittedly I do use Twitter, but I only open it occasionally to see what authors/artists have uploaded and I also occasionally post the odd link to a book review I've just uploaded.
     
  16. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    A lot of people literally get addicted to it. Dopamine hits followed by endorphin rushes is the mechanism of addiction, and if you don't have other things of equal or greater attractive power pulling your attention in a different direction I can see where people want to keep checking.
     
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  17. Teladan

    Teladan On the outside looking in. Contributor

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    I think I'm in two minds about social media. On the one hand you witness constant hate and stupidity... But on the other hand you're able to connect with authors you like. Feeling quite connected the past few days. Got into discussions with some authors, one of which has seen a book review I did. I also just got a like from another. Even I, someone who grew up in the digital age, didn't expect to be able to message and keep up with authors and other 'famous' and noteworthy people so effortlessly.
     
  18. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Senior Member

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    and *that* is how it sucks you in.

    i mean the place is a hellsite. it's overrun with the worst kind of people. but there are so many people using the bird app to do good stuff. so you are scrolling through infuriating garbage and then whap! quality. it's so premeditated!
     
  19. Teladan

    Teladan On the outside looking in. Contributor

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    Although I find it's only really a problem if you're following people you shouldn't be following. The only annoying stuff I see is the trending section which always insists I care about some stupid hash-tag trend or celebrity gossip.
     
  20. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Senior Member

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    if you're using twitter on a computer, Tweetdeck eliminates that. also, it shows your feed in reverse chronological order. no ads. only the people you follow.
     
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  21. Birch Anderson

    Birch Anderson Member

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    What I'm gathering from all of these posts is that social media does not work for an author, not in the way that is important, and that it's hopeless.
     
  22. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    its impossible to generalise - organic social media works for some writers but not for others , facebook advertising works for some writers but not for others (twitter adverts are generally accepted to be a waste of time for writers), some writers find it useful for networking , others don't... some writers have used emerging social media such as instagram when it was new to show case their work, and subsequently achieved success... others haven't... some writers like to microblog their work on social media, others think that's pointless. There isnt one size that fits all
     

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