Twitter: a profound waste of time for marketing

Brian G Turner

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All my analytics point to Twitter profiles having only 2% active followers.

The figure lies between 1-3%, with 2% as a general average.

That means someone with 1,000 followers has only around 20-30 who are actively reading their Tweets.

Someone with 10,000 followers can expect a couple of hundred potential readers, but I'm finding the larger the number of followers, the lower the active percentage becomes.

Similar applies to Facebook - social media is for people to keep in touch with friends and family, and maybe stalk celebrities.

In the business world we teach corporates that social media is a communications channel - it's a way to listen and respond to consumers.

Unfortunately, the corporate world usually considers communications to be a marketing strategy - so instead of listening, they talk and end up applying direct marketing.

Unless there's a special offer or coupons being offered, I find no research suggesting that social media is particularly effective for direct marketing purposes, and instead is an extremely inefficient channel for marketing.

That means if you are looking to build an online presence as an aspiring writer, you would gain much more attention online simply having a blog and posting reviews and genre commentaries, than investing time trying to build a social media profile.

It would also be a far more efficient use of time and resources.

The problem in marketing terms is that people on social media are outside of the sales funnel - they are not actively looking to buy something - as opposed to someone using a shopping search engine.

I mention this because my impression is that agents and publishers are looking at Twitter and Facebook especially to demonstrate an online presence, but I find that view completely misguided.

In marketing terms, to generate significant CTA, someone would need a Twitter profile with at least tens of thousands of followers, but more likely in the hundreds of thousands, to generate significant sales volume by using Twitter for direct marketing.

That's my thinking at present from my own research into various profiles, and I can't find any significant online study that contradicts that view.
 

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And what's worse is the flood of people trying to hawk their wares on Twitter, especially using hash tags, like say #scifi, so when you're actually trying to find something interesting or of value all you get is a flood of ad copy. It's to the point where if I see someone making a sales pitch with their 140 characters I will actively block them and refuse to buy anything from them in the future. I don't mean mega-corps, they just don't know better, I'm talking about what we can otherwise assume are normal people trying to be entrepreneurial Twits.
 

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I dunno about that. I did read somewhere though that something like half of Justin Beiber's followers are actually fake accounts.

I use my account to find out agent/publisher stuff and to chat to other writers/Chronners. I've seen people promoting their books on there, but it's easily ignored. Do they get any sales from it? I don't know. Probably one or two. And if you're on there chatting and stuff anyway, why not have a punt and Tweet a pitch or two.

What I will say is that it does draw your attention to books though. I'm unlikely to buy it, but a publisher I follow keeps tweeting about a book called 'Fade to Black.' Now, obviously it stuck out to me because of our KMQ (this one is by someone else), but I know it exists now and I didn't before.

edit: not book related, but I follow lots of dog-related accounts. I've visited several websites from those Tweets, so maybe the marketing doesn't work for books but for some things it clearly does.
 
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alchemist

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1. Where did you get the 2% figure from, Brian?
2. Surely twitter is to be used WITH other media, rather than instead of?

Tbh, most of what I see on twitter is crud (except for my Chrons and Sports lists), but I have no interest in blogs either.
 

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I don't use twitter to market (as a rule*) -- I think that generally fails because it just annoys people

I use it to engage. To have a dialogue. To talk to others about books/publishing/the tennis ;) And that's where it's helpful. It doesn't sell *books* but it might sell you as a person, perhaps.


*If I find a great review or I've done an interview, I might tweet about it, or if one of my books is on sale/there's a giveaway, or if something exciting happens (like when I got PM here to tell me I was on the bestseller list in Canada/Amazon). But the vast majority of my tweets are just me being me.

Twitter works best when you're being you, not a marketing machine. Because it's a social network, not a marketing/promo one.
What I will say is that it does draw your attention to books though. I'm unlikely to buy it, but a publisher I follow keeps tweeting about a book called 'Fade to Black.' Now, obviously it stuck out to me because of our KMQ (this one is by someone else), but I know it exists now and I didn't before.

I find it great for finding books to read. If I see it mentioned once on twitter, once somewhere else and then I see it in a shop...
 

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I've seen the sales pitch on an agents web page very recently stating that they don't use twitter or blogs to promote books, they claimed it didn't work. Instead, they claim to use posters and other direct marketing in book shops as the best way to promote books. They did say a blog is useful, but most people don't buy books this way. I also liked their web page and thought it very slick, so their not old and crusty.

Can I name them on here?
 

Brian G Turner

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1. Where did you get the 2% figure from, Brian?

I've been following various analytics, looking at what % clickthroughs people were getting when they tweeted URLs.

In other words, if someone Tweets a link, expect only 2% of people seeing it (through Tweeting directly, Retweets, or Favourited by someone they are following) to care enough to click it.

Frankly, I don't see a need for Twitter - I personally find it very over-rated - though I'm coming from a marketing perspective.

If people use it, that's their decision, but my impression from the publishing side of the industry is that they want aspiring writers to have a Twitter account to demonstrate a "web presence".

My contention is that the number of Twitter follows is a meaningless statistic, unless you accept only around 2% are even going to clickthrough a link (it's like I've found email lists usually include around 1/3 inactive emails).

Can I name them on here?

Sure - I keep seeing publishers plugging their books on Twitter - it'll be interesting to see which ones are using it for communication, not marketing.
 

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I've found a couple of authors on Twitter that I'm interested in reading, and some people who have interesting links, but then, I'm using it for social networking and news and general sff interest. Oddly, though, I do click quite a few links.

I'd agree, if someone's only interested in using it solely to promote something, I think it's a waste of time. I'll follow someone who's got something interesting to say - they're offering me something, even if it's just information or a smile. I can choose whether or not to take them up on the offer. If someone's doing nothing other than pushing something, that (to me) is someone wanting something from me. That's why I don't do auto-followbacks.

So, regarding the stats, I think you have to factor in that there are a lot of twerps out there who are rightly ignored. Spammers and users. You wouldn't want to click on their links. But, on the other hand, if an author I respect or a Chronner Tweets that author X (or site Y) is really good, and this is their link, I'm likely to give it a look. If I agreed, I'd pass it on to others. That's where reputation and networks come in.

Just my opinion, and I apologise if I misunderstood where you're coming from. :)
 

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Maybe. I've found a few free books through Twitter, and one or two people have contacted me about my books through it (I include my Twittername at the end of each book).

I do sometimes use it for self-promotion (probably badly) but also spend time chatting to others from here, and about F1/history. Oh, and occasional weird research things, like komodo dragons being capable of parthenogenesis.
 

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Twitter is very effective for our blog, but the key is getting stories to go viral. When they don't, there's only so many hits generated per tweet.

You have to do a lot of (reciprocal) work to get other people on twitter to consistently retweet your stories. I think I'm pretty good at this. Some people, though, are really good at it.
 

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I think the problem with social media marketing, and perhaps Internet marketing in general is people are actively doing something. The advert (or tweet) is intended to interrupt the train of thought. Unless the advert is mildly related to what you're doing, it's not going to hit the mark.

TV is passive. Although adverts can be annoying, and they may well be interrupting the programme. they go away after a few minutes and the programme continues.
 

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And what's worse is the flood of people trying to hawk their wares on Twitter, especially using hash tags, like say #scifi, so when you're actually trying to find something interesting or of value all you get is a flood of ad copy. It's to the point where if I see someone making a sales pitch with their 140 characters I will actively block them and refuse to buy anything from them in the future. I don't mean mega-corps, they just don't know better, I'm talking about what we can otherwise assume are normal people trying to be entrepreneurial Twits.

I had to unfollow a few people who would leave a wall of spam on their Twitter. Buy my book! Hey, here is my book! BUY IT! Here is something else about my book. Not just a few tweets a day, but 20-30 in a day. I don't have time to wade through all of that.
 

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I hope Brian is right and that more people start seeing that.

Shouldn't writers be writing instead of spending time on Twitter? :p

Of course I say this only because I have a whooping 2 followers on Twitter anyway. One I have no idea who it is, the other one is some power metal band that I think got it backwards.
 

Jo Zebedee

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I hope Brian is right and that more people start seeing that.

Shouldn't writers be writing instead of spending time on Twitter? :p

Of course I say this only because I have a whooping 2 followers on Twitter anyway. One I have no idea who it is, the other one is some power metal band that I think got it backwards.

I write to try and get published. I make no bones about that and am pretty - maybe scarily - focused on that. I am on Twitter to try and further that in a couple of ways - to increase my knowledge of that arena which I have found #ask agent very useful for. Last week they did agents' wishlists all in one handy place which was great. I also get to know a little bit about those I am submitting to through it - like how thay prefer to be addressed in queries, what they've been seeing a lot of recently etc.

For myself, I don't see it as much of a promo thing yet - you need to be a bigger fish to start to generate a lot of interest - but I do know some agents expect ou to show enough savvy to at least have an account.

It also gives me time off from writing... :)
 

Jo Zebedee

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But what are likes indicating? I read and link to lots of things without liking. How are people like me who hate being manipulated by social media's desire to force me to play the peer pressure game and click their desired buttons being tracked? I really only like the Chrins prople cos they're my mates. And the giant spider cos.... *shudders
 

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To be fair, if they paid me $630,000 I would genuinely like them.
 

Bowler1

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Directly from Snowbooks submission page. They perfer direct marketing (below the line marketing in financial terms, but I may be reading more into their business model incorrectly) to the buying public, more focused I'd say. Anyway, it impressed me as making good sense and this is me using my financial head and not my dreamy writing head.

We want the book to be financially successful. Our business model is based on our knowledge of how retail works. We believe that most readers buy books because of their experience browsing in-store or online, based on cover design, price, and the quality of the first few words that they read when flicking through the book. They also buy what their friends recommend - but they don't buy (in their masses) based on reviews in the media. The most important thing is to get the book in front of readers, hence the importance we place on arranging prominent promotions for our books. So: we are retailer, not media, focused.
We want to be clever about how we spend our time and money. For example, we would rather spend three months making sure the big retailers will support your book and put money into an in-store poster campaign (which we know will generate sales) than engage in time-consuming and expensive author tours, signings and events that have no guarantee of generating sales. Author tours and readings eat up a lot of time and money but we haven't seen much evidence that they sell books. In most cases, we don't arrange those kinds of events.
 

Brian G Turner

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Twitter is very effective for our blog, but the key is getting stories to go viral.

Information going viral is one thing - but I've rarely seen it translate into viral sales.

I am on Twitter to try and further that in a couple of ways - to increase my knowledge of that arena which I have found #ask agent very useful for.

Indeed, it's great to see agents provide information - but who's acts on their client sales pitches?
 

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