Social Media: Friend or Foe?

Recently, someone sent me an article called Why You Should Consider turning Your Back on Social Media. The article is geared towards small businesses, but what are independent authors if not the smallest business unit there is?

The gist is that in some cases the time spent updating Twitter/Facebook, including commenting, making connections, and creating content can sometimes take more time than they’re worth in terms of sales.

When I first published Shades of Gray over a year ago, I jumped on the Facebook (and to a lesser extent Twitter) bandwagons. I spent hours setting up pages on facebook, making “friends”, commenting on their stuff and trying to come up with clever advertising techniques.  I generated a few questions, like “Wow, I want to get published too! How do I do it?” and several “congratulations” or “Your book sounds interesting”, but if it resulted in any sales I’d be surprised.

MySpace, on the other hand, did generate sales because of the blog. Though as far as I know I could count the “random” sales on my digits. Mainly, I was able to sell to people I  already interacted with on more personal levels, such as reading their blogs or because we were in poetry groups together.

Oddly, Flickr (a photography site) has generated several random sales. In fact, my newest Amazon review came from a new Flickr contact.

So, I wondered how it was with other authors. Have you found a great success with social networks? If so, were the sales generated worth the time it took to set up the pages, get the contacts, keep the contacts by being friendly (eg commenting on their statuses/photos/tweets/messages and such), etc. ?


10 thoughts on “Social Media: Friend or Foe?

  1. Ruth Ann Nordin November 12, 2010 / 1:22 am

    This is a great post. I think as a tool to market your books, social networks don’t offer much value. I think the key in social networking is to interact with people, not necessarily to sell something. I rely on my writing blog to do my primary marketing, but then I’m giving people one of my current works in progress to read and comment on. I have used Facebook messaging to work with a couple of my readers about where my story is going, what works and what doesn’t, but again, that is a social and fine tuning my writing thing–not a promotional tool. This is why doing all the social networking can end up being a real drain on time. Sad to say it, but it’s how my experience has played out.

    • Joleene Naylor November 16, 2010 / 12:56 pm

      Yes, it can take sooooo many hours, and those are hours you;re not writing, not working, and not producing anything. I’m not saying it’s wrong to spend time on them, but as marketing it’s looking like I’m not alone with no success!

  2. Lovelyn November 12, 2010 / 11:16 am

    Interesting. Social networking had been quite difficult to me and I keep thinking that I’m not getting the sales I want because I’m not very active on social networking sites. This article makes me think I shouldn’t be down on myself about that. Maybe the best move for me is to finish my next book and keep posting on my blog.

    • David Knight November 12, 2010 / 7:01 pm

      HI Lovelyn….( great name by the way)….soem people swear by them. Alot of the timeits money that is being thrown at what seems ‘solutions’…. i think its more important to just go with the flow….follow what your heart tells you . I ve put my tenpennyworth or rant below. God Bless dave

    • Joleene Naylor November 16, 2010 / 12:57 pm

      Same here! I keep thinking “I must be doing it wrong! I must not be pushing hard enough! I must not spend enough time” so I am glad to see I am not alone! I am beginning to wonder if anyone has much luck with them?

  3. Nina Stone November 12, 2010 / 4:42 pm

    I’m just starting out, but I can relate when it comes to social media/networking and trying to get people to buy your book(s). Like Joleene said, the response you get from people is lackluster at best. If the general consensus is that they don’t really help in selling books, then I am greatly relieved. I was considering getting on twitter, but I hate twitter. Trying to keep up with those “tweets” is insane, plus it takes so much more of my time. I’ll just focus my attention on a blog and on the networks I’m already involved in.

    • Joleene Naylor November 16, 2010 / 12:59 pm

      Ugh! i can;t even deal with Twitter! i think the blogs do help but the problem with Twitter, etc is that it’s the same people following you day after day and how many times can you advertise to them? Eventually they’ve all bought it if they’re going to .

  4. David Knight November 12, 2010 / 6:58 pm

    HI Joleen …. great post and replies so far too. For me i am following the consensus here….i have been on twitter and facebook actively for over a year. It’s quite obvious they are what they are…social networking sites….perhaps its me… not saying / doing the right things but i have sold zilch these ways. Plus…. sometimes it is getting to a stage of trying to create a 25+ hour day trying to keep up with the info wave after wave of things to follow / read / enquire about etc. If I had lots of hair I would easily been bald by now. Also…. it is impossible…dont care who you are…. you cannot physically read thousands of tweets every day. Some people have thousands and thousands of followers sending info…. its crazy time every day. My wife thinks i have a new woman in the office as I am on the PC so much. I totally agree with Ruth and the other comments so far above. Also alot of internet marketeers and gurus send me loads and loads of stuff…join this, follow this …act on that…..i feel that I am going mad sometimes and so…… i am going to spam loads of contacts….follow a couple of people who seem genuine…. helping / giving advice for free to support others etc. … and going to get my life back ….write when i can and actually sleep instead of having 4-5 hours only a night. WOW…. Ruths positivity and thinking is rubbing off on me…. and also…. if someone isn’t interested in the work / books i write well…. its only my opinion ….but it is them who are missing out on the golden nuggets of truth! God Bless all, have agreat weekend! Dave AscensionForYou knight

    • Joleene Naylor November 16, 2010 / 1:05 pm

      Yeah, after reading all the responses here I feel better. Twitter/facebook etc are such time drainers, and if they’re not helping anyone then I think I can happily write some of that off…

  5. Stephannie Beman November 17, 2010 / 10:50 am

    Great post, Joleene. I’m with everyone else on this one. Social Media doesn’t drive sales, you drive them with your personal interaction with others.

    However, that said, I find that Social Media can be a helpful tool in promoting your blog and finding some of those connections. Those people who are on some of those sites will have never found you otherwise, might pop over to you website to read your blog content and stay awhile. So they can be a great way to promote your blog.

    I have noticed a few things too. Don’t be a part of ever social network that you run across. Just pick two. Share more than just your content, link to articles you liked or that can help others. Make your posting around 1pm Pacific time (this is when the West coast is going to luch and the East coast is off work) when more people are on the Internet, or when your group of readers are online. Limit your list of friends or followers to about 150 people (this is the number of meaningful connections a person can make), Twitter makes this easy with their list option (Thousands of people can follow you, but you can have a list of the 150 you pay attention to). Don’t worry about looking through and answering everyone’s status, it can be a waste of time.

    But the reason I’ve noticed for social media not working so well for authors is you can’t spam people with ‘buy my product!’ they start to tune you out and authors pick the wrong social network. Since you write books the best network to be on is a book social network. Showcae and write reviews on the books you read, if someone likes your reviews they’ll click on your profile and that is where you want to have your author bio.

    Okay, I think I’ve rambled enough.

Comments are closed.