Friday, 21 February 2014

Informal Social Media Survey Results

Social Media Survey

This is not a survey, in the strict sense of the word. It is rather my observations over a two week period of using social media as a means of free advertising.

A lot of people want to sell their books and services using social media. Surprisingly, by the response I had to my survey, only a few were interested in discovering whether this medium is a viable means by which to promote their products.

As the author of 3 published books, 1 about to be published and a further book nearing completion, I am naturally interested in finding the best possible method of promotion, in the most cost effective way.

There are a number of books being circulated at the moment, expounding the benefits of using social media as a productive method of advertising.

It is my opinion that they are wrong.


I'll explain. I took 3 social media sites.

Twitter. Google +. Face-book.

The bench mark I used to determine their viability was visit numbers to my website and book sales.

I will take the least first.

Google +.

I added a large number of people to my 'circles' before I started my survey. I posted my 2 blogs and my 3 published books, together with my website, on google +.

The response was negligible compared to the effort needed.


On my twitter account I have 493, and rising followers, and I follow 797, not vast in the scheme of things but enough for the purposes of my survey.

Again the traffic created from this site was extremely low. Most of the those tweeting were doing exactly the same as me. Trying to sell their products and services, using the free exposure.


Using the advice described in the 'how to promote' yourself on Face-Book, books, I joined 56 Face-Book groups and posted, my website, blogs and books, in all the groups. I also posted the same, to my long suffering FB friends.

A great deal of my time and effort was needed in doing this.

FB, is, in my opinion, an incredibly good idea to bring people together who have common interests. It's both enjoyable to use, at times challenging, always fun and slightly addictive.

It is not however, a commercially viable FREE advertising tool.

The very nature of FB is to connect people with common interests and it does this very well. You just have to look at the 'people you may know' section and they will be connected to either your work or hobbies.

If you are an author then the chances are your 'friends' are too. If they are not authors, then they are probably, editors, cover artists, bloggers or book publishers.

If you post a picture of a fluffy bunny kissing a cute kitten, with a puerile message attached, it will most likely be shared. Post your book cover, and it most likely won't be shared as often.

Of the 56 groups I joined and posted my website and my 3 books to, I had many likes, and the odd comment – but here's the thing. The likes and comments were from my existing friends and none from group members I did not know.

There is another downside to joining and posting to multiple groups – posting fatigue.

At any one time when I now sign in to my FB page, I can have as many as 60 + notifications.

Why so many?

Simple, because one posting in all the groups will show up in multiples on my notifications.

I have sat on FB and watched my notifications rising at an alarming rate by a single person trying to utilise this free advertising medium. I have got to the point where, I now don't bother to click and see what it is they are promoting.

Now that I have finished my short survey, I intend to un-friend the worst offenders.

I am sure, I am not the only one who feels this way.

I have sold books through FB, but in the main to my friends. I can't give exact details of the number of books sold, until I get my quarterly statement from my publisher, but I can reasonably deduce from my ratings that the efforts I exerted have not pushed my ratings up by any significant amount.

My website has remained steady in the visits it receives. That said, the number of visits from Face-Book has slightly increased but not by huge numbers.

I expect, like me, you have noticed an increase in the paid ads appearing on FB. The thing that makes these paid ads more interesting, than the constant flow of 'here's my latest novel' ads, is, they are diverse with lots of different types of businesses, clubs and people.

Joining clubs and trying to sell to friends who are also trying to sell to you, is like, as we English say, Coals to Newcastle. Why would you sell coal to a coal miner?

I don't doubt that my efforts will, if not now, but in the future, bring in the odd extra sale or two of my books. However, the time spent promoting by this free method, does not justify the amount of sales likely to be generated.

Book bloggers, on-line magazines, getting an agent and or pushing your publisher for more promotion, is much more likely to help you succeed in achieving well-known writer status. That said, I have connected with some wonderful bloggers and on-magazines through social media.

Net-working is an important part of becoming a name - but thinking you can get away with it for free, is in my opinion, a misnomer. I would have been much better off spending my time writing than the hours I spent, joining, posting and trawling through social media.

Face-Book groups are wonderful, if you use them for what they were originally intended – a way to get to know and make friends with people who are interested in the same things, for sharing information and exchanging useful tips etc. They are not a book shop in which to sell your wares. Any group that is only interested in being used as a promotional outlet for book sales is pointless and if the promoting is overdone, downright irritating.

Sharing photos about our lives, loves and interests is what social media is all about. It's not wrong to post your up-and-coming new novel on your FB page, that's what social networking is for. After-all, this blog is posted on FB.

It's great to hear that an author is doing well in the ratings. I love to read on FB good news from fellow authors, and I'll hold their FB hand's when they hit a low.

The question I wanted answered was - Can you really get noticed by tens of thousands of potential book buyers by posting in FB groups?

In theory – yes, you can.

In practise – it is a doubtful and an unrealistic expectation to assume you will have substantially increased book sales by this method.


The above is purely my own findings and my own opinion.

Thanks for reading this post.

Josephine Sanchez-Vanner

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