Tag Archives: sales

Is Facebook a Social Media Wunderkind?

I am most grateful to Nancy Burke Barr aka Mentor Mama for her guest post about Facebook.  I value both her wisdom and advice. A lawyer in another lifetime, Nancy clearly argues on behalf of the Internet. I am impressed by her testimony, yet the jury on social media’s value is still out for me.

I would agree with Nancy that Facebook and Twitter are utilities that help people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. Statistics demonstrate Facebook is a part of tens of millions of people’s lives. I don’t believe, however, that social media can do more than plant the seeds of ideas or draw the attention of potential clients. In my experience, social media is not all that efficient or effective in fully developing big ideas or businesses.

Twitter appears to be designed for efficiency. Messages must be kept to 140 characters. To achieve this a language of abbreviations such as RT, #FF, and tiny.urls has grown up so people are able to convey larger messages within the confines of tweets.  But, lobbing messages out in a constant stream of similar looking tweets doesn’t impress me as an effective way to do business. I expect that if I wanted to take the time to research it I could find data on how many messages must be cast into the Twitter stream before a real conversation or a potentially valuable contact is reeled in.

Facebook is more conducive for conversations. Facebook though more generous than Twitter also limits the length of a conversation. Here too there is a constant stream of conversation. The audience is much smaller, and limited to a group who are described as “friends.”

Both Twitter and Facebook provide the option to have more personal, direct conversations among specific individuals. Unless these people are online at the same time and actively involved in chatting with each, the messages may become disjointed as a result of the delay in time

Nancy likened Facebook to the Parisian cafe used by previous centuries’ literati. Facebook, she said, is a social hub available to “today’s creative elite with intellectual interaction, inexpensive access, and ease of exposure.”  I would offer an alternative analogy:

Twitter is a fast moving train. A person with something to say puts their head out the window and yells.  People within hearing distance of the train, those who are following you on Twitter, hear bits of a bigger message. If they are interested they can make an effort to seek you out and hear more of the message. Keep in mind that the train you are on is full. There are passengers yelling their messages out of every window. Someone who might be interested in your message may not be along the side of the watching the train (ie. reading tweets) when you yell out, so you’ll have to keep riding the train over and over and over again in the hopes they will get your message.

My husband likened Facebook to sitting on the front stoop of your neighborhood. It’s more relaxed than Twitter. Your friends can chose when to drop by for a brief conversation. One limitation is that the Facebook community is gated. You have to invite your friends and they must accept before you can talk to each other. As in Twitter there’s an element of competition. Everyone else in the neighborhood is seated on their stoops carrying on conversations. Unless you send a direct message to a friend, you have to hope your friends will take the time to read what you have to say from the news stream. If your friends are social butterflies, you have to compete with a lot of people.

In terms of  potential, both Twitter and Facebook have merit especially when trying to reach a large audience. In terms of message content and exchange of ideas, Twitter potential is limited. Facebook’s possibilities are far greater. I don’t believe that it will ever substitute for the phone or person-to-person interactions.

Both Twitter and Facebook involve a good deal of upfront investment in order to establish a network of  friends and followers. The dynamics of social media is one of diminishing returns. From thousands of followers only one percent are likely to be people with whom you converse. Many of these are people who are simply interested in selling you something. An very small percentage of the followers will be individuals with whom you’ll be in regular contact.

I have yet to see any concrete evidence that Twitter and Facebook can produce the kind of sales that one would expect from a platform with tens of millions of users.

Social media works well for those whose business is social media. For writers, and bakers, and candlestick makers social media is tool we probably shouldn’t avoid but it is certainly not the magical grail we all expected it would be.

Next time I’ll relate some of the tips I learned in NYC about publishing. Then I plan to swing back and discuss blogs.

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OMG What Will You Do, cont…

The saga continues… I get a call this afternoon from John. He is the bookseller who called last week because he was unable to obtain a copy of my book for a customer. John says he’d like to see if I’m still agreeable to send him a book. The bookseller says the forms the “publishing” company aka printer sent him aren’t worth the effort. John wants to buy 1 book. To me even one book sold is golden. But it is only 1 book to the bookseller. One $15.99 book. The publisher sent John’s store forms to set up an account in order to buy the one book. John says he will do it (this man really wants to satisfy his customer. Now THAT’S customer service) if that is the only way to get the book, but if I’m still willing to send him a book he’d be grateful. I tell John I wish I was in Washington. Firstly, because I think it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Secondly, because I’d like to take him out for coffee. We could have a gripe session. We’re both  indie’s – he’s an indie bookseller, and I’m and indie writer/publisher – and both finding it difficult to stay afloat. We could commiserate about the state of the publishing industry. I assure John that it will be no problem for me to wrap the book and mail it to him today. After mailing a number of books out for promotion and review I know that priority mailing will cost about $5-6. BTW the USPS isn’t making it any easier on authors to distribute their books. Can you believe the price of postage? John says the cost is no problem. The customer is responsible for shipping costs. Hurray for the customer. This particular customer chose not to buy on Amazon. With a minimum purchase the customer could have saved postage and sales tax. But, NO, they wanted to support their local bookstore. Insert APPLAUSE here. I suggested to John he call his customer and ask if they’d like me to autograph the book. John suggests I simply sign my name. DONE! Book is in mail. John has sent me a check! One book sold.

So that’s what this author is doing to get her book out. It’s ONE book at a time. My original goal was 100,000 books. It’s going to be a LONG time at this rate. However, you know that each book is being sent out with a lot of love and effort.

BTW John said the customer heard about the book on TWITTER!!! Guess I’m going to keep my efforts up with SM a lot longer.

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