Monday, July 2, 2012

Guest Post: Does Social Media Work?

Thanks to NCW member Dean Miller for this great post. And congratulations, Dean!

Two weeks ago, an essay of mine was selected as one of five pieces for the online competition at Being picked from the numerous submissions was exciting. But the winning essay is not selected by a single editor/judge, but rather by “internet readers worldwide.” Simply register at the site and you’re a contest judge.

I had one week to consider how aggressive I would be with social network postings. Should I do nothing and let the contest run its course? Do I tell my family and some of my writer friends?  Or just spill it out to the internet world? As the email that I received about my entry being accepted stated: “You can tell others that your story is in the contest by posting messages on social media websites,” with examples of links and notices to post on Facebook and Twitter.

I decided to attack the social media networks. On the opening morning of the competition I started my campaign. Here’s a look at the numbers of my network contacts:
Email Contacts hit one time: +/- 330
            Facebook Friends:                       216
            Twitter Followers:                       827
            Total Direct Contacts:                1373

I sent one email to each of my contacts and averaged two postings per day on FB and Twitter. Without trying to extrapolate the tens-of-thousands of my FB friend’s connections and the hundreds-of-thousands of connected followers on Twitter, the number of potential voters was staggering. So how many layered friends participated? Here’s the numbers from the competition website:

Total number of Ratings: 56 (8 were family members votes)
Number of Direct Tweets: 11 (5 were my own “tweets” from the story page)
Number of FB Likes:  52 (2 were my own “likes” from the story page)
Number of Comments:  23 (10 comments from readers without direct contact to me)

The analysis: Facebook drew more readers than Twitter. FB users seem willing to “like” something more than Twitter users are to “tweet” about it. The direct return from the multitude of potential contacts is exceedingly low. The requirement to first register before you could vote might have been a factor in the low number of respondents.

However, in the end I did win the contest, so I guess social networks can pay off, even if to a limited degree. I believe that if I had not done any social networking, I would not have won.
Thanks again to everyone who voted. Maybe next time, you’ll get a message about my forthcoming novel. But for now, I am off to Twitter and Facebook to post a link about this blog. 

Have social media connections worked for you in promoting your work?


Nathan Lowell said...

Absolutely. I would not be a full time author now without my social media presence.

I believe there are three keys to social media.

First,recognize that social media is "pull" not "push". "Pull" means the receiver gets to pick which messages they want to hear. "Push" means the receiver gets whatever messages the channel carries.

Push is like TV ads. You don't get to pick which ads you see. It's whatever the sender wants.

Twitter is pull. While the public channel is *everything*, most people just read those messages sent by people they're following. They pull messages they want to hear by following people who are saying things they find interesting.

Second is understating that social media works best with niche or micromarketing models.

In niche, or micro-marketing the goal is to get a response from a significantly large number of the people you reach -- something like 60-80%. In mass marketing, the goal is to reach huge numbers of people in hopes that the tiny percentage (usually 1-2%) who hear the message are going to be moved to take action on it.

Last is understanding the difference between broadcast and two-way channels.

We all know that television is a broadcast medium. The messages go from the sender to the reciever and never the other way (neilsen ratings boxes notwithstanding).

Social media is conversational media. The messages don't just go one way but form conversational threads.

To be effective in social media, you need to establish yourself in advance. It's what CC Chapman calls "Don't Lead with the Ask." The most effective people in social media marketing never sell themselves. They participate in the conversations around them. They spend time with their audience and understand that listening is at least as important as talking.

Social media is a great tool. With it I'm able to pop a new release into the top 300 titles on kindle with just a single blog post and a single tweet. It works because my audience knows me, respects me, and spreads the word for me because of the relationship of mutual respect we've built over the last few years.

It sounds like your strategy worked to get your immediate goal met. Congrats!!

It might be a good time to engage some of those people who helped you in a conversation. Nothing succeeds like success and they'll appreciate the attention. :)

Dean K Miller said...

Nathan: Thanks for the incredible insight you've garnered from social media. This is best analysis I've read about getting social media to actually produce results, not just broadcasting.

Your comment makes the writing of this blog even more valuable for myself and this blog's followers. (I am printing and saving your response.)

As a follow-up to my experience, this week's Midlife Collage winner had 15 comments, 48 FB likes and 10 tweets with approximately 17 votes; numbers similar to mine excepting the total number of voters.

In response to Nathan's last statement, the follow up conversation, has already taken place. I've enjoyed direct connections with a couple of Twitter "friends" about other writing projects and various similar interests.

If I'm not careful here, I might be starting the construction of that mysterious entity known as a "platform"...but that's a completely different topic.

Thanks, again Nathan for your insight.

Patricia Stoltey said...

This is great information, Dean. And Nathan's comment adds even more facts to help us make good promo decisions.

Dean K Miller said...

Thanks Pat. I am looking at all of "this" in a new light.

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