Is Twitter effective for selling books? Social Media Explained.

or is ANY social media effective?
or is ANY social media effective?

Occasionally I see an author struggling with social media (aren’t we all) and it seems like we all have some of the same questions. Here’s a sample I saw on a friend’s blog recently.

Is Twitter effective at all as far as selling books? The fleeting posts are quickly buried within a matter of seconds. I can see only two ways it might help: possibly developing friendships with the exchange of RT’s, and using a hashtag that might get you noticed by the right people. However, regarding networking, Facebook seems like a far more effective tool. At least, that’s been my experience, though I could be wrong!

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The answers to how effective any form of social media is, as always, is: it depends.

What do I want?
What do I want?

What do you want from it, and what is it designed for? In other words, don’t drive your car into a lake and hope it will function well as a boat.

Here’s what I do; your experience may be different.

I have a handful of people I email with. I have less than a dozen I spend “quality time” with on Facebook (chatting or whatever, as opposed to going through and reading and liking my friends posts). I have over 12,000 followers on Twitter but I chat with very few each day. It’s just not possible for me to chat with 12,000 people in any meaningful way. I think most follow because they enjoy the content I put out, and if they say something witty, I try to reply in kind, but realistically with 12,000 I probably won’t even see it. If I follow Stephen King, it’s just to see what he talks about on occasion; if I follow Jenny, it’s to interact and be supportive.

And there’s the difference. When I had just a few followers on Twitter, it was easy to interact.

The love will show.
The love will show.

In the end, do the social media you enjoy. Try different ones and stick with what works for you. Right now, for me, that’s my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – in that order as far as where my efforts go. As far as which I enjoy, it’s Facebook #1, then my blog, then Twitter as a very distant third, then Instagram if I think about it – and I don’t (I have a reminder in my Outlook schedule that says “do something on Instagram.”

I check FB 20x daily at least; I need a reminder to check Instagram).

I LOVE chatting with my author friends on Facebook more than almost anything else. I love my blog and its great readers. I like Twitter much less but I’m still learning what it’s capable of. I’ll focus on Instagram one of these days but not soon.

What have these various social medias done for me?

Typical Facebook post from me.
Typical Facebook post from me.

Facebook lets me laugh and joke and help and support and be supported by people who I consider friends. We share writing advice and work on marketing ideas like business partners, and we sometimes discuss problems completely unrelated to writing, like vacations or issues at school. If they come to town, we are going out for drinks. Posting on Facebook publicly helped me decide about which book cover to use, among many other things.

Twitter helps me find new friends, but mostly it helps me be a cheerleader for other authors. When I posted about beta readers, I got 20 in about 2 days (I needed maybe six). When I connect with somebody on Twitter, we eventually evolve over to email  or Facebook. To me, Twitter is a big net with a broad range and the connect ratio is therefore very small – but it exists, and a small percent of lots and lots of people is still lots and lots of people.

Hello? Sales?
Hello? Sales?

The blog is where I ask the Twitter followers to connect. I talk about the blog in my Tweets and some folks go there to see what I’m up in arms about. If they like what they see, they follow the blog and begin to comment or reblog, while I reblog and comment with them. It’s more writing oriented but we talk about anything. If I have an issue with doing laundry, I’ll post about it on the blog, but typically that’d go on Facebook.

Instagram is currently receiving the top tweet from the prior day, with an author-themed image or meme, and occasionally pictures of me and the fam on a vacation or at Busch Gardens.

In other words, I put out what I’d like to receive.

I can't be all things to all people!
I can’t be all things to all people!

I’m not an autograph hound or celebrity follower, but technology has allowed me to correspond with certain people I’d never have been able to connect with as a kid. That’s what I try to be for people. I’m not a celebrity (except to my five year old daughter, and yes I’m going to milk that as long as I can because one day Dad won’t be cool), I just play one on the interwebs, and I try to be what I’d like my “heroes” to be. Friendly, helpful, and funny. A good resource on my blog. A good friend on Facebook. A witty comment on Twitter. A real person out having fun when I appear on Instagram

I'd like to buy these, please.
I’d like to buy these, please.

Does it sell books? Sure. But if you think that’s a fast or easy process, it’s not. Ads sell books (if they’re good ads) much faster. But adds don’t tell me how I made a reader cry, or how I transported them back in time to when their adult children were magically their babies again, or how they turned pages so fast they stayed up til 4am because they had to know what happened next in a story, or how I helped talk them off the ledge when they were frustrated, or inspired them to…

Well, you get the idea.

To me, building a platform – which is what social media is for authors who want to sell – is a long term arrangement. To me, it’s that girl who wants a relationship, not a one night stand. What I want from my platform might be different from what you want, and what works for you will be different from what works for me. (Although maybe try not to be the drunk guy at the bar trying to get laid on the first date.) What your readers want from you will be different from want mine want from me – maybe.

That’s the part we all have to figure out for ourselves.

What do YOU do with social media, and how’s it working?

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Your humble host.
Your humble host.

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.

19 thoughts on “Is Twitter effective for selling books? Social Media Explained.

  1. Do you have lists on Twitter? I have 20. One is “Susie’s Posse” made up of people I’ve interacted with. It narrows the thousands down to a couple hundred. I prefer Twitter to Facebook.

    I have bought books through Twitter, but have yet to buy one that is professionally edited.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lists are the only way to fly! I have a few so I can quickly find the people I like, and I add to them constantly.

    I don’t think I’ve bought a book through Twitter yet. (I know I’ve sold books through Twitter and so have some author friends that share information with me.) I’ve been lucky in that most of what I’ve read hasn’t had glaring issues where I felt the book needed a re-edit, but I’ve seen reviews where they loved a book and gave a 3 star review because of a few typos. I’m not that strict.

    Like

    • This is waaaay off topic, but do you have lists on Facebook? I recently discovered that we can organize friends the same way as Twitter. My question is, can the public see that we’ve made them? Unlike Twitter, I would think it might bum someone out that they didn’t make a select list. My problem with Facebook is I see the same five popular people’s posts. When set in “most recent,” I have to fly through the feed of a lot of people I don’t know.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I used to group people back when I played Mafia Wars on Facebook. I don’t think they knew they were on a list, whereas on Twitter they get a notice (so my Twitter lists are called things like “Smart Author People.”)

        I have most FB people connect with me on my author page as opposed to my personal page, but even so I used my personal page FOREVER, so I put people as “restricted access,” where they couldn’t see most of my personal stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Funny, you’re spot on. I was thinking about this a few days ago. I was considering writing a blog post about it myself as part of my ‘What I’m doing to get known’ series. Finding time, well that’s another thing entirely. I’m struggling with social media.

    It’s probably a sweeping statement, but Twitter is full of people trying to sell something. Obviously there are a few, like you, who share meaningful stuff as well. There are others who seem to tweet (mostly) nonsense every 15 minutes 24/7 (robot) and those who seem to retweet every tweet they ever read. Briefly I thought they would be great to get following me because my RT rate would go up, but given that I have muted a fair few who do that, I wonder how many people actually read their RTs. I’m fairly certain I haven’t yet managed to sell a book on there. (Watch my unfollow rate rocket now!)

    Facebook, I need to spend more time on Facebook, when I can dig my way through the men who say they want to hook up with me (despite having never seen what I look like). I have had far more meaningful conversations with other authors on there, and I prefer the variety of ways you can connect with people, friends on my own timeline, followers on my page, others on their pages and others in groups. I admit that I used Facebook as my non-pen-identity before I started writing, whereas Twitter? What? Nah!

    My blog, well, I’m working on it. It still sucks, but not as much as it did before. I love getting comments and likes on there, but it’s early days. Surely everyone has to jump the hurdle from sucky blog to, okay, then again to cool, and again to awesome. Note to self, must try harder!

    This could have been my blog post…. ah well, maybe I’ll rehash it at some stage!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I like Twitter, but I’ve never tried to use it to sell books. The social media model I’m following is that Twitter and Facebook are to meet people and send them to your blog. There, hopefully, they’ll stick around and get to know you better and buy your books if you write the kind of things they like.

    I’m totally not an expert at this stuff, however. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Nicely stated, Dan -and thanks for visiting my blog! 🙂 Frankly, I am not much of a Twitterphile since it moves so fast I don’t want to be glued to it. But FB and IG are useful to me. I may never, ever sell a piece of writing, but I have made some great contacts using these tools.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I find most people use twitter to advertise something. It gets tedious reading the posts. Facebook is too personal for me, and I don’t want a daily report on my life. I consider myself a private person, and facebook is too intimate. Twitter is fun, and quick. Keep people thinking about you, then when you hit it big, they will be like, I know that person. lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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