2 ways to stop wasting time "marketing" with social media

You may be spending a lot of time building your following or fans on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and the other myriad of platforms out there, but what is it really doing for you?

Have you ever stopped long enough to consider what, if any, impact this going to have on book sales?  What are you doing to measure what you’re doing?

From my experience with the many authors I’ve worked with, there’s two important things I’ve noticed:

  • People spend way more time on social media than they think.  You may think you check it here and there, but if you actually keep track, you’ll notice it’s sucking up hours of your day, not counting the context switching problem.
  • It has way less impact than they think.  Have you ever measured how many people are taking action with a given update in social media?  Have you weighed that against the impact of other things your could be doing with that time?

Let’s take for instance the Twitter following of someone like Daniel Pink.  At almost 200,000 followers, he’s got numbers that most authors would kill for.  However, if you look at the publicly available stats for the links he posts, they range from a top end of 1100 clicks to a low end of under 200 clicks.  The average click-through count for a given link is around 650.

That’s a 0.325% click-through rate.

With apologies to Dan… by any marketing standard that’s a complete failure.  And you’re not even trying to get people to buy something.  What do you think the sales rate is going to be when you want them to pay attention enough to buy your book?

And, of course, this is not just Daniel Pink’s Twitter following.  These rates are the same for the vast majority of authors using Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to “market” their work.

So what can you do?

  • Track how much time you are spending on social media.  Use a service such as RescueTime to see how much time is being sucked up by these platforms.  You may be surprised at how much time you’re spending surfing Pinterest instead of writing your book.
  • Track the actual impact your time is making.  Is it converting to book sales?  If you aren’t marketing your book, is it converting to people joining your email list?  If your follower count is going up, are other measurements going up as well such as click-throughs, email list signups, etc.  A few free tools to use for this are:
    • Bitly – track click-throughs
    • Google Analytics – track visitors from Social Media to email signups or other marketing goals
    • Amazon Affiliates – track how many people are purchasing your book through different marketing efforts


I am not advocating that you immediately drop social media if it’s not creating marketing value for you.  A lot of people merely enjoy using the platform to interact with friends and fans.  However, what I’m advocating here is to stop calling something “marketing” that is having little or no impact on building your platform and selling books.

What gets measured gets done.  Look hard at the time you’re spending on social media and the impact it’s having on your marketing platform before continuing to poor huge amounts of time and effort into building your following there.

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