Twitter has serious growth problems, and engagement is very low. Is it time to reconsider Facebook?
Almost every self-publishing author has a Twitter account. However, this instinct is from a time past when writers considered Twitter to be the best platform for book promotion because, well, it was free, and authors could blast out as much automated book promotion as they wanted.
The problem with Twitter now, however, is that fewer and fewer people are using it, so who is taking any notice of all that automated book promotion?
Even though I have healthy follower numbers, my rate of follower growth has slowed noticeably over the last year and a half, as has key metrics such as impressions and link clicks. When I look at my statistics, it’s very clear that fewer people are using Twitter on a regular basis, and of those who do, they spend less time per day on the platform.
In other words, the potential to engage with readers and attract attention to books is diminishing.
Another way to look at this is that perhaps Twitter was never a terrific platform for promoting books anyway. Just because it is possible to blast out promotional posts, doesn’t mean that it works. My feeling is that Twitter was until recent times a great platform for creating a name or brand awareness and delivering a lot of blog traffic, which have been my main aims, but it’s not very useful for selling books.
In any event, Twitter is stalling, and no matter what your marketing aims, fewer new users and fewer active users do not bode well for success, even if it’s free.
Facebook is unavoidable now
Facebook has 1.7 billion users, compared to Twitter’s 300 million, but it’s not only about numbers. When a user grabs their laptop, smartphone or tablet, there are now two dominant points of entry. Facebook or Google. How many people would use Twitter as an Internet entry point?
It is the fact that Facebook is a huge entry point that makes it compelling to consider using as a prime marketing channel. For many users, Facebook is ‘always on’ and their only entry point. Tapping into this market is logical.
If you are into statistics, you can read The Top 20 Valuable Facebook Statistics 2016, which goes into detail about Facebook’s dominance. But here are some key points:
1.13 billion people log onto Facebook daily active users (Facebook DAU) for June 2016, which represents a 17% increase year over year.
One in five page views in the United States occurs on Facebook.
50% of 18-24 year-olds go on Facebook when they wake up.
There are 1.57 billion mobile active users (Mobile Facebook MAU) for June 2016
However, unlike Twitter, accessing new potential readers, book buyers or in my case, more blog traffic on Facebook, doesn’t always come for free.
What can you do to leverage Facebook?
Having a normal personal profile on Facebook is great for family and friends, but not for marketing. Firstly, there is a restriction on the number of friends, which is 5,000. Also, Facebook frowns upon excessive marketing and promotion on personal profile pages and can and do suspend accounts for such practices.
The only way to use Facebook for marketing is to create a Page, as Facebook calls it, which is for business or professional use, and can, therefore, promote, and be promoted by advertising.
After creating a Page, though, no one will know about it, so the first step is to invite your current Facebook friends to ‘Like’ your Page. Getting Likes is what Pages are all about because only those people who have Liked your Page can see it.
Gaining Likes for your new book or author Page
Once you have run out of friends to Like your new Page, getting new Likes from the other 1.7 billion users is very hard work. Having Like links on your blog or website might help bring in a slow trickle, but the only logical way is to pay.
Facebook is, in essence, an advertising company, and once you have your new Page, you will see all the links and reminders from Facebook Advertising telling you about how you can promote your Page, posts, websites, book links or attract Page Likes.
So here we are. Unlike Twitter, which is free and offers unrestricted promotion, Facebook is restricted and costs money.
But as I said before, what’s the point of free promotion if it doesn’t work?
Facebook advertising and promotion is not free, but it is not that expensive either. To give you a real example, I ran two short ads to increase Likes on two of my Facebook Pages. Here is a grab of my ad screen.
So for $25.00 I gained over 300 Likes. Sure, not free, but these Likes mean 300 new people will be seeing my posts and promotion for quite some time to come. Most importantly, my Like ads were targeted narrowly, so only people who were English speaking, in the US, UK, NZ, SA Canada and Australia, have specific interests in books, reading, writing and self-publishing received the ad.
If I attract 300 new followers on Twitter, how many would be bots and scammers? 70-80% I would estimate. So paying for specifically targeted, long-term followers by Likes is likely to deliver a far better outcome.
What about selling books?
In my experience, paying for Facebook ads that link directly to a book on Amazon don’t work well. I have tried a number of times, and only once were my sales royalties more than my advertising expenditure. I had far better success directing an ad to my website.
However, both of these types of ads are one-off, which means that the value is over once a Facebook user clicks the ad. If they don’t buy or return to my website after their first visit, it’s money down the drain. They are also much more expensive than per click than Likes.
Spending money on Facebook Likes is much better value, as they are cheap, and the value lasts a long time. Once you have a user Like your page, then they can see your book promotion, and on an ongoing and regular basis. This is much smarter book marketing.
Twitter is free, yes, but stalling badly. Whereas Facebook offers real long-term value in building relationships with your potential readers. Sure, it costs a little, but it is good value. If you spend wisely, say $20.00 a month for a few months to build your Page Likes, you will be on your way to creating a successful Facebook Page.
Lastly, and very importantly, Facebook allows you to communicate much better due to the length of a post you can make. Forget the 140 character restrictions of Twitter and start writing effective Facebook posts to engage your audience. Great posts get shared, and with 1.7 billion users, sharing can have tremendous results.