I am not sure how many of you know how Facebook works when it comes to views and showing your author/book page to readers. Let me give you the summary.
You like a page. For the first week or so, everything that this page produces goes across your timeline.
But you have other posts, other companies and people all going through your timeline as well.
You can only pay attention to so many of these individual posts. And you don’t interact with them all. You comment on a few, you probably like a few more but the majority you simply allow to scroll by.
Think of it this way. If you comment, the originator of that post gets three points. A like is worth one point and no interaction is worth, well, zero points.
The page or person with the most points over any given time frame wins. You will see more of that person or pages posts. The posts you don’t comment or like, those with zero points will disappear from your timeline.
Facebook has decided to measure your interaction rate as the main determining factor in whether you see something on a continual basis or not. Interact and you see – no interaction and it will disappear.
You ultimately control who or what you see in Facebook’s world. This is not news as we all have “friends” we never see on Facebook and we’ve all got way too many “liked” pages to begin to track them all. Facebook hides what you don’t use. Brings the old “use it or lose it” right into focus doesn’t it?
Now. The problem for writers using social media is that when a reader doesn’t like or comment, your posts will slowly but surely disappear from their timeline. And you become invisible.
It’s also about the competition. You and every other author, business and zombie are in competition for reader eyeballs. While zombies may have other uses for them, authors want to interact to sell more books. (Hey, if you aren’t selling books using social media, why are you there?) As an author, that means I’m in competition with every other author but more importantly, I’m in competition with Ford, General Electric, Airlines etc. We’re going up against the big boys here.
And there’s a solution of course. Facebook will allow you to pay them to show your post to more of your readers. You pay to play and get back in front of those who liked you in the first place.
Your challenge, my challenge is to find a way to make every post absolutely riveting. If it’s not, if it’s a throwaway post, it will be ignored. Being ignored is the fast route off the timeline of your reader. It’s not personal, it’s not aimed at you, it’s all about the math of who interacts or likes you.
You can do anything you like but you can no longer afford to be ignored on Facebook.
And like anything else now, the challenge is in the cost of being on Facebook for authors. How long does it take to craft a riveting post that attracts a great many of your readers? How many readers then click through or comment? How many of them buy your book when it comes out? What percentage respond on any given post?
Are you doing the math on your time versus the value Facebook brings back to you?
Good questions all and it’s about time more writers faced these issues.
December is never a great time for gardening and garden writing websites. Traffic dies. I understand that completely. But in the social media world, once you die it is very hard to recover. So if readers weren’t pinging my posts (hey, they had other things on their minds) then I’d slip off their timelines. If I didn’t make each post scintillating (hey, I had other things on my mind) or if I (heaven forbid) took a holiday (the worst thing I could have done according to my Facebook stats) and didn’t post at all for almost two weeks – the the number of readers would drop. And it did. From several thousand per post to several hundred.
I can get them back by paying money. That would be fine I guess if the response rates were good enough to warrant it and quite frankly, they aren’t. Response rates to buying a book on Facebook are no better than announcing it to any other of my channels (in fact, several other channels have a much higher response rate).
As far as I can see, most of the repetitive ads on Facebook tend to be of the “branding” kind – bringing a company into our focus rather than asking for a direct sale. Make me a fan and then hopefully I’ll buy their product in the real world. Or, they’re from some entrepreneur paying money on FB hoping for a click/return on investment. I rarely see those repeated from the small guys. This leads me to guess the majority of ads from small guys don’t pay off. And that little factoid leads me to suspect I can gather more readers with an ad but I may not have a way to monetize those readers. I’m sure smarter minds than mine have sorted that out or figured out a way to make those ads pay but I haven’t.
And I have other things to do.
My response is to work to shift more of my Facebook readers off Facebook to my newsletter and site feeds. My main time will be spent on my websites and working with folks there to help them be better gardeners. I’ll continue to work on social media sites but as of this week, the time spent there has been halved.
Facebook tossed the last straw on this camel’s back.
p.s. I see no long term difference between Facebook, Google+, Twitter or any other social media site you care to mention.