The Declining Usefulness of Social Media for Indie Authors

Once upon a time it was called Social Networking. The concept was beautifully simple – it was a way to keep in touch with friends and family as a group rather than individually. Then businesses caught on to it’s usefulness as free advertising, and it became what I called Social Marketing. It is now known as Social Media, which I suppose is meant to be encompassing. Unfortunately, the balance is definitely tilted in favor of those who have the most money to spend to get their word out.

I was never a big facebook fan. I signed up to be able to see all the latest photos of my granddaughter. That was all I was interested in. I set my privacy settings to private (which is no longer possible BTW) but kept getting “friend” requests. Turned out FB reset the settings every time they updated something, which was frequently.

Now I have facebook pages for my books, but I’ve really been questioning whether or not they are worth it. Certainly some followers prefer FB, but it’s usefulness to promote my books is questionable. Theoretically all my updates should go out to all my followers, whose feedback should go out to all their followers, which would really spread the word. When FB began to sell shares, that changed. Now they have investors to please, so true promotion of anything costs money. If I want my updates out there, I have to “boost” i.e. pay for them. That also means that in my own news feed, the things that pop up first and most frequently are paid-for posts. And I’m learning that these are misleading. Several times I’ve clicked a link for an interesting article, only to be taken to a website for which I have to click and click and click and then am finally given the true source for the article. To me, that’s deceptive.

Another problem with facebook is that there is no way to separate business and personal information. This is a continual complaint from those with business pages, because they see the melding of the two as unprofessional. And it is. Even common sense tells us that potential customers are not going to be interested in two dozen baby photos from 2nd cousin Jane by her third husband. But FB does not care. Keeping the two inseparable simply makes data mining easier for them and those to whom they sell (or give) information.

Twitter is another one. It’s now possible to buy something like 3000 followers for a mere $29.95. Buy followers? Unless one is glued to their computer or smart phone, who can keep up with all the tweets anyway?

Followers on all social media venues is another fiasco. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “more and more” follower frenzy, that it becomes ridiculous. In the early days I used to try to follow back out of courtesy, only to find I was soon dropped from the list of those they followed. In other words, some folks simple use it as a way to promote themselves. As a blogger, I know that lots of followers can be more of a liability than a help. I am continually targeted by individuals and companies who want to use my blog to promote themselves and their product (for free, of course because it’s such an honor to have them). Also it targets me for more spam, especially the nasty and vulgar kind.

Now that Pintrest has a marketing plan for businesses, I expect them to follow the same dodo.

For the Indie author, I suppose these can be useful if one has money to burn on promoting their book(s). Just be forewarned that it is easily possible to get so deep in the red as to never see actual earnings from your masterpiece. It’s tough because it’s hard enough to self-promote, and I’m not sure there are any easy answers for it. Word of mouth is always one of the best ways, it’s just getting folks to review it to get that help. (And then there are the trolls, but that’s another story.)

I confess I am amazed at how much time folks have to spend on social media. Even homesteaders who certainly have enough to do without it. I know that’s the case for me. I have more to do than time to do it, so social anything is pretty much at the bottom of the list!

I’m not the only Indie who thinks and feels this way. It was actually self-published author Catherine Howard who got me thinking about this in the first place. Her thoughts can be read here.

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One Response to The Declining Usefulness of Social Media for Indie Authors

  1. Garrett says:

    I’m right there with you, Leigh. I haven’t done much in the way of promoting my books. Once I realized the sheer amount of time and expense, I realized that I just don’t have the temperament for it.

    Alas, this means that my books aren’t being read by (m)any folks.

    I kept up with it at first, but now I just checked and it’s been two months since the last time I even tried to do any promotion. I know I can/should do more…

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