‘Kay, thanks for reading. See ya next week.
Oh. You want to know more? Sorry.
The Great Experiment
When Carrie and I launched Indie Plot Twist, I opened two social media accounts to help get the word out. One on Facebook, one on Twitter. With both of them, I’ve used the same strategy to grow their following.
Basically doing nothing.
Partially because I’ve been so busy on other projects, partially because I’ve been lazy, and partially because it humored me when I started to see the results.
I opened our Facebook account on January 13, 2014, about six weeks ago. Content so far is mainly entertaining photos related to the writing life, inspirational sayings, and a generous dollop of “writing prompt” photos–oddities and anomalies that simply beg to be written about. (My personal favorite is the bicycle in the tree.)
These are the kinds of posts that excel on Facebook, that generate a lot of likes, comments, and shares. For the info-seekers, I link out to other interesting articles when I find them. And to satisfy the advertising angle (the raison d’être of the Facebook account, non?), I also announce new content when it goes live here at Indie Plot Twist.
So, my recipe looks pretty good–high on entertainment and free info, low on annoying advertising. From a growth standpoint, how am I doing?
I have two followers. One of them is me.
The point is that, no matter how appealing the page, Facebook does not grow itself. If I want our page to go anywhere, I’m going to have to advertise the heck out of it. Freebie options include inviting all my friends, begging them to invite their friends, and putting in a plug for the page everywhere I can think of. Paid options include running a give-away (hey, somebody’s gotta pay for those free prizes) and paying for Facebook advertising.
The idea behind a Facebook presence is to funnel people toward the blog, where all the action is going on. But Facebook isn’t going to do much advertising for me until I do a lot of advertising for Facebook. I’m just saying, if you have to market your marketing, it’s kinda sad.
I opened our Twitter account on the same day as the Facebook account, January 13, 2014, six weeks ago. My content there is full of shameless self-advertising. By and large, I just link to content here on Indie Plot Twist. To shake that up a bit and add entertainment value, I’ve been posting quotes by famous writers, as well, and sometimes I try to strike up a conversation with our followers … but to my surprise, those receive nary a retweet, nor a reply, nor a favorite. The shameless self-advertising, however, gets quite a bit of attention. (Which goes against everything I ever learned about social media, but whatev.)
And how is the following doing? As of this writing, we’re up to 34.
Okay, not exactly going viral, but note this:
I haven’t done anything to promote our Twitter account. And it’s growing. All by itself.
It’s growing at a rate of about five or six new followers per week. Which ain’t bad.
So just to review. What’s the faster, easier way to grow your following? Twitter.
So why is our Twitter account growing slowly but steadily, while the Facebook page is sitting on its hands?
I don’t know.
I mean, seriously, I had another Twitter account that consisted of a profile. That was it. No tweets. And it sat around for a month and racked up followers. People simply find you on Twitter, and I’m not even sure how.
But for everything that happens after that, I do know a few of the reasons why Twitter out-performs Facebook as an easy marketing tool. Twitter is just really good at making you visible.
Facebook has this thing called an “algorithm.” (Which is the Great Mystery that operates behind Modern Wonders like Google and Facebook.) The purpose of an algorithm is to provide the most relevant content to you, the user. There are so many people constantly posting to Facebook that if your news feed simply slapped the content up in chronological order, you’d get a sensory overload resembling a lasagna exploding in your kitchen.
For instance, a page that you follow might adopt such an aggressive marketing campaign (read that, “constant shameless self-advertising”) that they’d drown out the posts you really want to see–like your cousin’s three-week camping trip in crocodile-infested bogs.
Great for your cousin … bad if you’re the page trying to grow your following. Facebook has a way of drowning you out, even if people liked your page. (But that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.) Frankly, I don’t think Facebook is all that marketing friendly. Not if you’re an upstart.
Twitter, on the other hand, is fine with lasagna blasted all over the kitchen walls. Their algorithm is quite simple: Show posts in the order people post them. Twitter doesn’t hide your content like Facebook does. You post it, it shows up. People actually see the content put out by the profiles they said they wanted to follow.
Then there’s hash tags–you know, the “#” symbol that used to mean “number of gizmotrons” or “pounds of giant squid.” Now it means “keywords.”
You can do a Twitter search for, say, “#IndiePublishing,” and the results will list all the most recent conversation on Twitter that uses the hash tag “#IndiePublishing.” Again, the results are listed in chronological order. It doesn’t matter if your profile is big and famous or if it’s your first tweet and you have three followers. If you said “#IndiePublishing,” and someone searched for it, your comment will show.
And that can lead to a “follow” on your profile.
Twitter is truly the social media for the little people.
Now, if you’re already a famous author, you’d better have a Facebook page. Why? Because people expect it. Everybody’s on Facebook, right?
But if you’re starting from scratch and looking for the easiest way to gather followers, my vote is with Twitter.
What about you? What experiences have you had with the two most popular social media? What others are you on, and how do they work for you? Leave us a comment! Indie Plot Twist is the place to share ideas.