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Money matters most in book marketing

Why you should stop sweating over social media numbers

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll revealed that four out of five Facebook users have never bought a product or service as a result of advertising or comments on the social network site. In addition, researchers at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute found that less than 1% of fans of the 200 biggest brands on Facebook actually engaged. Less than 1%! These numbers (or the lack thereof) are staggering, yet not surprising. Just because you’ve got a lot of social media followers doesn’t mean you’re going to make a lot of money.

However, the social media gurus will tell you that the future of business is all about how many Twitter followers, Facebook likes, or LinkedIn connections you can acquire. Those are the real numbers that we’re supposed to idolize. Whoever has the most followers, likers, or stalkers apparently wins the game. I guess that’s true if you’re in a popularity contest. But, what if you’re just trying to pay your mortgage? Does the bank accept Twitter followers as payment?

When did the marketing metrics of sales and revenue get supplanted by followers and likers? And, if these numbers are so important, then why am I making more money than most of these social media gurus? I run a successful six-figure consulting practice. Yet, I’ve got less than 500 Twitter followers, no Facebook page, 1,500 newsletter subscribers, and a small tribe of blog readers. According to the techno-geeks, there’s no way I should succeed with such a small following. In fact, some would warn to never admit such low numbers. But, I don’t care, because my business is making money…and lots of it.

I openly share my social media numbers to prove the only number that matters is money. I don’t care if you’ve got 25,000 Facebook friends, a million Twitter twits, or a gajillion LinkedIn connections. I know lots of people who’ve got a lot more followers than me, but they aren’t making much money. And, if you’re not generating income, then you’re going to wind up in a financial downward spiral.

That’s why the chief marketing number any author or publisher should focus on is the bottom line. You can’t write more books without tangible book sales. You can’t grow your business without netting a profit. What’s the answer? There are several solutions, but the fastest way to make more money is to charge more with less labor intensity.

For example, authors can increase their income via profitable spin-off products, consulting, and speaking engagements. Publishers can create products and services where the customer provides the content and you charge for advertising space (i.e. – think Huffington Post, niche websites, iPad apps, etc.). For instance, I’ve written two books. But, I don’t define myself as an author, because that mindset is too confining. Unless you’re a perennial bestseller, there is very little money in books. Instead, the money comes by offering the intellectual property of your book in as many formats as possible, such as books, workbooks, study guides, movie rights, speaking, consulting, training, licensing, etc. The possibilities are endless, as long as you concentrate on the right number…the revenue that is produced.

Stop sweating over social media numbers. Instead, focus your marketing on the amount of money it creates rather than the amount of fans it generates. Facebook fans and Twitter followers are fine, but not if they decline to give you a dime.

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  • Keith Finnegan

    I agree that “likes” and “followers” are not legitimate metrics in and of themselves, and that social media is not necessarily a good tactic for every business, particularly a consulting business. However, you can’t ignore the fact that 20% of people on Facebook HAVE purchased a product as a result of advertising and/or comments. For consumer products, social media can be a great addition to the advertising mix when used appropriately.

  • QuanEconGuy

    In the old days a return of 10% on direct mail would have been hailed as game-changing triumph — the oft stated goal rarely, if ever, reached. The 20% Mr. Finnegan is citing is actually a lot smaller when you consider how much advertising is actually targeted to segments of the FB audience. The “transformative power” of social networking may really be producing revenues barely commensurate with the old direct mail. The point is separating the hyperbole from reality and realigning expectations. That said, in the world of books certain data derived from all web activity about them, *in aggregate*, including social media activity, could be leveraged into metadata. Then it is possible to measure the social media impact as one part of a model, and budget marketing funds accordingly.

  • Farah Bazzrea

    good conversation… thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/SharmeenAGangat SharmeenAkbaniGangat

    I agree that fans and followers do not translate into money, but that’s not because the platforms are worthless — it is simply because we do not know who to target and build relationships with. I refuse to believe that anyone can succeed in any business without investing in relationship capital — be it “a small tribe of blog readers or 1,500 newsletter subscribers.” I often block spammers at the cost of losing followers on Twitter because I want each of my follower to be a crucial part of my community rolodex.