How Many People Actually See Your Facebook Posts? Probably Not As Many As You Think.

If you have a Fan Page, you’ve seen the lovely “25 people saw this post” links at the bottom of your posts. If you’re like me, that “25” isn’t very encouraging because your page has several thousand fans. I decided to conduct an experiment yesterday to see how many people actually see my posts. I have several Fan Pages, with varying numbers of fans and levels of activity.

I’m just going to put this in the order they appear on my Fb Home Page so I don’t get lost and forget one. I posted the same thing on all of my pages yesterday afternoon. It’s been about 26 hours. None of the posts were promoted, either by paying Fb or by any other means.

There Is No Normal has 217 fans. I post there a few times a week. So according to Fb, more than half my fans saw this. Even taking into account that not everyone who saw the post would bother to click, that’s a huge discrepancy.

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Networking and Community Online

This post is the third in a three-part series about networking and growing a following online. I’m not an expert by any means (check out the numbers on my sidebar if you don’t believe me), but I can look around and see what’s out there, figure out what works for me and what doesn’t, and know that some things work better for specific niches and some things sound like they work, but in the long run, don’t really help anyone.

My first post caused some fuss because some people took it to mean that I think we should all just sit back and hope our wonderful-ness is discovered by someone who will share it will all their millions of friends and followers and our book/video/blog will go viral and become an overnight sensation without any effort. I’m quite sure that’s not even close to what I said. I did say I’d talk about the difference between growing a following organically versus trading follows or likes with others. I didn’t say one was better than the other. Personally, I am part of several online book and blogging communities, I hold weekly giveaways, participate in monthly giveaway hops, and am active on Twitter and Facebook. I am not just sitting back waiting for people to find my blog, and I hardly expect anyone else to do that. But there is a difference between proactive marketing and doing things just get your stats up.

What works for me
Networking: When I decided to go in the direction of writing book reviews on my blog, I knew that I would need more books than I was getting from the three publishers’ programs I was participating in. So I figured out where the authors are and I joined those communities. The self-publishing market has been wonderful for me, because Stephen King and Laurell K. Hamilton aren’t exactly beating down my door asking for reviews. I’ve met some great writers, who also happen to be fun people to know. We follow each other on Twitter and Facebook. I enjoy following them because I’m interested in hearing about their books and news. (And several of them are really entertaining on Twitter, too.) I hope they get something out of following me, too. (Otherwise I’m just being stalked by a bunch of people with very active imaginations and that can’t end well.)

I’ve also joined a couple of blogging communities. Again, we follow each other, but it’s a situation where we’re (hopefully) learning from each other and interested in what we’re following.

Speaking of Twitter, that has been huge for me. I’ve had a couple of Twitter accounts for a year or two, but I wasn’t getting much out of it and really wasn’t putting much into it. It was pretty confusing to me. After a year or more (depending on the account), I had three accounts with 60+ followers on one(almost all friends from my email account), 10 followers on another(from a blog), and 12 followers on the third(from another blog). I opened the account for this blog (4LBookBlogger, which will soon be my only account) in July. I have 443 followers after just three months. The big difference is that my other accounts were opened mainly to broadcast information or blog posts. I was following some accounts, but they were all organizations (my Asperger’s account) or celebrities or businesses (my Pampered Chef/cooking tips account). Some of the followers on my current account have come from the communities I mentioned earlier. But many have come from actually interacting with people. I figured out how to use lists to keep from going crazy and I try to check in at least once a day to see what’s going on.

Giveaways: I was starting to accumulate a large stack of books from my review programs, so I decided to start giving them away on my blog. Then I started joining giveaway hops. That has been a great decision. Not only does it get the books out of my house and off to someone else who can appreciate them, it brings interested traffic to my blog. Some of them decide to stick around and see what else is here. I have four different sites on which I post my giveaways. Again, I’m not just sitting here waiting for people to find me. I’ve found three contest sites that list blog giveaways and don’t make you jump through hoops, and I post to a linky on another blogger’s site every week. There are several bloggers who are kind enough to provide linkys for other giveaways on their sites, but I don’t take the time to chase them all down.

Things I don’t do
Random blog hops: There are hops where bloggers spend the weekend visiting other blogs and commenting, in an effort to boost numbers and the number of comments, from what I can tell. Both are important, don’t misunderstand me. I just don’t see that as a productive way to spend my time and while it’s all with good intentions, it seems kind of artificial to me.

Alexa hops: Same thing, except you have to have the Alexa toolbar installed to help with the blogs’ Alexa ratings. I considered this one. My global Alexa rank is 1,095,078 and my US rank is 209,848, so of course, I would love to have a lower (higher?) rank. I’m not an idiot. (I see you back there. Stop snickering.) I decided not to participate for two reasons. I didn’t want to commit the time to visit and comment on all the blogs. I’m trying to pare down my commitments, not add more. I also felt like this was somewhat artificial. Besides, if most of the people doing the hop are mom-bloggers, that’s going to skew your demographic stats.

Trading Facebook likes: I’ve already said that I have done this in certain situations. What I haven’t done is join one of the Facebook groups/pages that have thousands of members and were set up solely to exchange “likes”. I considered this one, too. And a few months ago, a friend of mine got me about 80 “likes” that way. I truly do appreciate her thinking of me, and at the time, I was thrilled. But later, I got to thinking, “How many of those people will ever actually read my blog or visit the fan page?” Numbers are great. I love seeing my numbers go up. Look at my sidebar and below my posts. I have numbers all over the place. But just swapping “likes” with other people (businesses in many cases on those groups) when I have no interest in their page, nor they in mine, just doesn’t make sense to me. If you have 5,000 fans, but only 100 of them are actually interested in what you’re saying, how does that help anything? I guess it depends on the goals for your page, but it doesn’t mesh with my particular goals.

By now you’re probably thinking, “What makes you so special. Why is what you do better than what I’m doing?” My answer would be: nothing and it’s not. I’m just doing what I feel comfortable doing and it’s working for me for now. If doing something else works for you, that’s fine. I’m just talking about what I like and don’t like.

In short, what has worked for me is building community. We’re not floating around the internet in a vacuum. There are millions of other people out there. And quite a lot of them are interested in the same things you are. Do a Google search for groups and forums. Search on Twitter. Find them and start building your community.

Part one: Are Reviews Useful?
Part two: She Likes Me. She Likes Me Not.

She Likes Me. She Likes Me Not.

This is the second in what is now a three-part series (I wasn’t happy with just two parts anyway). There seems to be some confusion about what I meant with my complaint about people “liking” books on Amazon when they haven’t read them yet. I’m not really sure what’s so confusing about that, but I felt the need to clarify anyway.

Seems some people think the Amazon like button is not there to tell people you actually like the book.  Maybe you just like the pretty cover or the great price.
What else would anyone seeing a “like” assume? When someone “likes” a status on Facebook, it means they agree with the status. When someone “likes” an blog post or news article, it’s because they like the content. In a society that has become accustomed to this meaning of “liking” something, seeing that a book on Amazon has 20 “likes” is obviously going to be influential. If I didn’t know about the “like-trades”, and I saw a book with 2 reviews and 20 “likes”, I would either think that something weird is going on, or I would think that there were a lot of people who read the book, and liked it, but didn’t want to be bothered with writing even a one-line review. I’ve never heard of someone “liking” a book on Amazon just because they liked the cover or the price. They do it because they like the contents of the book.

Why would tagging a book without reading it be okay if “liking” it isn’t?
Because tagging is actually relevant? If you have a book of sci-fi short stories by a certain author, it’s not a big stretch to tag the book “sci-fi”, “short stories”, “indie author”, and the author’s name. Nothing in tagging implies that you have read the book if you have not.

I’ve been accused of throwing indie authors under the bus.
(That wasn’t the exact phrase used, but I didn’t care for that one, so this’ll work.)
Really? If you follow me on Twitter (@4LbookBlogger), you’ll see that most of my tweets are actually RTs of indie authors’ tweets. I’ve already reviewed several indie authors on my blog and I have about 40 more books waiting for review. ALL from indie authors. When I review, I post not only on my blog, but on Amazon, B&N;, Goodreads, and GetGlue.com, so the books have more reviews and hopefully more exposure. I have a huge respect for indie authors, and I don’t see anything in my first post to make anyone think otherwise.

This is the second post in a three-part series about networking and growing a following online.
Part One: Are Reviews Useful?
Part Three: Networking and Community Online

Are Reviews Useful?

I’ve written before about requiring users to follow or like a blog to enter a drawing. I understand that different blogs have different purposes and goals and it may work for some people. I don’t feel comfortable doing that. I’ve also been thinking recently about other ways bloggers and/or businesses get followers or Facebook fans. A few days ago, I read an article about fake book reviews and that reminded me of a Twitter hashtag that is becoming popular among authors. And, yes, it’s actually related to all this other stuff.

So, I’m writing a two-part series (I feel like it’s not really a series if it only has two parts, but I couldn’t think of anything else to call it) about growing a following organically versus trading follows or likes with others. Today’s post is about books, reviews, and Amazon “likes”. Thursday, I’ll be writing about Alexa ratings, blogs, and Facebook fan pages.

A few days ago, I read a blog post by an author entitled, “Just How Useful Are Reviews?” I had to take a minute to remind myself not to take it personally. As a reviewer who gets at least one email a day from authors asking me to review their books, it’s kind of a slap in the face to see an author who questions the value and validity of reviews. The article had a valid point, though. When it’s possible to buy good reviews, how do you know what you’re really getting? I can’t find the article now, but a few months ago, I read about political and religious groups leaving good or bad reviews en masse about certain books to discourage or encourage others to purchase books that further the groups’ agendas.

I’ve also had the lovely experience of having a couple of my good Amazon reviews voted down as “not helpful”. I say “good” reviews, because a few of my reviews are just one or two lines. Most are informative, helpful reviews, though. I’ve had to make myself not take it personally (again), and I’ve decided that it’s not about me. The reviews that were voted down were negative reviews. I try not to post many of those, but sometimes I just really can’t like a book, and when I get a book from my review programs, I have to write a review before I can get another book from them. I’ve decided that the votes likely came from either friends, family, or rabid fans of the author in question.

You have to take the same factors into consideration when reading reviews. You don’t know who is writing the review, or if they’ve even actually read the book. (Although with a good review, you can usually tell if the reviewer has a clue what’s really in the book.) I don’t buy many books, but I’m buying more ebooks because you obviously can’t find those on paperbackswap.com or at a yard sale somewhere. Before I buy a book, I actually read the reviews. With all the time I spend writing reviews, I’d like to think that many others are reading them, too. It’s not a perfect system, but I don’t think it’s completely broken.

There is one thing I have a big problem with, though. A majority of the people I follow on Twitter are authors, many of them indie authors. I’ve read some of their books, and they’re great. I do what I can to promote and encourage indie authors. I’m even part of a couple of online communities that I joined just so I can meet authors and review their books to share them with a larger audience. (Because someday, I will have a large audience, darn it.) I’ll share more about those communities in my second post. First, my gripe. There is a hashtag #AmazonLikes. An author can post their book link with the hashtag and other authors go like the book on Amazon. Please don’t do that. Tagging is one thing (and another hashtag: #TagItTuesday), and I have no problem with that. I understand that in liking each other’s books, authors are trying to help boost the books in the ratings and/or searches. I get that. But as a reader who actually looks at the “likes” as well as the reviews, I kind of feel like that’s cheating.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I posted two of my Amazon reviews on my Facebook page a few months ago and asked my friends to vote them up if they indeed found them helpful. I stopped after just a couple of days because it just didn’t feel right. On the other hand, the review was right there for them to read and decide if they liked it or not. They weren’t liking something they hadn’t read yet. (I think I got a whopping 11 votes total from doing that. Probably more than I deserved, looking back.)

Do you read reviews before you buy a book? Do you ever feel like the reviews posted are fake?

This is the first in a three-part series.
Part two: She Likes Me. She Likes Me Not.
Part three: Networking and Community Online