Francis Guenette, of Disappearing In Plain Sight, makes an excellent point in a post about blogging and social media: “1000+ Followers. Cause for Celebration? Maybe not.” Those of us busting our humps to build a platform for marketing self-published novels live for stats. We’re worse than baseball fanatics or political consultants. We obsess over our numbers: WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, BlahBlah, BlahBlahBlah. And the thing is? — by and large these numbers are meaningless.
Doing the math so you don’t have to, Francis goes through the totals that make up her 1000+ WordPress followers. They turn out to be an illusion wrapped up in an ethereal topcoat, consisting of hundreds of Twitter and Facebook followers who are mainly other writers doing their bit to support a fellow traveler. In fact, at least one entity (World Literary Cafe) has programs designed to allow writers to follow each other in an ever-expanding fractal of connections (I’ve been participating myself), but these are Potemkin relationships. They aren’t real, nor will they do much for book sales when the time comes.
Even good ol’ WordPress is something of a letdown. Francis reports — as we all have no doubt observed with our own blogs — that the number of engaged readers is far less than the total number of followers on the stats report. She has well over 400 followers; the number of likes per post runs between 12 and 32.
What’s the bottom line? Well, I’ve said before that marketing is hard, and that’s still true. And when I read the wisdom of the “experts” out there hawking strategies for successful use of social media, damned if they all don’t sound like lightning-eyed coke addicts buzzed on their own awesomeness, listing their litanies of “tools” that will help you to the top and keep you there. I doubt it. Don’t have time for all the tweeting and posting you need to do? Get Hootsuite!
Here’s the thing. What we’re doing — the daily social media dog and pony show — it’s not likely to help much in the end. But here’s the other thing. It’s about all there is we can do.