This is the fourth post in a thread on author marketing metrics, specifically regarding some fascinating advice I got through a Facebook group (that spawned these posts). Part 1 provided a cantankerous but realistic intro to the subject of author marketing metrics. Part 2 started an analysis of the advice along with a few suggestions re selecting keywords on Twitter and Amazon and closed asking how one demonstrates their story-telling and -crafting ability in a tweet (we’re getting there). Part 3 continued the analysis.
Here we get to some tough questions that should be asked about any advice you get. But before we do…
It’s worth pointing out that the person giving the twitter advice is
- Not a recognized name author
- Publishes through a POD service that does no marketing (and isn’t it amazing how many POD publishers make doing all your own marketing sound like a godsend?)
The back and forth analysis in Parts 2 and 3 is interesting and fun (to me, probably not to anybody else) and is a long-winded version of my response to the original post:
I really asked (paraphrased), “What are the results?” I asked because, okay, you use a unique keyword of your own devising. Excellent! How many people respond to it and how do they respond?
If you don’t know, you’re back to that spaghetti on a wall thing.
And here was the response that got me thinking smoke and mirrors (probably unintentional) were taking hold: There’s no way to know how many people look at your tweets. I have grown my twitter following to over 11, 000. How many of them have looked at a book? I have no idea.
Well, hot dang shaboobie! My twitter following has grown, too, and I’m not doing anything this person suggested. I’m just having fun.
But people following me have tweeted how much they enjoy my books, have retweeted my book signings, appearances, offers, and I’m not even counting Likes.
Criticism without solutions is worthless. – William Murdoch
First, there is a way to know how many people look at your tweets. Like most things in social analytics – hell, like most research, period – it’s done via proxy. Regarding Twitter:
It’s one thing to grow your following, it’s another to determine how much it’s grown over time. Continued growth over time is 1) a good thing and b) a reasonable proxy for how many people are looking at your tweets. Consider it this way; why would anybody follow you if they don’t care about you or what you offer? (want to make sure they see your tweet? We’re back to that “voting in Chicago” thing mentioned in Part 3) There may be some social collateral in saying, “Oh, yeah, I follow him/her/them on Twitter,” at gatherings but following isn’t paying attention and is definitely not responding. Back in the day (when I worked in analytics), an entrepreneur boasted of having over 7MM followers. We did an analysis. We routinely dropped into this person’s stream a basic “tweet me back when you get this.”
Not the response one would have expected from such a prestigious personality. Percentage-wise, I get more responses than this person did.
This person quickly went from being an influencer to being an idiot. Sure, there were lots of followers. Nobody paid attention. Who was being influenced?
(addendum: we got fired from this social project. I have no problem telling truth to power. Sometimes power has lots of trouble accepting truth.)
So if you have continued growth over time, good for you, you’re getting noticed and people are genuinely interested in what you do. Want to be a bit more diligent about it?
Easy to do.
Get some charting software (any spreadsheet package will do). Put the days along the horizontal line, the number of followers low to high on the vertical line. Go to a day, go up to the number of followers, make a dot. Do this as many times as you’d like (I suggest a week as a start). Draw as straight a line as possible from the first dot to the last dot. Is the line higher on the right than on the left (green line below)? You’re doing good. Somedays your dot may be above the line, somedays below (blue line below). Doesn’t matter. Does the line go from low left to higher right? You’re doing good.
Likes and retweets are also good proxies. But there are three kinds of such beasties:
- One person Likes/Retweets the bejesus out of all your tweets. Congratulations, you’ve got a sycophant. Or a small orbiting body. This type of Like/Retweet is only useful if this one person has a gazillion active followers who hang on their every tweet as if it were air and they lived in a vacuum.
- Different people Like/Retweet the bejesus out of a few of your tweets. Figuring out the real benefit of these tweets is (to me) best done in steps.
- Enumerate the days on the horizontal line as above. The vertical line is for the number of tweets.
- Select one person (not necessarily a follower) who Likes/Retweets you (count only Likes or Retweets, not both).
- Go to a day, go up to the number of Likes or Retweets, put a dot. Pick a color, connect the dots using a pen of that color, write in the Liker/Retweeters ID in that color.
- Lather, rinse, repeat for some number of your Likers/Retweeters. Use a different color for each different person.
You’ll get a chart something like the following:
Look at the above and you may not realize Follower B (green line) is your most valuable Liker/Retweeter (all else considered equal) because they are the most consistent. In other words, they are Liking/Retweeting you!
- Do much the same but focus on #hashtags because all data is revealing (ie, the above reveals something important). Those other followers who are all over the board? Check your #hashtags on the tweets they’re Liking/Retweeting. Total # of Likes or Retweets from all people on the vertical, #hashtag on the horizontal, and you’ll get a Like/Retweet by #Hashtag chart something like this:
Now you’ve discovered what are your most valuable #hashtags. In the case above, we learn #SciFi, #DogPoo, and #WTF? hashtags get the most response from your followers (I think this is what the individual originally posting the advice was going for. Now we’ve metricized it).
Metricizing gets you targeting, meaning you’re closer to getting the response rates you want because now you know who to send what message to. Want to get lots of response to your #SciFi tweet?
(and I admit freely there’s lots of personal and social psychology active in the above example)
Is it worth it?
I’m a big ROI guy. I also recognize ROI comes in many forms. There’s the obvious financial ROI – are you selling more books? I hope you do. Developing a system such as outlined here (and it’ll work for any system using keywords (#hashtags are essentially keywords)) takes time, and I don’t like taking time away from my writing (yeah, even this blog post is me practicing my writing).
I go to the gym because there’s a physical ROI; I feel better when I’m done. I also read while I’m doing the stairs, so there’s an added psychological ROI. A two-fer. Tough to beat. Social networks provide me an emotional ROI; I like people and enjoy helping them. Sometimes I learn, so there’s a psychological ROI, too. Hot dang, another two-fer!
The theme here is What’s good for you? Easy – are you happy? If you’re happy with your numbers then it’s good. Can you make it better? Maybe. Do you want to put the time into making it better? You decide.
(anybody notice I haven’t covered “How do you demonstrate you’ve written a well-told, interesting story in a tweet?”
that’s a big question. let me think on it a bit and get back to you.)