Small is the New Big in Social Networking

putting a brick in a wall isolated on white Imagine you are hosting two birthday parties for yourself (I know it sounds indulgent, but go with it for now). At the first birthday party, you invite 50 people. Many of your guests bring friends and before you know it, there are 200 people in your living room you’ve never met. You end up being too busy to talk to anyone and ultimately ask yourself, who are all these people anyway? The silver lining is that everyone talks about how popular you must be.

At the second party, you invite 10 of your closest friends. You sit around a table, talk about old times, share laughs and there is enough food and drink to last hours.

Now that your marathon birthday weekend is over, ask yourself, which party did you enjoy more? More importantly, at which party did your guests get more quality time with you?

Obviously, the second party was the better of the two, even though from an outsider’s perspective, the first party looked more fun. The old adage stands true: quality over quantity.

Social networking is just like a birthday party. In the early days of social media, it was widely believed that the more followers and friends an author had, the better. People made decisions based on the size of someone’s following and not on the quality of their content or the level of engagement among users. An author with 20,000 Facebook fans must sell more books than an author with 2,000 fans, right? Wrong.

Having been on the front lines of social media and web marketing for over 20 years, I can honestly say authors who have tens of thousands of followers don’t necessarily sell more books than authors who have a few hundred. It’s as simple as that.

Large followings aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but the metric to watch is the level of engagement you have with your followers and the frequency at which it happens.

To make sure your interactions are headed in a positive direction, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Do your followers comment on and share your posts?
  • Are you familiar with your super fans?
  • How many people are you connecting with on a weekly basis?
  • Are you able to respond to everyone who engages with you?
Consider your mailing list. Authors who have 50,000 people on their mailing list and only a 5% open rate aren’t necessarily selling as many books as authors who have 2,000 people on their mailing list with a 60% open rate. This has been proven over and over.

As you think about your social media presence, keep these tips in mind:
  1. Focus on growing your interactions, not your followers. An engaged follower has a much higher chance of converting into a book buyer.
  2. Make sure you’re providing valuable content for your followers. It will help keep your network coming back to your page.
  3. When someone engages with you on social media, make sure you engage back, whether it’s a comment on a post or a direct message. A follower feeling a true connection with you as an author is invaluable.