AHA · Authors Helping Authors · Marketing

“It’s Called Social Media Because it’s Supposed to Be SOCIAL” – by Mercy Pilkington

Twitter 6x6I have twenty-eight Direct Messages sitting in my Twitter account right now, every single one of them from an unknown author who auto-DM’d me after I was stupid enough to follow him based on what sounded like an interesting Twitter bio. I’m actually going to share one of those DMs with you:

Thanks for the follow! I automatically followed you back using http://www.twitterautofollowback.com ! You can do the same thing for FREE!”

Wow. That is the social media equivalent of throwing a dart at an open phonebook, hitting my name, and asking me out on a date. A date that I would probably accept anyway just to get the free food. But trust me, that’s the only free thing happening on that kind of date.

The entire point of social media is that it be SOCIAL, people. It’s awesome to spread the word about your writing and your books, but you do it through SOCIAL connections with people, not with a website you signed up for because you are too important to check your Twitter account once in a while.

I got to hear an amazing nugget of information at Tools of Change this year in New York. Otis Chandler, the CEO and founder of Goodreads, presented an interesting set of data based off of a survey of 1,000 Goodreads users’ book buying habits. Here was the kicker:

Twitter and Facebook were the LEAST EFFECTIVE sources of book discovery, ranking even lower than walking into a public library or a  Wal-Mart and picking up a random book off the shelf.

Think about that very carefully. People are more likely to find a book by fighting the hordes of the great unwashed at WALMART than they are by reading a tweet about it. Seriously. No, read that again. Right now, there is a lady wearing a tank top and curlers standing between me and a cheap paperback book, and I’m STILL statistically more likely to flip through the pages of that book while inhaling the stale cigarette and cat pee smell coming off of her than I am to click on the link to its Amazon page that the author tweeted.

So what do you do with the carefully cultivated Twitter and Facebook followings you’ve managed to establish obsessively over the years?

  1. You CONNECT with those people. Unless you are following an unhealthy number of egg avatars, there are most likely real people behind those accounts.
  2. TALK to them. Ask them if THEY have written a book before you go shoving your book in their cyber-faces.
  3. Find out who has written something in your genre and DISCUSS it. Because even if the person on the other side of the computer screen is the curler-and-cat-pee lady from Wal-Mart, she won’t have to reach around you to find a good book.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Mercy Pilkington is the CEO of Author Options, a full-service solutions provider for authors and publishers. Her sense of humor leans a bit to the sarcastic side, hence her overuse of the word crap. She is looking for romance titles that do not involved chiseled men with giant penises, and no more vampires unless there is something stunningly different about them that doesn’t involve sparkling.


5 thoughts on ““It’s Called Social Media Because it’s Supposed to Be SOCIAL” – by Mercy Pilkington

    1. So true! And, what is up with getting the new follower email, clicking follow them back and then trying to send a DM to be social only to have twitter say you can’t DM because they aren’t following you…I mean within minutes of the follow activity? This ticks me off every time because, as you can tell, I tend to be long winded and by the time I get my clever DM to fit in the character limits and then it won’t go…ugh! LOL


  1. There’s some good advice here, primarily that quoted from Otis Chandler. I don’t understand the use of mean-spirited humor in a short article like this. While I’ve never visited a Walmart, I find this kind of stereotyping disingenuous. It adds nothing to the discussion.


    1. I can’t speak for the author, but I personally took the Wal-Mart humor to be simply humorous and not meant to be offensive. My perspective is definitely jaded by living in the region near her and this type of Wal-Mart humor is very widely accepted, recognized and found to be quite funny here in the US. There are TV commercials, comedians doing skits on their shows, people go and make their own videos making fun of themselves at Wal-Mart and post them on YouTube and so on. It’s been sort of a big deal here, for a couple of years now, I think. More than likely she was going for shaking it up a bit so it wasn’t just another informative article, I have seen that in her writing style and usually it is quite affective and she gets a lot of traffic. I can see how we might look at making sure such humor is going to work internationally though and I’d be most interested in hearing your opinion of a different line of humor that could have worked well in this article, I noticed you are in the UK and I am curious what would have worked for folks in your region? Thanks so much for taking the time to leave feedback, it truly is appreciated and I hope to hear back from you to discuss a bit more. We are constantly looking for opportunities to improve the site and thank you for stopping in! ~Debra L Hartmann (PS – you can respond here of course but also feel free to contact me at aha4real@gmail.com if you want to make some recommendations for the site, discover how you can be published here and take advantage of the free promotional opportunity, etc. Nice to meet you!)


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