While listening to presentations at Digital Book World's Book Marketing Summit in January about the role of social media venues in book marketing, I got to thinking about how very different Twitter and Facebook are.
One slide I saw showed Twitter a distant third behind Facebook and StumbleUpon as sources of social media traffic to specific websites, but the two I find myself on most as a reader (and author) are Facebook and Twitter. I randomly mused in Notepad about how the two I use most are so different from one another, and how I am learning the language of each – and that despite both being social networks, they function quite differently.
The use of Twitter and Facebook specifically showed up yet again at Tools of Change in the presentation from Goodreads talking about how readers discover books:
As Goodreads put it, “Good for engaging with authors, not great for finding new books.”
Then, yesterday, the Romance Writers Report arrived with an article titled “Nine Things You Don't Know About Romance Readers.” I think there's more than nine things that I don't know, so I was very curious.
The facts were culled from the 2011 Romance Book Consumer survey, “a web-based survey of romance book buyers conducted August through September 2011.” They plan another round in spring 2012. (Members of RWA can download the complete report as a PDF from the members-only MyRWA/files section of the website.)
One piece of the article that jumped out at me:
41% of romance buyers report having visited an author website. A proportional 83% do not, and will not, follow an author on Twitter, while 70% say the same for Facebook. (Emphasis mine.)
As I said, that's not true for me. Looking back over the reviews I've written in the past few months, I discovered Truths and Roses from a Facebook ad, Lord and Lady Spy because of a sale alert on Twitter (I buy a lot of $.99-$2.00 books based on sale alerts), and I bought a lot of Marion Lennox's backlist because of people saying how much they liked her entire Banksia Bay series when I said I'd purchased one of them. And I remember buying and reading Wild and Steamy because of Twitter and Facebook conversation about the price of the anthology and how much of a steal it was given the quality of the stories inside.
In addition, Ruthie Knox, Julie Anne Long, Dev Bentham are all authors I discovered via Twitter conversations. I often ask on Facebook about what people are reading or listening to, and invariably I end up adding another handful of books to my reading list. So I am guessing that while there aren't many of us on Twitter and Facebook talking about book recommendations, there are some, because I'm definitely in that group. (My own discovery of books on Twitter and Facebook also clearly indicates to me that I spend a lot of time online – but I knew that). What surprised me about the data presented was how much more I rely on social media than on the sources that were more common among other readers.
That said, my process of discovery of books is probably different because I review books. Thus I receive pitches from authors and publishers prior to release dates, and I get a good amount of LOOK AT THIS BOOK CONFETTI AND HOORAY! email from publicists (not that I mind – who doesn't want confetti and hooray about a book?). I am alerted to books before they are released. So my perspective is already a poor sampling of anecdata (™ Brett Sandusky) because of those influences. That said, I know there are others who use social media as a major source of book recommendation, and I'm curious how those numbers might change in future years.
I also think it's important to examine how different Facebook and Twitter are from one another – let alone other networks like StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. To me, Facebook and Twitter are very different, like adjacent neighborhoods in the same town that are very distinct. Different restaurants, stores, styles, and residents – not better or worse, just different. These two communities are distinct from one another in very specific ways, with a little bit of overlap – and that overlap does influence my discovery of books.
One difference I've noticed is in time lag. If I log into Twitter, I'll scroll back about an hour or so, then stop. Beyond an hour, the news is old, unless something is happening that continues to evolve and change, like a conference or the fall of a government in the Middle East.
But on Facebook, I scroll back in my timeline for a day or more. The interactions on Facebook last longer. So if someone is talking about a book they've enjoyed reading on Facebook, and they mentioned it yesterday, I'm more likely to see it than if they mentioned it yesterday on Twitter and I wasn't logged in to see it right then.
I'm not going to argue with data from three sources just because it doesn't fit my own patterns of discovery exactly, but it makes me curious whether there are more of us exchanging book recommendations through social media than are reported in these surveys, and whether that's one more form of discovery that will continue to evolve quickly year to year.
What do you think? Do you use social media to find books? What books have you discovered via social media – or do you prefer other methods of discovery (aside from review blogs, obviously)?
Poll! Do you use social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads) to find books to read?