We want to give a big thank you to author H.D. Smith who shared with us “Does Social Proof Really Prove Anything?”
This guest post was written for our old blog Books That Hook as part of our Writer’s Corner feature, where established authors share their thoughts about writing, marketing, selling fiction, and more.
We hope to continue that feature here, in order to continue to help writers of all experience levels. Without further ado, I give you…
Does Social Proof Really Prove Anything
by H.D. Smith
“Social proof is also prominent on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. The amount of followers, fans, views, likes, favorites and even comments that a user has positively affect how other users perceive them.” From Wikipedia
At some point, I believe we will all be walking around with a number hovering above us indicating our “social proof”. I’m kidding, but in the online world we live in today, it is one heck of a qualifier. Who wouldn’t want to be an Instagram user with 10,000 followers? Or a Facebook page with a million likes? Everyone wants it, right? Maybe not, but for an author (or anyone trying to get noticed), you need it.
We’re going to try an experiment later, so if you get bored just scroll to the bottom😉
Here is the crazy thing about social proof. It means nothing. Eventually the number of followers you have on Twitter won’t matter—of course, that could be once you’re dead, or when you need to enter witness protection, or when your online “family” has finally become too clingy. At some point (like that mint condition blue elephant beanie baby from the 90’s), it will be irrelevant.
But since we aren’t there yet, let’s talk about the massive level of crap anyone “famous” has to do to get there or stay there. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook (sort of), Twitter (maybe), and Instagram (too new to tell). But how much is too much? I personally draw the line at SnapChat—I don’t really have the need for it, but that is partly because I post most things assuming they will be 100% public. I also don’t see the business value in SnapChat. (I’m not even sure I’m spelling it correctly.) But Reese Witherspoon is on SnapChat! If you’re asking yourself how I know this, well, I follow her on Instagram (obviously), and she posted a short personal video (all the rage right now-March 11, 2016), giving her SnapChat handle a shout out just before eating a green bean like it was a french fry. But here’s the thing—why does she need SnapChat?
To reach new fans.
Why does she need to reach new fans? Doesn’t she have plenty? Yes, but if you don’t continue to acquire new ones you will eventually run out. People die, they lose interest, they move on (unless they are a stage five clinger, then you may need to obtain a restraining order, but that is an entirely different topic—moving on). Of course the less obvious reason, she does it to reach her existing fans, too—because if she doesn’t, they will disappear—forget—find someone else to follow, and she wants/needs them to see her next movie. Reese isn’t alone. We all need/want to maintain our fan base.
In the over saturated market of (fill in blank here), exposure is everything. The difference in a book that does well and one that can’t seem to get off the ground (assuming both are equally good) is exposure. I read something the other day where they made the point that “nothing goes out of print anymore.” Books used to have their moment (3 months) in the sun, then quietly disappear, making way for the next batch. On any given Tuesday hundreds of books are released, and if you don’t know about a book, how can you buy it?
This is why we are all on social media—seeking social proof. We want you to know about our books. We want you to buy our books and enjoy them—and so we can continue to afford to publish new ones (editing isn’t cheap!).
Authors love to write, but we love to share our work with readers even more (not on pirating sites, that is just theft, and a completely different article—moving on)!
I’m sure there are plenty of people in the world that really like to share random mundane things to total strangers (and would find ways (hopefully legal) to do it if social media didn’t exist), and there are others that couldn’t give a rat’s ass. I personally fall somewhere in the middle, leaning toward the anti-social end of the spectrum. But here’s the problem—no one will find me as Author HD Smith unless I make it very easy to be found. Interacting online is necessary to succeed. So, don’t expect me on SnapChat, but definitely follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram—or you won’t know the next time I make crockpot chicken—or release a new book😉
And keep in mind that authors are people too (mostly), so if you like our work, let us know! Reviews really do matter (even constructive negative reviews matter, although we prefer the 4 and 5 star ones MUCH more!!). Telling a friend (sharing a post) really does help, so don’t be shy—we are on social media to interact (and most of us need all the social proof we can get).
Okay, so now for the experiment … share this post with hashtag #IHeartAuthors and tag some of your favorite authors … @floridaHeather, @Jennifer_Estep, @sesmithfl, @Violet_Howe, @…
(And if you don’t know everyone I tagged above, go look them up on Twitter!)
About H.D. Smith
HD Smith has been writing for over ten years. She is a software developer by day, working for an awesome cruise line in Celebration, FL.
HD grew up in South Carolina, but has called the Sunshine State home since 1997.
She has Computer Science degrees from Clemson University (BS) and Florida Institute of Technology (MS). Her other hobbies include painting and screen printing. She enjoys creating t- shirts inspired by the places in her books. For more information, visit HD’s website at http://www.hdsmithauthor.com/