“Do Me A Solid!” or, Why The Realities of Online Marketing Don’t Support “Exposure” as a Viable Business Model

Before I get started on the main point of this post, let me run through some of the cool things which are happening in my world. I’m doing for this for two reasons:

  1. So my readers know what is going on in my world, and
  2. So my readers know I haven’t forgotten how to count my blessings.

As opposed to the absolute shitstorm of chaos yesterday around House Unicron looked like, today has been reasonably calm. I’m currently waiting on final approval for three pieces of client work (and the accompanying pay!), and was able to take advantage of the calm to get all the following ticked off my to-do list for the day:

  • I woke up to an email from Bold Pleasures to finalize a date and time for an on-camera interview about polyamory in the real world. We settled on April 12th at 11am PST, so barring unforeseen weirdness, I’m very excited to see what comes of this!
  • Initial work on a slide deck for an upcoming workshop about consent I’m cohosting with Scarlet Eva, professional lifestyle Domme and proprietress of Themakersdaughter.com. (I’m also looking forward to taking final delivery of the custom paddle she made for me out of black walnut, and will be posting pics when she finishes the sanding and staining!) I got the first four slides done, complete with first-draft animation, and sent them off for perusal, commentary and suggestions.
  • Attended Sex Talk Tuesday on Twitter, as I do every week. The day’s topic was anal sex, a personal favorite of mine, and was moderated by Vicki Chase, a Latina porn star. It was a great conversation and I picked up several new followers, which is always awesome!
  • No one in House Unicron had any major ledges they needed talking down from, which is generally a recipe for a pretty decent day.
  • Aaaaaand I got started on a post…which brings me to the point.

Shortly before I stepped AFK for Sex Talk Tuesday, I got a message from a nodding acquaintance of mine. This person asked me about Fantastic Dominants and Where to Find Them. Okay, cool! I’m a writer, and part of being a writer is enjoying talking about my work. So I sent them the link.

And I waited a few minutes.

And I waited.

And I waited a little bit more.

Finally they came back and said, “Do I have to pay for it?”

I blinked. “Yes,” I typed back, thinking, What the hell?

Now the wheedling started.

This person absolutely pinky-promise SWORE on The Flying Spaghetti Monster’s noodly appendages, their children’s lives and their sainted mother’s grave that they would personally get the word out about Fantastic Dominants to their 1,000+ followers on social media (for clarification, I didn’t bother to check this claim on either Twitter or Facebook), AND would give me a great review, AND AND AND AND AND…

But they couldn’t come off $2.99 for my book.

So I said, “Okay. I can’t give it to you for free. I need to eat too. But I can give you a coupon code for 50% off, and you can even pass it on to your followers so they can get the discount too.” Thinking this was more than fair, and well above and beyond anything required of me.

“Well, why can’t you just do me a solid and give it to me?”

Now, this person doesn’t know all that much about me. Like I said, we’re nodding acquaintances. I would recognize this person at a cocktail party or munch and raise my glass, but that’s about it. So it’s fairly unlikely this person would have any reason to know that my day job, such as it is, involves SEO and Internet content creation, which means in turn I have to know a fair bit about analytics and how social media works in order to do my job effectively.

Taking this into account, let me hit you with some stats.

If you don’t particularly WANT to see me completely nerd out on the SEO numbers, scroll down until you see the red banner and save yourself the reading. However, if like me you’re curious about these things, you might want to take the long way around.

This person has (they claim) 1,000+ followers on Twitter and around the same on Facebook, so let’s round that off to a nice even 1k people who POTENTIALLY will see it if they Tweet something or post it on Facebook.

Starting with Twitter: According to Meet Edgar, we can cut that number in half right off the top, or actually a hair more, down to 460. Those are the followers who are LIKELY to check Twitter at least once a day. Only 34% of Twitter users check the site more than once a day, so we’re down to 340. That’s over 25% difference between once-a-day users and more active ones. Now figure 20.8 MILLION Tweets are passing through that site every HOUR, and consider that the average user only spends about 1 minute per day on Twitter.

My back-of-the-napkin calculations* show

20,800,000*24 = 499,600,000 Tweets per day.

Dividing that by 24 and then again by 60, we come up with roughly

346,667 Tweets PER MINUTE.

So in that one minute a given user is on Twitter, this person has almost 350,000 competing Tweets to consider. Unless you’re laser-focused with your following, and your Tweeting, mentions and hashtagging practices are on point, the odds of you cutting through that much white noise with one individual Tweet and reaching your target is virtually nil.

Let’s look at Facebook: So, at first glance Facebook looks like a better promotional bet. If the numbers are to be believed, the average user spends an hour a day on Facebook split up between three visits, rather than the measly one minute Twitter gets.

BUT!

Let’s say in an average day, your highest percentage of “reach” to your Facebook fans is 80%, give or take 2-3% either way. According to Jon Loomer, you can realistically expect to reach between 10-27% of your total fan base with a single post. There are three problems with this:

  1. This information is from 2014, so it’s moderately ancient in Internet terms. When it comes to crunching fluctuating numbers, there’s no such thing as evergreen content.
  2. Facebook’s algorithms have changed at least five times which I am personally aware of between 2014 and now. This means the calculating scheme Loomer used may and probably does no longer apply.
  3. Given Facebook’s clannishness about revealing actionable user data (to users, that is; apparently firms like Cambridge Analytica who want to influence elections can have all the user data they want and then some!), it’s difficult if not impossible to verify the accuracy of these calculations.

But we’re going to roll with these numbers anyway, because I honestly wouldn’t know where to begin to get a more accurate or up-to-date idea. According to this article, 939,000 individual actions (status updates, pic uploads and posted comments) occur on Facebook every minute. So

939,000*60*24=1,356,160,000 individual actions PER DAY.

Now we already know this person’s 1k followers is just a drop in the bucket, and their MAXIMUM reach is 80%, so we’re already down to 800 people. BUT…we have to take 10-27% of THAT to calculate our realistic potential reach, and then we have to figure what the odds of a given person a) being on at a given time, and b) caring enough to click the link and engage with the content therein is. I come up with between 80-216 people who MIGHT see this individual post. Let’s cut it right down the middle and average it out at 148 people, so we’re down to 14.8 percent of the original total audience, which actually feels like a fairly reasonable number as per Jon Loomer’s calculations.

Now cut that in half again to account for casual users who don’t check in every day, like me, and we’re at 74 people who MIGHT see the post. But all those people won’t be on at the same time. Over the course of the average day, for your home time zone, you’ll probably have 70% of your possible audience on in a ten-hour window from 9am to 7pm, with the rest dispersed over the rest of the clock. (Makes you wonder how much time people waste on Facebook at work, dunnit?)

So we’ve got a maximum average of 52 people who MIGHT see a given post, or 5.2% of the original total. Most of these people probably don’t know each other, and so won’t be sharing back and forth, so there’s not much overlap and thus little odds of a signal boost.

The Takeaway: Your odds of having a specific post seen on Twitter are virtually zero and you have an average 5.2% chance of having a specific post seen on Facebook!

These numbers make the idea of “exposure” a cruel joke. Factor in the fact that I’m a self-identified sex worker, and my odds of being able to reach ANYONE outside that particular demographic plummet to virtually zero.

Now, here’s the thing: If you want a discount coupon, all you have to do is ask. I have no problem creating one and passing it on for YOU to pass on to your network, if you wish. I don’t think three bucks is too much to ask, but I get it: some people really, genuinely don’t have an extra three bones to spare. I can come down 50% on the price to help someone out who wants to learn.

But I can’t spend exposure. Exposure won’t pay my rent. Especially not the kind of “exposure” this person was offering with their 1,000 followers.

And as I politely but firmly explained to this person, the pyramid runs like this:

Buying authors’ work will always be best. Pay for your porn, pay for your reading pleasure, and pay for your sex ed.

Getting it free, or discounted, and leaving a review is a distant second. I can’t eat a review, but it will help me reach others a lot better than social media will.

Dead last, and the one neither I nor most other authors will even bother with, is “exposure.”

Bottom line: Don’t ask creative types to work for exposure. It’s insulting, demeaning and sends a clear message you don’t value them, their labor or the entertainment, knowledge and benefit you’ll get out of it.

*Feel free to check these numbers for yourself. Math and I ARE NOT FRIENDS.

Featured image: Photo by Lukas from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/photography-of-a-person-pointing-on-something-684387/

 

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