There is a problem with social media that will take time to fix
If you are using social media to promote your books or to get traffic to your blog, it is time to recalibrate.
All social media platforms are suffering the negative consequences of how Facebook in particular treated users’ personal information.
Time spent on social media sites is falling because people are staying away due to privacy concerns about their personal data.
In Europe alone, 3 million users abandoned their Facebook account after the Cambridge Analytica breach of 87 million Facebook profiles and the introduction of strict European Union data protection legislation.
Although there is little reporting, there may well be a similar reaction to what is happening in the United States and other countries.
The stock markets reacted swiftly and negatively by wiping 20% off the value of Facebook and Twitter.
Both companies have a serious trust problem because they accepted money to allow political propaganda on their news feeds.
The most pressing issue for a lot of people though, is the collecting and selling of their personal data, without their knowledge or consent.
This business model, of capturing, storing and then selling people’s personal data was clearly the way Facebook built its empire.
You might have read the following widely-published 2004 quote by Mark Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard
Zuckerberg: Just ask
Zuckerberg: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS
[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?
Zuckerberg: People just submitted it.
Zuckerberg: I don’t know why.
Zuckerberg: They “trust me”
Zuckerberg: Dumb f**ks
Well, we are not so dumb anymore, are we? Now we know that Candy Crush came for free at very a high price.
Whether you are using social media because you want to boost your book sales, to increase blog traffic to earn Adsense income or to help your content and affiliate marketing, you will need to change and adapt.
On Facebook, in particular, understanding that users really want their personal profile account to be for friends and family is important.
The best solution is to use a Facebook Page to conduct your promotion. But there are a few new difficulties with this if you are using an auto-posting tool.
Facebook shut down access to all APIs that were used to post to Facebook Pages on 1st August 2018. You can create a new API, but there is now a very long approval process that can take up to 12 weeks.
The best solution at present is to post manually on Facebook, Instagram accounts and Snapchat.
Twitter is a little less active but still worthwhile
There have always been silly little issues with Twitter, and especially with understanding its insanely vague Twitter Rules.
But generally, if you have been auto-posting for a while, nothing much has changed.
The only big development was that Twitter killed off “Tweetdecking”. The process involved posting the same content to many Twitter accounts at the same time.
If you use multiple accounts, the best practice is to post your content to one account only and then retweet to your other accounts.
Activity seems to have dropped off a little since all the bad news about people who quit Facebook broke. But there could be an upside in that some ex-Facebook users might switch to Twitter.
People are not necessarily quitting social media, but they are moving to other social media accounts.
Linkedin and Pinterest are two platforms that do not seem to have been adversely affected by all the bad hype and impact of social privacy. They are both well-controlled and monitored and offer a lot of promotion opportunities.
Perhaps users feel that they are safer platforms.
Pinterest is especially suited to book promotion and you can even set up a Pinterest business profile.
On Linkedin, you can add a Linkedin business page, similar to a Facebook Page.
In recent months I have focussed a little more on these two networks and there has definitely been an increase in activity and referral traffic.
If you are not using these two platforms, I would suggest that you take a look and see if you can benefit from the opportunities available.
If you are earning money from your blog using Google Adsense, there may be some issues you will need to address.
At the end of each month, Adsense checks your estimated earnings and then usually makes a small deduction for “invalid activity”.
It is often a very small percentage, but if your deductions start to get near 10% you should seriously consider taking action.
Google defines invalid activity as clicking on your own ads, repeated clicks by one or more users, using trickery with ad placement to encourage accidental clicks or automated clicking tools or traffic sources.
You are probably not doing any of these, so there is no problem.
But dig deeper and there is this line: Avoid partnering with untrusted / low-quality parties.
It is not clear what “low-quality parties” means exactly, but digging into the Adsense forums, there is a general belief that Google considers social media as a low-quality referral.
Advertisers want value for money and pay to attract people with “intent” and not necessarily people who click around on social media.
If someone is looking to buy a dog collar and uses Google search to find your article about dog collars, and then clicks on your ad, this is a buyer with intent.
They intently typed “dog collar” into a Google search because they want to buy one.
But if a user arrives on your page about dog collars by clicking on a Tweet, Facebook post or social share, it is not classed as intent. It is casual surfing by someone happily clicking on images.
Clicks from these users have always earned less per click than from organic traffic.
While I never noticed a problem on my Adsense account over all the years I have been using it, the last few months have changed that.
Gradually, my invalid activity has been rising from less than 1% to nearly 10%.
I had to start investigating.
The easiest way to see what might be causing the problem is to use Google Analytics. Go to the Publisher tab, and then publisher referrals.
From the image above, the problem is clear. Flipboard is an app for tablets and phones and is a prime candidate for “happy clickers” with no intent.
The publisher revenue per 1000 sessions of $28.47 from flipboard.com is through the roof! But another Flipboard referral URL, from.flipboard.com is within an expected range of $2.67.
Obviously, I decided to immediately stop sharing my content on Flipboard.
But digging deeper still, I found one more referrer with excessive publisher revenue. Facebook.
I certainly cannot say for sure that Google is classing all social media referrals as an invalid activity. But it looks to me that there could be a correlation.
So much so that I have made changes to how I integrate social media on my site. I have removed all sharing buttons and I am also reducing the frequency of social media postings on Twitter and Facebook.
If you using Adsense, check your account because continual high percentages of invalid activity can result in your account being suspended.
Change is the only constant.
Social media is going to go through many upheavals in the near future. Every social network is going to change, make new rules, remove features, add new features or as in the case of Stumbleupon, disappear completely.
Take nothing for granted with your social media promotions and be ready to adapt very quickly to changes.
It might also be a very good time for you to work on building your organic traffic so you are less reliant upon the volatility of social media problems.
Related reading: Where Are You Going With Your Facebook Marketing For Books?