This week, International Thriller Writers (ITW) sent out the (59-page) results of a (well intentioned) survey entitled, “Thriller Author Audience Expansion Roadmap.” Click here to have a look (if you dare—it really is 59 pages).

If you don’t want to read 59 pages, here’s the summary (since the survey didn’t have one, this is mine):

It’s important for authors to build their audience. The most effective ways to do this are, and will remain, unclear because it is impossible to have conclusive or comprehensive data about readers.

Marketing is a funny beast. We combine the best-educated guesses we can muster with a dollop of creativity, temper it with listening, and remain poised to alter tactics at the wisp of a will because readers, like all consumers, can be fickle. And the interwebs change. And…squirrel!

A couple of weeks ago, the Pew Research Internet Project posted their Social Media Update 2014 (their research was conducted in September). While this is not specific to books or reading, I find it much more helpful than the ITW survey, probably because it delivers some clear and useful data points:

  • 71% of online adults (so, people who use the interwebs and are grown-ups) use Facebook, and 70% of that group engages with Facebook every single day.
    • This translates to 31% of all American seniors. Since we know for sure that seniors buy, read, and talk about books, this is significant.
    • This also translates to 58% of all Americans 18 and older. That’s 7 million people.

Conclusion: There is no good reason for any author to not have a strong presence on Facebook. By this, I mean a page (not just a profile).

  • While Twitter experienced strong growth last year, it’s still used by only 23% of online adults.

Conclusion: Twitter might be helpful, but it doesn’t warrant a ton of your marketing effort (budget, time, energy).

  • Instagram is also growing quickly, and is up to 26% of online adults.

Conclusion: It’s important to remember that just being 18 doesn’t make someone an adult by any measure that doesn’t include numbers. Instagram is all photos, all the time. Young people love it. Because of how it works, though, its usefulness as a marketing vehicle for books is less than monumental.

  • 28% of online adults have a Pinterest account, but only 17% of them engage with it daily.

Conclusion: People who love Pinterest really love it, but this is a small group.

  • LinkedIn clocked in at 28% too, and for the first time, the share of internet users with college educations using LinkedIn reached 50%.

Conclusion: It’s practically impossible to delete a LinkedIn account and some people are job-hunting. (Translation: LinkedIn isn’t a credible book marketing tool.)

Any questions?