How I Increased My Twitter Followers By 44% Overnight

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BetweenTheWallAndTheFireLast night I decided to run an experiment as part of the book launch for Between the Wall and the Fire. I tried out Amazon’s “product giveaway” promotional tool. The tool has some nice features. You can give away very nearly any item in the store and use that for promotional purposes. It lets you pick the way that prizes are awarded and how many to award. And it gives you four nice options for how to use the contest to promote whatever it is you’re promoting.

Obviously, in this case, I chose to give away Between the Wall and the Fire. Amazon will let you give away almost all physical products. Ebooks are now eligible as well. It looks like most other digital products are not eligible at this time.

Amazon offers three variants of the contest. First is the “random” type. You select the number of prices to give away and the odds of winning. I gave away three eBooks and selected a “1 in 100” chance of winning. Amazon doesn’t give details of their algorithm, but it seems like this works by giving each entrant a 1% chance of winning. Once all prizes are given away, the giveaway ends. As you can see, this doesn’t guarantee any given number of entrants. They also offer the “lucky number” version. I could have selected this and enforced that every 100th entrant would win. That would have guaranteed me 300 entrants. Finally, they have the “first come, first serve” model. I could have had the first three people win. In my case, that wouldn’t have done much for me.

Amazon actually gives you five ways to let people enter, but one is of minimal utility. The first is to require entrants to “follow” your author page on Amazon. This has some nice benefits. The biggest is that Amazon e-mails your followers every time you put out a new book. I’ll be using this option in the future, but this time I skipped it and opted for the second option: require entrants to follow a Twitter account. I could also have chosen to have them watch a video, either through YouTube or Amazon. Finally, I could have opted to have no extra requirements, but that wouldn’t have been particularly useful.

There’s one big downside to Amazon product giveaways: you have to pay full price for everything you giveaway – even if it’s your own book. Thankfully, Between the Wall and the Fire is only $2.99 right now, so I only spent about $9.00. Also, I believe that each of these counts as a regular sale of the product, so we should get the 70% royalty rate on that, making the effective cost about $2.97.

When I’m experimenting, I like to keep it cheap!

So, how well did it work?

Within an hour and a half I’d gained 100 Twitter followers. To put that in perspective, I gained 147 followers throughout the entire month of May. As of this morning when I write this, I’ve increased from 436 Twitter followers to 631, a total increase of 195 followers or a 44% jump. The contest is not yet over as of this writing – there’s still one more eBook to give away.

Book sales are up – and by more than the units that I paid for. This experiment happened as part of the book launch, so I can’t tell for sure that it’s directly related to this giveaway. But book sales are actually up as compared to the previous day.

What about the long term effects? I don’t know yet. I do know that the extra sales have helped push us into the top 100 for our category, and that will probably have some good effects for at least the next few days. Unfortunately, I suspect that a lot of the new Twitter followers will unfollow me by the end of the month. But I also think that I’ll keep some portion of them as long term followers.

A few downsides: contest entries slowed way down after the first two hours. The first two books were already awarded before I went to bed last night. As of this writing, the third still hasn’t been. I have no idea how long it will take for it to go.

For the tiny price I paid, however, this has been an unqualified success. It’s definitely a tool that I’ll be using again.

Russell Newquist

My name is Russell Newquist. I am a software engineer, a martial artist, an author, an editor, a businessman and a blogger. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, but I'm technically a high school dropout. I also think that everything in this paragraph is pretty close to meaningless. I work for a really great small company in Huntsville, Alabama building really cool software. I'm the owner and head instructor of Madison Martial Arts Academy, which I opened in 2013 less to make money and more because I just really enjoy a good martial arts workout with friends. I'm the editor in chief of Silver Empire and also one of the published authors there. And, of course, there is this blog - and all of its predecessors. There's no particular reason you should trust anything I say any more than any other source. So read it, read other stuff, and think for your damn self - if our society hasn't yet over-educated you to the point that you've forgotten how.

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