The Results of a Decade on Social Media

One of the most profound changes I’ve witnessed on the web, in the past decade, is the rise of social media.  Here I share my insight and experience in an effort to help you utilize social media more effectively, or as I always say;

“Use social media; don’t let it use you.”

I’ve been building websites for over twenty years.  My first website was created to promote a business I ran selling personal computers. A more recently built site is used in conjunction with a college course I teach on web design.  AALBC.com, was started in 1997, and is the most prominent website in its niche.

AALBC.com is also my livelihood, as a result I have to follow trends on the World Wide Web. Over the last 10 years this required me to keep up with social media.  I have a presence on all of the major social media platforms and have used them as both; as a regular user, for personal purposes; and for marketing, to help promote AALBC.com.

The graph below, derived from data collected by Google Analytics, shows the top 10 social media platforms that have sent traffic to AALBC.com over the past 10 years.

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Over the past 10 years Facebook has made up close to 73% of all the social media traffic AALBC.com receives.  Twitter is a distant second at just over 8%.

The bar chart below shows the relative amount of traffic from all social media sites over that past decade, including MySpace and BlackPlanet (remember those sites). Again, Facebook is the leader with Twitter a distant 2nd.

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The following graph is most telling; It looks at the top 5 sources of social media traffic to AALBC.com, during the first 6 months of 2016, and how those 5 sources have performed over the past decade.

top-5-social-media-ver-last-10-years

We see quite clearly that Facebook has always been a much better source of traffic to AALBC.com than any other social media platform, and that dominance has grown dramatically over the last three years.

Given the fact the Facebook is on track to make up 90% of all of my social media traffic for 2016; one might argue that I should invest more time and money on Facebook to grow my presence and increase engagement there.  But…

…social media is not the only source of traffic.

While Facebook is projected to be the dominant source of social media traffic this year, it is also projected to be less than 8% of my overall traffic.  Over the past 10 years Facebook has only contributed 2% of our site’s overall traffic; and the bulk of that traffic was generated in 2016.  Twitter is projected to contribute less than ½ of 1% to our overall traffic this year.

% Total Traffic
Last 10 Years
% Total Traffic
2016 (projected)
Facebook 2.07% 7.76%
Twitter 0.24% 0.48%
Pinterest 0.05% 0.20%
Disqus 0.08% 0.19%
Total All Social Media Sources  2.86% 8.83%

Considering that all of my social media activity over the last 10 years has resulted in less than 3% of my overall traffic (ignoring the surge in Facebook traffic in 2016), one can argue that any resources (knowledge, time, and money) allocated to social media marketing would be better utilized in other areas.

This was indeed the conclusion I arrived at in 2015.  The table below on looks at the last 3 million visitors to AALBC.com (period ending April 2015) and shows where those visitors came from.  The table shows the vast majority of traffic to AALBC.com originated from organic search.

Click image to read more our last three million visitors

Click Image to Learn More About This Table

Since search is a key source of traffic I decided to spend much less time on social media marketing (SMM) and to work harder on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Today given Google’s dominance, SEO means making sure your site makes meets Google’s technical standards. As a result, I decided to completely overhaul AALBC.com with SEO in mind.  The meant among many other things, optimizing AALBC.com for mobile devices.

It also meant creating the type of content that will rank higher in search results.  In my case, it meant concentrating on building quality content that is unique.  For a book website, like AALBC.com using the same book descriptions that every other bookseller uses will no longer cut it.  I needed come up with a unique take and add value to information about books that is already common elsewhere on the Web and provided by much larger sites including Amazon.com and Google.

I increased my focus on building direct relationships with other sites and creating content that they would like to link to. I also worked to help those sites understand why linking to each other’s sites is important.  I’ve noticed that I can get more visitors from a link on another website than I can from a social media website, and with far less effort.

I’ve observed that social media websites work to encourage engagement on their platforms. Facebook, for example, said using their platform for organic reach (people you can reach for free) has been made much more difficult. This is true across the social media landscape.

I’ve watched my engagement on social media decrease despite the fact that my number of fans and followers have increased.  All the time and effort I invested in building my presence on social media was wasted, as the rules were changed and social media became pay to play.   Of course there is the very real risk these platforms will shut down or change so dramatically that all of work will simply be discarded.  I worked to create a substantial presence, and attracted thousands friends, on MySpace; which was all lost as MySpace went through several redesigns.

At the end of 2015 I greatly reduced the time spent on social media for marketing purposes, and I work to ensure what little time I do spend on SMM is utilized as efficiently as possible.  Also, I rarely use social media for personal purposes.

In the winter of 2015, I initiated the following 10 tactics as part of my social media marketing strategy

  1. I don’t pay for promotion on social media (buying ads).
  2. I don’t actively seek new fans or followers (I welcome them, but you will never hear me say, “follow me on…”
  3. I don’t post content directly on social media—I only share links, with a brief description, to my website where my content resides.
  4. I only post a links once.  Very popular content will be posted more than once, but this is rare.
  5. I do control how AALBC.com’s content is shared, by using tools like Facebook’s Debugger Tool.
  6. I always use images when posting on social media. Links will images are clicked more often.
  7. I do respond to comments I receive on social media, but I don’t initiate conversations on social media unless there is no alternative.
  8. I removed all social media applications from my cell phone.
  9. I do encourage social sharing. I share content on other websites by using the social sharing buttons on their website.
  10. I engage with others on their websites, not their social platforms, whenever possible.

The Results

My social media traffic for the first 6 month of 2016 has already exceeded the traffic I’ve gotten from social media for all of 2015 and all of 2014—combined!

Interestingly, despite greatly reducing my activity on social media, traffic to my website from social media (from Facebook in particular) has increased during the first 6 months of 2016, both as a percentage of my overall traffic and in terms of the number of visitors to the website: social media is a larger portion of a growing pie that is traffic to AALBC.com.

I’ve discovered that building content that appeals to AALBC.com’s visitors, which also meets Google’s technical guidelines, is actually more effective in generating traffic from social media than working to strengthen AALBC.com’s presence on those social media platforms. I guess the old adage applies;

“Content is King.”

Despite all the hype and attention paid to social media, social media has no content of its own. The only content social media has is the content that we give them.  Content is indeed king, but it is not free.  Both Facebook and Twitter and are now paying for content in an effort to attract new users and increase engagement.  On top of that Facebook is also battling a 21% decrease in personal sharing.

Adding AALBC.com’s content to a social media platform enriches the social media site and impoverishes AALBC.com.  My strategy of limiting the use of social media to notifying readers about content on AALBC.com, while facilitating sharing of information, has allowed me to invest much more time creating content for AALBC.com and and engaging with readers here.

social-media-icons-2010The effectiveness of this strategy can change tomorrow, but change is the very nature of the World Wide Web.  Anyone unable to easily adapt to change would never be able to run a website for more than a few years—certainly not as a business venture.

Back in 2010, I used to be a strong proponent for using social media and even gave workshops on the subject. However, the Web is a very different place in 2016 than it was in 2010 and my tactics and strategies have changed, out of necessity.

There is one constant however, no website can survive without support from visitors—not even Facebook.  AALBC.com survives because visitors read and share our content through social media, email, and even word of mouth.  Visitors buy books from our website, and authors and publishers purchase advertising or participate in our discussion forums to promote their work. This is the only way we can survive.


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June 2016 Newsletter Celebrating the Best in Black Literature

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Carter G. Woodson Award Winning Books

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The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) established the Carter G. Woodson Book Awards for the most distinguished books appropriate for young readers that depict ethnicity in the United States. First presented in 1974, this award is intended to “encourage the writing, publishing, and dissemination of outstanding social studies books for young readers that treat topics related to ethnic minorities and race relations sensitively and accurately.”

The awards are given in the following categories, Elementary (K-6), Middle (5-8), and Secondary (7-12) grade levels. This is arguably the most diverse list of children’s books you will encounter. Check out our book cover mosaic for these award winning titles.


New Books Coming in July

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Jewell Parker Rhodes, Towers Falling, is a novel for younger readers, which helps them understand how a tragic event, that took place before they were born, impacts them today. Learning in Womanist Ways: Narratives of First Generation African Caribbean Women by Jan Etienne is a fascinating study of Black Caribbean women who went to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s in search of a better life. New York Times bestselling authors, Ashley & JaQuavis are back with installment #6 of The Cartel series, and celebrity insider, Flo Anthony keeps the drama going with One Last Deadly Play. You’ll also find a new book of poetry featuring the work of Kwame Dawes, as well a highly touted debut novel, Here Comes the Sun, from critically acclaimed writer, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and more.


Book Club Selection for July 2016

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Folktales’ Black Women’s Literary Society from Austin, TX is reading Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine. The author, Dr. Damon Tweedy, explores the challenges confronting black doctors, and the disproportionate health burdens faced by black patients.

All the chapters of the national book club, Go On Girl! Book Club, Inc., are reading Loving Day by Mat Johnson. Loving Day was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR and others.

Girl Fridayz Book Club out of Buffalo, NY are reading Victoria Christopher Murray’s bestselling novel, Stand Your Ground, and the San Francisco Bay Area’s, Turning Pages book club is reading Langston Hughes’ classic, The Ways of White Folks.


“I’ve heard black books are dead…”

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“I’ve heard black books are dead, and it’s not true. There’s a thriving market; it just has to be nurtured. I am carrying the banner and banging the drum.”—Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, CEO of the Literary Media and Publishing Consultants. To help beat the drum, Vanesse was joined by; Regina Brooks, CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency; Ken Smikle, president, Target Market News, and former publisher of Black Issues Book Review; and Troy Johnson, president, AALBC.com. You may read about this panel discussion in the Chicago Defender and Publishers Weekly.


Report from the Journalists Roundtable by Richard Prince

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Much of the discussion was about how to get companies to recognize their obligation to advertise in the Black press, given the number of dollars African Americans spend with those companies. A. Peter Bailey, an author, speaker, journalist and former Malcolm X associate, suggested that publishers make public the number of dollars Black consumers spend with certain business sectors. “Let these people see that you’re not doing us a favor,” he said. Peter added that Black publishers should require organizations whose leaders want columns in the Black press to make sure their members are reading Black newspapers.

On a note related to leaders not supporting the Black Press; George Curry said, back in 2014, “There is a disrespect for the black press that we have not seen in recent years. For example, we have requested — every year — an interview with the president. He can ignore 200 black newspapers and 19 million viewers but he can give one to every stupid white comedian there is on TV, the black ones and the white ones, and has time for all types of buffoonery but they will not respect the black press enough to give us an interview…” As far as I can tell, the Black press has still not been granted an interview with President Obama (If he has please share the links).


Literary Triumph Despite Adversity…

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Mazaradi Fox (center) is the author of The Game Don’t Change The Players Do… (Infamous Books, November 2016). Fox wrote this novel in 2013 during his incarceration at the Orleans Correctional Facility. Excited to learn about this upcoming book from a new author, I ran a quick search and learned, not only was Fox (born Jamal Green) a novelist, he was rap artist signed to 50 Cent’s G-Unit label. I was stunned to discover that Fox was murdered on the streets of Queens, NY in 2014. His tragic end, though it happened two years ago, hit me harder than I would have expected; simply because it could have been any of us. Mazaradi’s story prompted me to post these stories so that we can celebrate the Brothers that achieved literary success despite the odds.

D. Watkins an East Baltimore native, once a teenaged crack dealer, is now a college professor at the University of Baltimore. When he was 16 years old, Dwayne Betts carjacked a man and spent a nine years in the toughest adult prisons in Virginia. Today he is a 2010 Soros Justice Fellow, and a 2016 graduate of the Yale Law School. Antwone Fisher was born in an Ohio prison to a teenage mother and became a ward of the state. Today he is a screenwriter, poet, and a New York Times best-selling author. Mitchell S. Jackson spent 16 months in prison for selling drugs. Today he is an awarding author and serves on the faculty of Columbia University.


Use Facebook, Don’t Let Facebook Use You.”

news-facebook-debugger (1)Have you ever shared a link from a page on your website to Facebook, and have you wondered how Facebook chose the image used? You can control the image used when anyone shares a link from your site onto Facebook. You can even use an image specifically designed for Facebook—even one not used on the web page itself.

The links I share on Facebook are selected with thought or are crafted in such in a way to increase the likelihood a reader will click the link and visit our web site. In order to help accomplish this I take advantage of Facebook’s Open Graph Debugger Tool. Learn more about this valuable tool.


Books Published by Theatre Communications Group

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Are you a fan of playwrights August Wilson, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, or John O’Neal? Then check out the books published by Theatre Communications Group.


Events Coming in July

news-soulful-chicago-book-fairHarlem Book Fair, July 16 – Harlem, NY
▪ The Soulful Chicago Book Fair, July 16 – Chicago, IL
▪ Phillis Wheatley Book Awards, July 17 – New York, NY
▪ National Book Club Conference, July 29 to 31 – Atlanta, GA


Promote Your Book for $75 for the Entire Summer!

news-75-for-the-summer-dealYour book will appear on AALBC.com’s Homepage and our Book’s Main Page for the the entire summer! As of June 29th that is 84 days. The sooner you start the better the deal. Your book will be seen by tens of thousands of readers of Black literature, for less than $1 per day. Click here to get started.


news-aalbc-18 (1)Dear Reader,

As I continue working through AALBC.com’s website upgrade, I just can’t helped but be moved by the wealth of talented writers we have available to us. I created a page to which lists all the authors that are profiled on AALBC.com; currently there are 2,417 are on the list, and this is the tip of the iceberg.

Some suggest men don’t read because nothing has been published which speaks to their experience. In reality a great deal has been published that they can relate to; we just have to actively ensure these stories are shared. Do not take it for granted that everyone knows about these books. We have to spread the word.

If you discover a book on our site or newsletter, please share it with others. This is the only way our literature, our stories, indeed our humanity will rise above the sensationalism and dysfunction favored by mainstream media.

As always, thanks for reading!
Peace & Love,

troy_signature_1_ (2)
Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com


You may receive messages like this directly in your email-box by subscribing. It may also be read on your Kindle ebook reader, or any device by downloading a PDF version.  Enjoy all of our previous eNewsletters and consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.

AALBC.com eNewsletter – Originally Emailed June 29, 2016 – Issue #235

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Celebrating the Best in Black Literature (May 31, 2016 Newsletter)

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Books to be Published in JuneBooks to be published in June

Summer will heat up with some great new titles. Walter Mosley is back with his latest installment in the Easy Rawlins series, Charcoal Joe. Can you believe it has been 25 years since the first book in the series, Devil In A Blue Dress, was published?

We are also excited by the first novel, The Reactive, from Masande Ntshanga who is the winner of the 2013 PEN International New Voices Award, as well as a Finalist for the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing.

Bobby Brown, with help from acclaimed author Nick Chiles, reveals intimate details of his marriage to Whitney Houston, speaks about losing his daughter Bobbi Kristina, and shares insights into his amazing career in his new memoir,Every Little Step: My Story.

Also look out for new books from other AALBC.com Bestselling authors including Kimberla Lawson Roby (A Sinful Calling) and Timothy George (The Dagger). To discover these and other great soon to be released books, visit our Books Coming Soon section.


AALBC.com Bestselling Books

The publishing company founded by authors ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray, Brown Girls Books, dominated our bestsellers list this period, claiming the top three fiction positions. Our #1 fiction bestseller, The Ex Chronicles is an anthology where 20 writers share relationship stories. At #2 we have The Perfect Find by Tia Williams and completing the trifecta is Dirt by Teffanie Thompson.

Congratulations to Brown Girls Books and all of the bestselling authors. Check out our full list bestselling titles for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s literature.


Beyond Phillis Wheatley — Important Firsts In Black Literature

Phillis Wheatley Most readers know Phillis Wheatley was the first published African-American female poet. Did you also know that George Moses Horton (ca. 1797-1883), was the only man to publish volumes of poetry while in bondage and the first African American to publish any book in the South? Were your familiar with Solomon Plaatje who was born October 9, 1876, and was the author of Mhudi which was published in 1930; making it the first novel by a black South Africa?

Jupiter Hammon, who was born on October 17, 1711, was perhaps the first Black person to be published, in 1761 before the United States was even formed.


The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain

Langston Hughes“One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, “I want to be a poet—not a Negro poet,” meaning, I believe, “I want to write like a white poet;” meaning subconsciously, “I would like to be a white poet;” meaning behind that, “I would like to be white.” And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America—this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.“—Langston Hughes, Originally published in The Nation magazine, June 23, 1926

This ninety-year-old article could be been written yesterday; read it in its entirety.


The 2016 Black Pack Party: A Wonderful Celebration!A collage of the 2016 Black Pack party in Chicago

The 2016 Black Pack Party was a really wonderful celebration. Read my thoughts about the event. If you were able to join us in Chicago, please share your thoughts and photos in the article’s comments section.


Events Coming in June

BAM Anniversary

Summer is the busiest period for book festivals. In June the Go On Girl! Book Club will host their 25th Annual Awards Weekend. The international literary festival Calabash will kick off in Jamaica; Chris Abani, Paul Beatty, Teju Cole, Nicole Dennis-Benn, jessica Care moore, Marlon James and many other authors will be featured. The Sacramento Black Book Fair will celebrate their third year. And that is just the first week!

Also consider checking out the, AAMBC Literary Awards and the combined celebration honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement and the 20th Anniversary of Cave Canem (pictured above). Learn more about these events and all the others coming in June and the rest of the year.


A Great Deal to Promote Your Books on AALBC.com

Promote Your Books with Large Book Cover Advertisement and Horizontal Ad BannersOur Large Book Cover Advertisement and Horizontal Ad Banners appear on virtually every one of the several thousand AALBC.com web pages. Plus, each author whose book is promoted with this very prominent placement also receives a free Author Profile. If you already have an Author Profile, we’ll extend your campaign by two weeks.

With this deal, your AALBC.com Author Profile will give you a permanent, high profile web presence, which is great if your only presence is social media. Plus the highly visible placement of your advertisement will expose your book to over 100,000 avid readers of African American Literature. Learn more about this terrific deal.

Also consider Sponsoring our Monthly Newsletter. This is a great way to reach readers of Black literature. All of our mailings are permanently archived on our website.


Dear Reader,

AALBC.com celebrates 18 years!Authors and publishers, here is a great way to support AALBC.com without spending a dime: Use our affiliate code when sending readers to Amazon to purchase your book.

The vast majority of the time when links to Amazon are shared with me, no affiliate code is a used. This means money is being left on the table. Why forego that revenue?

Here is the format for the link:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/1617737984/ref=nosim?tag=aalbccom-20
Simply replace you book’s ISBN10 or ASIN with the boldface number in the URL above. It is that easy!

As always, thanks for reading!

Peace & Love,
Troy Johnson


You may receive messages like this directly in your email-box by subscribing. It may also be read on your Kindle ebook reader, or any device by downloading a PDF version.  Enjoy our previous eNewsletters and consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.

AALBC.com eNewsletter – May 31, 2016 – Issue #234