Numbers and Statistics

You don’t want to become a statistic.

But you are one. Just by reading these words, you’ve become a statistic.

As writers and marketers, we care about statistics…or at least we should.

The biggest problem I see with websites is people caring about the wrong statistics, so this post is going to talk a little bit about these numbers, what they mean, and which ones you should care about.

Writers care a lot about numbers of books sold, but before that – to generate that number – they need to be concerned about the size of their “tribe”, how wide their reach is, and how many people they can tell about their book (or product or whatever) with one Tweet or Blog or Status or…whatever the next social networking buzzword becomes.

I’m going to summarize an interesting article from ComputerWorld that talks about statistics relating to the major social networking sites. You can read the article for yourself if you are interested.

In July 2011, here are some interesting statistics (with some others from outside the article thrown in for fun).


Networking Site
Unique Visitors
Facebook 162 million
Twitter 33 million
Google+ 25 million (at its start)
LinkedIn 32 million
Tumble 13 million
MySpace 33 million
Country population
United States 312 million
Canada 33 million
India 1.2 billion
Total Books Sold
JK Rowling 450 million
Stephen King 350 million
John Locke 1 million (ebooks)
Amanda Hocking 1 million (almost – ebooks)

Take a moment and look at those figures. I included book sales and some country populations for fun and comparison. Of the authors, those sales should include a rough estimate of all of their novels combined.

So, what statistic are these major Internet social networking sites being judged by? Number of unique visitors. This is not “hits.” To keep this from becoming overly technical, I’ll just point out that a person visiting your site can “hit” it many times. So can a robot. But each robot or computer can only create one unique visitor point in whatever time frame you are looking at — in this case, it was over a period of a month.

Look at your number of unique visits. Don’t look at the actual number. In the chart above, MySpace and Twitter have the same number of unique visitors for the month. That is good for Twitter, bad for MySpace. Why? Because MySpace’s number is going down. Twitter’s number is going up.

So, if you had 10 unique visitors your first month and you have 20 your second month, that’s great. That’s growth.

I talk often to people who want to see huge numbers of unique visitors on their websites…and you do, but what is more important is growth.

Growing a website or a web presence takes time. You want a lasting presence, not a 1 month spike that then drops off. Look at your statistics, and see what actions you do that cause an upward trend, then repeat those. Remember that each person’s marketing strategy must be as unique as the audience they are marketing to. Something that works for someone who sells YA Romantic Fiction may not work well for someone selling mass-market action novels. Their audience is different.

But the trend in that one statistic – unique visitors – can be measured and studied.

A word of warning: don’t obsess about your statistics. Look at them, know your trend, and then get back to writing.

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