Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Free sf online: a failed experiment

I'm always open to trying something new on social media, and sometimes it works (eg my posts on the best known book set in each European country) and sometimes it doesn't. This is the brief story of something that didn't.

During a conversation at work on 1 September, the Bob Shaw story "Light of Other Days" came up. I found an online version and shared it with my colleague; and then thought, why not share it more widely? So I pinged it onto Buffer to post to Twitter and Facebook at an hour of the day that I thought might get people looking; and then got all enthusiastic and found a few more great sf stories available and shareable online.

I must admit that part of my motivation for this was a reaction to the debate some are trying to wage about "real sf" vs "message fiction", but I was also just curious to see if posting links like that to Facebook and Twitter would engage people's interest.

The full list, as posted to Twitter, is as follows:













All pretty well-known stories (except perhaps the last). But I was a bit disappointed by the rate of clicking through. The "Seventy-Two Letters" link was mangled going through Buffer, and got a massive 99 clicks, none of which will have worked; apart from that, the best performer was the Pat Cadigan story with 19, most of which will have been because the author herself retweeted it.

It's a non-trivial effort to find a reasonably balanced selection of stories which are both reasonably well known and available online, and since this wasn't generating a lot of feedback I have decided to stop the experiment. On Facebook I got the odd comment, but basically I get better feedback from content that has taken less work to produce. Thanks to those who did comment - I did appreciate it..

The important lesson is that just posting a link to a story (or to any online content), without much in the way of explanation, isn't going to get a lot of attention even from the most devoted of my readers. If I'd planned and announced this mini-campaign in advance, with a hashtag like #SeptemberFreeSF, and perhaps with more of a unifying theme than "stuff I like", it could have caught a bit more resonance. Of course, it might not have - you never know - but the chances would have been higher. A lesson learned for when I start my grand rewatch of Here Come The Double Deckers.
Tags: facebook, social media, twitter
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