Friday, January 30, 2015

Is Tsu the New Facebook?

By Iola Goulton

Facebook has recently announced that Pages will have to pay for promotional posts from January 2015. This potentially has a major effect on small businesses, many of whom use Facebook to connect with their customers, essentially a form of free advertising. Authors will also be affected—after all, an author is effectively a small business—and people are considering how to adapt to the new regime, especially given concerns Google+ and other platforms might implement similar rules. Some are considering what other social networks they should be considering … like Tsu. Tsu (pronounced "sue") is a new social network, launched in October 2014 with a unique proposition: 90% of advertising revenue is returned to users based on how much ad revenue their content makes for the site. It’s currently invitation-only, although it's not difficult to get an invitation--all you have to do is visit the site via a member's link (like I suspect this is a way of creating and managing early demand. It’s not a new idea: Pinterest had a similar gate when it was first launched.
Screenshot of
As you can see, Tsu has a similar look and feel to Facebook, just in green (apparently, Facebook is blue because Mark Zuckerberg is red/green colour blind). Tsu has most of the same functionality, including the ability to use hashtags, and a mobile app. It has some points of difference other than the advertising revenue payments.
  • Posts can have titles.
  • Posts can be either “Friends Only” or public, which could be a useful way for authors and other small businesses to have a single page for business and personal use.
  • Posts can be shared to Twitter and/or Facebook.
  • Tsu makes it easy for users to connect with you on other platforms by displaying your social media links in your profile.
  • There are detailed analytics available for all users. This probably isn’t relevant for most private users, but will be important for power users.
There are some limits, which I suspect are to reduce spam:
Authors might find the 5,000-friend limit limiting (although Facebook also has a 5,000-friend limit for personal pages). However, users can Follow without friending (as in a Facebook fan page, or on Twitter), and Tsu actually recommends users only befriend people they "know or want to know". Advertising revenue is shared between the actual content creator and the chain who invited him or her, in what they call the "rule of infinite thirds" (mathematicians will observe the figures below don't add to 100%. I assume the remaining 0.7% is shared with people further up the family tree).
Image showing Tsu ad revenue split, from
Detractors say it is little more than an online multi-level marketing scheme (because people earn not only from their own accounts but from the accounts of their ‘children’), and that it’s not true engagement if people are engaging merely to get paid or help others get paid.

Is it worth it for an author to join Tsu? 

It’s hard to say at this point. The advantage is the potential to earn some money, but only if you or your 'children' post content that generates ad revenue (and how do you do that?). One disadvantage is that it’s another network to learn, and with all social networks, the return you get—social or monetary—is likely to be proportional to the effort you put in. The other disadvantage is there are no statistics about who is on Tsu, because it’s so new. It seems to be mostly tech-savvy early adopters, although I’ve seen a lot of Australian authors there (although not Christian authors, yet). Having said that, I haven’t looked hard—but I get the impression that most people are connecting with people they are already connected to, via Facebook or Twitter. If that's the case, is there any point in joining Tsu? The objective of any marketing effort, including social networking, is to connect with readers: specifically, those who read in the genre you write. If you write inspirational historical romance, these tech-savvy early adopters probably aren’t your target readers, so is it worth putting effort into a social network that isn’t going to connect you with the people you want—need—to be connected to? The inspirational historical romance author is probably better off with Pinterest, because the demographics of Pinterest match the demographics of historical romance readers—women over the age of 35. Writers in other genres—such as high-tech thrillers or certain non-fiction topics—might find an audience on Tsu. It's early days, so it's hard to tell. Should you Tsu? Ask yourself my new pet question, and be honest:
WIBBOW: Would I Be Better Off Writing?
Cognitive psychologist Wade Harman challenges potential Tsu users to ask themselves three questions:
  • Am I wasting my time?
  • Is this something I can share information about?
  • Will it help others?
These questions are valid for any social network. If it’s going to be a time-waster that doesn’t contribute to your long-term marketing strategy or help others in any way, it’s probably better not to add another social media network to your diary. What do you think? Do you see any advantages in joining Tsu?

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest ... or Tsu. I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500.


  1. I'm not much of a social media person in the first place, and I'm getting a little tired of being jerked around.

    Yes, these sites are free and they can make whatever rules they want. And I don't have to play if I don't want to. :D

    But it's VERY interesting to see what's coming up in the social media realm. Thanks!

    1. I think your best long-term strategy is to write a great book that engages readers, then write another and another.

      Social media is supposed to be social, fun. If it's not, then yes, you can make the choice not to play.

      But I agree - it is interesting to see what is coming up. Maybe one day there will be a social media platform you enjoy. Until then, make sure you have a good home base online (your website), and write.

  2. Thank you for visiting with us today, Iola!

    I like the look of Tsu, and I think it's easy to post. I say *think* because I haven't had much time to do anything there. But it seemed easy to set up.

    But what I don't understand, Iola, is how you make money with it.

    1. Thank you for inviting me to visit!

      Yes, it is easy to post on Tsu, and you can write a post in Tsu and it will also post directly to Facebook and Twitter.

      How do you make money? I *think* it's based on how often your content is viewed, liked, commented on and shared. by other users, because that reflects how many people have seen the advertising on that page. I've earned only 16 cents so far, so I'm not the best person to ask.

  3. My first comment somehow didn't post, yet comment has posted twice. Strange!

  4. Mine, too, Iola. Blogger is being weird. And my cell phone keeps trying to call you Iowa.

  5. Oh, interesting. I didn't really realize you could post from Tsu to Facebook and Twitter. I need to get better acquainted with Tsu. Right after I finish this book! Thank you, so much, Iola, for this helpful info.

    So, from now on when I call you Iowa, you'll know it's really my auto correct. Lol

  6. I've been really annoyed with facebook, but I do find that if I "share" my author posts from my normal page, they end up going to hundreds of people instead of just 20 or so. I think my solution might be to eventually scrap the author page.

  7. I've had several friends recommend Tsu, but I haven't gotten around to signing up yet... Between Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google+, Goodreads, etc., I feel a bit overwhelmed most of the time, and I love social media!!! Thanks for the background info, Iola, maybe being better informed will spur me on to Tsu!

  8. Hi Iola, thanks for sharing Tsu with us as we straggle in. Although I'm not going to join another social media site this time, I appreciate knowing that there's something else out there.

    PS - I didn't know Mark Zuckerberg was red/green color blind. Interesting.

    Thanks, Suzie.


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