Friday 12 December 2014

Is Tsu the New Facebook?

By Iola Goulton

Do You 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 2000.


  1. Iola, great post! I signed up for Tsu last night and played on the site. Iola is my 'Tsu-mother' and my profile link is

    I really like the idea of the creators being compensated financially if other users value their intellectual property by liking/sharing/commenting. This philosophy of Tsu is very different to Facebook, who determine who see your posts and limit the potential viral spread of content from Facebook pages. I don't know if Tsu will use algorithms like Facebook regarding content in feeds, or allow everything to be seen by friends/followers like Twitter?

    I really like the layout of Tsu and the ability to title posts. They show up in bold font on the web browser, but only in normal font on the Tsu app. The app is easy to use, similar to the Facebook and Google + apps. The right hand sidebar on the Tsu web version is advertising and I didn't see any advertising in my actual feed.

    I shared a couple of blog post links on Tsu, Google + and my Facebook author page. The process is very similar on all 3 platforms, quick and easy.

    Tsu doesn't have the option to set up groups, although they could easily add this feature at a later date. The whole 'invite your friends to join Tsu' concept feels a bit uncomfortable, as if you're only wanting to connect with your friends so you can make money from them.

    Iola, thanks for introducing us to Tsu. Re: WIBBOW: I think it's too early to tell. If the anticipated exodus from Facebook eventuates, Google + and Tsu are both positioned to pick up the disgruntled Facebook users. I really like Google + for a whole bunch of reasons. I don't invest a lot of time in my FB page. I've found the ROI isn't great because only a small percentage of people who have liked your page actually see your content.

    1. I like the way it is easy to share across all three platforms. I'm more of a Facebook user than Google+, so I like the way Tsu looks similar to Facebook.

      The Tsu FAQ says they do use algorithms, but those are to determine who is sharing the most "valuable" content. At this stage I see all posts from all my friends (all four!) and everyone I follow (one person). It will be interesting to see how that works for people who have more friends and followers. Just as long as it doesn't become the wall of self-promotion I see on Twitter ...

      I'm happy to be on Tsu, although I really need to work out how to use Google+ and Pinterest properly too ...

    2. The Tsu algorithm makes sense because it rewards valuable content. Google+ also gives you 'Google Goodness' for sharing content valued by other Google+ users. The posting/sharing daily limitations should prevent Tsu from being deluged with constant self-promo. There's nothing to prevent Twitter users from setting up repeat promo every 5 minutes via a third party app. Pinterest is still a mystery to me and I questions it's value from a WIBBOW perspective.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Deleted a double up - as I posted again when my comment didn't show up. As blogger regularly eats my posts, I thought it had done so ago.

    2. I have the same problem some days.

  3. Thanks Iola for giving an overview of Tsu - I love the way you have shown the pros and cons :)

    I noticed the exodus to Tsu from a lot of writers in the Australain Writers Rock page with the proposed changes to Facebook on promotional material from Jan 1. Thre is a radical difference between paying a part of advertising revenue to 'content creators' in Tsu - to demanding a monthly payment for any promotional material on business pages by Facebook. Maybe if enough people sign up to see it might give Facebook a wake-up call.

    I did post a couple of links about Tsu on the link re these changes in Omegas Facebook Page a few days ago (one pro, one con), but it is nice to have a article which looks both the pros and cons. I'm thinking it can't hurt to join up and see how it works but as you say, it's early days yet

    BTW If you are interested in the links and

    1. Thanks for those links, Jeanette.

      Here's another I've found: a how-to-Tsu. Having said that, I think it's pretty intuitive for anyone familiar with Facebook, Twitter or Google+, as it has things in common with each of those.

  4. A great discussion Iola. Your analysis is very helpful. I've never heard of it, but will check it out.

    1. Thanks, Elaine. Let us know what you think!

    2. Actually, one thing I've just found out which might be relevant to you, Elaine. The payment option means users have to either be at least 18 years old (or whatever the legal age is to sign a contract where they live), or have signed permission from their parents.

      This means while Tsu might be good for connecting with adults, there are probably better sites for connecting with teenagers (like Instagram, Tumblr and Wattpad).

    3. I was chatting with my daughter about Tsu. My kids and their friends have their own YouTube channels where they upload their Minecraft stuff. My daughter talks about how content creators on YouTube are paid if they have a large enough following that attracts advertising. The Tsu concept of rewarding content creators fits the mindset of YouTube users.

  5. Thanks for an easy to follow explanation of Tsu, Iola. Like Elaine I will be checking it out.


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