Social media marketing is important for almost every industry. Consumers use it to make purchasing decisions and see what non-marketers are saying about a person, brand, or idea. Authors and publishers use social media marketing to direct consumer awareness in the online community.
All authors love their books, but some struggle with the idea of promoting them. Sometimes this is because they don’t like the idea of attention or feel self-promotion is arrogant. Other times, it’s because they feel confident in their writing ability, but not in their marketing abilities. The truth is that you must build your following if you want to be known as an author. Self-promotion is a reality in today’s writing world, and it is neither arrogant nor painful if it is done well. Social media can be a good way to start.
Occasionally, an author will make it into the limelight on merit alone, but most of the time a quality social media plan can effectively promote book sales. Social media provides the perfect environment for an author to reach out to potential readers to develop a personal connection. It carries the same sort of intrigue as a book signing and provides insight into a writer’s world.
Use Social Media
One of the best ways to build your following is through social media marketing. Many authors hesitate to use social media, because they don’t like it, don’t know how to make themselves known in an arena where everyone has multiple accounts, or simply don’t know what to say. However, social media is necessary if you want your following to be more than a handful of people.
There are many ways authors can make social media work for them. First, seek out groups, classes, or conferences that talk about social media for authors. Managing social media as an author is different than managing your personal Facebook or Twitter account. It takes dedication and finesse. For example, it’s recommended that authors update social media accounts two to four times per week, and much of it shouldn’t be strictly self-promotional. For every two self-promotional posts you write, you should write five posts that are not about yourself or your books. They can, however, concern your platform, other authors’ books that are similar to yours, a local bookstore or library that has helped launch your career, current events, etc. You can and should use anything that will attract readers to your social media page and help build your overall author brand. Don’t post things that aren’t in line with who you are as an author and a public presence.
Know Your Platform
Another way to build your following through social media is to use a blog. Blogs are extremely popular in today’s world, partially because you don’t have to be a traditional author to get published and have people read and appreciate your thoughts. All you have to do is set up a blog with a service such as WordPress, and start writing. Additionally, because many blog services are free, this is one area in which you don’t have to invest money in order to promote your book and your brand.
You can use a blog for anything, including all types of free author promotion. Remember that you don’t have to talk about your book all the time, but can discuss your author platform. Your author platform is composed of topics about which you are passionate and about which you write or try to raise awareness. For example, if you are a children’s author who wants to write about the environment, your platform could include green energy, recycling, and how kids can help improve the planet. Every time you write something related to your author platform, you are engaging in free author promotion without sending the message, “Buy my book, because I’m a good writer.” Instead you’re saying, “Buy my book, because I write about something you care about” and, “Buy my book because I’m a person you feel like you know, like, and trust.”
By discussing things that are important to you, you know you’ll reach the right audience, because people who follow you wouldn’t be following you if they didn’t care about the things you were talking about. Discussing things that are important to you helps them get to know you, and one of the top reasons people buy books is because they know the author.
Know Your Audience
If you want to write about what people care about, you must know the people in your audience – single parents looking for a light read, college professors teaching freshmen how to analyze literature, someone mourning the loss of a loved one, or any other audience out there. As you find new readers, you connect with new people, building rapport and virtual relationships. Those readers may start out reading one book, but will be eager for your next one, and the one after that.
Social Media Marketing Tips
You’ll need to use your instincts to get the most out of social media marketing. In book sales, there is not a one-size-fits-all marketing solution, however, social media improves visibility for just about anyone. Here are some of the most significant ways social media improves book sales.
- Microtargeting– The concept of microtargeting requires a clear understanding of a target market. Book sales are unique because books usually fit into a very clear category or genre. First, use demographic data to pinpoint an audience; then, cater your social media content to that niche.
- Choose a platform or two– The platform you use affects the likelihood of reaching a particular audience. There is not one platform for every author; although, Twitter is close to being universal. LinkedIn works for business and technical writers. Facebook is great for fiction and other creative writers. Visual information is incredibly impactful, so including photos on Instagram and incorporating video in your social media like interviews and sneak peeks is advisable.
The number-one rule for choosing a platform for your book is to choose something that is highly visible and used by your target market. Choose 1-3 platforms, and remain active on them.
- Choose meaningful content– Social media is about building trust, and content should reflect an author’s expertise. Tips for writers, shorter written pieces, and book excerpts are all great examples for social media. Post pictures and videos from author events, and engage with other influencers online.
- Post prolifically- Be authentic, but look for ways to stay engaged daily. Respond to posts, like other pages, and retweet any other press you’ve received on your book. Try to be informational more than “salesy” to gain followers. If possible, an author should be directly involved with and responsible for all the content posted on social media.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things– Great content gets shared, plain and simple. Create an infographic about your book or promote another author on social media. Gain traction in the marketplace, not for direct sales, by effective use of the online space. Focus on what your audience wants, rather than creating the perfect pitch. Consistently link from social media to other content sites.
You may consider creating a social media contest or offering a giveaway. Have readers post pictures with their pets or a video that features individuals putting how-to information to use. Think outside of the box because a viral campaign is your best chance at driving book sales.
- Be responsive– Always try to engage with the people on your social media sites. Answer questions, respond to feedback, and ask questions of your audience. The more interaction you can facilitate, the more likely a name or book title will stand out in a person’s mind.
- If you can’t commit, don’t do it– If an author and/or sales team can’t commit to a social media site, then it’s best left alone. A social media shell provides no added value and can detract from the overall campaign. Social media campaigns should be organic, time sensitive, and consistent. Without those qualities, a prospective audience may stagnate.
Social media marketing should be part of a comprehensive book marketing plan that connects you, the author, with your book and reader community. Without other book marketing techniques, social media has less of an advantage as a viable marketing tool.