Using Social Media to Find Your Book's Audience

Thursday, March 16, 2017

You wrote a great book, one that everybody and their mother should read. But nobody is reading it . . . including your mother! What gives?! Sometimes great books aren’t read because of timing; sometimes they aren’t read because the pricing is all wrong; and sometimes it’s just placed in the wrong category. For the majority of books, however, the reason comes down to not knowing who your book's audience is.

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Think about it like this: You have this great idea for a new surfboard company; you’ve taken out a loan and you pour your heart and soul into this company. And then you open your store . . . in Kansas City. Unless you are a mail order business, you probably aren’t going to sell a lot of surfboards.

Your Book is Not for Everyone

Is your goal as a writer to sell 1,000,000 copies? Great! Lots of writers have done that. But no writer who has sold 1,000,000 copies just steps out the door and says, “my audience is everyone.” They know who their book was written for and they go after those people in their book marketing. Maybe you’ve written a mystery and you’re thinking to yourself that your audience is people who like mysteries. That’s a start, but do you know how old your average reader is? If they’re male or female? If they tend to live on the East Coast? Knowing these kind of details can help you both sell more books and fine-tune the way you communicate to your audience online.

Who is your audience really? There are several free and paid tools to help you. The most obvious places to start are social networks—namely Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Followers

Any author who opens a fan page has access to detailed analytics that show them who is a fan of their page; to access it:

  • Go to your Facebook page
  • Click "Insights" on the top white bar; from here you'll see an overview of your reach
  • On the side panel you'll see several different options
  • Select "People"

This will tell you where your fans live, how old they are, and if they're male or female. Amongst other things, these kind of statistics can help you as you think about where you should do readings and what publications you should target for reviews; if you have a lot of readers in Alabama, for example, then you’ll want to pitch your book for reviews and interviews to regional publications in that area.

Twitter Followers

Twitter doesn’t offer analytics quite as detailed, but they do have analytics you should check out. There are a number of free and paid websites that can help you see who your fans are beyond what Twitter offers. One popular tool with a free option is Tweepsmap. Much like Facebook, this will show you where your followers live, but not their gender or age.

Who's Talking About You?

When it comes to social media marketing, you never want to miss a moment of people talking about you—but you also don’t want to hover around your computer all day long just waiting for someone to say your name—you do have that next book to write, after all. Mention is a paid tool (with a free trial) that alerts you when you have mentions and tracks the overall sentiment.

How to Talk to Your Audience

Knowing who your audience is and what they’re saying about you does another important thing for your book marketing: it helps you find the right message to communicate. Maybe you’ve sold a few hundred books already, but you have zero interaction when it comes to your social accounts. You speak to your readers, but no one seems to care. When you know who your audience is, you can begin making a message that’s directed to them, and that they actually respond to. You should always be yourself—but be yourself in a way your readers can connect to. If you notice that all your readers who follow you are 20-somethings, then maybe it’s time to stop live tweeting every time Murder She Wrote comes on TV; if they’re mostly on the East Coast, then they probably won’t understand all of your In-N-Out Burger references; if you get negative sentiments from a tweet you posted about not wanting to have a baby, then you can probably assume that many of your readers are parents and you should lay off the topic.

If no one is buying your book—or if you just want to sell more copies—then pause for a moment and ask yourself if you really know who your audience is.


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Scott La Counte

Scott La Counte is the CEO of BuzzTrace, which helps authors and publishers discover new readers and sell more books. He has over 15 years experience in publishing as both an author and publisher. Writing under the name Scott Douglas, he has had several bestselling books.