Social Media is rapidly becoming the mainstream marketing medium for all industry sectors and for authors it has become essential for building reader awareness. Unless you have been on a desert island for the last 10 years you can’t log on to Twitter or Facebook without finding an author tweeting about their latest book. Readers will often make purchasing decisions based upon the strength of a post, whilst a carefully structured social media campaign will certainly generate brand awareness amongst an ever growing online community and reader groups. In fact, social media has become so powerful in terms of book promotion that it’s rare for an author to make it into the spotlight on the strength of a book alone. Few author’s would disagree that social media can contribute to significant increases in book sales, but when presented with a dearth of information and an ever growing number of ‘book guru’s’ quick to share their knowledge, it can often be overwhelming. Whilst it would be nice to think so, there really isn’t a one stop social media strategy that works for all genres and the majority of authors, keen to promote their books, find themselves learning by trial and error. To a degree this is unavoidable, but there are 6 key elements you should keep to the fore front when developing your social media strategy if you hope to reap the rewards. These are listed below, but before you read on, stop and make sure the next sentence really sinks in. Building a social media presence takes time and perseverance; the old adage ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ holds true here and you need to have realistic expectations. Now read our 6 top tips for developing your social media strategy and achieving your social media goals.
Make a Commitment & Stick to It! – Developing and implementing a social media strategy takes an investment in time and creative input. It isn’t something you can approach haphazardly and expect to see meaningful results. Expect to commit a minimum of two hours a day. It isn’t simply a question of sending a few automated tweets or bulk loading links to be posted on Facebook groups. If you think this is the way to long term and consistent sales then you are mistaken. Social Media is first and foremost about differentiating yourself. It isn’t enough to simply go through the motions. A social media campaign should add value and your content must be intrinsically interesting to the reader. It should have organic growth potential so that people want to share your posts and above all it needs to be consistent. Going hell bent for leather with blogs and twitter posts for a month before going quiet for a couple of months because you are not seeing the results you want will not grow any kind of engaged audience.
Smart targeting – In developing a social media strategy you must know who your target audience is. Simply following people on Twitter to build ‘social credibility’ doesn’t cut it. You could have 100k followers on Twitter, but if they are not your target audience then your message will simply fall on deaf ears. There are some great tools for authors to help find your target audience. They include Tweepie, Twitter, Hootsuite and Massplanner which will allow you to use demographic data to pinpoint readers with an active interest in your genre. Once pinpointed you can tailor your social media content for a genre specific niche.
Keep it simple – There can be little doubt that the social media platform you use will impact your ability to reach your niche audience. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram spring readily to mind and whilst these are giants in social media terms there are many more established and emerging platforms from which to choose. There’s an old adage, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ and you would do well to keep this in mind. Because the likes of Twitter and Facebook are so accessible they are heavily used by authors and the competition is fierce. Popular Facebook groups for book promotions will have a new author post every 30 seconds and this will severely limit your ability to reach a particular audience. The key to being noticed is to differentiate yourself and visual posts garner greater impact. These could be images or infographics, but with stiff competition they should always be of a high quality. Select just three platforms for your social media strategy and use the analytics they provide to assess their effectiveness in reaching your desired audience but don’t be too quick to abandon a platform if you don’t see immediate results. It takes time to build a presence and consistency is a critical success factor.
Content is King – Your potential audience is already spoilt for choice with countless blog posts, tweets and articles vying for their attention. At times it can appear overwhelming, but you need to remember that social media is about building trust, and there is no better way to build trust than to write about what you know. Share your tips with other writers, remember that writers are readers too, post excerpts from your book, and find high quality images that help articulate your writing. Your primary aim with content should be engagement. Engaged readers will want to know more about you and are more likely to purchase your books. If you read only one book on the subject read The Content Machine by Dan Norris. Not only inspirational, but a genuine fountain of knowledge you would do well to refer to.
Become a prolific presence – This might fly in the face of advice you have seen elsewhere, but you really need to post daily or at the very least meaningfully engage with your followers. People are inundated with new content and an absence of a few days to a week will see their attention turn elsewhere. Once you have your audience’s attention you have to hold them. The key here is to be authentic. Give them a glimpse of the real you. Respond to posts, like other posts, but whatever you don’t sell. If people like what you have to say they will explore your books, it should be a natural progression. You might be tempted to outsource your social media content and engagement, this is certainly an option for some authors, but you will lose your distinct voice and this often comes at the detriment of long term engagement.
Explore new mediums – Great content will get shared, but only if it can be found, it really is that simple. The authors who seized the marketing opportunities presented by Twitter and Facebook when they were in their infancy had a far greater advantage than authors using the same platforms today. There was a lot less competition at the time and it was far easier to get noticed. Keep up to date with emerging social media trends and platforms, pick the right one and you will leverage competitive advantage by being in at the start of something new. As an author you always need to be thinking of new ways to grow your visibility in the marketplace At this point let’s remember where we started. We said that social media is rapidly becoming the mainstream marketing medium for all industry sectors and for authors it has become essential for building reader awareness. Few would argue with this statement and whilst it is an incredibly important element of your overall book marketing strategy we are not yet at the point where you should ignore traditional and online advertising mediums. All should form part of a comprehensive marketing plan that aims to connect with potential readers.
We hope this post proves informative and we look forward to connecting with you again in the near future.
John Reese for BookViral.