As per a survey conducted by UNESCO, there are around 2.2 million books published each year. With the sheer volumes of books and content being created and made available to people everywhere, competition for market share has increased considerably.
As an independent author who is hard-pressed for time and resources how do you match up to competitors who are backed by publishers?
There are simple and effective social media marketing hacks that don’t require marketing hires or out-sourcing to achieve. The goal need not be to match the reach that paid marketing affords but to brand your book well and target your audience better.
Each of the following hacks are explained to help you achieve just that.
1. Leverage your social media canvases to the best effect
Treat your author page content as an advertorial. A social media page is your free, online property. Space that you can advertize on and should leverage to the best effect.
Profile image: Your photograph. Never put your book here, people connect with people and placing the picture of your book here would create a disconnect.
Cover photo: Your cover photo could be home to a series of teasers beginning a month prior to your book launch, changing with every week until the launch. Alternatively it could be testimonials to establish your reputation and build an expectation among your audience.
Each teaser should ideally pack a lasting impact. A well-done teaser:
1) Should exhibit your creative skills and way with words, or a grip of the concepts that your book is based on.
2) Should describe your book perfectly.
3) Should create an anticipation.
Change cover photos every week leading up to the launch. Why? Every change will feature on your connections’ feeds. Don’t do it too often though, because too many changes don’t make for lasting impressions.
Tip: Try and place something on a post that connects with your book which appears intriguing and is sure to garner interest.
2. Populating your page with apt content (curate don’t create)
Take a look at State Bicycle Company’s Facebook page. Back in 2013, this page had 4,600 followers. If you look at it now, the count is at 475,000.
State Bicycle posts at least 80 pieces of content a month, and their rise to popularity is proof that consistency is key on social media.
Since you can’t write each piece, you could source it by selecting your theme on a good content curation app. DrumUp, Flipboard and Nuzzel are great choices.
DrumUp lets you schedule content to post on social media right from the app, and Nuzzel shares content that’s popular among your connections (a useful insight to have when creating content that you want to be popular among them).
While most leading authors post content that simply revolves around their books and writing, if people are yet to know who you are that is a risky path to take.
Instead you should share interesting content that fits into your theme and that your audience will like to bring them to your author page, and then mix in information about your book every once a while.
Author Jeremy Robinson tweets about super hero stuff quite often, a genre close to his style of writing.
3. Market your social media page like there’s no tomorrow
1) Invite all your friends and family to like your page.
2) Personally request well connected friends to invite others to your page.
3) Use Facebook’s paid ads to reach your target audience.
Be cautious when implementing the third tactic. It is best to do a little reading before working your Facebook target settings.
As for steps one and two, go ahead and do as many of them as your possibly can. It would be best to add personal messages when requesting your well connected friends to talk about the book.
An even more effective and legitimate way of doing it would be to request your friends, and your mentors/ idols to read the book and review it for you on social media.
4. Create or participate in social conversations that fit your genre or writing theme
I cannot stress on this tactic enough. Imagine you were marketing your book during a time when the internet didn’t exist.
How would you do it?
Fliers, newspaper ads, conventions and events? Each of these methods of outreach are on external media.
Similarly, on social media, you have to extend your reach beyond your social media pages to bring in more traffic, and relevant communities are a good place to start.
How many book-centric communities exist on the internet? Probably too many to cover, but you should focus on the largest ones.
Goodreads, Shelfari and Library Thing are very active and exactly where your target buyers are at.
Yet another super active social congregation is the social media chat. Facebook and Twitter chats have only become very popular in recent times, but they are great for stirring up conversations and increasing social media engagement.
You could ask your audience to send in questions and discuss them on a chat, but really, you could use chats any way you wanted to.
Finally, as an author who writes for a specific genre, you could establish your expertise by being active on Quora, assisting aspiring authors and answering other questions relevant to you. You could refer to excerpts from your book as example when it makes sense.
5. Create a social media campaign or contest surrounding your book
Focus on the fundamentals of social media campaigns:
1) Choose the right platform (whichever is giving you the most engagement would be the best choice). Implement it on multiple platforms only if you are certain that you can handle it.
2) Create a fun concept that connects well to your book.
3) Giveaway something exciting, it could be something as simple as the first chapter free. (This works very well for ebooks and academic or professional training based books).
4) Brand the activity with a unique hash tag and track it to see your progress.
Of course, an autographed copy won’t excite your audience if this is your first book launch, but a free copy might.
If you can afford a basic video teaser or enlist the aid of a friend who’s an influencer on social media, there’s nothing like it.
6. Use candid photographs to create a connect with your audience
This tactic is just as companies are encouraged to do for their brands.
The invasion of social media by promotions has led social media users to be less enthusiastic and welcoming of commercial messages on the platform.
To overcome that setback and connect with the audience you are trying to sell to, you have to humanize your social media presence.
That means specially crafted social media descriptions, impromptu and personal messages, and candid photographs of you at work on the book, or at a store with your first printed copies.
While using the tactics listed here remember the three most important elements:
1) Branding (establishing a unique identity for you and the book)
3) Personal interaction
Squeeze these in wherever possible and your launch will be unstoppable on social media.
Disha Dinesh is a Content Writer at Godot Media, a leading content agency. Her interests include social media and content marketing. When she’s not writing, she’s on the hunt for social media trends and inspiration.
Twitter Handle: @Disha_Dee