Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
When it comes to the potential for selling a book, not all social media channels are created equal. Some are definitely wired for selling, while others are not. Some contain a variety of commerce tools that naturally lead people toward a sale, and some do not. Add your audience demographics and the culture of each social media channel to the mix, and you have a three-step test for finding out which channels are a fit for selling your books.
But before you can look at that three-step test, you have to take an inventory of your marketing mindset. Do you have a basic understanding of general marketing best practices, an advanced understanding, or no understanding? If your marketing skills are not honed yet, you could fall victim to one of several mindsets that may keep you from hitting the target.
Sometimes we are tempted to base our social media marketing decisions on factors that have no predictive value for sales. Here are some of the most common marketing mindsets that will fail you when it comes to effectively choosing a channel.
1. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) Mindset. If every author is there, then it must be working, right? Maybe, and maybe not. Twitter is the biggest example of this dilemma. Because anyone can buy followers or gain them by other unethical means, scam artists flock to the network promising to sell your books to their hundreds of thousands of followers. But you have no idea if those followers are qualified book buyers.
Authors see their peers and marketers on Twitter broadcasting “buy my book” and think it must work. It is indeed possible to sell books on Twitter, but because the channel doesn’t support a strong buying culture, the sales will not be as impactful as other channels that have an established buying culture.
2. Copycat Marketing Mindset. Author A had terrific results with Facebook ads, so I will copy Author A and have the same results. There are so many things wrong with this that I hardly know where to start. But let’s go with the idea of inconsistent data matching.
When you start a campaign of any type, you establish goals. These are primarily defined by your data markers: your audience’s potential reach or size of your following, everyday baseline engagement, number of books already published and their rankings, size of social media platform, and so on. Every time you copy someone else’s campaign without having their data markers, your chances of success go down.
For instance, let’s say author A is a historical romance author with three successful historical series. The author is combining a campaign to gather email addresses with a book launch. So far, so good. But Author A’s perma-free book to entice new email signups (lead magnet) is a bestseller being offered free for the first time. And the book she is launching is the last entry in a popular series. The author has a Facebook following of 15,000 people and had a budget of $1,000 for the 20-day ad campaign.
Now you come along: a YA author with only three books, desperate to build your email list and with no lead magnet. None of your books have more than 50 reviews, and your Facebook page has just 200 followers. You have a budget of $100 for the whole campaign. What are the chances you are going to match Author A’s success? If you do not have the same markers that she does, the chances are slim to none.
3. The Splatter Mindset. Be on every social media channel you have time for. After all, you don’t want to miss an opportunity to sell a book. I always ask these people, “When do you have time to write?” The splatter technique is fueled by two wrong assumptions: my book is for everybody, and the more channels I am on the more people will likely buy my book.
4. The ‘No Social Media Is Good’ Social Media Mindset. It is true you can sell books without social media. But why ignore the best channels for being discovered by new readers, building fan loyalty and retention, and building a proprietary email list?
There are usually two motivations for this mindset:
• I don’t get social media, I don’t use social media, and I don’t have the time (or inclination) to learn.
• I just want to write good books. If I write it, they will come.
Being an author today means putting on a marketing hat. You can build a following and sell your books at the same time by choosing the right channels with this simple three-step test.
The first step is Audience: Who is in my potential audience, and which social media channels are they likely to be on? You can easily find this out with a little research and the right data.
The second step is Channel Culture: How do people behave on a given channel? Is it an easy-going living room where people are having friendly conversations about products they like, or is it a fast-paced newsroom where everything goes by in real time? Are your followers people you know, or are they people in the public sphere who have just opted in to follow you? Is it a scrapbook of what people are doing right now, or is it a virtual catalog of products and services that people can buy with a click? Each channel is a mini-civilization with its own expected behavior and unwritten rules for interacting.
The third step is Channel Selling Potential: Does the channel have tools and apps that lead people to buy? Are there embedded call-to-action buttons or accompanying apps that can lead people directly to buy? Are there tools to promote word of mouth? Can you embed live links to sales or landing pages in your posts? Can you include a picture of the product? Is there a vibrant advertising platform with reasonably priced options that can promote sales?
Social media marketing has to be about more than simply building a gaggle of people who like your books. The best platform leads to sales as your end goal.
Build loyal fans and sell books with the right channels. Make sure you choose wisely.
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