Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
There are hundreds of social media networking sites on the Internet. Of those, there are 10 or so that most people can identify. According to data from Smart Insight, there are around 2.3 billion people on social media worldwide.
Five years ago, it was pretty easy to be found and followed on social media. Now, the Internet is bulging with information. And this proliferation of bits and bytes has caused some authors to throw up their arms and declare that selling books on social media is not possible.
Today, learning how to sell more books with social media involves pulling back, not widening out. If you narrow your focus instead of casting a wide net, you can concentrate on engaging on one channel and being present for conversations without the huge time commitment (and stress) of going wide.
The secret to selling more books with social media is designating one primary channel to engage with your readers and developing the rest as outposts where you set up a redirect to your primary channel for readers who find you there. If readers know you are connecting with fans online, they’ll make one more click to find your primary channel.
What Is a Primary Channel?
Your primary channel is the social media network or site where you personally engage with your readers. This is where you answer their questions, have conversations, post interesting and valuable content for them to interact with, and earn the right to sell your books.
There are a couple exceptions to the “one channel to rule them all” theory. If you are a nonfiction, YA or children’s author, you may need more than one channel. But for most authors, one channel for engagement will do.
Your social media strategy should include a presence on multiple social media channels, but just choose one to engage with your fans. The rest are outposts—places where you have a presence that is updated regularly but not where you post to engage with fans.
Outposts are channels where you redirect readers to the primary channel where they can then connect with you personally.
Some authors find this method disconcerting after years of being told to be marketing everywhere. They fear they will be missing people. But the truth is that although you might be able to find fans everywhere, you don’t need to engage with them everywhere. Rather than taking the time necessary to learn the engagement strategies on every single channel and maintain relevant conversations in those spaces, learn instead how to do that all on one channel and use your outpost channels to point fans to your primary channel where you can connect.
In short, primary channels are for engagement and selling; outpost channels are for discoverability and redirecting.
When it comes to designating your primary social media channel, look for a place where you can build loyal fans and sell more books. In marketing, those two go hand in hand. You have to engage where you sell for maximum results.
You won’t win the right to sell without building loyalty and connection first, though. After you build a reputation as a giver, your readers will give you permission to sell them your books. That is today’s Internet buying culture in a nutshell. Trying to bypass building relationships and just broadcasting “Buy my books” is a failure to understand how the buying process works.
When looking for your primary social media channel, you want to find the best mix of five measures:
1. Find the best fit for your reader/audience demographics. You have to do your audience research and know which channels target your readers.
2. Look for the channel with the best overall global numbers. The answer to this is currently Facebook, which holds 79 percent of people on the Internet age 18 and older, according to Pew. No other channel comes close to Facebook’s numbers across all ages. But remember: this is just one factor of five, albeit a powerful one.
3. Look for the channel with the best commerce tools or opportunities to buy a product without having to leave the platform. Again, the answer to this one currently is Facebook. No other platform offers the variety of applications for converting leads, including buying your book, signing up for your email list, and other opt-in actions—all without ever leaving the page.
The Facebook advantage: there is always an opportunity to buy or sign up present on your page. You don’t have to constantly post “Buy my book” or “Please sign up for my email list.” Also, when new readers find you in their searches, they can buy a book or sign up for your email list right on your business page. There’s no need to redirect them to outside links. Less clicks equals less attrition.
4. Look for the channel that is a good match for your genre. The difference between this measure and the first is that every channel that matches your demographic might not necessarily be a good match for your genre.
For instance, if you’re a fiction writer, LinkedIn may fit your reader demographic by age and gender, but in reality it’s a worthless channel for fiction writers. It’s definitely in the outpost category for fiction.
5. Look for the channel with the best ability to help new readers find you and then convert them to a sale. According to the latest AOL/Convertro research, this is YouTube first, Facebook second. Since YouTube can be a challenge for authors who are not video-savvy enough to sell their books, Facebook again becomes the go-to channel.
The important takeaway from the research: Facebook has the best chance of introducing new readers to your books and the best overall chance of closing the sale. The next best channel is Pinterest, followed by LinkedIn, Google Plus and Tumblr, with Twitter bringing up the rear of the top channels.
Cutting back on social media can be an anxious exercise for authors who have been conditioned by outside advice to be everywhere to catch everyone. But you don’t have to be on every social media channel to sell your books—just the right ones.
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