Social media has a polarizing effect on authors it seems. Some love it, while others resent the time it takes or just don’t get it. Whichever side of the fence you fall, there is one thing most authors agree on; social media alone doesn’t sell books. But it can help connect you to new readers and build relationships.
In my last two posts, I’ve explained how you can use guest blogging and podcast interviews to reach new readers and leverage someone else’s audience to help you grow your own. I suggested you promote your appearances on blogs and podcasts on social media and in this post, I’m going to dig into that, plus offer other ways you can use social media to support your book marketing.
Social Media Is for Being Social
Many indie authors use social media as their primary marketing tool, probably because it’s so easy. But just because it’s easy to post a "buy my book" message doesn’t mean it will reach the right audience or result in book sales.
If you have been reading BookWorks for some time, you will already know that social media is for being social, and not for selling. Therefore, what you do there should be with a focus on building relationships and sharing content of value and interest to your target audience. (If you’re not sure who your target audience is, go check out my post on finding your target readers.)
While social media is not great for selling books directly, it can be a very useful tool for reaching new readers and letting them know you and your books exist. You can use it to invite them into your world, or more specifically, direct them to your content and from there onto your email list.
Here are five ways you can use social media for reaching new readers as part of your book marketing efforts.
#1 - Promote Your Guest Podcast and Blog Appearances
If social media is for sharing valuable content, then what could be better to share than your latest information-packed guest post or inspiring podcast interview? Not only is this exactly the type of content that fans want to know about, it’s also what they want to share with their own followers.
If you are doing outreach to get in front of new readers, you want the blog or podcast to be spread far and wide, and social media can help you do that. Plus, the blog or podcast host will appreciate you helping to promote their content and will likely share your post with their own audience. Make sure you tag them so they get notified when you post.
#2 - Ask Fans to Share About Your Book
It may not be appropriate to post "buy my book" links on social media multiple times a day, but it is helpful to have other people share about your book. The best marketing is word of mouth and a fan telling their friends about your book is golden. You can make this super easy by creating ready-to-go tweets and images and either having them available on your website or including them in an email you send out.
#3 - Grow Your Network
If social media is for being social then it makes sense to use it to grow your own network of author friends, as well as readers. Fellow authors can be very useful for book marketing as you can pool your resources and support each other. You can share each other’s social posts, but also consider newsletter swaps (being mindful of privacy laws of course), creating book bundles or running online events together. You can’t build relationships like these overnight, but social media can be an excellent starting point.
#4 - Connect with Influencers
Similarly, social media can be a great place to start building connections with influencers ahead of pitching a guest blog or podcast interview. Sharing and replying to posts can get you on an influencer’s radar and show them that you are interested in what they are doing online. When your pitch arrives in their inbox, they’ll be more likely to pay attention to it if they have already interacted with you.
Among the many responses to Jeff Goins’ call for stories was this one from Mike. Imagine if Mike now decided to pitch Jeff a guest post; there’s no guarantee he would accept it but if Mike referenced the Twitter exchange, there’s a good chance Jeff would remember him.
#5 - Have Fun and Develop Your Brand
Social media shouldn’t be the driver of your book marketing, but a supporting activity. It’s a place where you can connect with others in an informal way—new readers, peers, and influencers—and show what you truly care about. Social media is also a great place to find your author brand voice and allow fans to get to know you better. It doesn’t have to be all about your books and writing. One of my clients writes urban fantasy but is passionate about animal welfare and often shares animal-related posts. There is no connection with her writing, but it’s what she believes in and is happy for her readers to know that about her. This can be a great way to build authentic relationships with followers/fans who share her passion and creates an online connection that is more personal and relatable.
Social Media Should Play a Supporting Role
In my introductory post to this series on attracting readers with an outreach strategy, I explained that the end goal is to grow your email list. Social media is not great for growing an email list or selling books by itself, but it can be a very useful link in the chain of letting people know about you. Email, on the other hand, is still the most effective way to convert fans into buyers, which is what I will be talking more about next time.
Until then, I’d love to know how you use social media for reaching new readers. Let me know in the comments!
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