When I ask new email subscribers to tell me their number one book marketing challenge, the answer is overwhelmingly the conundrum that is social media: it takes too much time, and the results are difficult to measure. I agree.
Without a solid understanding of how social media does and doesn’t work, authors resort to the splatter method. But trying to hit every social media channel is a poor marketing strategy. On the contrary—you can successfully sell more books with less social media in four steps:
1. Find, build and target your proprietary audience.
2. Choose a primary social media channel for engagement and selling based on five specific criteria.
3. Designate social media outpost channels to direct potential fans to your primary social media channel.
4. Create a content system designed to foster engagement first and sell books second based on authentic author interaction with fans.
Authors in my online classes are amazed at the amount of time this primary channel system adds to their writing schedule and how effectively they can reach readers on just one channel.
Step One: Find, Build and Target Your Audience
The first step to selling more books with less social media is finding, building and targeting your proprietary audience. Nobody writes a book for everybody. To sell effectively, you need to define your target before you shoot. In this step, there are three main strategies: discovery strategies, content strategies and growth strategies.
Audience Discovery Strategies
Finding your readers shouldn’t be like playing Where’s Waldo. Here are a few tactics to find out where your readers are on social media.
• Survey your own readers. If you don’t know the social media preferences of your readers, ask them. You can send out a free survey on Survey Monkey or Google Forms to all your readers via email and social media posts. Find out who they are (demographics), where they spend their time on social media, and what other authors they read.
• Check free general use statistics on Pew Internet and other free data sites. Pew Internet provides the most reliable and extensive data on social media use worldwide. There are reputable marketing sites like HubSpot, Buffer, Marketo, Nielsen, Social Bakers and others that also publish free periodic data reports on social media use.
• Check your social media channel data. Most major social media channels will give you data about your followers.
• Check with your professional associations. Some writer organizations, such as Romance Writers of America, offer data about the genre’s readers to members.
Audience Content Strategies
Today, many of our marketing efforts are backwards. We think a platform will deliver an audience, but a platform simply delivers a message to an audience we have already built.
We can develop specific content for our audience once we understand who they are. In Jeffrey Rohr’s book Audience, he explains that our proprietary audience is made up of three parts or segments of people. They have different motivations for being there, different buying habits, and are in need of different information. Rohrs explains:
• Seekers are looking for something of personal interest. You gain them by giving them the kind of relevant content they are looking for. They are usually not ready for personal contact. They are seeking information, not connection.
• Amplifiers are looking for content as well, but for their own audiences. They will magnify the reach of your content by sharing it with a motive of gaining credibility or helping their own audience. These are often reporters, influencers, advocates, consultants, reviewers and bloggers.
• Joiners are your most valuable asset, according to Rohrs. They are the mother lode because they respond to your calls to action: subscribe, follow, pin, register, join or buy. They willingly give up their personal information for value. They volunteer to be marketed to. And they will share valuable content with their friends.
When it comes time to crafting valuable, engaging content, this is our backdrop. We’ll look at content extensively in part four of this series.
Audience Growth Strategies
One of the most common mistakes authors make in social media marketing is not understanding how to use social media, websites, email, and other media to actually grow their audience, not just to sell to them.
The best example of implementing this strategy is email marketing. You use your email list primarily for communicating with fans about new releases and sales, and to publish newsletters. But you also use social media to grow your email list with sign-up forms, solicitations for advance reader teams, and other loyalty tactics—all ways to effectively grow your reader base.
When used correctly, social media is a vehicle you can use to be found by new readers, engage fans at a deeper level, and grow your following.
In the next installment of this series, we’ll delve into how to find the best primary social media channel for sales and reader engagement. It’s time to start spending less time marketing and more time writing.