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As an author or book publisher, one of your jobs is to bring awareness of a book to the target audience in hopes they will purchase it — in other words, marketing. Book marketing has long been a challenge for authors and publishers, especially for individuals and smaller houses that don’t have an in-house marketing and publicity department. It can be time-consuming and costly to see results for your marketing efforts.

Social media is changing that. Through various social networking platforms, authors and publishers can connect and engage with a target audience and bring awareness of a relevant book to that audience.

However, achieving success with social media marketing requires a defined strategy and a plan for executing it. Without a plan and some best practices, your efforts will likely not produce the desired results — or worse, could harm your promotional efforts.

Here are some tips for how to best leverage your social media presence to market your books:

  • Before you ever launch a book, create a webpage for the book. This will serve as the hub for your marketing efforts.
  • Post an author bio, and offer a free chapter in exchange for an email address.
  • Embed social media buttons (e.g., share on Facebook, post on LinkedIn, tweet on Twitter).
  • Maintain a blog concerning related topics.
  • Create a forum for interacting with readers, and answer questions promptly. If you are a publisher, make sure the author is engaged as well.
  • Frequently link to your site from all your social media platforms.

The different social media platforms and how to use them

As you know, there is no shortage of social platforms. You won’t have the time or resources to market using all of them. Focus on just two or three of the ones most relevant and valuable to your book’s target audience. Make a list of the major social networks and who uses them. Spend some time just following these networks to see if your audience is active there. Once you’ve narrowed your focus, use the following suggestions for how best to use each of the major platforms.

  • Facebook — Set up a professional page for promoting the book. If you are an author, set up a page and interact with the target audience on your personal page, as well as the book’s page. Create a contest and give away copies of the book. Use live Q&A in which you interact with readers. Like and follow related pages. Use video to engage with readers, and actively ask readers to review your book. Consider Facebook ads if your budget allows it.
  • Twitter — Share tidbits of your book’s content. Don’t give a sales pitch. Create a hashtag with your book’s title or relevant topic. Also use hashtags to search for your audience.
  • Instagram — Because Instagram is such a visual medium, you’ll want to use eye-catching images. Consider a styled photo shoot of your book, including props and backgrounds that match the book’s theme. As on Twitter, take advantage of hashtags.
  • LinkedIn — Professionals hang out here. Join groups that focus on your book’s topic. Share content from your book or about your topic. Connect with leaders in relevant industries. Share blog posts and other content. Keep it professional.
  • YouTube — YouTube has more than a 1.9 billion monthly users, and its videos generate billions of views. Join in by creating a video trailer to advertise your book. Use scenery, relevant vignettes, voiceover, and your creativity. Post interviews with the author and industry professionals or other relevant individuals.
  • Pinterest — Create boards that relate to your book’s topic, and join relevant group boards. Create pins that link to the book’s website and optimize them with keywords. Repin content related to the book’s content, and connect with others who pin similar ideas. Be fun and creative.

Dos and don’ts for your social media campaigns

Now that you know how best to take advantage of some of the major social platforms, here are some general best and worst practices to follow when engaging on them.

  • Do develop an overall strategy for using social media, with measurable, achievable goals.
  • Do change your marketing message to suit each social platform and demographic.
  • Don’t cast a wide net. Quality is better than quantity, so make sure you target a specific audience with a specific message.
  • Do include a call to action to increase leads, build audience, and encourage sales.
  • Don’t add a series of meaningless hashtags to your posts. One or two related to your book’s title, content, or author is enough.
  • Do respond promptly to user questions, comments, criticisms, complaints, and reviews. By not responding, you show your audience you don’t care.
  • Don’t market or pitch the book. Engage in discussions about the book’s topic and content.
  • Do be consistent with your visuals to promote your brand identity.
  • Do use cross-channel marketing. Use your Twitter post to send traffic to your Facebook page. Use LinkedIn to link back to your blog.
  • Do actively recruit thought leaders, influencers, and well-known names in related fields or industries to engage with your pages, groups, and websites.

And do track your results

It’s important to know if your social media campaigns are working. When you put a link to your website in a Facebook or Twitter post, track not only the traffic it generates but also book sales.

Use a link to a different webpage on your site for each social platform so you know where visitors are coming from. That information can give you insight into which platforms are most effective and which messages generate the most click-throughs. Note whether you see a surge in likes or followers after a particular discussion or marketing campaign.

Link your social media accounts to your author or publisher website so you can track sales related to those accounts. With the information you gather, you can change your social media strategy to focus on the platforms, content, and methodologies that produce the greatest results.

Social media is only one component of a book’s marketing plan, but it’s not one you can afford to ignore. Building a strong social media presence takes time and daily effort and should begin long before the book’s launch. Your efforts will eventually pay off through connecting and engaging with your target audience, building trust, and generating interest in your book. Through discussions, likes, and sharing, interested users will drive traffic to your publisher website, the author’s book page, and perhaps even your eCommerce site to purchase the book.

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