Working with authors, I’ve found they usually have one of three goals for using social media:
1. Build reader loyalty and connection with fans.
2. Selling books.
3. Building connections and selling books.
Goals number one and two are only half the equation. To be successful in selling books on social media, authors need to take approach number three.
In the world of marketing, there are best practices, or successful strategies, that apply to selling any kind of product online whether it is books, appliances, or wedding invitations. Books are not in a world of their own despite what some book marketers would try and tell you. Data from large online research companies like Nielsen, AOL, and HubSpot tell us the same thing: social media selling works. Successful authors connect and sell, in that order.
The one-two punch of social media selling is developing word-of-mouth connections and then using that depth of relationship to sell books we know those valued fans will enjoy. Yelling “buy my book” will fall on deaf ears for the most part, especially if the author is unknown to the reader. But equally as frustrating for authors will be trying to sell books by “osmosis.” This is the method where we believe if we connect and make ourselves available on social media people will automatically buy our books without being asked.
The bulk of authors I talk to have no idea how to approach selling. They try throwing different promotions against the wall to see if they stick, looking for that silver bullet. In reality, selling is a science with proven tactics that is built on cultural norms. Fifteen years ago readers relied on publishers to tell them what to buy. We had no social media, no word of mouth. Today that tide has shifted. Readers now do their own research and seek the opinion of their friends in forums and book clubs. They build relationships directly with authors online and don’t have to rely on the bookstores and publishers to tell them what is good. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising (Forbes). The first step to giving a reader value is building friendships on social media.
The second step is giving those valued connections opportunities to buy your books. It’s about optimizing your social media channels with the tools and apps that are available to sell books. It’s about putting together the types of content proven to build connections. It’s about taking a long view approach and not relying on a stop and start “book launch or bust” mentality.
The art of selling books online begins with connection, is propelled by valuable content, and is sealed with opportunities to buy your books, both through content and through highly visible embedded calls-to-action on your social media pages.
To learn more about social selling for authors, be sure and follow my blog at cksyme.com
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