Is social media a complete waste of time and money when it comes to selling books? Is there a measurable ROI (Return On Investment)? Every day, someone asks me this question and of course, there’s no easy answer.
If you think spamming your links on Twitter and Facebook will result in sales, you’ll be mighty disappointed. However, if you use social media as a means to interact and build a reader base, as one channel of your entire author platform, you may be pleasantly surprised. This is referred to as Relationship Marketing.
Let’s deconstruct how it relates to authors on social media.
WHICH CHANNEL DO YOU LIKE BEST?
Each social channel is created differently, to appeal to certain characteristics or traits we have: sense of community, belonging, discussing topics of interest, sharing our most intimate (births, deaths, etc) moments, and yes, selling a ‘brand.’ Facebook is by far the most popular site, primarily because it’s so easy. You create an account, you speak in your normal speech, and you interact. Boom, done.
Twitter is a different beast. A ‘micro-blogging’ site, as it was originally called, has following ratios and hashtags and @mentions, none of which mean anything to anyone not on Twitter.Twitter also has a culture of reciprocity that doesn’t seem to exist on other sites: I tweet you, you tweet me. I follow you, you follow me.
However, it doesn’t always work that way and sometimes people’s feelings are hurt. (Remember: it’s JUST Twitter.) Twitter also has sadly become a way for people (not only authors) to spam links to their product or service, which is annoying and actually goes against Twitter guidelines: ‘If your tweets consist mostly of links and not ‘personal’ updates, you are spamming.’
Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Goodreads…I could spend all day dissecting each site. The point is this: which site makes you feel the most comfortable? Then spend the majority of your marketing (read: non-writing) time there! If we enjoy what we do, we do it more. If we hate it, we avoid. Humans are simple like that.
Regardless, there’s plenty of data that show how well social media can help you to create relationships with readers by curating great content (not all ME ME ME). BE social, and make the effort to connect, which ultimately results in sales.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE IT?
The biggest complaint I hear from authors is the ‘time-suck’ — they check in with their Facebook wall or Twitter feed as a quick break from writing and before they know it, they’ve laughed at cat videos, shared pictures of babies or puppies or pretty people, taken Buzzfeed quizzes on which TV show they are, and hours have passed…the kids are home from school and it’s time to burn dinner (oh wait, that’s me).
So here’s my advice: shut it all off when you write. Yep, all of it. However, in order to maintain a presence, take that cat video time and instead, curate interesting, branded content (quotes, pictures, blog posts for #MondayBlogs, breaking news, etc.) and schedule it in via Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or Buffer. I personally don’t recommend full automation — where’s the social in that? — but you certainly can schedule in some content and when your writing time is up, go ahead and respond.
WHAT’S THE POINT? AUTHENTICITY.
I’ve been writing professionally since 2008 and on social media about that long. It takes a long time to build up relationships with readers, book bloggers, other authors, and book reviewers, aka your fan base. The point of bothering with any of it is not sales. It’s relationships that will hopefully result in word of mouth recommendations and sales from those most devoted to you.
Marketer Ted Rubin says that “relationships are the new currency,” and I would have to agree. Build your fan base slowly, don’t make it all about you, and be polite and generous in your interactions — unless you’re a grumpy old man. Then BE a grumpy old man!
Remember, no one effort will sell your books. It’s a combination of many things: presence, social media, regular blogging, an optimized website, interviews, blog tours, advertising, and more.
‘Make a friend, make a sale,’ works in any capacity of sales, and make no mistake, we are selling! Just make it worth your, and your readers’, time.