Marketing Q&A Pt. 1: Social Media Marketing
Y'all, oh y'all, oh y'all! I am SO excited for this new Q&A series! Marketing is actually super fun and interesting to me (*coughs* it's literally in my blood, so...), and so I have had such a fantastic time reading and answering y'all's questions!
I think these answers are a little less rambling and a lot more applicable than the answers to y'all's romance questions, thank the Lord, so hopefully this post will provide some insight and assistance for y'all as you market your books, author brand, and side hustles!
NOW, I did divide up the questions by subject - so one or two of your questions may be answered in this post but others aren't. I wanted to make these posts more concise and conclusive rather than chaotic, so I selected all the social media questions to answer for this post!
Branding and pre- and post-launch preparation/advertising are next, so those answers are coming soon, don't worry!
Thank y'all SO much for sending in y'all's amazing questions! If y'all have any more to add, the form is at the bottom of this post! Happy reading! *winks*
I always feel awkward about promoting or like I'm nagging. Do you have any suggestions to make self-promoting more natural?
Marketing question of the century. To be frank, authors/entrepreneurs fall into one of three categories: the “I didn’t know they’d written a book” category, the “Oh my gosh, shut up about your book” category, and the “I am so invested in this person’s writing journey” category.
Wanna guess which one you should be in?
The categories are honestly pretty self-explanatory.
If you never share about your book, never mention it, never actually launch it into the world, people will never know. Seriously.
But if every. single. piece. of content you put out is about your book, you’re gonna annoy people. A lot. I follow several hundred people on Instagram…but, to be honest, I only know a couple authors who are in this category, who literally only ever post about their book(s).
And it’s not necessarily how much they post…it’s what they post.
Which brings me to the last category. The trick is not how much or how little you share, it’s what you share. You want to draw your followers not to your purchase link, but into the story. Into the journey. Into the process. Into your life. No, you do not have to do a daily vlog (please don’t), but every piece of content should invest your follower in what you do. It should have value for them.
In marketing, we have something called a value proposition, and it is literally the simplest thing ever. It’s one sentence that explains why your product is valuable to your customer.
And once you have your value proposition, you have the core of your entire marketing strategy. It’s that simple, yet that important.
So ask yourself: why should people read my book? Why should they care? Why is it important? What does what I have to say matter to them? How can I give something to my followers rather than just take their money?
Business is a trade. The customer provides payment, the seller provides a necessity, a form of satisfaction, entertainment, whatever. But you can’t expect people to pay if you don’t actually offer them anything.
So what are you offering?
Are you offering a beacon of hope and light? An escape from tough times? A moment of peace and quiet? Wisdom and wit? A new perspective?
Think about it. Solidify it in your mind. Then capitalize on it.
Remember that delivering that offering—that value—to your customer is your single most important goal as a marketer. Even if you’re doing it for profit or fame or whatever, if the customer walks away from your book with that offering in hand and is completely satisfied with their purchase, then you have completed your goal.
So, what exactly does valuable, investment-oriented content look like? I’m glad you asked!
When you’re trying to offer your followers something, DON’T:
Always point them to a purchase link
Be overly confident
Be short and impersonal (like a commercial)
Post only about your book
A post that reads “Order Held Captive, the most amazing pirate book you’ll ever read, by Grace A. Johnson through the link in her bio for only $9.99!” isn’t going to convert your followers into readers/buyers. Chances are they’ll like your post and scroll right on by—especially if this post is one of many—because this reads like a generic, heartless (and false) advertisement.
You’ve got to convince your followers that they really need to read your book—not because of how wonderful it is (although I’m sure it is), but because your work means something to them.
Bring them into the creative process
Share details about your story
Interact with followers
Mix things up
Whether you share behind-the-scenes or fun facts or character art or what, try going beyond the traditional “buy this” message and actually immerse your followers into the world of your book. Interact with them on your posts and their posts to actually establish a relationship with them (and assure them you’re human), because people are much more likely to support someone they know as opposed to some random author person who pops up in their feed from time to time.
And mix things up! Instead of prompting them to buy, prompt them to subscribe or enter to win or comment below—any kind of call to action that generates engagement. Instead of posting books, books, books, share about something you’ve learned recently, your favorite tunes to read/write to, what you did over the weekend, interesting things you learned while researching. No, you don’t have to share all about your personal life (not a good idea), but do be personal and fun and unique and creative. Give them a glimpse into who you are, what you do, and why you do it!
When your focus switches from creating customers to creating relationships, you’ll find that translating into what you post and how you post it!
I recently splurged and bought books (mainly) because of Instagram. #instagrammademebuyit *coughs*
Not because an ad prompted me to or because the author said “buy this,” but because I grew to love the characters, came to know the author, fell in love with the premise and aesthetic. I experienced the book before I even read it, and that is what’s gonna get followers to buy/read your book.
Let them experience it and see just why they do need to read it, to become a part of your storyworld. You can do that through your posts or even a freebie, giveaway, or sneak peek—or just by being a fun, unique individual your followers come to love!
What are the best social media platforms to use?
(Just to heads-up everyone, I have Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, and Pinterest—that’s it. There are many other platforms that are probably amazing for book marketing, so this is just from my personal experience.)
That honestly depends on your goals and how much time/effort you’re willing to put into it.
If you’re looking to create a community of readers (not necessarily buyers, although there will be some) who will encourage you, beta-read for you, join your street team, share about your books, etc., then I’d go with Goodreads. It’s not a traditional social media platform, as it’s tailored specifically to readers/authors, but it is an amazing tool. It’s pretty low-maintenance in that all you have to do is set up your profile and rate whatever book you’ve read, but if you intend to actively market on it, it can be pretty high-maintenance, between reviewing and joining groups and whatnot.
They also offer advertising tools and opportunities for authors, but those cost money, of course, and I’ve yet to part with my meager savings to test them out. *winks*
If you’re looking to build your platform and following, develop meaningful relationships that will benefit you in the future, and just get your name out there…Instagram. So far, I haven’t noticed a climb in sales or anything since joining back in April, but I have seen a lot of growth and I’ve connected with people I otherwise wouldn’t have, and I’ve encountered a lot of opportunities and gotten my name “out there.” For the most part, to get any real benefits out of the Instagram, it’s pretty high-maintenance.
They too offer ads, and you can utilize Instagram for sponsored posts and brand representation, but again. Money. *sighs*
If you’re looking to put out dense content (i.e., lots of words) and find a support group, Facebook is your best bet. For me personally, I haven’t noticed much benefit out of it at all…but I also don’t put a lot of time into actively marketing on it. It is pretty low-maintenance in terms of what you do, but how you do it can get more effortful and time-consuming. That said, if you work with it, you can get something out of it! Just keep in mind that most of the active members on FB are a little older, so your YA and middle-grade readers/writers are gonna be on Instagram. Even Facebookers seem to be more active on IG.
Again, there are ad opportunities. I tested the FB ad campaign out, with poor results. *sobs* So I wouldn’t recommend it.
Now, I have never used TikTok or YouTube has an author; HOWEVER, I know and have witnessed people really explode on these platforms. YouTube is really valuable for credibility and pouring back into the community (if you’re sharing quality content, of course), and is great for advertising, and TikTok has its own little community for authors, where many of today’s popular novels have gained HUGE traction. So if you play your cards right, you can really make it on some of these platforms!
(I personally recommend Bethany Atazadeh on YouTube. She is phenomenal.)
In my experience, Goodreads and Instagram (and my blog, of course) have been the best. Again, though, it’s all about your goals and how much work (and time and money) you’re willing to put into it. I’m very low-maintenance and try to be organic, so for me to see results says something. *winks*
I recommend trying things out, giving each platform your best shot, just to see how well it does! And it’s really all dependent upon who you connect with and how you interact on the platform, so be intentional about what you do, share, and say!
Which social platform (i.e. Goodreads, facebook/instagram, blog, etc.) would you say has been the most beneficial for marketing books?
As I told Virginia, each platform has different goals and tools, so there’s really no “best” or “one size fits all” option. However, in my experience, I’ve found blogging, Goodreads, and Instagram to be some of my most beneficial platforms!
My blog really is my platform. It’s what put me out there as a debut (ish) author, what introduced me to so many amazing writers/bloggers/readers, and it’s what gets the most engagement now.
However, it’s also static, as I’m not really growing on my blog or getting new traffic. And most people are here for the content (like this post, of course) rather than actually learning more about my books for the purpose of purchasing them. Which, although it sounds like a con, I am perfectly content with! Since I don’t sell through my website, that’s no big deal, and I like to think of this as my homebase for other things, whereas…
Instagram has really gotten my name out there and received a lot more traffic/growth. There has also been a small increase in sales (for example, I make/sell about double per month than I did before I got Instagram), but I haven’t been on IG long enough to say if it’s actually good for converting followers into customers—although my theory is it is. I do feel like I’ve become more of an “actual author” since joining IG—which is crazy, I know, but there’s something about being an IG author and getting to interact with all these successful authors (like Erin Phillips, Lauren D. Fulter, Victoria Lynn, and many others) that lends to oneself a hint of credibility. *winks*
And Goodreads. Y’all, Goodreads was actually my first platform as an author, and even though it didn’t become much until after I got my website/blog, it has been a huge proponent in growing my blog and connecting with actual readers. Plus there are so many ways to make your book visible, whereas social media and blogs can be centered around so many other things.
To be quite honest, I don’t put as much time into actively marketing or really growing any of my platforms, so once I start doing that (*coughs* once I actually get the time back from wherever it flew off to), it’ll be cool to see how much has changed!
Of course, each platform is going to function differently for each author, and it does all depend on how much time and effort you put into it, but these three—my blog, Instagram, and Goodreads—have all been very beneficial to me!
Should an author post frequently?
ABSOLUTELY. I’ve noticed from the authors I follow that the less frequently they post, the less I actually remember them. *coughs* It’s the ones who post at least three times a week that I feel the most invested and interested in.
I started out posting once a day on Instagram, which actually wasn’t that hard, and my following and engagement was phenomenal. In recent months, I’ve been a lot less consistent, and my follower count has grown kinda stagnant and my engagement is pretty low.
So find a frequency/consistency that works for you and stick with it! If you sign up for a business account on IG or FB, you can actually schedule posts ahead of time, which is SUCH lifesaver!
All that said, don’t play the same track on repeat. Share new and different things. Shake things up a bit by doing a tag instead of a review, or a reel instead of a regular post. Try making a list each month of different post ideas, and you’ll find your creativity flows a lot smoother and posting is a lot easier!
How do you keep your followers engaged?
Simple. Engage with them.
And that starts in two different ways. Either post something really controversial (*coughs* not recommended for one’s mental health, but great for post engagement/stats) OR encourage your followers to share in the comments! It can be as simple as “What are your thoughts?” or as complicated as a giveaway where they have to comment to enter.
Then, of course, when you see their comment, don’t just like it and move on…start a conversation! Get to talking, bring others into the conversation, and start developing relationships with your followers!
Even though I don’t recommend posting controversial things, do post things that inspire conversations. Share your thoughts on a popular book, something you’ve learned, a piece of advice, or even ask a question instead! Just be sure that your post encourages engagement!
m.c. kennedy's question
How can you utilize social media to its full potential?
The answer is quite simple, but putting it into action is very difficult…
Put in lots of time, effort, and research; and don’t be afraid to try new things.
That’s really the brunt of it. But, most of us don’t have time and would rather put effort toward actually writing our books instead of trying to market them…
So, what are some actionable steps to enhance the amazing qualities of your social media platform of choice? Good question!
Take a tour of the platform and see what tools they offer. Make a list of the ones you want to try, what’s free, and what you want to learn more about.
Observe other authors’ profiles/feeds and see what works for them. Maybe even reach out to a few and ask for their advice. What works for them may not work for you, but it will give you a great basis.
Take advantage of post schedule and batching. Batching is when you create all of your content for a set period of time (two weeks, a month, three months) and schedule them ahead of time. Whether it’s a series of book reviews, cover reveals, or writing snippets, try preparing your posts when you have time and scheduling them for when you won’t.
Find a frequency that suits you. Not everyone can commit to posting every single day—so find what times and days work for you. What time is best for you to sit down and work on a post? What time is best for you to share it? How often a week? How much? How long? Ask yourself these questions and review your current lifestyle to see what works best for you—and stick with it! Consistency is not posting every single day of every single year—it’s not even posting often or a lot—it’s simply sticking to the schedule you set for yourself, however that may look!
Set goals and make plans. Have a goal in mind every month or every quarter or every year (whatever works for you) of what you want to do and get out of your social media. Reach 1k followers? Turn 100 followers into customers? Post 50 times? Whatever it is, make sure you know what you’re doing…and tailor everything to that. Otherwise, you end up with a chaotic, ineffective mess.
Be authentic. Being fake or like a commercial defeats the whole purpose of social media. It’s there for you to share a piece of yourself—who you are, what you do, what you love. So do that! Don’t be afraid to have fun and let your personality shine through, rather than feel confined to a set of boring “buy this” posts written in a stilted voice.
Build relationships. Again, the purpose of social media is to, well, socialize! And for someone who’s antisocial, I love chatting (when I have time) with friends new and old on social media! Whether you slide into someone’s DMs or just start commenting on and sharing another creator’s posts or start a conversation with one of your followers, try to actually build meaningful, lasting relationships with the people you interact with!
Pick the platform that’s right for you. Some of us just hate pictures. Others hate long captions. Some of us would rather talk to the camera. Others are fine to never show their face. Whatever your goals and preferences are and what makes you comfortable needs to influence which platform you put the most effort into! Not everything is going to work for you like it does for Leigh, Nora, and Danielle, so find what does work and pour into that!
Experiment. I don’t recommend spending gobs of money on experiments, but do try new (and inexpensive) things! Whether that’s a reel for the first time or a poll in your stories or a giveaway on your blog, experiment with all that you can do to see what really is the most beneficial!
Reuse your content. Post an old blog post on Facebook. Create a tweet in your blog post. Share your newsletter on Instagram. Host a giveaway on Facebook where entrants need to check out your IG. Create pins and infographics from other posts to share on Pinterest. The options are endless when it comes to repurposing your content, cross-posting across multiple platforms, and sharing it all over! Don’t feel pressured to write or design something new and different for everything—just reuse old posts or share them on multiple platforms!
I could go on, I feel like, but I’ll stop here. Y’all give these tips a try and see what happens! *winks*
How do I get more Instagram followers?
I actually wrote down thirteen tips and tricks for growing your Instagram (aka, getting more followers) a couple months ago, so I’mma drop the link to that doc below! There’s a lot that can be said on this topic, but everyone has to start somewhere, and I think this is the perfect place to begin! *winks* Getting followers who will stick around, engage with, and benefit from your content actually starts at the root of your account, so make sure you have a great foundation before anything else!
Have questions? Drop them HERE! I can't wait to share more about marketing!
Have advice? Now, that goes in the comments! What social media platforms have worked best for you? How did you grow your following? How often do you post? Let us know in the comments! *grins*