Social media marketing: 3 ways to weave a Web presence
J.K. Rowling. Stephen King. Carol Shay Hornung — wait, who? Yes, I am now a published author. Unlike Ms. Rowling or Mr. King, my name isn’t enough to sell a book, so I’ve been exploring the world of social media marketing.
To paraphrase Douglas Adams, “The Internet is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think there are a lot of people at the mall on Black Friday, but that’s just peanuts to the Internet.”
When you have one item to sell, you need to find customers. Lots of them. People interested in paying for a product you’ve created. There is a vast number of people on the Web, but how do you reach them?
One: Create a public Facebook page
As of March 31, 2013, Facebook claimed 665 million daily users. A public Facebook Page is an ideal way to connect with them. I specifically keep my personal profile only for my friends — people I actually know. By creating a public page, I can connect with anyone using Facebook, if they are able to find me.
That’s where your other marketing decisions come in. Many authors use their book cover as their profile picture, so be sure it is eye-catching. If the title can be read in that little thumbnail square, even better. Since I am a first-time author, I’ve incorporated my book title into the page name: Asperger Sunset — Carol Shay Hornung. The keyword “Asperger” can catch people searching for similar pages on Facebook, and yes, my cover photo is a sunset.
Once the page is set up, you invite your own friends to join, ask them to invite their friends, and so on.
After my page was up for a while, Facebook offered me $50 in advertising credit to promote it. Free advertising? You bet! The program walked me right through the process and I created an ad inviting people to “like” my page. Users were targeted through keywords and, using the $50 credit at a rate of $10 per day, I quadrupled the number of likes on my page.
I was developing an audience. I posted articles related to my book topic, articles about writing, and the occasional cartoon. My page contains links to similar pages. I also point out, from time to time, that Asperger Sunset is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com (and remember to post the link, so it’s easy to click).
You can’t just keep telling the same set of people to buy your book, though. You need to go where the readers are.
Goodreads is an Internet book club. People post reviews of what they’ve read, they post titles of books they are reading, and they list the books they want to read. Goodreads also has a variety of tools for authors, including the Goodreads giveaway. Free books? Perfect. I posted Asperger Sunset as a giveaway and hundreds of people are requesting it. Only two will win, but of those requesting it, many may put it on their “want to read” list, and that could translate into future sales. Goodreads is also set up so people can easily click to buy your book.
Now I have something else to mention on my Facebook page — enter to win a signed copy of my book on Goodreads!
Three: Start a blog
The Internet is a massive pool of self-expression. Write a blog and you have the potential to connect with thousands of people, but you are also buried in a heap of other blogs being posted at the same time.
I chose WordPress for my blog. It has the virtue of being free and also of having many components of a traditional webpage. Looks great and the first thing I did was post a photo of my book and a link to buy it.
When it comes to blogging, you have to ask yourself, “What do I have to offer my readers?” Yes, you want to connect with people who might buy your product, but you need to offer them something valuable in return. Part of it is simple personality. A lot of bloggers write just to write. In my case I am trying to offer insights into the world of high-functioning autism — Asperger’s syndrome — as well as touch on the world of writing.
Again, keywords are vital. You are fishing for people just surfing for something interesting to read. WordPress scans your blog and suggests keywords based on what you’ve written, but you can add to them as well. “Asperger’s” always comes up as a keyword with my blogs, but I make sure to enter “writing,” “reading,” and “books” to catch people who are potential book buyers.
Best of all, everything cross-promotes! When you post a blog on WordPress, you can promote it on your Facebook page. The Facebook page and WordPress have places for your Goodreads button. Amazon has a profile page called Author Central that you can use to post your blog feed, and Goodreads shows your blog feed as well.
Ultimately you create your own little Web within the interwebs, in hopes of snaring buyers.
Diving into the world of book marketing is a huge undertaking. In addition to social media, you need to send out press releases, arrange for readings, and hope your father-in-law secretly buys dozens of copies of your book for Christmas to help drive up your numbers. Like all marketing, it takes a lot of work, but with a little bit of luck, the rewards can be tremendous.
Carol Shay Hornung is the office manager at In Business and author of the mystery novel Asperger Sunset, available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com. The book can also be ordered from your favorite local bookseller!
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