How to REALLY Sell using Social Media

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I posted a poll last Friday to get some feedback on whether or not social media sells. I want to thank all of you who took the time to answer the poll and supply comments. You’ve really helped my little study.

The Results are In

After gathering, calculating, weighing, studying, and cross-examining the data and other scientific mumbo jumbo, I’ve found the following to be possible truths.

  • Social media has and can be used to make direct sales
  • People do purchase books directly from social media
  • Based on the poll, most books were purchased because of a blog post (whether an author’s own blog, guest blog, re-blog, or author interview)
  • Most sales made via Twitter were made from re-tweets or tweets made by those other than the author
  • Goodreads and Facebook ranked lowest on the poll
  • Readers are more likely to purchase a book if they know the author
  • Readers are more likely to purchase a book if it is referred to them in some way

What I’ve Concluded from this Study:

If authors need social media, but social media does not sell, perhaps the problem is not social media, but who we are trying to sell too and how we are trying to sell. Make sense? All I’m saying is the problem doesn’t seem to be the platform, but how we are using it. There are countless articles online that suggest social media is not a tool nor can it be used to make sales. This may or may not be true. Based on the information I’ve gathered, here’s my plan to increase sales using social media.

  • Gain a good following (quality over quantity)
  • Advertise wisely
  • Use news, not ads to promote books
  • Increase “word of mouth”
  • Make connections

 Gain a Good Following

How many followers should you have?

How many followers should you have?

What’s the ideal number of followers you should have? There really isn’t a magic number. It’s about how engaged you are with what you have. There really isn’t one strategy for gaining followers. Some authors follow everyone who follows them to increase their followers. Their logic is: the more followers they have the more books they will sell.

More people=more sales, right?

What I don’t like about this plan is that the emphasis is on numbers. We should be focused on who is following us, not how many. If people follow you to gain a follower, they aren’t likely to buy your book.

Why Numbers Don’t Matter

The person with 10,000 followers may only have 1,000 followers who are interested in them and their books.

Likewise, the person with 5,000 may have 3,000.

See what I’m saying?

Before you sell, make sure you are selling to the right people.

Look at your followers. Who are they?

  • friends
  • family
  • coworkers

How many are writers?

The problem with selling to writers is that they may be too busy #amwriting and not #amreading.

Now this is just an idea. I have no real proof, but writers may not be the best followers to make sales.

  • Many identify themselves as–even brag about being–nonreaders
  • They are too busy writing
  • They write a different genre than you (If they don’t write it, they probably won’t read it)
  • They have no money (sorry, it’s true in most cases)
  • They don’t use social media to connect, but to promote (it’s all about them)
  • They use auto tweets (if they aren’t tweeting, they aren’t reading tweets)
  • Your tweets get buried in their feed because they have thousands of followers to gain a following

Does this sound like your followers? Does this sound like you?

You’ve probably heard this advice a thousand times: Target your market.

You might ask, aren’t some writers your market?

My thought is yes. Before you start unfollowing everyone who identifies themselves as a writer, my advice is that you should follow them anyway–not just for sales. I follow other authors for advice, to follow trends in my genre and market, and because frankly I love connecting with other writers.

If you want to follow other writers, here’s my advice: follow writers of the same genre. For instance, I used to follow writers of romance, suspense, mystery, YA, etc. Now I mainly follow other fantasy writers.

Not only do I enjoy learning about them and their books, I also purchase their books. My logic is that this should work in the reverse order. Since they write fantasy, they may buy my books as well. Will the mystery writer buy your book if you’re a fantasy writer? Probably not. It has nothing to do with your advertising campaign, they just aren’t your market.

How to Gain Followers in Your Market

Easier said than done. This is why I like Twitter. You can use the search field to type in hashtags and keywords to find tweets and tweeps related to the topic. For instance, my sister writes fantasy parody. Ideally these are the words she should use to find potential readers.

  • fantasy
  • parody
  • comedy
  • Monty Python
  • Gerald Morris
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Lord of the Rings
  • The Hobbit
  • Harry Potter

Why these search terms? Because people who like those things will like her book.

Try this out right now. See how many people you find.

Ok, you’ve found the illusive reader. Do not go all crocodile hunter on them. This is no time to poke and get in their faces. Don’t start messaging them to BUY YOUR BOOK. Follow them and see if they follow you back. If they do, great. If they don’t, it’s not over. Whether they follow you or not, the next step is the same. Be interactive.

  • comment,
  • like
  • share their tweets
  • thank them for following, retweeting, sharing, etc

They will appreciate the interaction and possibly follow you back and/or check out your profile where they will see information about your books. This could potentially result in sales. TA-DA!

I made this sound easy, didn’t I? It’s not. It takes time, but it takes less time if you put your best foot forward. What do I mean by that?

People will make an instant and usually permanent decision whether to follow you or not. Your profile is a landing page. You don’t want to turn them away at base one.

  • Have a flattering, professional, and updated profile picture and header image
  • Use your real name
  • Have a detailed bio that includes professional, social, and recreational info (writer, teacher, reader, nerd, music lover, coffee junkie)
  • Create real and interesting tweets
  • Include a URL to your website or blog

 

Advertise Wise

Everyone tells you that you must advertise or no one will know you wrote a book. They also tell you advertising is bad and turns readers off. I’m so over the contradictory advice. So let’s end this conundrum once and for all.

You MUST advertise, but you have to advertise WISE.

When you must advertise–and you must–make your ads stand out. No, this does not mean typing in all bold in screaming font. Be creative. Check out my sister’s ads on Twitter.

Example: The Knight’s Who say Ni no longer desire a shrubbery. That was my idea. Hope you like it.

Use photos, phrases, and key words to entice your followers. You want to catch their eye, make them read it, click the link, and buy.

Why Aren’t Your Ads Selling?

  • Too vague (sometimes I don’t know what the title is, what it’s about, or what genre its in)
  • Boring (I see hundreds of ads that look alike every hour. Get creative. Draw my attention)
  • No photos
  • Inconstant (You shouldn’t post BUY MY BOOK all day long, but you need to more than once a day)
  • You repeat the same ad over and over

 

Think News not Ads

To be honest, advertising is a lazy way to promote your book. We’re writers, we’re supposed to be creative. Think outside of ads to entice people to buy your book.

Let’s break it down. What makes someone want to read your books?

Information: Genre, plot, characters, ratings, author info.

Tweet about your books, not just where you can buy them, but why they should buy. Tell them snippets about your plot, the writing process, your characters, and upcoming projects. Think NEWS not ADS. Do you have a cover reveal? A book launch? Plans for a sequel? A really good review? A sale? These are all ways to gain exposure for your books without using direct advertising.

So in theory: Indirect ads result in direct sales.

This is one of the reasons why blogs ranked so high in the poll. Readers get to learn about the author and the book, enticing them to learn more. They also give you a sample of the author’s writing style. Tweets and Facebook post don’t give you the wordcount to really delve into detail about how awesome you and your book are.


 

Word of Mouth

 

People always tell you social media doesn’t sell, word of mouth does. Social media is in its own right word of mouth. A book review, author interview, or a tweet are just digital ways of saying “Check out this awesome author or this awesome book.”

So why is word of mouth so important. Because word of mouth is an indirect ad. Remember how I said indirect ads result in direct sales?

In comments, many of you expressed how advertisements or promotional material from the authors themselves turned you off or didn’t result in you buying the book. It’s viewed as being “pushy” or “unreliable.” Of course the author is going to tell you they wrote a great book. They won’t tell you it sucks.

If I told you to  buy my awesome fantasy novel, would you buy it?

Do you trust me?

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What if I told you to buy a book by someone else. I bet I gain credibility. I also bet they gain a sale.

People are more likely to buy a book, it seems, if someone else tells them about, so how can you get others to talk about your books?

  • Ask them too
  • Offer a copy of your book for an honest review: encourage them to share their review on multiple platforms
  • Pay it forward. Don’t actually pay. You should never have to pay for promotion like that. If you support others, they are likely to support you back. Check out my advice about reciprocation from an earlier post.
  • Share your reviews. Don’t tell your readers what you think about your book. Tell them what someone else does.

So tell me, which tweet would you trust?

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Make Connections

So many of you expressed how important it is for you to know the author. While I don’t believe you should always have to or do have to know the author to buy their book (Sometimes a good cover or blurb will do it for me), this is a great way to increase sales.

How connections increase sales:

  • They like you: They hope they will like your book
  • They like you: They will buy it to support you
  • They like you: Whether they bought it or not, they will tell others to buy your book
  • They like you: They will interview you on their blog which will increase your exposure
  • They like you: They will share your tweets, post, promotions, etc

How do you make connections?

This isn’t hard, people. Simply say, Hello. You will probably have to be the instigator. Going back to how to gain followers. You want quality connections. These will be people who get to know you, support you, follow you, and tell others about you. You have to earn connections.

  • Reply to tweets and post (likes are great but comments are better)
  • Send real instead of automated messages to them
  • Share their content
  • Start a conversation
  • Join conversations in progress

 

We’ve all heard it said. You can’t make sales using social media. You can make sales, you just haven’t discovered the secret. You can, you’re just doing something wrong. Ignore the noise.

Why trust what others say?

This is my theory. I’m not guaranteeing I’m right or that my plan will work. I’m simply forming a plan based on all of your wonderful feedback. You never know unless you try. So I’m going to put my plan into practice now during the release of my sister’s debut novel. I hope it works for her. I’ll be sure to let you know.

Thanks again for all of your comments and for sharing my post. Speaking of sharing, don’t forget to share information about your favorite authors. Studies seem to show your support helps.

Does Social Media Sell? Take the Poll

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Writers are told they need social media to sell books; however, they are also told they won’t sell books directly from social media or blogs.

Sounds rather counterproductive doesn’t it?

I guess the key word there is directly. Meaning, I suppose, that no one actually purchases your books by clicking on the links you provide in tweets or post.

I am a writer, so I believe other writers when they tell me they don’t see a lot of sales from their post or tweets.

I’m also a reader, and as one, I purchased ten e-books last year–all of which I found either from a tweet or blog post. That’s the only way I learn about new books. I don’t have time to browse Amazon–and Goodreads won’t even give me recommendations until I review a few more books.

That being said, I want to hear from the rest of you. How do you find your books? Do you respond to posts from twitter, Facebook, or WordPress? Please answer the poll below. If you don’t see your answer, please respond in the comment section below.

Tuesday Tip

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tip#1It’s Tuesday again–time for another tip. I’m going to apologize, because I started writing this today, which is a big mistake, but also a great learning experience. Many of my Tuesday tips actually come from writing them.

Long story short, I had been working on a draft for two days; however, there was no way I was going to get it polished in time to be a Tuesday tip (Wednesday perhaps, but that isn’t the name of this post). So I had to think of a new topic last minute, which got me thinking. How many of you post the same day you write the draft? How many of you like to put a full night’s sleep between you and your draft before posting so you can go back and look at it with a fresh mind?

I’m taking my own advice today by creating this post using a 5 step method that I normally utilize. Although I recommend taking two to three days to write a post (one day to research and outline, one to finish the draft, and the next to edit and revise), this method will allow you to write a well-structured post in a couple of days or in a last-minute pinch.

Step 1 Outline

It’s important to outline. If you don’t know what needs to be said and when, putting your draft together might look something like this:

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  1. choose a subject
    1. something you are passionate about.
    2. something you know a lot about
    3. something you’ve recently talked about with other people
    4. a current trend
  2. decide tone and style
    1. formal/informal
    2. serious, playful, professional, etc
    3. consider audience
    4. consider prior post
    5. consider your topic
  3. research
    1. what you don’t know
    2. what others have said on the topic
    3. sources (keep a list and links)

This last part can take an hour or more, which is why I suggest researching and outlining the first day, and drafting the next.

Step 2 Create the structure

This is where you take those bare bones and put them together to form a skeleton. Create your headings and subheadings. This will help you keep your thoughts organized when you go to write. For instance, let’s say you were writing a post about auto insurance for beginners. Your structural outline might look like this:

  1. Introduction
  2. Why you need auto insurance
  3. Coverages
    1. liability
      1. property damage
      2. bodily injury
    2. comprehensive and collision
      1. deductibles
      2. exclusions
    3. uninsured underinsured
    4. medical
    5. towing and rental reimbursement
  4. How to save money on auto insurance
    1. discounts
    2. compare rates
    3. combine policies
    4. safe driving
  5. Conclusion

Step 3 Write

Just write off-the cuff. I do recommend writing in order. Start with your introduction. Try to hook your reader as well as clearly state what you will be writing about. Fill in the headings and subheadings. Because there’s already an outline, it’s like filling in the blanks of a multiple choice quiz. Lastly, write your conclusion. Re-emphasizes main points and tie it back to your introduction. This is also a great place to call your readers to action, even if it is just to encourage them to comment and share.

Do not edit as you write. Your writing will be more natural and sound less robotic or contrived if you just write what you think as you think. Write quickly, fast enough to keep up wth your thoughts. What you write may be rough, nonsensical, even off topic, but just get the words down. Get all your thoughts out. Trust me, some of them will be good.

Step 4 Edit

You’ve spent all that time prepping, and now it’s time for surgery. Go back and tweak, chop, hack, burn, add and remove words until you are left with something that gets your message across. You are looking for the same things you would if you were editing your novel or a research paper.

  1. sentence flow
  2. redundancies
  3. spelling and grammar errors
  4. readability
  5. structure
  6. relevancy (make sure everything contributes to the big picture)

Step 5 The final touches

This is like adding jewelry and accessories to your wardrobe.

  1. choose images (it’s google time!)
  2. assign a  category
  3. don’t forget tags
  4. create links if you need them

Now you are ready to click publish. Don’t forget to share your post on twitter, Facebook, and other writing platforms that you have. Hopefully you found this helpful, and you don’t find yourself in a bind like I did. Follow the 5-step method and you’ll have a perfectly polished post by the day you need to publish it.

Tuesday Tip

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tip#1It’s Tuesday again; that means it’s the first day of school and time for another Tuesday tip. Last week I talked about joining the Twitterverse. For those of you who are thinking about joining Twitter, or if you’re still fairly new to the site, I’m going to give you some basics on how to use Twitter for your writing platform.

Why Tweet?

I’ve found that Twitter is a great place to connect with readers and writers quickly. Based on my experience, it takes less time to gain followers on Twitter than WordPress. That doesn’t mean, I’m giving up my blog. On the contrary, I find Twitter helps direct traffic to my blog, because I tweet my post. Some people find my Twitter account via my blog; likewise, others find my blog via my Twitter. They are working hand-in-hand so to speak.

More traffic! More connections! More exposure! You’re ready to get started, right? Before you dive in, just know you won’t get it right away. I was totally lost in the beginning. Give it some time; you’ll get the hang of it.

Make your presence known

You wouldn’t have a birthday party without sending out invitations, so let people know you’re there. Twitter will help people find you, but it helps to let people know you’re on Twitter. If you have a blog, newsletter or Facebook account, let people know you’ve started a Twitter account.

Through Twitter you will start getting followers. Everyone starts at zero, so don’t let this discourage you. It takes time to build followers; however, you’ll gain them faster if you do more than sit around twiddling your thumbs.

How to get followers.

Follow other tweople–no, that’s not a mispelling. Roughly 30 percent of the people you follow will follow you back, because it’s considered courteous. However, you do not need to follow someone just because they follow you, and vise versa. Just know they may stop following you in one to ten days for not reciprocating. Keep in mind your followers can flucuate quite a bit. I like to compare it to stocks. You have to keep in mind they will go up and down.

Rule of Thumb: You should have about the same number of people following you as you are following.

Who should you follow?

  1. agents
  2. editors
  3. readers
  4. other writers in your genre
  5. experts in your genre

Start Tweeting

The most important thing to remember to do on Twitter is Tweet. Your Tweets are the main reason you can gain or lose followers. Tweets are only 140 characters, so choose them wisely. This is not a Facebook post; you’ll have to be concise.

Use hashtags: This is how tweets are categorized. A hashtag is a word followed by the # symbol. This will help people locate your tweets when they use search. The more popular the hashtag, the more likely you’ll gain views from that Tweet. Feel free to make up your own. For instance I use #writingworkout whenever I have a good hard writing session. This is a great way to find people with similar interest to connect to. For instance, people who #amwriting or #amreading are probably people you want to follow.

Rule of Thumb: Use one or two per post. Don’t overdue it. It’s really annoying #when#people#use#hashtags#like#this.

Example of a Tweet with a hashtag: It’s the perfect day to write #amwriting

Some popular hashtags are

#AmWriting

#AmEditing

#WordCount

#WriterWednesday

#WritersLife

#Writerproblems

#WriteTip

#AskAgent

#AskAuthor

#AskEditor

#WritingPrompt

#WIP (work in progress)

What you should tweet

You can tweet whatever you want. Before you hit the tweet button, ask yourself: is this how you want to present yourself to writers and readers? Is it relevant? Is it entertaining?  Here are some do’s and don’ts.

                          • Share information that is relavent, helpful, and interesting in your area of expertise. If you are a writer, post about about writing. If you write fantasy, post about fantasy as well. This is not the outlet for your religious or political beliefs. Likewise, this is not the place to talk about your kids, pets, gardens, and recipes. I follow people to learn how to publish, not how to make brownies.
                          • Post photos and quotes. These should be related to your niche, genre, etc
                        • Post blogs, articles, and links that relate to writing
                      • Retweet tweets from other users
                        • Post about recent news in the industry
                    • Link your blogposts
            • Talk about your book or editing services, especially when you offer promos or specials. Do not overpromote. Most of your content should not be pushing book sales. This is obnoxous and turns people away.

How often should you tweet? That is up to you. I’ve heard between ten to thirteen post a day.

Interact with other Tweople

Not all of your post have to be original. If you see a tweet you’d like to share, you simply retweet it on your own timeline. Two ways you can do this. You can hit the retweet button or copy it and paste it into your own tweet. Make sure to give credit to the person who orignally tweeted it. Users are notified of retweets, so this is a great way to gain followers.

Mentions-if you want to mention someone in a tweet, don’t just type their name. Always put the @ symbol before their username.

Example: @username

People appreciate the mentions. you may even get some in return, which helps your following.

#FF Follow Fridays

This is a popular hashtag used on Fridays to promote users you follow.

Example: #FF @mbrown @NHarris @catlady01

This lets people know who you recommend. They are notified for being mentioned, so they are likely to recommend you as well.

#SO Shout out

If you have followers who frequently reply, comment, or repost, this is a super way to thank them where all your followers (and they) can see.

Reply to other people’s tweets. It goes without saying that reciprocating is important on Twitter. Keep in mind your replies are not private. They show up on your timeline as well as the person you replied to. Replies are a great way to gain exposure, so make sure your replies represent you well. If you want to say something privately to someone, you can also DM (direct message), but you can only do this if you follow them and they follow you back.

Making a good impression

Just like your blog and your Facebook account, Twitter lets you personalize your homepage. Your profile pick and background pick need to look professional and show what you do.

Bio information. Like a tweet, you only get so many characters, so make it count. Let people know what you do, your aspirations, your talents.

Last but not least, the most important advice is have fun. If you don’t like Twitter, it will show in your tweets. There are millions of people on Twitter: potential readers, fellow writers, and agents. Have fun connecting, sharing, and building your platform.

 

Joining the Twitterverse: To Tweet or not to Tweet?

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imagesCA9LAWG8Just like with Facebook, I always said I would never join Twitter. I stopped saying that in April when I started an account to promote myself as a writer and editor. I always said “Twitter is for Twerps!” Or when I didn’t self-censor myself, I tended to use a less flattering and vulgar T-word. Now I’ve officially become a Twerson on the Twitterverse.

What the heck am I saying? Just using some Twitter terms to spice up my post. It was all gobbledygook to me in the beginning, especially hashtags. I first noticed these popping up on Facebook. Drove me crazy. Now I understand their use. It’s a great way to categorize tweets, especially considering Twitter gets millions of tweets a day.

I’m in no way a social media expert, but I’m becoming a lot more comfortable with this platform. I’ve still got a lot to learn like how to organize people in groups so my feed doesn’t get bogged down.

I’m currently doing some research at the moment (as well as trial and error) to see how Twitter can best be utilized by writers to enhance their platform–might make a good Tuesday Tip.

So for those of you wondering whether to tweet or not, I recommend joining. It’s a great site to connect with other writers, build a platform, and increase traffic to your blog. Do a little research first. View other writer’s profiles to see what’s working for them; learn about hashtags; read up on how to (and how not to) promote your writing.

Since I’m using Twitter to connect with other writers and strengthen a platform, I’d love to connect with you. If you’d like to connect with me on Twitter, or if you are looking for someone to follow, please post your twitter accounts in comments. Mine is @tbetzner. Also, feel free to respond to the poll below or share your thoughts about Twitter or other social media sites.