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.

What’s So Good About Goodreads?

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imagesCAFEMBXEIt turns out I’ve been a member of Goodreads since January–not a very active member, I might add. I have an outdated list of books I’m reading, one review, and two friends (one of them is my sister).

Today I updated my profile because I’m going to try to use Goodreads as a platform to promote my books as well as connect with readers and writers. From the research I’ve done so far, I found that Goodreads has different free features as well as other promotional tools, like advertising, to help authors get the word out. For more detailed information, please click here.

Aside from researching Goodreads via the official site and the infamous Google, I checked out what my fellow bloggers had to say. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews, such as:

  • It’s a great place to connect with other writers/readers
  • It doesn’t help increase book sales
  • It DOES increase book sales
  • It’s a great site to promote specials and publicize events
  • It doesn’t increase traffic to author sites or blogs
  • It DOES increase traffic to author sites and blogs
  • It’s a waste of time

To be honest, whenever I see reviews split down the middle like that, I do what anyone would do in the name of science: see for myself. From now on, I’m going to be a more active Goodreads member. I’d like to take this opportunity to connect with all of you there. In the comment section below, or via email (which can be found on my contacts page), please leave your name. Or feel free to send me a friend request on Goodreads.

 

Celebrating 100 Followers

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I have great news. Drum role please! Today I reached 100 followers! I just want to start by thanking all of you who have visited my blog. I really enjoy reading your comments and checking out your blogs. What I like best about blogging is connecting with other writers and readers, and I’ve officially connected with 100 of you!

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In honor of reaching 100 followers, I’ve posted a list: 100 books you should read in a lifetime.  Many of you have probably seen this list on Goodreads. I have read about 15 (some of them reluctantly due to a college class). How many have you read? What changes would you like to see to this list?

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  4. 1984 by George Orwell
  5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  9. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  11. Fahrenheit 451: A Novel by Ray Bradbury
  12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  13. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  14. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  15. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  16. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  17. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  18. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  19. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  20. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  21. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  22. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  23. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  24. Night by Elie Wiesel
  25. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  26. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  27. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
  28. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  29. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  30. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  31. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  32. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
  33. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  34. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  35. The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery
  36. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  37. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  38. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  39. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  40. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  41. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  42. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  43. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  44. The Holy Bible: New King James Version by Thomas Nelson
  45. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  46. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas pere
  47. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  48. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  49. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  50. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  51. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  52. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  53. The Stand by Stephen King
  54. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  55. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  56. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  57. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  58. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  59. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  60. Memoirs of a Geisha: A Novel by Arthur Golden
  61. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  62. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  63. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  64. Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire Book 1) by George R.R. Martin
  65. The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman
  66. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  67. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  68. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  69. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  70. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  71. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  72. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  73. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Book 2) by Suzanne Collins
  74. Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen
  75. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
  76. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  77. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  78. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  79. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingslover
  80. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
  81. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  82. The Odyssey by Homer
  83. Celebrating Silence: Excerpts From Five Years of Weekly Knowledge 1995-2000 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
  84. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  85. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  86. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  87. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  88. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
  89. Mockingjay (The Final Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins
  90. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  91. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  92. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  93. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  94. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  95. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  96. Helen Keller: The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  97. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  98. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  99. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  100. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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