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.

Balancing Writing with Social Media

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Social media and writing are a balancing act, and the Cat and the Hat knows a lot about that.

Social media and writing are a balancing act, and the Cat in the Hat knows a lot about that.

Yesterday, I was supposed to blog. That didn’t happen. Neither did writing. So what did I accomplish in two days, aside from being unaccomplished? I gained and lost some followers on Twitter and posted roughly ten tweets.

I use Twitter to build my platform, so tweeting is very important; however, if it distracts me from writing, it isn’t helping–it’s hurting. Consider my dilemma: Because of my social media platform, I’m not writing, but without a social media platform, whose going to read my writing?

I considered writing about how to avoid social media, but I think that’s unrealistic (like cutting sugar from your diet). I think moderation and self control are key. So instead, I’m going to talk about how to balance building your social media platform with writing.

Make a List

If you go to the grocery store without a list you are more likely to buy food you already have, spend more, forget to buy food you don’t have, and purchase impulse items. My sister and I are prime examples of this. I went to the store the other day and spent $50. When I go with a list, my average is $20. You see my point. Where was I going with this? Never write hungry. Just kidding. 

I’m a list person. I’ve got a list of lists I need to write. Not kidding. Make a list of the things you need to accomplish that day as far as writing and social media. It might look something like this. Only picture it handwritten in chickenscratch.

1. Finish edits to last chapter (this should be on my sister’s list, but she’s probably reading “Game of Thrones”)

2. Research how long pigs live (Sorry sister, I’m picking on you again. This is for you to do as well)

3. Outline second half of book two (This one’s mine. This is where my book really starts falling apart)

4. Finish scene (I don’t go by chapters. I’m pretty happy if I finish a scene a night. I take a break after every page break)

5. Laundry (This doesn’t sound like writing checklist material until you consider the fact that you need underwear no matter where you write)

6. Follow, like, or comment to 10 blogs (I like to set a minimum of interaction to make sure I’m not just scrolling and reading. Being interactive is making your blog time not a waste of time)

7. Post three tweets (I’m aiming for 5 or more a day eventually. Like blogging, interaction will grow your platform)

8. Make lists on Twitter (see there is a list for everything. This helps keep everyone organized)

Once you’re list is done, decide which tasks are your priorities and accomplish those first. Make sure to allocate your time. Don’t schedule more to-do’s than you have time to do them. If you only have an hour, make that hour count.

Kill Two Birds with One Stone

If you have to choose between tweeting or blogging, choose to blog. You can tweet your post when you’re done, which gave you a post and a tweet. You may be thinking, supporting a blog and a Twitter account will take more time from writing. Why can’t I just have one or the other? Let me explain. The point of the social media platform is to gain followers. You’ll gain more followers if you have a blog linked to Twitter and vise versa. In the long one, this will save you time.

Schedule Social Media Time

I don’t know how many writers fall into this trap: You sit down to write, open your laptop (or notebook for you traditional writers), you open your email, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress to check your stats (it will just take a second). The next thing you know, hours have gone by, and your page is blank.

You can schedule time for social media. How you do this is up to you. You could give yourself an hour or two if you’re generous. You could even time yourself using an alarm. Whatever time-tracking method you use, make sure you stick to it.

It’s up to you whether you check your social media before or after you write. I encourage after, because after a good hard writing session, sometimes all you want to do is surf the net. It’s like a cigarette after sex. I’m just speculating, because I’ve never smoked. Besides, it might give you something awesome to Tweet about, e.g., Just wrote 1,000 words #am writing.

Don’t forget to schedule breaks.

You should schedule a little Twitter time every day. Maybe three times a day: morning, afternoon, and night. Don’t stay up too late. What about your blog? Most bloggers don’t blog every day, though it’s a good idea to check your feed at least once a day. The rule of thumb seems to be post at least three times a week. To save time, do what my sister does. Post on certain days of the week. Not only does this let your followers know when they can expect new content from you, but it also helps you set aside time to write or blog. For instance, I always post on Tuesdays because of my Tuesday Tips. This means I write on Monday so I can have it done, or at least outlined, by Tuesday.

Write Post in Advance

Twitter is easier to limit to ten minutes to an hour, because you only have 140 characters to work with. How hard can that be? When it comes to blogging, sometimes it’s hard to know how long it’s going to take. Sometimes half the time is spent trying to think of something to write. Why not pick one day out of the week and write as many posts as you can. Get the skeletal frame built, if nothing else, and save a draft so all you have to do is add the flesh and the muscle later. This will save you a lot of time. Personally, I have roughly five drafts saved.

Before you start writing drafts, make a list of topics you’d like to discuss on your blog. When you don’t take an hour wracking your brain for an idea, you’ll spend less time creating post.

I hope that was helpful. To those of you who are reading this right now, get back to writing! If you’ve already finished your writing goals for the day, feel free to smile smugly and comment below. Let me know how you balance your writing time with your social media efforts.  

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.