The Absolutely, Totally Critical Importance of Social Media for Today’s Indie Authors
Okay, I know a handful of you are already cringing, because to you social media is synonymous with having a tooth pulled, or something even worse. But you’ve heard it a million times — or maybe several hundred times — and most of those might be from me: indie authors must use social media as part of their overall marketing strategy and marketing mix. REALLY! We’re not kidding. And keep this in mind: social media is simply about building relationships, and building a relationship to your author brand and your book is the bottom-line key to sales.
Social media generally includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn. The most important of these for authors is probably Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. We would rank Instagram as fourth.
I’m sure you’ve seen lists of reasons why, but let’s look at the most important reasons social media is so important for authors:
1. It costs little to nothing to use these channels, other than a bit of your own time.
2. It will drive traffic to your website, the landing page on Satiama or other internet locations for your books, and Amazon.
Using a Facebook store, you can sell directly from Facebook to folks around the world. More than one billion people are active on Facebook. More than 100 million people use Instagram, owned by Facebook, every month. If you don’t have a Facebook store and want to set one up, let me know and we can work on it together. Currently there is no cost involved in creating a Facebook store. What I find particularly great about a Facebook store, which is built right on your FB book page, is that it does not require the buyer to leave the platform to go somewhere else, such as Amazon. It integrates content, platform and point of sale, all in one place. This is a marketer’s dream!
3. There is an extraordinarily large community of indie authors who are willing to help you promote your book and form supportive alliances. This is especially true on Facebook, where indie writer groups abound.
4. You’ll find new purchasers, readers and loyalists on social media, as social media reaches around the world. More than one billion people are active on Facebook. More than 100 million people use Instagram, owned by Facebook, every month. Think about it. You can post daily for free. For free! There isn’t an ad venue in the world that can offer you that kind of potential reach.
Social media helps you to market your books, period.
5. Over time, social media will help you to build your brand by assembling a community of brand loyalists and building a strong relationship with them through the use of content. These evangelists will help you to carry your brand and book information forward using word of mouth, the most important marketing channel of all.
6. When you hold an event such as a book signing, sponsor something, organize giveaways and contests, you’ll need social media to spread the word.
7. With social media, you can inform your followers and readers about new blog posts you write. In a nutshell, a huge following on social media is a self-published author’s biggest asset, after a database with customer information. We’ll write this in a later newsletter.
This is what happens when you don’t use social media:
1. Neighbors, friends, colleagues, and family members can still purchase books from you or through Amazon. But the limit of that is the limit of the size of your ‘crowd’ of friends, colleagues and family.
2. You might be able to sell to readers in your local community, and through local bookstores and coffee shops, but the success of your online sales is likely to be limited.
3. There is no Number 5.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a website is not a substitute, ever, for your book’s presence on social media. One of the biggest keys to success is to set up a dedicated Facebook page or other social media presence for your book. DO NOT use your own personal page for this purpose, and POST AT LEAST ONCE PER DAY. Don’t share personal information and do respond if someone posts a negative comment by at least acknowledging their point of view.
Finally, if you are rolling your eyes about using social media (and you know who you are) then consider using HootSuite to create a week of more of social media posts across all your channels. It’s about $10 a month for the use of their platform, which also contains analytics and other features that allow you to ‘prepost’ and save a huge amount of time. It will also help you to develop a strategy for content and to see how that content is performing. We highly recommend the use of HootSuite as a platform for successful social media management.
One critically important key: you cannot use social media simply to pump your books, post after post. People don’t follow others on social media simply to be the recipient of advertising. Building credibility and relationships and assembling a loyalist community means offering related content that keeps your followers interested. For example, offer a link to an internet article about bullying if your book is about bullying, about food if your book is a cookbook, about art as a form of inner growth if your book is about art, about self-esteem if your book is about loving yourself as you are, etc.
Finally, always do use an image with your posts, but be absolutely sure that the image is royalty free. The only way to assure that is to use a service such as Fotolia.com to get images. We find Fotolia to be a ton of fun! There are other completely free services, such as www.snappygoat.com. Always be sure to read the scope of use statements on sites like these very carefully. But don’t make the classic and potentially fatal mistake of assuming that if an image is on the internet, it is publicly available. This is rarely true, and can swim up and bite you in the pocketbook when the owner asks for money for its use. Most images are embedded with a tracking code so the owner — most often Getty Images — can sweep the internet and find them! Unless you personally took the photo or purchased it from a royalty-free site, you are taking a big risk. The cost of a small size image on Fotolia is generally around one dollar.
Copyright 2017, Satiama Writers Resource