Social media is everywhere and has affected virtually every industry. From advertising and branding to consumer reviews and viral videos, the impact of social media can’t be overstated. It’s no different with book marketing. Authors are all over platforms; from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and LinkedIn.
Some experts tell authors social media is for the most part useless when promoting a book, and others go so far as saying social media is absolutely essential to book publicity.
The truth is somewhere in between these two viewpoints.
The Smith Publicity view on social media is straightforward: If authors can afford to pay someone to handle their social media, or if they have sufficient time to do it on their own, it’s a great way to augment a book publicity campaign.
While there are agencies that promote a book through social media only, such services are typically combined with digital marketing and paid advertising, so they aren’t truly social media campaigns. In our experience, relying only on social media will typically not move the needle significantly when it comes to book sales, and some type of book PR service should be employed.
Social media does provide credibility for an author. Many media contacts will check out an author’s online footprint and special media platforms to see if there are “legitimate.” That’s why you’ll often read about an author or see or hear them in an interview, and note that the number of followers they have on a platform – if it’s a high number!
However, many authors don’t consider this fact: If you’re going to be on social media, keep your profiles and activity current, or, stay off social media altogether. It’s better notto be on social media than have a Twitter account that’s been dormant for a year or a Facebook page that doesn’t even have your picture. You’ll have more credibility, ironically, if you have no social media presence but have a terrific website, than if you have an impressive social media following and a terrible website.
The two roads of book publicity and social media merge perfectly together when one supports the other. For example, re-purposing media runs – interviews, print coverage, etc. – on social media is an excellent way to populate platforms with good content. You significantly expand the reach of your media coverage by pushing it through to your social media followers.
Additionally, reaching out to an editor or producer via social media, or mentioning them in your own posts, tweets, etc. can be a great way to establish media connections that could then result in coverage. Also, simple things such as thanking a host or editor via social media after you have an interview or are covered in print can mean a lot to a media contact – it will make you more memorable and can lead to additional opportunities.
Author social media activities can go awry if an author doesn’t avoid a few common mistakes such as:
- Being overly promotional. If you go online and tell people how great your book is, you’ll look pushy, amateurish, and desperate. You need to provide information, tips, or do something fun with your followers to forge authentic connections that subsequently motivate them to buy your book.
- Engaging in controversial or negative conversations. Let’s face it, social media – as wonderful as it can be – can extremely negative, often teeming with negativity. For authors, treat social media like a business. You’re not there to comment on politics or celebrities, you’re there to spread word about you and your book. Jump into controversial topics, and it can be a rabbit hole you’ll regret for a very long time.
- Don’t mix business with your personal life on social media. You can have author platforms or personal ones, just don’t mix the two.
- If you want to comment on other books, follow the rule of: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything. Positivity breeds positivity, and the same applies to negativity.
- Don’t be on too many platforms. Typically, authors should choose two platforms and devote their time to maintaining them. If you are on too many platforms, you’ll likely let one slip and maintain old content, or, you’ll need to repurpose content on all multiple platforms.
- Choose the right platforms. For books that include photographs or visuals, or cover a topic that lends itself to visuals, Instagram can be ideal. Business book authors should generally always be on LinkedIn, and Twitter (again, if you have the time to keep it current) can be effective for all authors.
- Give something to get something. The best way to get something – a book sale, for example – is to give something first. Offer a free chapter download of your book. Create a fun contest that your followers will genuinely enjoy. Offer to give books away to a specific number of people if they reach out to you by a certain time. If you are a novelist, create a contest for names of characters for your next book.
To summarize, social media can be an excellent tool to augment a traditional book marketing campaign. In our experience at Smith Publicity, it is difficult to fully promote a book through social media alone. Book marketing and traditional media coverage remains the most direct, effective way to spark book sales, enhance author brands, and create additional opportunities such as speaking engagements, new business opportunities, etc.
About Smith Publicity
Dan Smith founded Smith Publicity in 1997, beginning with one client and working from a tiny bedroom office. Since then, the company has grown for 21 consecutive years, and has promoted over 3,500 authors and books. Smith Publicity is the most prolific book publicity firm in the publishing industry, and is well known for its “equal opportunity” approach of working with both self-published and traditionally published authors and books. The firm handles almost all book genres and has specific services for business book marketing, YA Book promotion self-help/wellness book publicity, fiction promotion and also promotes ebooks via innovative e-book marketing strategies. The company has also been at the forefront of many book publicity “firsts” and trends, including:
- The first agency to have a self-published novelist featured in The New York Times.
- Developed the “book as a business card” book marketing philosophy that has since become a standard industry term and service description.
- Produced one of the first video book trailers.
- Ignited the self-publishing revolution by securing a front page, above-the-fold article about self-publishing in The New York Times that featured multiple self-published authors
For more information visit www.smithpublicity.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, and connect with us on Twitter @smithpublicity, Facebook @smithpublicity, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Authors can also get useful book publicity tips by visiting the “110 Book Marketing Ideas to Promote Your Book” page on our website.
To view informative Smith Publicity videos, check out some of these: