Are You Using Social Media Correctly?

Contrary to popular belief, social media is not a marketing channel.

You are probably thinking, “What?! I thought social media is how you build an audience for books.”

Exactly! Social media is an audience building tool, not an advertising tool. Unless you are purchasing ads on social media sites or offering your followers an announcement or special on your books, the information you share via social media should not be broadcast marketing messages.

Many authors don’t understand this concept. These authors use social media to shout about their books. Recently, an indie author had the courtesy of asking if she could post about her book on Christian Small Publishers Association’s (CSPA) Facebook Page.

This author wrote:

“Good evening! I’d love to post a blurb about a faith-based children’s book that I wrote and published on your Facebook page. Is this something you allow publishers to do?”

I wrote her back and informed her that the purpose of CSPA’s Facebook Page was a place for sharing information and encouragement related to publishing and marketing Christian books, not a place for book promotion. The author then asked:

“Do you happen to know of any Christian associations that do allow promotion for books of faith? I have self-published and am having a hard time getting the word out there.”

This author was not a Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) nor are the Members of CSPA her target audience. She has no relationship with the audience for the CSPA Facebook page and was simply trying to use the Page to advertise her book.

Getting the word out about your book is not an easy task. However, posting information about your book on various social media pages, wall, and feeds is not the answer to this problem.

Social media is not a sales channel. Rather, social media is a marketing support. It is best used as a channel to amplify your message and broaden your visibility and exposure.

It’s like being a speaker at an event. As a speaker, you are there to share information and entertainment with the audience. Yes, you can mention your books, but that is not the focus of your talk. Instead, you are sharing your knowledge and experience with the audience.

Social media is to marketing what the microphone is to your speaking. The microphone allows more people in the audience hear what you have to say. The same is true for social media. It makes what you are already saying louder so more people can hear.
People do discover products on social media and then buy them. In fact, one survey found that 78% of surveyed adults discovered a product on Facebook (compared to 59% on Instagram and Pinterest). Over half of these people ended up buying the product later, but only 11% did so immediately.

As an author, you want to use social media to develop an audience that trusts you and looks to you for answers. These answers come in the form of your books. If you use social media correctly, you will enlarge your audience and expose more people to your books—and some will buy!

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7 Social Media Facts You Should Know

Nothing stays static when it comes to technology. Just when you think you have the latest gadget or social media site figured out, either the current one changes its interface or a new one comes along that you have to adapt to.

Social networking is a constantly changing and evolving tool. To stay relevant and use social media to best connect with a target audience, authors can’t stay stagnant. Instead, we must adapt our strategies to fit the trends.

Following are seven social media facts from a recent Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults. I encourage you to use the findings from this survey to inform you of best practices in using social media to reach readers.

1. Facebook Is Still the Most Popular Social Network Site.

A little more than two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) are Facebook users. Nearly 75% of these users check Facebook on a daily basis. With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans of all generations use Facebook. Facebook is still an important place for authors and publishers to connect with readers.

2. Most Americans Use Three of the Major Social Platforms.

The average American uses three of the eight major social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and WhatsApp). Know your target audience. Find out which three social networks these people use the most and be present on these sites.

3. Instagram Shows the Most User Growth.

Pew Research has been collecting social media data since 2016. Over the course of the past three years, seven percent more U.S. adults now use Instagram then did in 2016. The percentage of adults who use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest remains the same as it was in 2016. Instagram is now the second most popular social platform for Americans.

4. Women Are the Primary Users of Pinterest.

Pinterest has always been heavily used by women. The Pew study found that 41 percent of women use Pinterest compared to just 16 percent of men. Since women influence 83 percent of all consumer spending in the United States, books geared for men can still be promoted on Pinterest.

5. LinkedIn Is Most Popular With College Graduates.

Around 50 percent of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, compared with just nine percent of those with a high school diploma or less. Studies have shown that people with higher education read more. LinkedIn remains a great place to connect with people who read.

6. Most of Senior Citizens Don’t Use Social Media.

Only 37 percent of those over 65 use social media. If your target audience is retired folks, then don’t spend a lot of time on social media promoting your books. Use more traditional channels to reach this age group.

7. Few People Have a Lot of Trust in the Information on Social Media.

I found this finding the most surprising. Only three percent of social media users say they have a lot of trust in the information they find on social media. It appears that earning people’s trust via social media may be an uphill battle—and trust is required for people to buy your books.

Related Posts:
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Evaluating Your Social Media Interactions

 

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Photo courtesy of Tracy Le Blanc.

How to Get More Attention for Your Books

When it comes to promoting your book on social networks, do you feel like you are wasting your time? You might be right… you really might be barking in the wind.

Recent studies show that social shares are way down. Recent studies by Buzzsumo and Shareaholic show that social sharing is way down. Due to algorithm changes on Facebook, social shares have decreased almost 50 percent in the past year.

Surprisingly, search engine discovery has made a comeback. In 2017, 34.8% of site visits were driven by searches, while only 25.6% of site visits came from social. Prior to last year, search lagged behind social.

So, how should you adapt your online marketing strategies to accommodate the decline of social shares on the Internet? Following are two strategies.

1. Share unique information that your target audience is interested in.

Don’t join the crowd. Often when a topic becomes popular, everyone jumps on it and adds their own two cents. This results in a large number of posts on a single topic, causing many to be lost in the crowd. So, while it is good to stay on top of the latest trends for your topic or niche, make sure your voice is offering something different that will stand out.

2. Write catchy headlines.

Whether you are writing headlines for a blog post, a video, a podcast, or other information you are sharing on social media, make your headlines stand out. When Buzzsumo analyzed 100 million headlines to determine which ones were the most successful in getting noticed and shared, they discovered that certain three-word phrases racked up the most likes, shares, and comments.

From their study, Buzzsumo shared the top 20 three-word phrases that received the most shares on Facebook. Check them out in the chart below.

The key to grabbing attention to garner social awareness and shares on the Internet is by writing headlines that grab attention. CoSchedule offers three great free tools to help you be more successful in writing headlines for blogs, subject lines for emails, and messages for social media to capture more attention for you and your books. Check them out:

Give these free tools a try. They can help you improve your messaging to gain more attention in the increasingly crowded digital realm.

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Censorship: It Could Happen to You

Censorship isn’t always government led. Sometimes it comes from society and businesses. It’s happening today on the Internet from large companies and it affects you Christian authors and publishers.

I recently returned from attending the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) annual convention. It was the organization’s 75th convention. The organization began in 1944 with 150 Evangelical Christian broadcasters and church leaders forming in response to a set of regulations that banned the purchase of radio airtime for religious broadcasting. Due to the regulations, Evangelical Christian broadcasters were taken off of national radio networks and only allowed access to small independent stations with limited audiences. The ban was finally overturned in 1949. NRB has long been known for their stance on freedom of speech.

We are in a new era, yet we face the same challenge today. Giant Internet companies are demonetizing, blocking, shutting down and censoring accounts held by outspoken Christian conservatives. A few examples over the past few years include:

  1. In 2015, GoFundMe shut down a fundraising account for the owners of the Sweet Cakes bakery in Oregon who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. The owners were facing a hefty legal fine and the GoFundMe account was set up to help them pay this fine. After shutting the account, GoFundMe added “discriminatory” campaigns to the list of causes that cannot use their service.
  2. In August 2017, YouTube demonetized hundreds of videos produced by Dr. Michael Brown host of Line of Fire radio show. Dr. Brown is an author, professor, proponent of Messianic Judaism and is a leader in the Charismatic Movement.
  3. In March 2017, Vimeo removed 850 videos by Pure Passion TV and closed its account. The company reported that they disagreed with the views expressed in four videos on sexuality posted by Pure Passion TV.
  4. In October 2014, Twitter blocked users from linking to a petition supporting the Houston pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed by the city because the pastors supported a referendum against a gender-neutral restrooms ordinance.

Christian authors and publishers, this issue affects you. I have spoken with outspoken Christian indie authors whose Facebook accounts have disappeared. A member of CSPA had his Amazon ads denied because they contained religious content (see Amazon: Christian Authors Beware). We, as Christian authors and publishers, must take this issue seriously and get behind those who are actively protecting our freedom of speech in the digital realm.

The National Religious Broadcasters has launched an initiative to do just this very thing. The Internet Freedom Watch aims to bring greater attention to the threats against free speech and to challenge Silicon Valley to uniformly practice its professed commitment to free speech.

You can support NRB’s efforts by doing the following:

Only working together can we raise awareness of this issue, fight back, and maintain freedom of speech. Let’s not let others silence our voices speaking God’s truth.

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Marketing Tips for Live Streaming

In my recent article, Five Trends Authors Should Know for 2018, one trend I mention is that video dominates engagement on the Internet. Authors who want the most engagement with fans should consider using video in their marketing strategies.

Live streaming video is growing in popularity. Check out this great infographic that provides great marketing tips for live streaming on social media.

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Should You Use Live-Stream Video?
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