Are You Showing Your Best Face?

Social media. Authors tend to love it or hate it.

Social media is a powerful way to connect with your readers. For many readers, getting to know the author of a book they love or relate to is natural. Once they have read the author’s book, they feel they already know that author on some level. Social media allows them to deepen that connection.

As an author, showing your personality on social media is important. This is easier for some authors than others. Authors who enjoy more privacy often find it difficult to let their personality shine in social media, while those that are more social find it easier.

A recent study by Sprout Social found that consumers want to see the following characteristics from the brands (and celebrities) that they follow on social media:

  • Honesty (86%)
  • Friendly (83%)
  • Helpful (78%)
  • Funny (72%)

What about you? Are you showing these four characteristics in your social media posts and interactions?

We live in a world where people crave authenticity. People want to know that you are “for real” and not a made-up persona. One of the best ways to demonstrate this to your readers is through showing your failures as well as your successes.

I know an aspiring author who has worked diligently to grow her platform on social media in hopes of getting a traditional publisher to sign a contract with her for her novel. This author understands how to show her personality.

One way she has recently connected with her audience is through chronicling her efforts to go from couch potato to running a 5K race. She has even encouraged her family members to join her in the challenge. This aspiring author regularly posts her ups and downs as she attempts to train herself to run three miles.

What about you? What can you share with your readers on social media to show them your authentic self?

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Photo courtesy of Gratisography.

Is Social Media a Waste of Time?

“I have heard that social media is important for authors to use in promoting their books, but does using it really help authors sell more books?”

The independent author who asked me this question did not use social media. She had heard that it was important, but she wanted more evidence that spending her time and energy on social media would help her sell more books.

Sadly, I could not give this author hard and fast evidence. While 90% of marketers say social media is important to their business, according to The CMO Survey up to 80% of marketers said they were not able to measure a return on their investment. Basically, a lot of marketers—authors included—are investing time and energy on social media, yet they cannot definitively say doing so has helped them sell more books.

The Harvard Business Review conducted 23 experiments over the past four years. They wanted to know whether attracting and engaging followers on social media leads to increased sales. The researchers focused on Facebook since it is the dominant social network. Here is what they found:

  1. The act of following a brand on Facebook does not affect a customer’s behavior or lead to increased purchasing behavior.
  2. Seeing a friend like or engage with a brand on Facebook had no effect on purchasing habits of other friends.
  3. Boosting or advertising brand content to followers can have an impact. When a brand paid Facebook to display two posts each week to their followers, they found increased participation or spending.

Here is my takeaway from this research.

1. Social Media is about building an audience.
Authors should use social media to build a following, an audience. Don’t expect your social media posts to translate into book sales. Instead, the purpose of your social media posts should be to drive your audience to your website where you can convince them to sign up for your email newsletter. Email newsletters have a much higher conversion rate (engaging recipients to buy your book) than social media posts.

2. Enhancing your social media efforts with advertising provides the best return for your time and energy.
For the best return on your social media efforts, paying for advertisements shown to your followers on social media sites will help increase sales. In other words, social media use combined with paid advertising is the most powerful combination for encouraging your followers to buy something.

So, to answer the question whether social media really helps authors sell more books, the answer is: Not by itself. Social media alone is not enough, you must combine your social media efforts with other marketing efforts—including purchasing advertisements—for your invested time and energy to pay off.

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How to Make Your Social Media Efforts More Fruitful
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Evaluating Your Social Media Interactions

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Photo courtesy of Damian Zalesky.

Evaluating Your Social Media Interactions

Many authors wonder whether the time they spend on social media is treasure or trash. Few can directly equate time spent on social media with increased book sales. For most, increased time on social media does not usually correlate to an uptick in book sales.

How do you determine which social media sites to engage on and how much time to spend there?

There are no hard and fast rules to these questions. However, the following information may help you shape a useful plan for yourself in regards to which social media platforms to use and expectations for the time you spend.

1. The world has embraced social media.

The company, We Are Social, tracks internet and social media usage worldwide. Below is their chart showing that 50% of world’s population uses the internet and three-fourths of these internet users (37% of the world’s population) are actively engaging on social media online.

2.  A majority of Americans use social media.

The Pew Research Center tracks social media usage in the United States. Their studies show that ten years ago, only 7% of Americans used social media. That number grew to 65% in 2016, with 76% of U.S. internet users active on social media.

3.  Facebook remains the most popular social media site across generations.

According to Sprout Social, some 65% of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers report that Facebook is their favorite social media site, while 33% of Millennials rate it as their favorite.

4.  Facebook has a greater engagement rate per follower than Twitter or LinkedIn.

Instagram has the greatest engagement rate of all the social media sites—an average of 50 interactions per post per 1,000 followers. However, Facebook’s engagement rate is higher than Twitter or LinkedIn. According to TrackMaven, Facebook’s boasts an average of five to six interactions—likes, comments, and shares—per 1,000 followers per post, while LinkedIn’s rate is three interactions per 1,000 followers and Twitter’s is one per 1,000 followers.

If you are an author, you should be using social media as one strategy to connect with readers and draw people to your books. It’s a medium you can’t afford to overlook since the majority of internet users engage in social media usage.

I believe that knowing the average number of interactions per 1,000 followers for each social media site is valuable information. These figures let you know whether your social media interactions are above average, average, or below average. This knowledge can help you evaluate your social strategy and make adjustments to improve your engagement rates.

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How to Make Your Social Media Interactions More Fruitful

My favorite soda is Dr. Pepper. Joining the almost 16,000,000 other Dr. Pepper fans on Facebook allows me to express my likes on social media and support something I derive pleasure from.

Most people follow businesses and brands on social media because doing so allows them to express what they like as well as stay in touch with the producers of the things they engage with on a regular basis. But, fans want more.

social-media-fruitfulStudies show that individuals who decide to follow businesses on social media do so for three main reasons.

  1. To find out more about the products or services these entities provide.
  2. To receive exclusive offers and coupons for these products and services.
  3. To give feedback through rating or reviewing the products and services they receive.

Readers follow authors on social media for similar reasons. Fans want ongoing information that enriches their lives. They want to know when you are releasing new books. They want exclusive offers for discounts on your books, and they want to give feedback on your books.

If you want your social media efforts to produce more results, keep these three reasons in mind when posting material on your social media accounts. Give your readers:

  1. Sneak peaks into upcoming projects.
  2. Additional information on your book’s topics to enrich your readers’ lives.
  3. Special offers—discounts on current books and on new releases.
  4. The chance to interact with you by answering questions or giving feedback on ideas.

Social media is a place for people to stay on top of news and express their opinions. Give your fans what they are looking for and they will remain loyal and recommend you to others as well.

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Social Media: An Integral Part of Life in America

Social media: Most authors either hate it or love it.

Two of the questions that I hear the most about social media are:

  • Is social media worth the time and effort?
  • Does the time invested in social media really pay off in book sales?

Whether you love or hate social media, whether you are convinced it drives sales or are skeptical, the facts is social media is extremely popular. Around seven in ten Americans use social media to connect with others, share information, find entertainment, and engage with news. In essence social media is where your target audience hangs out.

social-media-stat

Pew Research recently put out a report on patterns and trends in social media over the past decade. When Pew Research Center began tracking social media adoption in 2005, just 5% of American adults used at least one of the social networking platforms. By 2011 that share had risen to half of all Americans, and today 69% of the public uses some type of social media.

For many users, social media is part of their daily routine. Roughly three-quarters of Facebook users—and around half of Instagram users—visit these sites at least once a day. According to Pew Research, Facebook is by far, the most popular social media site. Here is the breakdown of Internet users for the main social media sites.

  • 79% have Facebook accounts
  • 32% use Instagram
  • 31% have accounts on Pinterest
  • 29% have LinkedIn profiles
  • 24% are on Twitter

I believe that social media can be a very powerful tool for authors. However, it is not a selling tool, it is a connecting tool. You can’t view social media as a sales channel. Rather, it is a means to building an audience—a channel for gaining people’s trust so that you can lead them to your books.

If you are an author who is averse to using social media, I suggest that you spend your time on one social media site. Create a profile, begin connecting with people, and learn how the site works. Even a presence on one social media site will begin to enlarge your reach and help you develop a larger audience for your books.

If you are unsure of what you should be doing on social media, I suggest that you watch my on-demand seminar Develop an Audience for Your Books. This seminar will give you ideas on what to post on social media and how to use it to connect with readers for your books.

As always, this seminar is free for Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). Others can stream the seminar for just $20 at http://mcbuniveristy.selz.com.

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