A good friend of mine recently set up a Facebook page for her forthcoming book on the role of Christianity in shaping the concept of race in early Virginia. She asked friends on Facebook as well as her Twitter followers to go ahead and “like” the page and within a couple of days had reached 100 fans. Pretty good showing, but creating a Facebook page or Twitter account for a book is the easy part. The challenge is in turning those social media connections or virtual clicks of support into sales.
Now I am certainly no Chris Brogan, but over the past few years I have learned a little bit about turning likes and follower into sales. Of course, whether what I’ve learned actually pans out will be seen in the next few weeks. Here are a couple of suggestions.
Nurture Your Social Media Connections Over Time
No one is going to buy your book if they don’t feel a personal connection or feel invested with what you have produced. I didn’t start out blogging in order to sell a book, but regular posts about my research and willingness to solicit feedback from readers helped to build connections. It brings people back and may even lead to people talking about your work on other sites. In other words, set up the blog, Facebook page or Twitter account at the beginning rather than at the end of the process.
Leave Your Audience Wanting More
There is nothing worse than finding an author who blogs and then does little more than use his/her Facebook and Twitter pages to cross-post the same information. It’s cheap and it is the fastest way to alienate and lose an audience. Have a purpose for each social media tool and don’t overstretch yourself. It takes time to play around in this world and many of us don’t have it. I use my Civil War Memory FB page to cross post blog entries, but most of what I post are links to news items, videos, and other blog posts that I find interesting. While I allow people to comment they are not allowed to post. Remember, it’s your site. Let them start their own page. My Twitter account has an even broader focus though many of my tweets are history related. I suggest building your list of followers the hard way by delivering solid content. Avoid the reciprocal follower. You don’t need thousands of followers. What you want to cultivate is the perception that folks are following because they find value in what you do.
Don’t think of friends and followers as community; rather, think of them as your audience. Like any audience you need to work to keep their attention. In most cases I think it is better to inform people that you have set up a FB page for your product rather than ask them to like it right off the back. Show me why I should take a seat.
Embrace Shameless Self-Promotion
There is something humorous about people who apologize for promoting their product on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Social media itself is, in large part, about self promotion. The problem arises when it is abused or when you lose sight of what is going to satisfy your audience. Most people who you have established a relationship with will want to be informed about and even help to celebrate the latest news.
It’s Not About the Sale
It goes without saying. There has to be a certain amount of passion and fun behind your blogging or whatever social media tool you are utilizing. Most people will notice a stale sight or a blogger that is doing little more than going through the motions. In those cases you are likely doing little to promote your product and may even be hurting it. Remember, cultivate your audience. Good luck.