A Primer to Social Media Marketing on Facebook for Book Authors
By H. Dean Hua
Like many other businesses, book authors are flocking to various social media communities such as Facebook and Myspace. They want to leverage these sites as best as possible to give more exposure to their books. But too many are lost and lack both direction and strategy as to how to best use these communities The following is a primer for authors to use Facebook as a viable social media marketing tool. Before we get into specific methods and activities to use on Facebook, there are five principles that any book author should adhere to in the social media space. It is important you are aware of these fundamentals as they make up the foundation of success in social media. 1. It’s not about you. It’s about the community. Too many overzealous marketers forget this principle when it comes to social media. They focus too much on promoting themselves at the risk of ignoring the needs of their users. Your followers have a voice that want to be heard. Create initiatives that allow your users to voice their thoughts and opinions on your work. Try to focus on their needs while simultaneously meeting yours. 2. Be sociable. It’s not called social media for nothing, folks. This means that you shouldn’t just upload photos of your latest book tours or just promote the book on your Facebook profile. Be personal and allow those connected to you to see some personal stuff of you. In the world of social media, it helps to be three-dimensional. 3. Think long term and be consistent. Don’t quit after a few days of work. Social media is a relatively new field. You have to continually test and benchmark various initiatives before you start to see results. 4. Focus on user generated content. Much of the successful social media strategies today focus on allowing the end user to generate the content for us. There are too many authors who ignore or don’t realize how much power their users have in contributing to their work. Look for ways where you can get the community to do the work for you. 5. Focus on multiple generations of users. Many of the failed social media strategies today are a result of marketers focusing on their first generation users. Successful strategies rely heavily on getting the first generation of users to continue to spread the message to their network and getting that network to spread it to their network. Hence, don’t just market to friends but to friends of friends of friends. As they say in networking, it’s not who you know, but it’s who they know.
Now that we’ve listed the basis tenets of successful social media strategies, let’s get into specific activities that authors can use on the Facebook platform. 1. Create a Facebook page for your book. One of the first things that you should do is create your own Facebook page so that readers can become fans of the book. A page is simply a mini site on Facebook that is dedicated to the product or service that you are selling. Various features to a page are the ability to post videos, messages, pictures, and links to your page. Your work doesn’t stop once you created the page. Creating a presence is the first step to creating a community. You need to continually nurture and build this community by adding new outreach initiatives and content. Add a question to the message board to encourage participation. Encourage users to add content such as photos, links, and video. Use the page to notify fans of new promotions and contests that you are running. Make it so that people are rewarded for becoming a fan and spreading the word about your book and work. A great example of a company using a Facebook page is Victoria’s Secret. This is their page; http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victorias-Secret-PINK/26972120470 They have over 300,000 fans to date and over 1,200 discussions to date. They offer freebies such as allowing you to download wallpapers and AOL Instant Messenger Icons. Users post messages to the discussion boards with many of them running well over a 1000 posts. The big mistake that most authors make is that they create the page to promote the book, but only target the first generation of users. For example, they only target their message towards the initial members or users of the community. This creates very little if any type of viral effect. Remember- this is the Internet and messages can become very viral on the World Wide Wow. We want to leverage the tools on the web to ensure that our message will continue to reverberate throughout the web. The message should continue to carry from one person to the next and to the next rather than immediately stopping at the first person we target. We maximize how far our message will carry in this manner.
2. Create a group. Some authors may think that you should automatically create the group after the book itself. This may not always be true. It can be more effective to create a group that the focuses on the topic that what the book is about. If the book is about a new trend in marketing for small businesses, then create a group around the topic itself and not the book. The trick here is that you are using the topic to indirectly funnel and give exposure to your book. I know that in the minds of many authors, they think that their book can solve a particular problem, as is the case in popular non-fiction categories such as business, relationships, and self-help. While this may be true, you will find that today’s consumers hate being pitched to. They don’t want to be sold any more things. If they see another group that focuses on a person’s wares, then they run away. Think not what you can do for your book, but what you can do for people. Equipped with this understanding, you want to create a group that focuses on their needs and current challenges and yet still manages to keep you top of mind. If you have a very popular book, then you can probably get away with creating a group around the book itself. But with a book that is an upstart, then you have to think more creatively and laterally as to how to leverage a Facebook group to your advantage. Whether the author wants to
create a group that focuses on the book or a topic that is close in nature to the book is ultimately a judgment call. This relies heavily on the author to think creatively and strategically about this.
3. Import your blog entries into your Facebook notes. You want to give exposure and capture as many readers as possible regardless of what social networking site that you belong to. Facebook will allow you to import your blog entries into your Facebook account. This helps you capture a new readership base and adds more interactivity to your Facebook presence.
4. Keep your profile dynamic. This means that you shouldn’t just create a Facebook account, add on 5 friends, and then wither away. Admittedly, there is a learning curve to Facebook or any social networking site in the beginning. Once you’ve managed to understand the basic interface, here are some activities that you can do to make for a more interesting Facebook presence. The goal is to allow users to “window shop” into your world. Allow people to see the other side of you rather than just the writer. 1. Update your status. Are you heading to a new city for a book tour? Giving a speech? Pissed off at your dog? Thinking of something that others should know about? Just wrote a new blog entry that you want others to read? Update it on your status. 2. Post photos. People tend to be very visual and having photos allows others to get a better picture of who you are. People love to browse through photos. 3. Answer wall messages and emails. I see a lot of authors make the mistake of ignoring messages from their friends on Facebook. I know we’re all busy but taking the time to be more sociable and personable really does help with your PR. You don’t want to build the reputation as someone who ignores his readers or fanbase. Word about that will spread quickly. 5. Incentivize your outreach strategies. If you want to encourage increased participation from your connections on Facebook or even off of Facebook, I recommend that you offer incentives when trying to get others to spread the word about. A few suggested prizes include a free-signed copy of your book, a special edition of your book, free getaway, free consultation of your services, or anything that may be appropriate. Offering prizes and incentives helps expedite word of mouth.
6. Befriend members who read your book. Do a search for members who list your book as one of their favorite. This is one of the more time-consuming outreach initiatives that you’ll develop. If you have a lot of members listed, look for ways to filter down the list and add only those who are most important. Look for influencers. Start adding these people to your friend’s list. I would recommend adding a personal note as to why you are adding them to your friend’s list. A simple note that says that you noticed that they listed your book as a favorite would suffice. The absence of a personal note sometimes leave people wondering who you are and why they should bother adding you to their connections. It should be noted that Facebook allows you to segment your friends into various categories by creating a list for that category. I suggest creating a category called “Fans” and add these people to your Fans list. When you decide to start marketing and developing outreach campaigns, you’ll have a targeted list of people to reach out to. Consider this as a form of database marketing and you have the option to segment your database accordingly. You now have a targeted group of people you can reach out to and they have voluntarily given you permission to keep in touch with them. Be sure to not eblast your entire friends network as it’s not as targeted. If you do this too often, Facebook will cancel your account without warning.
7. Create events. Facebook allows you to create events that you may be hosting such as a book tour or speaking engagement. Create these events and invite your friends. But don’t just stop there. Encourage your friends to spread the word by inviting their friends to the event on Facebook as well. One of the wonderful features to Facebook is that their features try to encourage as much user participation as possible. Users are able to take an event that you created and they can invite all of their friends to the event as well. Of course, you have to realize that most people don’t do anything for free. So remember guideline #5 and incentivize the marketing of your event here. Let your attendees know that if they invite their network and get a certain number of attendees to come, then you will give them some type of giveaway or prize. Too many book authors are myopic. They create the event and hope people will somehow flock to the event. Successful social media marketing does not work like this. In order for this to be a success, we have to include as many users as possible into our outreach campaigns. Go beyond your first generation of users. Tap into the friends of your friends of your friends.
8. Add a Facebook badge onto your website and blog. Most social media sites such as a Myspace, LinkedIN and Facebook allow you to create your own badge that lets your website visitors know that you have a profile on these sites. This encourages members who are interested in keeping in touch with you to connect with you on sites such as Facebook thus giving you increased exposure to you and your work. So there you go. You have eight initiatives that you can develop on Facebook to allow for increased exposure to your book and work. It is important to note that any one initiative might help, but if all eight principles are combined into a cohesive strategy, then your chances of success are far greater. So go forth and be successful in social media.
Dean Hua is Chief Web Evangelist of Sachi Studio- a web design studio and online marketing consultancy. He helps develop websites and blogs for businesses with some emphasis on online marketing strategies. This is a series of guides for book authors looking to achieve social media success. Dean works with book authors who are in need of website and blog design. He also offers consulting services such as creating effective blogging content development strategies and using Facebook as a viable social media platform.
He can be found at www.sachistudio.com You can reach him via email at email@example.com or by phone at 301-538-3326.