#DearKen: How Should I Use Social Media To Promote My Book?

Dearken social media to promote bookYou should write a book. Yes, you!

In an age where every organization, brand, and product has a website, and many of your rivals churn out white papers like popcorn, having a book is one of the best ways to establish credibility and reinforce your company’s brand position as both an innovator and an industry leader. Your competitor has a business card. YOU have a book – that prospective customers (or employers) can purchase on Amazon, or even download for free from your website in exchange for their contact information. And what better advertising for your mobile app than having its hashtag and URL on your book’s cover!

Of course, writing your book is just the start. You also have to use social media to spread the word. The bottom line? No matter whether you’ve chosen to self-publish your book, or have taken the “vintage” route by working with a traditional publishing house, no one can ever market your information products (in this case your book) as effectively as you can yourself using social media. Note that this doesn’t just apply to books. The same rule applies to ALL of your different marketing assets, including your videos, white papers, underwritten research, podcasts, presentations, and blog posts.

A quick reminder that the opinions expressed here are my own. They come from my hands-on experience managing social marketing content and campaigns, leading social marketing teams, and consulting for social marketing clients. You, your organization, and your brand are unique! Please use what works for you, and toss the rest! Do you disagree with any of my guidelines, or think I have forgotten something? Please share your experiences with all of us in the Comments section below, so we can continue the discussion and the learning.

My guidelines for using social media to promote your new book are simple. More importantly, they are based on my ongoing and personal campaign to promote my own contribution to The Everything Guide to Mobile Apps: A Practical Guide to Affordable Mobile App Development for Your Business. The book, written by MobileGroove’s own Peggy Anne Salz, brings together the diverse insights of mobile professionals, practitioners, and pundits (say that three times fast!) to identify the market trends, best practices, and lessons learned in developing, distributing, and marketing mobile apps. As I share in the book, even small app developers can compete – and win! – in the big leagues, provided they use social media to promote their apps and create community. The book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and has proven so popular that it is being released this month as an ebook.

To help the different contributors promote the book with social media, I developed a “Ken’s Author’s Toolkit” (catchy, no?) infographic/cheat sheet. Being the social marketing guy, I of course uploaded it to SlideShare – http://www.slideshare.net/KenHerron/kens-authors-toolkit – so I could share it with all of you! So enough with the exposition, let’s dive in!

#1  If your target audience is on a given social channel, then you must be too!

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never “pinned” anything before in your life. If YOUR target audience for your book happens to be on Pinterest, then you must be too. If you don’t know where your audience is online, then you need to find out. Fast! There are tons of free demographics research reports available for each social network. Whether your audience is mainstream or niche, B2C or B2B, you can *always* reach out to them and ask them. They will appreciate your asking, and it’s one more opportunity for you to personally engage with them.

#2  Share. DON’T sell!

This sounds easy, but it can be tough since it’s only natural for authors to want to say “Buy my book! Here’s the purchase link! Buy it now! Pleeeease!” in every single social post. Yes, you should make the purchase link for your book easily accessible for everyone, but focus your posts on the content in your book. Provide valuable content, not advertising. Don’t know what to write? Start off with short posts sharing your book’s key takeaways, and even your “top do’s and don’ts”. Sharing the story of how you came up with, wrote, and marketed your book – within the context of your existing online brand – makes for great social content. Compelling content, combined with your own personal story as an author, will drive exponentially more unit sales than a hard sell.

#3  Visualize, visualize, visualize

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” As old as that quote is, it applies perfectly to social media in 2013. You already know that people are social. Well, people are also visual. Find ways to share your story visually. Read C.C. Chapman’s NMX presentation on visual content. As C.C. says, “create an emotional response, look for ‘moments’, and share what no one else can.” Grab that spiffy new phone or tablet in your pocket. Find ways to visualize your content. Great visuals make even “dull” content come alive. With or without Google Glass, it has never been easier to capture and post [in real-time if you so choose] photos and videos on every single social network, from your own blog to Instagram.

Want a great example? Check out Debi Harper. She supports her husband and fellow book contributor Jez Harper by capturing the unique moments, such as when she presented a copy of The Everything Guide To Mobile Apps to Charlie Flanagan, TD, Fine Gael Party Chairman in Ireland and posted it in Facebook.

#4  Create [and use!] a hashtag for your book

Hashtags should be short, but should also be “readable”. What does that mean? Avoid long, unpronounceable, and meaningless acronyms. A hashtag should be simple, catchy, and to-the-point. You want to encourage [and make it easy] for people to talk about your book online, including tweeting about it.

True story. When I “shared” with the publishers of our Everything Guide to Mobile Apps book that we HAD to have a hashtag, it took a surprisingly herculean amount of persuasion to convince them that #EVERYapp trumped  #theeverythingguidetomobileappsapracticalguidetoaffordablemobileappdevelopmentforyourbusiness (yes, I behaved myself and refrained from sending them a pop-up book on dinosaurs). If there’s still time, put your book’s hashtag on your book’s front and back covers (and on your physical book’s spine!). If you’re not that comfortable with hashtags, I recommend reading posts on Hubspot, Mashable’s take, and yes, my next MobileGroove blog post which just happens to be about hashtags!

#5  Post FRESH content daily

Every author now struggles with the challenge of their information being out-of-date the second they publish their book. How can you keep your content fresh and relevant? Even if you’re time-crunched, social media enables you to both share new, original content AND to participate in the larger discussion in your industry, by showing how the content in your book relates to current events and trending topics.

#6  Share excerpts

Sadly, you can’t put your book on toothpicks and sample it like a new brand of cheese at your local supermarket, but you can let everyone around the world “taste” the first chapter of your book for free. Some (dinosaur) publishers will hate me for this, but I’m a huge fan of publishing the first chapter of your book on LinkedIn’s new professional gallery via Slideshare. You want to get people “hooked” so they are compelled to purchase your book to finish it. Also, your connections on LinkedIn are often your oldest professional connections. These are not only the people who are most likely to be interested personally in what you have written, but the people who will be the most willing and able to help spread the word about your new book.

#7  Directly target your key influencers

It used to be difficult to target reviewers, critics, the media, and industry influencers. Now you can engage all of them directly on social media. Remember, however, the definition of “targeting”. This isn’t about “friending” everyone on the planet. Instead, use tools like Klout, Kred, and PeerIndex to identify the social influencers for your specific niche. Connect with these influencers, and use Twitter Lists to monitor their tweets so you can more easily engage with them.

#8  Enable EVERYONE on the planet to attend your book readings and signings

When you hold a book signing or do a reading from your book, how many people get to connect with you? 50? 100? 200 (if you’re lucky)? When you are out promoting your book, have a friend video you and your audience’s reactions to you on their mobile device so you can live stream – http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/onair.html, http://new.livestream.com, http://www.ustream.tv, and http://www.justin.tv are four great tools. You can even upload the best clips to your branded channel on YouTube. The number of people who will be able to attend one of your in-person signings/readings will always be limited. Use social media to enable everyone around the world who is interested in the content of your book to attend, connect with you, and BUY YOUR BOOK!

#9  Leverage your email sig line

And finally, the one place where you absolutely MUST place the purchase link for your book is your email signature line. Keep it simple. No “Please buy my book!” Instead, share your excitement with something like “My new book, TITLE, is now available on Amazon at: LINK!” Remember to use a URL shortener such at http://bit.ly so you can track the clicks! You can even get fancy with a custom link with your book’s hashtag – http://bit.ly/HASHTAG (we used http://j.mp/EVERYapp).

Ken Herron everthing guide to mobile apps

Whether you’re looking for new customers or a new job, there is no better sales and marketing “leave behind” than a copy of your new book, showcasing your expertise AND your ability to successfully take a great idea from concept to execution.

What are the most effective ways YOU have found to market your book on social media? How do you use all of your different social channels to get people to buy your physical or ebook? Please share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below.

Ken’s note: I truly appreciate everyone’s questions, thank you! Do YOU have a question about social marketing technologies, tools, and best practices? Tweet your question to me @KenHerron with the hashtag “#DearKen”.  All tweets will be acknowledged, and considered as being submitted for publication.

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