Social Media Marketing Evolves. That has been the experience of Mark Dawson, an author of 25 self-published novels who has found significant success promoting his books through paid Facebook ads. But the number of potential readers on Facebook and the service’s tools to target them appeal to Dawson. Broad has used video to promote her books and events for years, but she believes that now is a particularly good time to get into livestreaming. YouTube Live is also a tool that she has found useful. Beyond the Big Guys While Facebook and Twitter are the biggest platforms for authors seeking to interact with their readers, more-niche services appeal to authors who are especially looking to stand out. “The key is to really understand where your potential readers are gathered and use that platform to reach them.” Ogorek says authors have found success with BookGrabbr. Offering quick tips in Facebook Live or YouTube videos works well for self-help. Ogorek urges indie authors to use these questions to guide their investments in social media and go beyond simply working to increase their numbers of friends or followers. “I’ve heard people say, ‘I spent $50 on Facebook ads and they aren’t working,’ but this takes time,” he emphasizes.
As social media platforms evolve, adding new tools, mobile offerings, and enhanced personalization, indie authors are evolving with them. Facebook, Twitter, and the other major platforms are more crowded than ever, requiring authors to find more creative ways to be heard above the noise. Compounding this challenge is that these platforms have been adjusting their algorithms to filter posts for perceived relevance. (For example, this summer Instagram introduced a new way of ordering posts “so you’ll see the moments you care about first,” as the company described it in a statement.) This results in promotional messages being pushed lower on users’ feeds or filtered out altogether, putting added pressure on authors who are seeking ways to attract followers and gain attention.
One way around this is for authors to put greater effort into tailoring their social media messaging. “It’s important for authors to interact in an organic way—don’t set up your Facebook page and just say, ‘buy my book,’ ” says Carol Palomba, social media manager for the author submission service Writer’s Relief and its Self-Publishing Relief and Web Design Relief divisions. She has taken to advising the indie authors she consults with to avoid promotional language in their posts and, instead, to “talk about yourself, where you’re getting inspiration from, and share what would be of interest to readers and followers.”
Another way to stand out in a crowded social media landscape is to pay for ads outright. That has been the experience of Mark Dawson, an author of 25 self-published novels who has found significant success promoting his books through paid Facebook ads. He currently spends almost a quarter of a million dollars a year on Facebook ads alone, and has expanded from using them to sell his own books to teaching other self-published authors how to do it for themselves through his Self Publishing Formula service.
Since 2013, Dawson has experimented with a variety of online and social media platforms. He has found that Twitter offers “cheap, targeted clicks” that work well when he is going after a preexisting audience. For example, his spy/action novels share elements with the books of James Patterson, so he has created ads that explicitly say: “Do you like this book? Then you’ll like my book.”
“By looking at the whole thing holistically, you can put together an ad that is compelling,” Dawson says. “Then users click over to the store or sign on to my mailing list.”
Dawson has set up Lead Generation Cards on his Twitter account so that people who follow him receive a mention tweet back (not seen by others) that encourages them to sign up for his mailing list in order to receive a pair of free books. He emphasizes that building a mailing list is one of the most important ways to use social media, calling it “one of the most valuable assets authors can have these days. I can launch a new book into the top 100 on Amazon with the right email campaign.” And, thanks to the evolution of ad technology, it is getting easier for authors to use their promotions to directly sell books. The expanding availability and use of buy buttons on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere allows for direct calls to action to be embedded into ads or profiles, decreasing the number of steps a potential customer must go through from seeing a promotion to making a purchase.
Dawson says that, though Google Ads have worked for him, their high cost makes them less appealing. He has been doing some experimenting on Pinterest and LinkedIn as well. But it’s Facebook that has proved by far the most valuable for Dawson.
That’s not to say that it’s simple to succeed on Facebook, especially as its popularity has grown. When Dawson began using Facebook ads two years ago, “there was no one doing it,” and he was getting a substantial return on investment for his advertising dollars. This…