The Secret to Selling Books on Social Media: Find Your Primary Channel

There are hundreds of social media networking sites on the internet. Of those, there are 25 or so that most people can identify. According to Smart Insight’s data, there are around 2.3 billion people on social media worldwide. Five years ago it was pretty easy to be found and followed on social media. Now, the internet is bulging with information. This proliferation of bits and bytes has caused some authors to throw up their arms and declare that selling books on social media is not possible. But if you narrow your focus instead of cast a wide net, your chances of selling more books on social media increases. The secret to selling more books with social media is designating one primary channel to engage with your readers (or two, depending on your genre) and develop the rest as outposts.

In this two-part series we’ll take a look at how to designate your primary and outpost channels so you can spend less time marketing and more time writing.


What is a Primary Channel?

Your primary channel is the social media network or site where you personally engage with your readers. This is where you answer their questions, have conversations, post interesting and valuable content for them to interact with, and earn the right to sell your books. If you are a nonfiction, YA, or children’s writer, you may need more than one. But for most authors, one channel for engagement will do.

Your social media strategy may include a presence on multiple social media channels, but just choose one to engage your fans. The rest are outposts—places where you have a presence that is updated regularly but not where you post to engage with fans. More about outposts are part two of the series.

Some authors find this disconcerting after years of being told to be everywhere. They fear they will be missing people. But the truth is that although you might be able to find fans everywhere, you don’t need to engage with them everywhere. Rather than taking the time necessary to learn the engagement strategies on every single channel and maintain relevant conversations there, learn how to do that all on one channel and use your outpost channels to point fans to your primary channel where you can connect. In short, primary channels are for engagement; outpost channels are for discoverability and redirect.

Five Measures

When it comes to designating your primary social media channel for engagement, look for a place where you can build loyal fans and sell more books. In marketing, those two go hand in hand. You have to engage where you sell for maximum results. You won’t win the right to sell without building loyalty and connection first. After you build a reputation as a giver, your readers will give you permission to sell them your books. That is today’s internet buying culture in a nutshell. Trying to bypass building relationships and just broadcasting “buy my books” is a failure to understand how the buying process works.

When looking for your primary social media channel, you want to find the best mix of five measures:

  1. Find the best fit for your reader/audience demographics. You have to do your audience research and know which channels target your readers.
  2. Look for the channel with the best overall global numbers. The answer to this is Facebook. The have over 70% of people on the internet age 18 and older according to Pew Internet Research.  Nobody else comes close to their numbers across all ages. But remember, this is just one factor of five, albeit a powerful one.
  3. Look for the channel with the best commerce tools or opportunities to buy a product without having to leave the platform. Again, the answer to this one is Facebook. No other platform offers the variety of apps-for-action, including buying your book, signing up for your email list, and other opt-in actions, without ever leaving the page. The Facebook advantage: there is always an opportunity to buy or sign up. You don’t have to be constantly posting “buy my book” or “please sign up for my email list.”  Also, when new readers come across you in their searches, they can buy a book or sign up for your email list right on your business page if they are ready to buy.
  4. Look for the channel that is a good match for your genre. The difference between this measure and number one is that every channel that matches your demographic might not be a good match for your genre. For instance, if you’re a fiction writer LinkedIn may fit your reader demographic by age and gender, but in reality it’s a worthless channel for fiction writers. It’s definitely in the outpost category for fiction.
  5. Look for the channel with the best ability to help new readers find you and then convert them to a sale.  According to the latest AOL/Convertro research, it is YouTube first, Facebook second. Since YouTube can be a challenge of sorts for authors to sell their books, Facebook again becomes the go-to.  The important takeaway from the research: Facebook has the best chance of introducing new readers to your books and the best chance of closing the sale overall. The next best channel is Pinterest, followed by LinkedIn, Google-Plus, and Tumblr, with Twitter bringing up the rear.

If you want to learn more about choosing primary channels, setting up outposts, and remodeling your social media content strategy, I recommend getting a copy of my book, Sell More Books With Less Social Media. The book includes a free comprehensive online class to help you learn the system faster. You don’t have to be on every social media channel, just the right ones.