If you’re like many of the authors we interact with at Weaving Influence and Hometown Reads, you may not have a huge publishing house team strategizing how and when to market your book. Instead, you may have a Facebook page, and maybe a Twitter account that your nephew set up for you two years ago.
Since some retailers make up to 30 percent of their annual sales around the holidays, and since some of us *cough* are already playing Christmas music in the car, let’s talk about how to leverage these free accounts—seasonally.
First of all, understand that the quick & easy nature of social media allows for many ‘quick hits’ instead of one big ad buy.
You don’t have to commit the big bucks to PR services, a book tour, or placements in book stores. Just set aside 15 minutes a day—or even three 5 minute increments—to think about your ideal customer and what you would say to them if they were standing in front of you at a book festival.
Secondly, don’t think of that customer as one customer. Think of them as 365 different customers with 365 different motivations in the course of a year.
Say I’m interested in your book on switching career paths. In May, that may be because I’m sick of my own job and want the information for myself. In November, it may catch my eye because it reminds me of my brother-in-law, whose birthday is coming up. On December 24, when I realize I never ordered it for him, I may be scrambling to find the Kindle version. And in January, slashing the price may be enough to interest me in buying it for myself again. In each case and at each time, your post might look a little different–and those are just the opportunities to hook me. I’m not glued to my Twitter feed all day long, so I’m going to miss many more of your posts than I see.
Also, think creatively about how you can bring value to your customer’s life—beyond your book. What do I mean by this? It’s especially easy if you’re an artist or live in a beautiful place–but look for things that are visually healing or enhance your message as an author, and start collecting them in an Instagram account. I follow several sellers there—a calligrapher, a potter, a Swedish maternity & nursing clothing manufacturer—that I rarely purchase from, but have such beautiful accounts I am happy to absorb the images they choose to show me daily or weekly. And when a friend gets pregnant, I know exactly where to find that perfect maternity sweater or specially lettered shower decorations.
An even better example is the Instagram account @onceuponanativity, operated by a young mom in Minnesota, named Ashleigh, who used a Kickstarter campaign to publish a children’s book about Advent. Even if I hadn’t done some brief PR work for the book last year, I would follow her anyway because she has three adorable little girls and is renovating an old farmhouse just outside Minneapolis. Totally outside of my daily life; totally fun to peek into her world. Plus, accompanying the book are little dolls (great replacements for the Elf on the Shelf) that have been produced ethically and sustainably by Hmong women, so watching those come together also makes for fun posts. Ashleigh’s accounts (the farmhouse has its own!) are fun throughout the year, and of course now the book is forefront in my mind with Christmas coming up, because I’ve been watching its progress all year.
Lastly, keep in mind that a majority of people—55 percent—research their purchases online. Forty percent do so on their smart phone.
Sometimes they even use social media as a litmus test for a new product. If it’s worth checking out, they reason, this company/author/speaker must be on Twitter. Having absolutely no digital presence seems weird and suspicious these days.
A number of things go through my head when I’m ‘shopping’ around this way:
- What is this seller saying on a daily basis?
- What are they retweeting?
- Is their content going to add to my life, or is it just annoying clutter?
- Is this a brand I want to associate myself with, or is their profile picture still a Twitter egg?
This holiday season, assume your customers love your message and want more of it. Then ask yourself:
How can you involve your customers in your life and surroundings? How can you connect with them and continue to feed them content on a daily basis?
Laura Finch, a native of Wheaton, IL, has eight years of experience in politics and news, including time spent working as a press aide to a U.S. congressman and a stint as a producer for a morning cable news show. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Taylor University in Indiana, a graduate degree in digital journalism from American University in Washington, D.C., and is an alumna of Indiana’s Lugar Series. She has also been published in one book, “The Zambia Project,” about a major student AIDS project completed through WorldVision. In her spare time Laura loves to run along the Potomac and discover new D.C. restaurants with her husband, Andrew.