In the age of Social Media, many authors wonder how to sell more books on Facebook. The first important piece of advice Cindy Ratzlaff of Brand New, Brand You gave during her Facebook 2.0 presentation at BEA 2013 was that all authors should have their own Facebook Page. This is preferable to creating a Page for each book because the name of the game is “audience engagement,” and you’d essentially be starting over with every new Page you create. Instead, create one Page to use as a promotion platform for all your books, choosing a custom URL like “CandyKaneAuthor” or simply use your name. As with any web platform, choose a URL that will reflect how most fans will search for you.
The second most important tidbit Ratzlaff shared was an explanation of how Facebook is now managing who sees what in their newsfeeds. When you post something to your Page, only 16-20% of your fans will see it due to the algorithms Facebook is now using. But if someone Likes or comments on one of your posts, all of your posts for the next ten days will show up in their newsfeed. Within that sweet spot, you have an opportunity to engage them and get them to keep coming back to your Page to Like, comment, or just read more, all of which will help you sell more books. Luckily, Ratzlaff offered a lot of great advice on how to do just that.
Tricking Out Your Page to Sell More Books on Facebook
Facebook offers or partners with a variety of tools that can make your Page look better and be more functional. Take advantage of them. Here are a few ways to do it:
Think of your cover photo as an ad.
When people land on your Page, your cover photo (that’s the wider “banner” type image appearing behind the smaller boxed photo on the left) is the first thing they’ll see. Make an impression! Instead of just using some pretty natural scene or a version of the ubiquitous bookshelf/stack of books, create a graphic that looks like an advertisement for your latest book or books. As an example, Ratzlaff suggested checking out the Facebook Page for author Lissa Rankin.
Go “live” with streaming video or recordings.
If you’re doing any kind of live seminars online, you probably know about Livestream. But did you know you can set your event up to stream through your Facebook Page? Spreecast lets you embed your Livestream feed on your Page. It also lets you create videos with up to four people on screen at once, so if you’re doing interviews (as the interviewer or interviewee) you can share that on your Page as well. Tools like Camtasia (pricey but worth it if you’re serious about video) or Screenflow (for Mac users) are great for creating short video calls-to-action—Ratzlaff suggests these be no longer than thirty seconds and posted once a week.
App it out with iFrames.
When you look at your Page, you’ll see a row of small boxes just beneath your cover photo that may have titles/links such as “Photos” and “Events.” Maximize the use of this valuable real estate by customizing what “apps” appear here and in what order. You can have up to twelve, but only four will show at a time, and while Facebook allows you to move them around to some extent the first box visible will always be Photos. But even the Photo box allows you some flexibility if you keep in mind that the last one you uploaded shows, so with some careful planning you can manage what that box features at any given time.
The best tools for creating custom tabs are Static HTML and Woobox, which will allow you to create boxes highlighting whatever you want. If you check out the Ambitious Enterprises Facebook Page, for example, you’ll see that the second box says “Get our newsletter!” which contains a sign-up page for my newsletter (HTML provided by my email management service) and the third is “Blog,” which would take you to this blog’s homepage.
You might include a bookstore, a video of a recent book reading or workshop presentation, a promo for your latest contest, a sign-up page for your newsletter…the possibilities are endless. Check out what other authors are doing for ideas, and get a copy of Diana Urban’s free ebook on how to Stand Out on Facebook after reading her useful post and the even more useful comments. This eHow article will also help explain step by step how to create a custom tab on your Page.
Your Page = Social Media Hub
With over one billion users worldwide, Facebook is a powerful tool when used as the hub for all your online activities. This doesn’t mean you no longer want a website (though some companies are going that route, I don’t recommend it as a website is still more accessible and flexible than a Facebook Page at this time) but it does mean you should be sure to pull all your other social media efforts in.
Feed the content monster.
Most platforms such as WordPress, Twitter, and YouTube make it easy to link up your accounts so that a post to one automatically appears on all the others. Getting all your accounts and profiles connected allows your readers to follow and interact with you on whichever platforms they prefer. You want them to know you can hang wherever they most like to hang, and you also want to make sure all your readers have access to all your blog posts, videos, and other content.
Make it easy for people to find you.
Most people tend to add their website url somewhere in their About section. The problem is, many visitors to your Page will never click on your About tab! Instead, make it super easy for everyone to find you everywhere that you are by adding links in the most visible portions of your Page. These include:
- your cover image (notice how Lissa Rankin places her latest book’s website url)
- your About section (the very first few lines in your “short description” section appear under your profile image–check out Paulo Coelho’s Page to get an idea)
- a custom tab (you can create these to take viewers to whatever website you wish, and some providers offer pre-made apps such as Woobox’s for Pinterest)
What to Do With Your Page to Sell More Books on Facebook
Now that you have your Page all nice and pretty (and functional), what the heck do you do with it? You need to drive people to it and keep them interested enough to come back, that’s what.
Attract readers visually.
Ratzlaff strongly encourages the use of video, even if that video is really just a series of still photos with a voice over. For the former, try using such tools as Vine or Socialcam. For the latter, she recommends Animoto. With these applications, you can easily create free videos to post on your Page. But what should the videos include? They could be:
- a shuffle of your books
- crowd shots from your latest reading/signing
- snippets of a presentation you gave recently
- fans raving about your latest book
- you chatting with your favorite author
You should also post photos of yourself doing things you love: hobbies, spending time with loved ones, and just generally being you. Today’s marketing strategies require personalization, so show your readers that you’re a person! Try Statigram in combination with your Instagram account for sharing informal snapshots of you living your life (but leave out anything unflattering or overly personal, like you in your ratty old pajamas in bed on a Sunday morning).
Get your fans to play along.
Contests can be a great way to create engagement. Why not ask your fans to post a photo of themselves reading your book (cover visible, of course!) and offer the winner an autographed copy, a gift card, or some memorabilia relevant to your book’s subject or themes? Or create a private book club for uber fans, requiring anyone who wants in to post a photo or video of themselves reading their favorite passage from your book.
Spread the word widely (but not too widely).
One of Facebook’s recent roll-outs included the ability to promote any given post. This can be more effective than promoting the Page itself, especially if you don’t have huge name recognition yet. Instead, try this fast and targeted method for building an audience on Facebook by:
- setting a budget of $10 per day for as many days as you can afford
- target your competitors’ audience (why reinvent the wheel?)
- aim for approximately 3-5 million people for general interest posts
- select the “pay per click” option
- do split testing of your post’s images, copy, and audience selections (choose “create similar ad” to speed things up)
- review your results daily and adjust as necessary
The key here is to promote posts that will really grab a reader’s interest. They shouldn’t be self-serving or read like an obvious ad. Rather, think of this as a way to get visibility for something you’re really excited to share with your fans like an upcoming literary festival or other event you’re attending, or a great article on something relevant to your book’s topic. And remember, when you’ve run an ad, be sure to post frequently and with great content to take maximum advantage of that ten day “sweet spot” during which your posts will appear in all those new visitors’ newsfeeds.
Be Not Afraid
There’s so much you can do with a Facebook Page that it’s ridiculous not to try at least a few new tricks to sell more books on Facebook. Don’t be afraid of “breaking” things! There’s nothing you can screw up that you can’t change back with a few clicks. Facebook itself offers a robust Help section, and you can always look up search terms for whatever you want to do like “add a Like-Gate to Facebook Page” or “add video to Facebook Page.” There are new posts and videos from techies and marketers and other authors just like you going up every day with easy-to-follow instructions, including this very useful infographic on the anatomy of a Facebook Page (so you’ll understand what all those other posts are talking about!).
I know I’m looking forward to using some of these techniques and tips with my Facebook Page and setting up an author Page sometime soon. I hope you’ll also try something new with your Facebook Page today and enjoy the benefits of increased visibility, which include better book sales. After all, no one can buy your book if they’ve never heard of you! And the author who connects most easily, naturally, and in the most places with his or her audience wins.
Image credit: mcklog / 123RF Stock Photo