To learn how to promote a nonfiction book on social media, you first need to figure out what your end game is (i.e. your overall strategy), and then you need to figure out what the best social media tactics are to get you there.
If you just implement a list of isolated tactics, like posting beautiful images on Instagram, running contests on Facebook, or tweeting at a certain time of the day to maximize your exposure, you’re going to miss the bigger picture.
What is this bigger picture, you ask? When it comes to promoting your book on social media, your end game is to create the most important asset for your entire business: your email list.
Your Nonfiction Social Media Strategy
As a nonfiction author, your entire social media strategy needs to center on three things: you have to get your audience to know you, trust you and like you. Only then will they be willing to become subscribers to your email list.
If you pursue a bunch of tactics without this strategy, even if you’re successful in engaging with your audience, at best you’ll get people to buy your book. But if you connect at a higher level, at a level of service, you’ll end up with an email list full of lifelong fans who’ll sing your praises to their friends and acquaintances.
How to Create These Super Fans
The short answer: be of service to your audience. This means that every tweet, every post, every reply to a comment must be done with the aim of elevating your audience to a better place.
As a nonfiction author you’re in the problem-solving business, and every piece of communications must reflect that. Your target audience has a painful problem that they need to solve, but they don’t know how to and they’re looking for answers.
Your book (and by extension your business or career) provides a unique answer that solves that problem. Your job in your social media strategy is to connect with your audience and give them tips and insights that’ll help them address their pain.
It’s by doing this consistently that you’ll earn their trust and respect, and turn them into super fans who will not only buy your current book and all your future books, but also hire your professional services.
What Social Media Platforms Should I Use?
It’s a well known fact that social media outreach is time consuming. You need to tweet, post and reply to comments on a regular basis for an ever-increasing number of followers. But the thing to keep in mind is that not all followers are the same.
You should only focus on those platforms your target audience frequents and ignore all others. You don’t want to pursue people that are just interested in your topic at a surface level. You want to pursue people who actually need what you have to offer.
If your demographic has an age range, gender, education level, and so on, that makes them frequent Facebook users, but they hardly ever use Twitter, then don’t tweet. If they’re frequent users of LinkedIn but are never on Facebook, then don’t post on Facebook.
Even if people tell you that you should always have a presence on Facebook because they happen to have over two billion users, ignore this advice and focus on what works for you, your book and your audience.
If your market can’t be found there, you’ll be wasting your precious time marketing there. Use a laser beam to find your target audience, not a floodlight.
What’s the Best Way to Use Social Media for Nonfiction Authors?
The following advice is going to sound very counter intuitive: don’t use social media to promote your book!
Here’s the thing: with very few exceptions, the most popular social media platforms are used for sharing information, not for selling things (the only exception being Pinterest, which is a hybrid of both).
But even if your audience frequents Pinterest, you’ll get much more engagement if you provide valuable information that’ll lead them to your email list, rather than having the narrow goal of just selling a book – and this applies to all platforms.
The vast majority of your posts need to showcase your blog articles, by providing useful information that’s of service to your target audience. Then, those who want to learn more will click through to your article on your website.
Once there, they’ll be presented with a popup page where they’ll be offered a free report that’s highly relevant to them, a newsletter subscription, a white paper you’ve written, an infographic or a thorough list of tactics with a high perceived value for your audience.
In exchange for this valuable information, they’ll need to provide you with their email address and the opportunity to opt into your mailing list for even more valuable information later on.
This should be the ultimate goal of all of your social media outreach. If you only interact on a platform, then the platform owns the interactions – you don’t. It’s only when you add users to your email list on your own website that you gain full control over your audience.
Social Media Sites and Their Users
In summary, first identify the social media sites that your target audience frequents, then post valuable information that elevates your audience, and finally link back to your blog where you can offer an enticing (and free) information product in exchange for an email address.
What type of valuable information should you provide? That depends on your book’s topic.
For a B2C audience, you can use:
- Posts with actionable advice that your audience can use to begin to tackle their biggest problem.
- Words of wisdom or support to encourage them to move forward.
- Stories of clients (with names in disguise) or yourself overcoming the same problem they have.
- A list of ideas, strategies or tactics to help them improve an area of their lives.
For a B2B audience, you can use:
- Valuable articles on LinkedIn that address the business problem your book tackles.
- Posts on Medium that are replicated from your blog (with a line on top that reads: Republished from www.YourBlogArticleURL).
- How-to YouTube videos in the subject matter of your book.
Social Media Platforms and Their Users
To help you figure out where your audience fits in, below you’ll find some user characteristics for each one of the top seven platforms, sorted by size of user base (data from a yearly Pew Research Centre survey conducted from Jan 8-Feb 7, 2019):
U.S. Adults: 69%
Ages 18-24: 76%
Ages 25-29: 84%
Ages 30-49: 79%
Ages 50-64: 68%
Ages 65+: 46%
< $30,000: 69%
$30,000 – $74,999: 72%
High School or less: 61%
Some College: 75%
U.S. Adults: 73%
Ages 18-24: 90%
Ages 25-29: 93%
Ages 30-49: 87%
Ages 50-64: 70%
Ages 65+: 38%
< $30,000: 68%
$30,000 – $74,999: 75%
High School or less: 64%
Some College: 79%
U.S. Adults: 37%
Ages 18-24: 75%
Ages 25-29: 57%
Ages 30-49: 47%
Ages 50-64: 23%
Ages 65+: 8%
< $30,000: 35%
$30,000 – $74,999: 39%
High School or less: 33%
Some College: 37%
U.S. Adults: 22%
Ages 18-24: 44%
Ages 25-29: 31%
Ages 30-49: 26%
Ages 50-64: 17%
Ages 65+: 7%
< $30,000: 20%
$30,000 – $74,999: 20%
High School or less: 13%
Some College: 24%
U.S. Adults: 27%
Ages 18-24: 17%
Ages 25-29: 44%
Ages 30-49: 37%
Ages 50-64: 24%
Ages 65+: 11%
< $30,000: 10%
$30,000 – $74,999: 26%
High School or less: 9%
Some College: 26%
U.S. Adults: 28%
Ages 18-24: 38%
Ages 25-29: 28%
Ages 30-49: 35%
Ages 50-64: 27%
Ages 65+: 15%
< $30,000: 18%
$30,000 – $74,999: 27%
High School or less: 19%
Some College: 32%
The best way to promote your nonfiction book on social media is to be of service to your target audience on the sites that they frequent, so that they get to know you, trust you and like you. This is the gateway to creating and growing a powerful email list.
Once you’ve earned your audience’s trust through thoughtful, useful posting, you’ll earn lifelong fans who’ll sing your praises and reciprocate your generosity by sharing your message, buying your books and hiring your professional services.
All the best!
Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.
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Bennett R. Coles is the author of 6 books published through Harper Collins (NY) and Titan Publishing Group (UK). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press and the founder/CEO of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, printing, distribution and marketing.