Can you use the long game for more exposure and book promotion?
Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are the go-to platforms for self-published authors trying to promote their books.
I see streams and streams of tweets and Facebook posts every day by authors. They are either plugging their books directly or posting regular writing updates.
In some cases, it is posting inane trivia to keep getting attention. It can be useful to a degree. But it takes an awful lot of time and effort to keep posting day in and day out.
In effect, it is a 24/7 undertaking to maintain a regular flow of self-promotion.
Even with the aid of some automation, it is still hard work. You need to schedule and calculate when the peak times of the day are. Or which days of the week are better.
Then deciding which posts perform the best, and then entering them all into a scheduling or auto-feed programme.
Of course, you can’t automate monitoring and your replies to posts and messages. So there goes a lot more of your writing, and free time.
Social media book promotion has a very short active life
The other problem with social media is that it is all so very instant. Once a Tweet or Facebook post has dropped off the bottom of a users stream, it is dead, gone and forgotten.
Here are four recent examples of my own Twitter and Facebook posts. They illustrate how they can attract attention.
But they are so short-lived, they need to be re-posted over and over again to keep attracting shares, re-tweets, Likes and clicks.
Look at the graph in the image below, and see how the attention peaks immediately at the time of posting and then quickly fades to nothing over 24 hours.
Also, look at how many impressions there are for each post, yet how few user actions there are. Another useful statistic from these examples is that image posts definitely gain more user actions than only text.
Social media is a very good short-term method of attracting attention. It is very well suited for a book launch. But the benefit of a post is lost extremely quickly.
Search engine listings of your books are the long game
A far more effective, long-term approach is to use old-fashioned web search via Google, Bing and Yahoo, amongst others.
Yes, it takes longer to get listed and indexed, and you need to write and post compelling content.
But once your content is listed, there is nothing more you need to do. Your posts will be working for you for years, 24/7.
On top of that, your page views to click rates will be much higher than what you can achieve from social media.
All you need to do is make sure that your book buy links or book cover widgets are in your sidebar. You could perhaps put them in the header or menu of your blog.
Both ways make sure your books appear on every page of your blog. If you are promoting a free book, add it prominently for your campaign period.
Your well written and informative blog content is what is known as ‘hook bait’. Yes, it’s an awful expression. But it is right in that you entice your visitor to your content via their search phrase.
You can expect that some will click on your book buy links and go to your sales page.
It’s the same aim as on social media. But with no effort at all on your part once Google indexes your content.
The most effective content is, of course, well-written and informative blog posts.
Every post you write increases your search discoverability. The images below give a couple of examples of how attracting visitors via search is far more effective than Twitter or Facebook.
The first image is the search result for an individual blog post over 60 days. This particular blog post is now over four years old.
So imagine how many times it has been read since I posted it.
The key numbers are that 1,215 people read this post over the 60 days. The average time on the page was around a minute.
One minute is plenty of time for a visitor to read the content and to discover that I’m an author and have Kindle books available online.
These two images below are overviews in different views of two of my blogs for the last 30 day period.
In the first image, the key numbers are 3 page views per visit, and 57% new visitors.
It also has a low bounce rate, which means that only 18% of visitors left after viewing only one page for less than 30 seconds.
The second image shows an even better engagement rate. This blog averages nearly 4 page views per visit and an even lower bounce rate of 13%.
What search is not good for is attracting visitors to static websites. In my case, my website consists of only a handful of pages that are rarely updated.
Because it is purely about me, it is not very likely that people will enter search phrases that will find my site, as the image below of visits over 30 days illustrates.
If I wanted to promote my site, social media would probably be a better means. Although quite honestly, static websites have minimal appeal to people now.
From the few examples I have included in this article, it is easy to understand why search is so powerful in attracting traffic continuously over a long period.
Yes, it takes a little time and patience to get listed and indexed. And there is a learning curve involved, particularly if you decide to learn more about SEO (search engine optimization) for your blog posts.
But once you do the work, you don’t need to lift a finger to get traffic and to get noticed. In my mind, this is a much better means of selling books than living on Twitter and Facebook 24/7.
If you don’t want to set up and maintain your own blog, another way of achieving search listings is to guest post on other people’s blogs.
Contact book bloggers to see who may be interested in either doing an author interview with you or a book review. You could also contact book and publishing-related bloggers to see if they accept guest posts.
The one question you probably have is, ‘Yeah, ok. But does the long game sell books?’
All I can say is that this month is historically one of the quietest in the year for book sales for me. But my sales have still been steady and regular.
So I would say yes, and that they probably came via my indexed pages that have been listed for ages, rather than from posts or tweets on social media.
Of course, some may well have come from them. But I have never noticed a sales spike due to my increased social media activity. Don’t worry; I have tried!
Social media is just one ingredient in the mix. But it may not be as crucial as you think in helping you sell books.
However, it can be a very productive tool to use to get blog traffic to a new blog post, while you are waiting for Google to index it.
My belief is that indexed pages are my investment account to ensure my future book sales.
What I have written in this article may not be indexed fully for a couple of months. But in five years, it will still be available to be found in Search engines. The longevity of search is the big winner over social media.
As a last note, I do have to say that social media, used well, can have an instant and positive effect on books sales. But this is generally only for the short term, as user interest wanes if a campaign lasts too long and becomes repetitive.
It is also limited book promotion because only the number of followers, friends or Likes you have can see your posts.
It is also unlikely that anything you post on social media will be indexed, so it is lost forever.
This is why blog posts and search are far more effective in the long term. It is a means to continually attract new visitors and potential buyers for years, and by an unlimited number of people.
Self-publishing ensures that your books will always be available, and need never go out of print.
By spending the time now in gaining search engine listings, you will be investing very wisely in your future book sales. Your blog is one of the best book promotion sites you can have.