Does social media book promotion still work? In short, no, because of three problems.
1. There is a lack of user intent.
2. You have to pay to get attention.
3. Few people use social media to buy books.
Ten or even five years ago, social media was the go-to book promotion for self-published authors.
Back then, it worked, and I know from experience that it worked well.
But times have changed, and social media is totally different today.
Yes, posting on social media is quick and easy, so you think you are promoting your book.
But who reads your posts? How many people interact? How many books do you sell?
Why did it work before but not now?
The answers are complex because so many things have changed. Social media is now much more focused.
Twitter for politics, Instagram for looking good, and Facebook for clicking funny pics or videos when you have nothing better to do. And Tiktok, forget it if you aren’t posting attention-seeking videos.
Where do books rate attention on social media now? Nowhere.
That’s the new problem.
Social media is not in good shape right now. Even Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, is looking at dire times, according to news reports.
“If I had to bet, I’d say that this might be one of the worst downturns that we’ve seen in recent history,” Zuckerberg said.
As for Twitter, who knows what the future holds as the battle for ownership rages on.
But apart from these issues, maybe the real problem is that (nice) people have fallen out of love with social media.
It’s not a friendly or even social place anymore. Ten years ago, an author could make friends, gain genuine interest and sell books via social media.
But now, if you are lucky, you will only get attention from sofa-bound people who love to criticize.
And it’s not only book promotion that has a problem.
Social media has changed
Five years ago, social media delivered 20% of my traffic to my publishing advice blog. Today? It’s 0.84%!
Yes, I moved my focus over that time toward gaining more organic search traffic and cut back somewhat on social media postings.
But the huge drop in social media traffic is still telling. Social media users today aren’t looking for information. They are looking for entertainment or amusement to pass the time.
That’s why cute animals and beauty pics gain the most views.
As for new books and how-to guides? Well, it’s tough to attract any attention now because organic reach is falling.
The biggest problem with social media is the lack of intent.
By this, I mean that the best type of book promotion is designed to attract the attention of someone with the intention of buying a book.
Not that I am a fan at all, but perhaps the only social media platform that serves this purpose is Goodreads.
When people use Google Search, they usually have an intention. They want an answer to a question, need advice, or they want to buy something.
That’s why a terrific blog is a far better platform for authors now.
The second problem is that to get a reasonable amount of attention on social media now, you need to pay.
If you have a Facebook page, you know how many options you have now to pay for likes, followers, boosted posts, and of course, ads. And Facebook keeps reminding you of the fact.
The last major problem is that books and authors are simply not popular on social media.
In an article I read, there was a good example of how social media is not always a winner.
Billie Eilish has hundreds of millions of followers across five different social networks, and she has fewer book sales than independently published author Chris Fox, who has almost no social media presence.
Eilish’s publisher lost a fortune on her book.
Yes, you can have millions of followers, but how many of them are interested in buying books?
What can you do?
Posting your books on social media regularly is so easy, and it’s perhaps even a habit.
But for authors today, building and fostering relationships with readers is more likely to produce better results.
If readers know you, you stand a much better chance of selling copies of your books.
Learning how to leverage SEO with a great blog is a proven way. But it’s a slow process to gain reasonable traction from search engines.
Writing guest articles for other blogs is worth a try. You might garner some extra attention if a popular site agrees to publish your article.
If you are self-publishing with Amazon KDP, you could investigate using KDP book promotion tools to better effect.
At least with Amazon promotions, you are aiming your efforts at book buyers with intent.
Paying for book promotion services is another option, but spend your money wisely.
One last but probably one of the most effective ways to sell books is to get your KDP categories and search keywords working for you.
Investing time in finding profitable search keywords can only help your book appear higher and more often in Amazon customer book searches.
Social media is certainly less effective now for book promotion.
An obvious reason is that there are too many authors using it, and users become blind to book promotion posts.
Should you forget about it entirely? No.
But change your focus from assuming that everyone will see your book promotion posts.
Instead, concentrate on building closer relationships. Yes, it’s much more time-consuming. So you need to judge if it’s worth the effort.
With any form of online marketing, things are always changing. It’s part of the job, but yes, it can be frustrating.
The only way forward is to adapt and keep looking for new and better alternatives.
Related reading: Do Readers Use Your Social Share Buttons On Your Site?