Social Media Engagement Is (Almost) Useless

Social Media Is (Almost) Useless At Selling Books

Is book promotion using social media engagement a waste of time?

When your basic aim as an author is to sell books, social media engagement can be a very real distraction, as well as a poor means of delivering new paying readers.

Sure, social media is the ‘go to‘ promotional platform for almost all authors, but what does social media engagement really achieve?

I would say, very little, even though the likes of Facebook and Twitter make it their business to tell you in their reports how well you are doing on their respective social media engagement measures.

The truth of the matter is, however, that no matter how many shares, likes, favourites, retweets or profile views you get, not one of these engagements take the user to where you want them to go – to your book sales page on Amazon or any other retailer, let alone your blog or website.

All of these engagement actions are passive and are often simply a reflex by users. I know in my own case, I have many followers who habitually retweet, like or favourite every post I make.

It’s nice for sure, but what does it achieve? Perhaps a few new followers, but that is about it.

Even when using paid advertising on Facebook or Twitter, they both happily report how successful your campaign has been, but by engagement measures, and it takes some real digging into their data to discover how few real clicks through to Amazon were achieved.


So, is it worth abandoning social media?

No. Of course, there is a benefit, but it is only by way of constant exposure and keeping your name and books in front of peoples’ eyes, with the hope that one day they will take a closer look.

One tip! If you are linking from social media to your blog or website, always, and I mean always embed a link in your book cover images to go to directly your Amazon page, as so many users of social media are connecting by mobile devices nowadays, so clicking images is imperative for mobile users, as text links are easily missed or too small to click on a phone.

In the end, when it comes to selling books, I still believe that categories and search keywords on Amazon and Smashwords are far more powerful and beneficial.

Perhaps spend less time and effort on social media, and spend more on learning how to better leverage search metadata for your books, because readers who are ready to buy a new book go directly to Amazon to find what they are looking for.

Book buyers never search Facebook or Twitter likes and retweets for a new book to read, do they?


More reading: Where Are You Going With Your Facebook Marketing For Books?


Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

5 thoughts on “Social Media Engagement Is (Almost) Useless

  • January 24, 2019 at 2:10 am

    First, I found this post by searching to see if using social media is any good for self-published authors.

    As someone who doesn’t use social media (I don’t have a Facebook account. Tried to sign up when it was newish, then I was asked some personal info; a phone #, date of birth or something then I gave it up half-way through signing up. Registered with Instagram to contact with someone important whom I didn’t have their contact details. They did not reply to me and that was the end of it. Still thinking of LinkedIn…).
    People – especially self-published authors including gurus/marketers/marketing ‘experts/entrepreneurs – have been telling me (in fact pushing me) to use these platforms for marketing particularly Facebook (my least favourite of them all) and Twitter. And even mentioned paid advertising such as Facebooks’ boosted? posts etc. But I have always resisted believing that these platforms are even less effective than Google ads (not that I’ve used either). In addition, I don’t have time for them! :(

    Recently, I’ve been reading all sorts of self-published guides and books on marketing – and I was thinking of embarking on a brand new journey on social media!

    Tonight, I decided to settle this fence-sitting once and for all.
    I’m glad I have found your found your valuable post; from someone who knows their stuff and says like it is.

    Thank you for saving me time and effort.

    Keep the good work! :)

  • December 9, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    I don’t believe there is an easy way to sell books via Social Media. You have to make your book a blockbuster product first. And depend upon the customer to customer referrals instead.

  • June 5, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    I’ve got a comment/question on Facebook advertising. I’m hearing the following success stories: Authors are spending thousands of dollars on FB ads, but they’re also selling books—enough to pay for the advertising and make a small profit. Any truth to this? I’m also hearing that BookBub continues to be worth it.

  • April 1, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    One of the criticisms of social media is that is has reduced the amount of time that people spend reading long form media such as novels. Why would anyone who has abandoned novels for social media be interested in a novel promoted on social media?

  • January 27, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    I am in advertising and there really is a huge learning curve with social media. Clients think it is a ‘free’ way to boost business and drive sales. But i realise that engagement doesn’t equate to sales. It is important to note that followers of authors are also followers of many other authors and therefore get tons of tweets about books and are perhaps desensitised to buying. A small percentage of followers who are avid readers may not be into your specific genre. (I am now rediscovering twitter.)


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