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How Can You Use Social Media to Your Advantage? by Jason Letts of the Kindle Fire Department

2012 was the year social media showed its true colors. 2013 will be the year we fight back.

What do I mean? In case you didn’t hear about it from an irate author, Facebook made changes to restrict the ability of pages to reach fans, putting the readers you’ve gained maddeningly just out of reach. Moving on to newer networks in the hopes they’ll play nice for a while hasn’t worked out better. Like Pinterest? They’re messing with your board covers, not to mention they used to sneak affiliate tags onto your Amazon links.
Now that we’ve been doused, let’s fully accept the current social media landscape: every service you use to connect with your fans is trying to make money from you off of that relationship. The mission is threefold: (1) play the game by their rules, (2) know when to spend, and (3) find a way to own access to your fans.

1. Playing the Game by Their Rules
The only reason to join a social network is to be able to find your readers on their turf. And when 1 out of every 7 minutes spent online is on Facebook, that’s a good reason to bet your readers will be there. And with their recent changes, Facebook expressed a clear preference for pictures [#2 here]. As a result, visual marketing continues to gain steam as the best method of using and reaching your fans on social networks.
What’s visual marketing?
Wish your book were in one of those? Here’s how it could be: make one yourself. This is going to be the best way to position your book in its genre and make its content quickly accessible to readers. If you’re reaching out to readers with an image that they find valuable, they’ll share it without a second thought.
And here’s the surprise twist; making them isn’t all that difficult. Here are 9 tools for those with varying computer skill levels. Easel.ly is another good, simple, and free one. Hey, you put so much creativity into your book. Can’t you spare some for the marketing?
2. Know When to Spend
I had to rewrite this section that originally described when to promote a Facebook post. My new answer to when it’s a good idea to spend to extend the reach of any given post: Never. The reason for this is because the cost per action is debilitating, and an alarming number of those actions are not at all related to your intended goal. Take a look at this recent test.
For $5, I reached an additional 266 people and received these 13 actions when promoting a simple link. Most of the Page Post Likes were for posts other than the promoted one, and considering my goal was to drive traffic through the link my cost per click was $2.50. I consider these results terrible and the other actions completely unhelpful, and my experiences using Facebook’s ad manager to try promoting specific links were similarly poor.
The takeaway: Even if you pay them, Facebook will not help you drive your fans to your profit centers because they want to keep their users on Facebook. All they will do is help you grow your page’s fanbase.

At this point, the best you can do to market to your fans is use what is already given away for free. I could say more about how Facebook’s Promoted Posts setup is designed to subvert your goals, but it’s time to wrap this up. Spending to increase your reach is overwhelmingly likely to be wasteful.
3. Find a Way to Own Access to Your Fans
Email. Unless you have a fan’s email address, you do not own the method of contacting him or her. That’s why despite all the uproar of social networks, the email address will reemerge as the most coveted piece of information customers can provide. The natural progression of your social media forays should be to meet them on their turf, and then make the jump to contacting over email.
In case you need some convincing, here are 10 Reasons Why Email Marketing is More Important Than Ever.
There are several good ways to encourage readers to subscribe to your email list: add a signup link to the back of your ebook files, sticky a post asking for email addresses to the top of your Facebook fan page, include a button or form in a prominent place on your blog or website. And remember these 7 tips for a great email campaign.
This idea of owning the contact point with your audience is what has spurred us to heavily invest in our new Book Blast email service, which is growing by leaps and bounds. The ability to target readers who prefer specific genres allows us to keep rates down while keeping subscribers happy. Feel free to ask for details or submit your book here!
Want to read more about social media? Try 21 Social Media Predictions for 2013!
Jason Letts is the bestselling YA author of the Inevitable Trilogy and Powerless series, as well as part of the team behind the #1 Kindle Fire books and apps blog The Kindle Fire Department. He also writes mobile games, guidebooks, and is in the process of learning programming. If life were perfect, he'd spend all of it in the shade of palm trees typing crazy st
ories beside a warm sandy beach.


This Post Has 16 Comments
  1. Any warning on email frequency? Because I have to say unless I know an author WELL, emails tend to turn me off. I get spammed with way too much and I don’t WANT to be reached there. (am I a freak this way? Or would you recommend limiting frequency?) I also was in a conversation recently on newsletters and it was fairly unanimous over many people that we just delete them.

  2. Love this article so much I began taking notes then ended bookmarking as well. Thank you! Any tips on using LinkedIn? (Yes, I read the article and realize the downfall of SM, but if I am there anyway might as well use it successfully:)

    Looking forward to reading more from you – Jennifer

    1. LinkedIn is the one site I feel like I should be on even though I’m not. The real benefit is when you need to get organized about your writing business to the point where you need other people involved, and it can do a lot to help you find great talent, check references for the professionals you’re considering working with, or offer services you might have. Here’s a great article I just read about why LinkedIn will becoming more important in the future:
      How LinkedIn Is Useful

    1. I think Twitter is a good way to reach out to people directly, and cultivating a group of people you regularly converse with who can help with things is great to have, but the click-through rates for trying to reach masses of people are pretty poor. Like with Pinterest, there’s a strong tendency to spout off your tweet and not pay any attention to what anyone else is saying: the “Pin it and forget it” mentality.

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