Social media can feel like a complete waste of time, especially for companies trying to market a product or service. The problem is that we’re all competing with celebrity influencers, viral podcasts, world news, and the vast number of distractions in life.
The idea of promoting something on social media might seem daunting. After all, this is the platform we use for chatting with friends, sharing photos of a recent wedding, or surfing for vacation spots by looking at beach photos.
One key to success is to take a long look at what you are actually offering, whether it is just an ad for a product, or if you are adding some value.
I learned this recently in promoting my book, which came out earlier this year. I’ve struggled to find the right tone, to be honest. For a while, I would simply post about how the book is available, assuming that would be enough. It’s not. In recent weeks, I’ve decided to switch my approach almost entirely (especially on LinkedIn) and provide some value and purpose behind my posts.
Recently, I started using long-form posts. My book is about productivity (including a section on how to stay productive on social media), so I’ve started posting tips and techniques, quotes about productivity, and longer posts telling my story about how I’ve learned to be productive. (The short version is that I’ve published around 15,000 articles in my career, so my book is mostly about the best practices I’ve used to keep a steady flow of work going.)
It’s not easy to attract attention on social media. For me, the challenge is that there is a lot of competition in the book market, and a lot of authors who have an established readership. Since this is my first book, I had to start from scratch, building up an email list and making a website. I knew the basics. For my book, I see social media as a way to inform people about what the book is about and to include links to my website and a way to sign-up for my newsletter.
A friend who is also an author told me that people do not click on links on social media to buy something. That might be changing soon given that “social commerce” (shopping on social media) is an emerging trend, but it’s a big jump to go from an Instagram post to buying a book. That’s why I’ve tended to focus on providing the value as a way to help a potential reader know if my book is worth the time. When a reader sees one of my posts, I want him or her to see a snippet of what the entire book is all about, and I usually include a link for more information.
I won’t say it’s a perfect strategy. In fact, this is where you come in. Like I said, promoting a new book is not easy. You may have struggled to garner attention for a new product as well. Feel free to pursue my own social media feed on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. If you see something that resonates with you, let me know. If you have an idea for how to do it better, shoot me a message as well. I’d love to do a follow-up column about the tips people send.
And keep at it yourself. Promoting a product in an organic way does have to include some takeaway or benefit for your followers. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, and I’m still learning.