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Are posts on social media effective for selling books?

Updated: Sep 25, 2021

Some authors are relying less on social media posts to promote their books, and some book marketing professionals recommend focusing on other marketing mechanisms. This blog post has information from two people based on social media experience and data.


Carol J. Michel is an award-winning nonfiction author I follow regularly, and she decided in July of 2020 to pause her three most active social media accounts for 30 days as a test. No Twitter. No Facebook. No Instagram. It was an agonizing decision because she was getting ready to launch her latest self-published book.


After her “digital detox” experiment, as she calls it, Michel decided she liked the freedom. So, she deleted her Twitter account, trimmed her Facebook author page and personal page from nearly 3,000 followers and friends to about 75 personal friends and relatives, and started ignoring her Instagram account.


That gave her more time to focus on six other marketing mechanisms: Improving her website, blogging, guest blogging, expanding her newsletter, podcasting, and developing her YouTube subscriber channel.


“It’s been over a year now, and I have no regrets about junking the big three—Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram—though I keep my accounts on Facebook and Instagram for occasional visits,” she states.


Michel tells about her decision and the impact in an August 2021 guest article she wrote on the blog of publishing industry expert Jane Friedman. The article also contains some data from the IT services company Mamsys about the relatively short shelf life of posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram compared with videos and blog posts.


“Regardless of what else you are doing to market your books, ask yourself if that time spent on social media is really getting the word out about those books,” Michel writes. “Or would it be better to spend that time on activities that might have a longer shelf life?”


Tim Grahl, a professional book marketer and author, preaches about some of the same actions that Michel is putting into practice. That's primarily because engagement rates for social media posts are so low compared with other marketing mechanisms. He offers free webinars and paid courses that urge authors to rely less on social media to sell books and to think of it as a mechanism to connect with people based on common interests.


Here’s a link to see one of Grahl's newsletter articles that uses data for engagement rates on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to challenge myths about the effectiveness of social media to sell books. Read it through all the way to see how he recommends using social media more effectively.

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