Part 1: Instagram, Twitter or Facebook? Where Should I Advertise for Books on Social Media? (read here)
Part 2: How to Market Your Business on Instagram (read here)
Part 3: How to Market Your Business on Twitter (read here)
Part 4: How to Market Your Business on Facebook (read here)
Social media platforms are more popular and accessible than ever this year, and businesses are paying the price. Does anyone else remember the good old days when your Facebook posts received organic engagement? Or when you got more love on your Instagram photos? With increasing competition and more businesses continually boarding the social media megabus, it is becoming harder and harder to get noticed in this digital age. For anyone who may feel overwhelmed with this tech-savvy generation, we want to break things down and give our opinion on how to best spend your advertising dollars to benefit your book business. We decided to go with the following three popular platforms for our analysis: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
First off, if your business doesn’t have a Facebook page, go make one right now! With over one billion active users every day, Facebook is the social media giant that has dominated for the last number of years. Facebook gives people the option to interact with your store on a more casual basis while still keeping them up to date with your business. People love seeing fun content, contests, and answering questions. But how does this relate to you selling more books in your store?
Keeping top of mind and increasing brand awareness is an extremely important part of any type of business. You first need to sell the idea of your business before you can sell books. If you aren’t posting about the books you carry in your store, you can share fun Buzzfeed Book articles, funny quotes about reading, or hold a giveaway contest. All of this helps to establish a basis for your brand to work off of. You have to decide if you want to be fun, edgy, or professional and stick with it so that your customers know what to expect from you. This can all be free advertising for your store.
As for selling books, this is where it gets a bit more complicated. Say, for instance, your store just received the brand new copy of the latest Harry Potter book and you want to let people know. Facebook makes it pretty hard to share this type of content organically since they put their secret algorithm into place, so it may be worth it to spend some money on “boosting your post.” This essentially means that your post has a much higher chance of showing up in the newsfeed of someone who “likes” your page. You will need to set a weekly or monthly budget for your posts and record every detail so you can see how effective it is with your target audience. Don’t be afraid to do some testing to find a budget point. You may find that $25 on a post gets you the same engagement as when you spend $35, but you will only discover this if you are paying careful attention to the details of each boosted post. There is no simple formula that you can plug your information into to find the best way to advertise on Facebook. It’s going to take some time to find your groove, so be patient!
Instagram is a really fun photo sharing app that can help leverage a small book business. Post about a neat little setup you did in your store, share a picture of some cool after-store-hours event you hosted, or push pictures of new product to your followers. As fun as Instagram can be, they did recently switch over to the Facebook way of doing things; if Instagram thinks you will like a post, it will show it to you, but if it thinks you won’t like a post, it won’t show it to you! Reaching even your followers now is difficult. A free way to try to reach your audience better is by using hashtags, such as #bookstagram, #bookworm, #scifi, a hashtag of the city your store resides in, etc. In our next blog post we will go into more detail about how to use hashtags effectively and how to promote your Instagram page to your customers.
If you are willing to spend money on Instagram, you have to first jump through a few steps to set up your Ad Account through Facebook. Once this is done, you have a few options for what you want the objective of your ad creative to accomplish. These range from Clicks to Website, to Page Likes, to Local Awareness, and more. After this, you can get a little fancier and add in your audience, age, gender, demographics, interests, etc. with a daily budget spend. Instagram also has a handy little Ads Manager tool that shows you how your ad is doing. A nice feature about Instagram ads is that you have the ability to include a “Shop Now” button if you are trying to drive website traffic, for example. For any Instagram user out there, you will know that on a regular post you are unable to add in any clickable links, so this may be a great option for you to push people to your website.
Instagram is a 100% visual way of interacting with your fans. If you don’t have the time or talent to create an effective and fun ad, your money won’t go very far. You can’t just write up a nice little sentence or two and toss in an image you found on the web. Instagram users are ruthless for demanding creativity, uniqueness, and engaging content, so if you want to spend money on ads, be sure to get some help if needed or research how other companies are driving traffic! As with any advertising platform, test, test, test! You may find your reach goes farther on Instagram, but your engagement is higher for the same ad you posted on Facebook. Or you may find that by using a set of really great hashtags, you don’t even need to spend money on advertising. You must be willing to put some time and effort into testing for a couple of weeks in order to see how your ads are doing.
Twitter is a tricky one. Should your business be on Twitter? Yes! Should you be advertising on Twitter? Well … this is where the water gets murky. Twitter is such a fun platform to interact with your fans on, keep up to date with the latest happenings, and follow other businesses on. But what about spending money? If you have a Twitter account, whether personal or business, and you follow a number of other accounts, you may feel some severe content overload. Twitter appeals to people who like to tweet what they ate for breakfast, what they saw on the way to the bus stop and joining in celebrity love conversations with their friends (just go with me on this; I’m exaggerating). The point is, a Twitter feed can have a lot of content, all vying for the eyes of the consumer. Even if you do spend the money and your ad makes it to a booknerd’s feed, will they just scroll by it mindlessly?
If you do decide to test out Twitter Ads, it may seem like a little much at first. Twitter has an extensive advertising interface where you can choose from a number of options, including language, behavior, follower, interest, or even geography, to list a few. If you are a mom-and-pop size store, the “geography” option is going to be very important to you in order to reach locals, especially if you don’t sell books online (another reason to sell your books online!). As with other platforms, we highly suggest giving it a try. Set a budget for a minimum of one to three months and see how effective your ads are. If you aren’t seeing the engagement that you would like, don’t blame Twitter right away. Advertising is all about optimizing. You may have to take a big slice of humble pie and get another opinion on the ad you are running and try it all again!
At this point, you may feel overwhelmed and throw your hands up in the air, or you may feel the urgency to get started on social media advertising right away. Our suggestion? Take things slow.
Don’t start advertising on all three channels, as it may start becoming all too much if you have never tried this before. It is not enough to just start throwing money at the wall and hoping some sticks in the social media realm. Take the time to set out a strategy and figure out who your target audience is, how that audience likes to interact on social media, and what your business will look like on social media. An effective content strategy must be created before any large social media advertising push is started so that not only are you reaching your audience, you are sending them content that is worth their time (and your money!). Creating a strategy for advertising is just as important as the advertising itself.
In our next installments, we hope to make this process easier for you by providing some hard and fast examples of how to advertise your books on the discussed social media platforms. In addition, we will be providing a content strategy template as well as an advertising tracking document that will allow you to keep tabs on the effectiveness of your efforts and money (and we did all the work … how easy is that?)!