Running a price promotion for your book — temporarily dropping the price and promoting the discount via a service like BookBub — is a great way to drive a large volume of downloads or sales. And the more momentum you get from your campaign, the higher you’ll drive your book up retailers’ top lists and even the bestseller lists.
Because of this, our partners often ask us how they can supplement their BookBub campaigns with social media to drive more downloads and sales during their price promotion. While social media can be a great way to connect with fans and even find new readers, it can be a tremendous time suck. And some authors have a tendency to be overly self-promotional on social media, which makes them seem spammy.
So how can you promote your book on social media while it’s discounted without being spammy? Here are a few creative ideas that both indie authors and traditionally published authors can use to amplify their price promotions and BookBub campaigns using social media.
1. Let fans promote the book for you
Your existing fans will be eager to learn about any opportunity to grab your ebook at a discount (or for free!), so post an announcement to your blog and send that post to your mailing list. But before sending, make the news of your discount easy for readers to share by adding social sharing buttons and click-to-tweet links to the post.
How much impact could these steps have? Every website is different, but when we added these to the BookBub Partners blog posts (we even updated all of our old blog posts), our social media traffic increased almost 3x in the three months after the change.
Granted, we also increased the amount of content we published each week and did other things to ramp up overall traffic, but making our posts easier to share definitely helped get our posts more exposure on social. Here’s how to make each of your posts easy to share:
Add social sharing buttons to your blog
Many blogs today have a floating social share bar along the side of the content. This is more effective than adding social share buttons to the top or bottom of your content — readers can share your content however far along your post they are.
There are several tools you can use to install a floating share bar like this on your website, no matter what platform you use to run your site:
- AddThis – free
- ShareThis – free
- Monarch – $69–$89 per year (we use this on the BookBub Partners blog)
- Manually create buttons for each post
Add “click-to-tweet” links to your post
Whoever clicks on a “click-to-tweet” link can easily tweet your custom message. Upon clicking this link, Twitter spins up a tweet using your copy, and the user can customize the text if she’d like and tweet it out to the world. If you want to see this in action, click this link. Here’s how to create a “click-to-tweet” link:
Step 1: Shorten your book’s BookBub URL using a shortening service like bitly. This way, readers can easily find your book no matter their preferred retailer.
Step 2: Write a couple tweets you’d like people to tweet and include your bitly link. Here are a few templates you can use for inspiration:
Alert: [book title], a [adjective] [genre] is on sale for only [price]! Don’t miss out – http://bit.ly/your-link #yourhashtag
Nice! [book title] is [free/price] until [date]. It’s a [adjective] [genre]. You can download it here – http://bit.ly/your-link #yourhashtag
I’m grabbing my copy of [book title] while it’s [free/price]! Get yours here – http://bit.ly/your-link RT to spread the word.
Step 3: Click here to go the ClickToTweet website. Here you can create a basic click-to-tweet link for free. Simply paste in your tweet, uncheck the CAPTCHA box, and click Generate New Link.
Step 4: Copy the cct.ec link it spins up and use it as the URL for the “click-to-tweet:” hyperlink. You can add these to the blog post itself, as well as the email announcement.
2. Update your social media cover photos
While you don’t want to barrage fans with constant promotions for the discount, you can brand your Facebook page/profile, Twitter profile, Google+ profile, etc. with a unique cover photo design to create awareness of the price promotion. Whenever someone likes your Facebook page, follows your Facebook profile, friends you, or joins your public Facebook group, you’ll increase the likelihood of your cover photo appearing in her friends’ News Feed. Your cover photo will also appear on your fans’ News Feeds whenever you update it.
Here’s a great example of how Laurelin Paige updated her Facebook cover photo to promote her ebook discount:
If it seems like a chore to update your cover photo designs just for your price promotions, you don’t need Photoshop to create a great design. Free apps like Canva can help.
3. Run a contest for readers who purchase your book that day
Run a contest the day of your BookBub Featured Deal (or the peak day of your price promotion) and offer prizes to randomly selected readers who participate. Cheryl Bradshaw uses this strategy to great success when releasing a new book, offering prizes to people who purchase her book that day:
I like to give away prizes every hour for 12 hours that relate to the book in some way, like keychains with the book cover, book earrings (miniature book earrings of my book covers), tote bags with the name of the series, mugs, notebooks, etc. Anyone who purchases the book that day is entered into the drawings. The earlier they purchase the book, the more chances they have to win.
Or, if I prefer sipping some celebratory wine and not being glued to my computer all day, I preschedule a Facebook post and do a single drawing with a larger prize. If you try either of these, I highly suggest creating a paid ad for the book if you want the post to be seen. Otherwise Facebook’s algorithm will bury your post. I create an ad in Power Editor announcing the release party, and I target only the fans of my author page.
There are a few ways you can have Facebook fans enter your contest:
- By publishing a post to your page (such as fan art, or the answer to a trivia question from your book).
- By commenting on your post. You can ask them to comment with a trivia answer or their favorite line from your first chapter.
- By liking your post. This is the simplest approach.
Any of these fan actions will let your content appear on their News Feeds, thus enabling their friends to see that content and enter the contest themselves.
Edit: Note that it is a violation of FTC to get fans to “pay to play” — meaning, you cannot ask readers to simply provide a proof of purchase in order to enter a contest. However, it is legal to run a contest based on a purchase if you run a skills-based contest, e.g. if you ask trivia questions based on your book, the answers for which they can only know by reading your book. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration:
The concept behind a legitimate contest is that winners are selected purely by chance – meaning, customers don’t have to pay or buy something to either enter into the contest or improve their odds of winning. This includes requiring customers to pay taxes or shipping fees to claim their “prize.” An exception to this rule is a skills-based contest – if your contest prizes are awarded based on a skill, knowledge, or talent (like in a trivia contest or singing competition), you may legally require participants to make a purchase for entry.
4. Run targeted ads on Facebook and Twitter
Promote your giveaway contest or any posts you publish that day about the discount via targeted ads. Sites like Facebook and Twitter let you target ads to a fine-tuned audience based on preferences users have expressed on those social platforms. This lets you advertise the discount to people interested in similar books or genres. Because these ads are so targeted, you’re not simply spamming your followers or advertising an irrelevant audience, but you must target correctly to get the best results. Again, link to your book page on BookBub in your ad so people who click can find your book on the retailer of their choice.
Here are a few examples of ways you can segment your audience when creating social media ads:
- The age range of your target audience (e.g., 45–65)
- The gender of your target audience (e.g., female for Contemporary Romance)
- Language (e.g., choose English if your book is only available in English)
Enter anything relevant in the interests section, and get as specific as you can. Targeting terms that are too broad (e.g., “romance”) will make your ad reach a wider audience that may not be interested in reading at all, let alone your book. Here are a few ideas for target demographics:
- People interested in authors who wrote similar books
- People interested in similar books or films
- People who follow Twitter accounts of fictional characters from similar books
- People who’ve indicated they are interested in relevant genres
Social endorsement is highly persuasive, and sites like Facebook and Twitter let you target people who are friends with your existing fans, or fans of similar authors. If their friends have similar tastes, they’re a relevant audience, and the ads will indicate the social connection.
- Friends of people who like a book’s or an author’s Facebook page
- People similar to your followers on Twitter
- Followers of similar authors on Twitter
5. Pin an announcement about your discount to your profiles
You can pin updates to the top of your Facebook page and Twitter profile. This means anyone who visits your profile will see this content first, before anything else. In general, authors should stick to the 80/20 rule on social media:
- 80% of content should drive engagement with interesting, fun, educational, or otherwise helpful content.
- 20% of content can be self-promotional. This includes news of your price promotion, links to your books, shares/retweets of others mentioning your books, etc.
But pinned posts are a good way around this — you only need to post the content once, and then you can simply pin it for higher visibility!
On Twitter, click the three dots below your tweet, and select Pin to your profile page. On Facebook, click the little down arrow at the top of your post and select Pin to Top.
What are some other creative social media campaigns you’ve seen authors run to promote their ebook discount? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
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