Does Social Media Sell Books? PR Notes

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Getting Your Book Noticed

Should You Social Media? Yes! No!

As authors, we want to know if all this effort on FaceBook and Fan Pages and Tweets and all the other social media helps or not! Here’s a sideways answer.

In a December 2010 survey of major retailers sites, 10,000 shoppers surveyed reported being influenced by these factors:

  • Promotional emails – 19%
  • Web Search – 8%
  • Social Media – 5%

Going Mobile? Is your website ready for smart phones?

  • 14% of the shoppers accessed sites through their phones
  • 11% bought something through their phones.

Does this trickle down to authors with a single book to sell? Maybe, maybe not. Individuals who are dedicated and diligent in promoting online may see vastly different results. An individual title may buck the trend.

If you’re interested in using social media, here are some recent resources:

Have YOU had success with social media promotions for your book?

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4 Comments
  • Greg Pincus
    January 5, 2011

    Looking at the original article, it’s hard to know exactly what the survey was asking. It almost looks like they were asking about the retailers social media use driving traffic rather than anything else. Promotional email makes sense – it mentions a specific item. I bet it Amazon tweeted a sale item, it would drive traffic, too.

    Also, it would be interesting to see how “web search” was differentiated from social media. What if a websearch led to a blog entry about a product? That’s social media… or is it a search? Or was this only web searches about WHERE to buy specific products?

    Those questions aside, one could also ask, how many people had heard of a book before getting a promotional email… and WHERE had they heard of that book? And so on, and so on, and so on.

    Even then, of course, it’s likely that social media is only one factor in any decision, particularly the decision to go to a specific site to buy things.

  • Greg Pincus
    January 5, 2011

    An even bigger follow-up point: the survey is about retailers in general, not specifically to, say, book retailers. Sears, for example, gets low marks on that survey – not a bookseller. Of the top 40 sites, I wonder how many of them were involved in bookselling?

    It also seems clear that this survey asked what got people to the site to buy NOT what influenced buying decisions. As in, I coulda read about a product on a blog or Twitter, then later searched the web for the best price or saw it again in an email or or or. Or maybe I saw the author doing something on Facebook and decided to get their book. Which I do, the next time I happen to go on Amazon for any reason, etc. Looking for immediate cause and effect in things like this is a lot like saying an ad on TV is ineffective because no one knows how many widgets it directly sells. Impressions matter, and this survey doesn’t deal with that at all, imo.

  • Darcy Pattison
    January 6, 2011

    Greg:
    You’re right, that the survey doesn’t help much. In fact, hard data on the effectiveness of social media is VERY hard to come by. That’s why we look at studies like this and muse about how it might apply. I think that probably direct email is still the best way to influence buyers and social media is somewhere below that.

    What bothers me about social media in general is that people say (as they do with any promotions), “I don’t know what works, so I have to try everything.” Nonsense. Who has time? It makes more sense to me to have a goal for any activity and try to get data on how well it’s working.

    Darcy

  • Greg Pincus
    January 6, 2011

    I agree completely: The idea of trying it all is wonderful in theory, but in practice seems unlikely to return well on investment. Also, as you note, concrete evidence is hard to come by… but part of that is cuz are so busy trying everything that they fail to track the results of what they’re doing. While we can’t always equate to sales, we can at least see if we’re reaching folks and how (or how not).

    Ah well, this convo will be with us for years, though I think there’s likely to be a fair amount of social media backlash in the year or so ahead….