How does social media influence a book launch?
We are often asked by authors if social media can help boost book sales. The answer, of course, is yes; provided that the social media campaign is strategic, intelligent, consistent, and well-coordinated with other marketing efforts.
Social media contributes to increased book sales by serving as a public communication vehicle between the author and his/her readers. With properly branded profiles and banners, engaging and relevant messaging, shareable content, and professional community management, social media can be the leading driver of pre-launch and post-launch book sales. Here are a few ways social drives sales:
- Creating brand awareness among a target audience.
- Cultivating a community of potential readers within a targeted demographic.
- Increasing visibility by posting compelling, shareable content.
- Driving significant traffic to the book’s landing page and author’s website.
- Generating excitement around the book launch.
- Designing orchestrated, multi-platform campaigns around a book promotion.
Over the past four years, our team has helped propel book sales for countless national authors in a broad array of categories. Rather than simply write about how social media is vital to the success of a book launch, we thought it would be more effective to offer a live case study, documenting a social media campaign for a major national book release.
We were approached in December 2014 by Donovan Green and his co-author Richard M. Murphy to help market their soon-to-be-released book No Excuses Fitness. Fans of daytime television will immediately recognize Donovan as Dr. Oz‘s personal trainer. The authors agreed to let us use their book launch as a case study.
This article will focus on the “No Excuses” campaign, from initial planning through execution and continued management. We launched the campaign on January 5, 2015, with a scheduled publication date of April 14, 2015. We will provide periodic updates as the campaign progresses. Scroll down to read the most recent campaign updates.
Week of December 22
After several intensive strategy sessions with the authors, we decided on a multi-platform campaign that includes Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram. Instead of creating separate social media pages for the book itself, we decided to leverage Donovan’s personal celebrity status, and build our campaign around his personal branding. This is a long-term strategy that enables Donovan to develop a lasting social media presence, which will remain an asset long after his book has been released.
While Donovan already had a strong following on Facebook, his presence on the other networks needed a boost. We were able to use his existing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, but had to create his Google+ presence from scratch.
We assembled a Dream Team to manage each network, with my partner Nika Stewart and I serving as account strategists and project managers.
After conferencing with the authors, the Marketing Director from Donovan’s publisher (Hachette Books), and his top-notch website team, we devised a marketing calendar to use as our roadmap from the campaign launch until the book’s release date.
Our social media team then went to work on researching Donovan’s online and offline material including his website, YouTube channel, Dr. Oz blogs, and other high-traffic sites. Our team was also treated to advanced copies of the book (Highly recommended! A common-sense, no-excuses approach to fitness and wellness written in an inspirational, easy-to-read format. The great recipes alone are worth the price of the book).
Week of December 29
We created a content strategy focusing on fitness tips from Donovan’s book and videos, nutritional recipes from his blog, and inspirational quotes. Our goals were to strengthen Donovan’s social media footprint, increase his following on multiple networks, spark engagement and conversation, and enhance Donovan’s reputation as a thought leader in the fitness industry. We decided to shy away from any direct promotions this early in the campaign. We introduced #NoExcuses and #NoExcusesFitness hashtags on Twitter, Google+, and Instagram. This positioned us to curate conversations and generate buzz as we move toward book promotions later in the campaign.
Our team also created branded graphics featuring some of Donovan’s most tweetable quotes. Here is an example of two memes we posted on multiple networks:
We identified Donovan’s target markets as Men between the ages of 25 and 50, women between the ages of 35 and 60, and fitness enthusiasts in general. We also identified major influencers to help spread Donovan’s inspirational message of wellness and fitness, and began engaging then directly on social media. And since Donovan has a strong spiritual component to his teachings, we also established contact with the faith-centered community on social media.
Our account managers set up Donovan’s social media pages on apps for scheduling, code was provided to his web team to connect his website to Google+, and his social media profiles were edited and published.
Week of January 5
Our account managers scheduled and posted content on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram. Engagement started picking up right away and his campaign was off to a terrific start. Our content was voluminous and consistent across all channels.
In our weekly conference call with the authors, publisher, and website team, we devised a brilliant incentive plan to promote pre-launch sales. Donovan’s Project Slimdown is a popular subscription-based fitness and wellness site that features a wealth of content for those seeking a healthier lifestyle. Donovan agreed to offer a limited membership to his site for those who pre-order his book prior to publication. This valuable giveaway is worth quite a bit more than the cost of the book itself, but the giveaway benefits Donovan, as he gets to introduce new people to his online program.
The team collaborated on content for the landing page. We provided suggested copy for his book page video and promotional offer.
Social Media Ads:
We launched our first ads this week to promote greater engagement and increase Donovan’s followings. We ran A/B testing to measure the success of each ad. During a consultation with a Twitter ad representative, we analyzed our results and adjusted our strategy. Our campaign yielded stronger-than-average returns and contributed to increased engagement on social media.
Update: February 5:
The campaign is exactly one month old. Here’s how Donovan’s communities and networks are progressing thus far:
Twitter: We increased his following to 3,650 (22% jump) in the first month. Donovan is enjoying massive engagement as his quotes and links are being retweeted throughout the day. People with fitness questions and challenges are conversing with Donovan to solicit his help. Donovan jumps on Twitter daily to interact with his fans, answer messages, and promote his brand.
Instagram: We began Donovan’s campaign with 480 followers. In one month, we doubled his following (breaking 1000 followers) by posting exceptional content, captions and hashtags, and engaging consistently with his audience. Most posts garner 50+ likes, with some breaking 100.
Facebook: Through consistent posting and ads, the number of likes and quality of comments increases every day.
Google+: A real success story: In the first month, we grew Donovan’s Google+ page from 0 to more than 1,100 followers with more than 30,000 page views. Donovan’s presence on this network is giving him a strong SEO boost for prime keywords.
Update: March 1:
Donovan’s campaign is gaining steam and we are on pace to blow out all of his goals. PR Superstar Tamara York joined the team and Donovan’s media schedule is filling up quickly. Highlights include a Dr. Oz appearance on April 14th (the day of the book release) and Morning Joe. We are getting ready to blast out his appearances on all social media channels.
The publisher has come through on graphic support. We combed through Donovan’s book and found some choice quotes to use on the images. The graphics feature a photo, quote, and promotional URL at the bottom of each graphic. Here is an example:
After much working and reworking, the landing page for his book is up and running. We contributed to the script of his welcome video, which we are counting on to drive pre-order sales.
On all social media channels, we are promoting Donovan’s new “No Excuses” video series. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we release another video where Donovan knocks down excuses for not exercising. These videos are sparking lots of engagement and conversations. Here is an example:
Donovan’s following is increasing on every platform. Here is the most recent update:
Twitter: 4,133. We energized our organic community-building campaign, which yielded a an additional 13% jump in just a few weeks, and a 33% increase since launching his campaign seven weeks ago.
Google+: In less than a month, we grew Donovan’s following from 1100 to 2,232 – more than doubling his community. We also grew his page views from 30,000 to more than 44,500! Remember, Donovan’s Google+ presence started at “0” followers and “0” page views when we launched his campaign in early February.
Instagram: We’ve added another 500 followers to Donovan’s account, growing to 1400+. His likes and engagement are also increasing daily.
Facebook: Donovan’s FB page is now approaching 24,000 likes. His posts are being shared, commented on, and liked, giving him more visibility among his target audience.
As of mid-February, we switched our advertising campaign to focus on driving traffic to Donovan’s landing page. We are boosting page views within his target audience at a rate of less than $0.70 per click.
Twitter Parties & Twitter Launch:
In the weeks leading up to Donovan’s launch, we organized a successful Twitter Party with a “No Excuses” theme. Attendees were invited to bring their very best excuses as to why they did not work out that day, and Donovan debunked them. It was a fun and inspirational event, as we gave away prizes and generated a lot of excitement. With RTs, questions, and comments flowing throughout the hour, the total reach for the event was well into the hundred thousands.
The launch party was a spectacular success with a great turnout and a lot of engagement. The publisher’s team, PR agent, and other supporters all helped to promote the event. Donovan’s web team created a landing page and we scheduled giveaways for his book. This event surpassed the first in reach and impact, and contributed to a successful launch.
Following the launch of the book, we continued to manage Donovan’s Twitter and Google+ pages for several months, supporting and promoting his personal appearances and other marketing efforts. When we completed our campaign in the summer of 2015, we had reached nearly 6,000 followers on Twitter, and saw sizeable increases on his other platforms.
Having played an integral part in the marketing efforts for Donovan’s book, we were able to use social media to influence outcomes in both active and reactive ways: Active, in that social was the initiator of promotions, messaging, and marketing campaigns; and reactive, in that social followed the lead of digital and traditional campaigns initiated by the publisher, author, PR firm, and website team.
Social media is a critical component to any book launch or book marketing strategy. If you are traditionally published or self-published, and want to learn more about how we can partner with you, visit our author page here, or contact us here to schedule a time to chat. While we cannot promise the same results we generated for Donovan, we will leverage our full expertise and resources to contribute to the success of your marketing and promotional efforts.
Have questions about promoting your book? Get more information on our Social Media for Authors page.