10 ways to optimize and monetize your social media strategy in 2013, and sell books.

10 ways to optimize and monetize your social media strategy in 2013, and sell books.

First of all, thanks everyone for reading my posts - apparently one of my posts was the most read on Futurebook this year, amazing! No surprise that the post was about improving online book sales - it says a lot about the current climate we're in and the tough battles that many publishers are facing, big or small. The post in question has since been translated into Italian and Spanish and repurposed across the web. It brought me loads of interesting connections on Linkedin as well as many people trying desperately to sell me eBook conversion and guaranteed number 1 SEO services. Thanks to the Futurebook team for providing the platform: it’s a great initiative.

I thought I'd finish up what has been a quite dramatic year for our industry with a look at how to monetise social media. I know this is something everyone is grappling with. 2013 should be the year you question the ROI your social activity is generating. 

Almost every publisher now has a social media presence of some form. If your company doesn't you probably aren't even reading this article. So hopefully I'm preaching to the converted. 

1. What are you known for? 

It's a simple question. Think about all the brands, people and pages that you follow on your personal Facebook account. The likelihood is that those that appear in your feed (ignoring Edgerank) and you haven't culled, offer you something specific, whether it's *hilarious* cats, amazing photos, deals (zzz), travel inspiration, comedy or something different. Most other brands in your feed you'll have liked to enter a competition or similar and haven't yet unliked. You should interrogate your own strategy to ensure it achieves specific goals and that you become known for something and most importantly, valued. There's a place for the general brand offering but you still need to define what people expect from you and then deliver on it repeatedly. Don't just make your strategy about giveaways. 

2. Pick your battles. 

Don't use your brand channel to try and sell every book you publish. Use it tactically and sparingly or you'll lose your effectiveness. Remember you are operating in a social environment, not a commercial one, and sensitivity to that is crucial. Resist the urge to promote every book you publish unless it's something that will be really popular to your fans and followers. For example, if you are going to do a special promo on a book that you think is highly relevant to the majority of your audience, promote that. Give your social followers the inside info and tell them first, they'll appreciate it.

3. Data, data, data. 

Email marketing is not dead. At all. You need data. Are you collecting it at every possible opportunity? Are you creating 'anticipation lists' for new releases? Are you asking people to sign up to be the first? Are you adding that opt-in box when you run competitions? If someone tells you there isn't an opportunity to capture data in their campaign, they are mistaken.

4. Put a value on data.

For all the reasons above. Set a CPA (cost per acquisition) rate for all the data you accumulate. Give the work some value. Set your social media execs some mock-financial data targets with incentives and bonuses just like you would with sales people.

5. Identify your advocates

We all need brand advocates. These are the people who always like your posts, retweet you or comment on your blog. Identify who these people are and engage with them. They will likely have big circles of friends and contacts and have large spheres of influence. Create special groups just for them. Build 'insider' campaigns for them. They will do your marketing for you if you nurture them properly.

6. Don't spend big. 

Some of the worst social media activity is also the most expensive. With cool new tools like Tiger Pistol coming on to the scene, social doesn't need to be expensive. Be confident to knock back that $25K agency proposal to build and run that epic social campaign. I guarantee you can achieve the same results with available tools and a bit of design resource.

7. Analyse and interrogate.

Too often in publishing we just look forward and not back. Social is the ultimate example because it moves so quickly. Your campaign will come and go in a flash. But January is a great time to look back and see what worked in the last 12 months and, more importantly, what didn't. Analyse everything: What post structures were successful? How did you get the most likes and retweets? What were you doing during those audience growth spikes? Report on it and learn from the failures.

8. Identify your conversion funnel and set an end objective. 

You can do this for every piece of activity you do. Even a harmless tweet can have a conversion objective. Do you just want X number of people to see it? Do you want a certain number of RTs? Do you want email sign-ups? These goals give you measurable ROI and, again, if you add a $ value to the activity you can set commercial KPIs for everything you do.

9. Acknowledge social as a part of SEO.

Link-building activity is a priceless way of driving SEO performance. The more your content is shared and the more people link to it, the more relevant and popular Google judges it, thus boosting the search ranking of the web page being shared. Social media provides a quick and easy way to get links out (once you have an audience). If you want to rank for a search term, include social as part of your link-building strategy.

10. Make use of Google Plus, if only for this reason.

Google Plus - finally a use for it! Claim authorship on your content and your author's content. Even just from an SEO perspective this is worthwhile. You know when you do a search and you see someone's pic come up against a content result? That's called 'authorship' and you can essentially link any author to any piece of content they have published on the web and create a strong visual statement in search. Find out how to do it here.

 And 2 bonus points...

11. Recognise most of your users are mobile.

It's vital to acknowledge that the experience most people have with your brand or author in the social space will be a mobile one and it's equally important to understand the implications of that on your activity and the types of marketing you engage in. Many Facebook apps for instance won't work on mobile devices. The design of your Twitter page is pretty much irrelevant to mobile users, bar your icon and bio. It all needs to be considered. Understanding the context your user is engaging with you in will help you in optimising your strategy to achieve best ROI. Almost all marketers work on desktops and many invariably don't check their work on mobile devices, even though this is a vital QC step.

12. Make sure your authors are social too.

It's great to have brand followers but the connection between author and fan / follower is much stronger. Almost all of the successes seen in self-publishing ebooks were initially driven by social penetration (and price). As publisher, one of the ways to add value to your authors is to demonstrate a real understanding of social media and to help connect the author to their fans. You can even run the channels for them and build the service into your contracts to offset the cost in time and to ensure you own any data collected. This is yet another way that publishers can mutate their service offering to adapt to the changing landscape.

Have a great Christmas and New Year - fingers crossed those Mayans were wrong....

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