Digital marketing is a science that’s rapidly evolving. As soon as you have it figured out, Google or Facebook algorithms change and your visibility sinks back down into obscurity. One thing has remained constant in recent years, though, and that’s the importance of content in marketing, especially as it related to social media for authors.
Content marketing–or using compelling stories to sell your product–is something that all major brands do. Brands like Nike, Kraft, and Dove spend millions of dollars on content marketing each year. But you have a distinct advantage over these household names:
You write books. You already have content.
Now you just need to know how to utilize it as marketing material. Here are three simple steps you can take to make it happen:
1. Create Community
The purpose of book marketing is to, of course, sell more books. But the way content marketing does this is by creating connections that will, in turn, build community. Base this on high-quality content that your audience can empathize with or finds so fascinating that they simply must know more.
The content might include:
- Pulling out singular ideas within your book that resonate particularly well with your audience. Content marketing is all about taking one single idea and adding meaning behind it. Each chapter or even subhead of your book may be a compelling standalone topic for content marketing.
- Telling your backstory. Fans love a great backstory. Take Marvel Comics fans, for example. The characters’ backstories are what make Marvel’s superheroes like Iron Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Black Panther so fiercely popular. Yes, you’re no Capital America, but you can also build stronger fan connections by revealing how you got to where you are today, why you wrote your book, and where you hope your journey will take you.
- Taking fans behind the scenes. With social media, giving fans “a day in the life” peek at your experience as author and influencer is easier than ever–and fans love it, especially if it’s authentically honest. As author Elizabeth Gilbert confesses, “Attempts at originality can often feel forced…but authenticity has a quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.” Check out her Instagram for inspiration.
- Starting a dialog. One of the best ways to build an immediate connection with another person is to ask them questions and then listen, listen, listen. Draw your fans into your content marketing by asking them what’s on their minds, what they think about the story you just shared and encouraging them to ask you questions, too.
2. Choose Your Vehicles
Now that you have an idea of what to share, how will you share it? There’s no one answer to that question because you need to find what works best for you. The key is to focus on vehicles that not only drive the most traffic but that you can use consistently well.
Here are some ideas:
- Your own blog. You need a “home” for all this great content you’re about to share and there’s no better place than your own website. Build your ideas there and then share them out. If you’re not ready to maintain your own blog, get started through blogging platforms like Tumblr, Medium or publish articles on LinkedIn.
- Contributed articles and guest posts. Newspapers and magazines are still very thirsty for contributed content. For maximum content marketing value, look for publications that have an online presence. Some sites like Forbes and certain business journals, trade publications, online magazines, and syndicated sites will even republish pieces you’ve written elsewhere, like on your blog.
- Email marketing. Visit many bestselling author websites, from John Grisham to Gretchen Rubin, and you’ll immediately see a popup window asking if you’d like to join the author’s email list. Why? Because email is gold. Many authors use email distributions to make book and appearance announcements, but others use it for content marketing. Even mass emails can be personalized so that the stories that show up in your fans’ inbox feel intimately authentic.
- Emerging technology. The more fans you have, the harder it is to engage with each one-on-one, which is why the most innovative authors are experimenting with technology like chatbots. You’ve likely interacted with chatbots before, using a customer support chat feature while shopping. Chatbots are useful in content marketing, too, because they help you respond 24/7 with custom content that the fan is asking for in real-time.
- Get social with video. Yes, video is content, too! In fact, YouTube is second only to Google as the most used search engine. Live video platforms like Facebook Live are popular, too. Author Brene Brown expanded her reach when she read chapters from her book Braving the Wilderness live on Facebook. Arianna Huffington is also a fan of videos on Facebook–both recorded and live.
3. Balance Analytics and Authenticity
Notice that although content marketing is traditionally based in science and analytics, we’ve hardly discussed that aspect of it. Why?
Authentic human connections come first.
Search engine optimized keywords and expertly crafted titles can help, but not at the risk of losing your authentic voice. Even Google agrees. It’s constantly updating its algorithm to measure content for relevance and quality. Basically, your content needs to be interesting and useful to the people it’s trying to reach.
We’ve got some extra tips in our guide 3 Ways to Build Authority as an Author. You began your journey as an influencer when you wrote your book. Now it’s time to add publicity, influencer marketing, and digital relevance (including content marketing) to the mix to build what we call The Road to Influence.