In personal branding and book marketing, one term keep cropping up, social proof. Let’s look at what social proof is and how it can best be used to accomplish an author’s primary goals on social media; creating awareness of his or her book and driving purchases of said book.
What is Social Proof?
Social proof relates to the number of followers, friends, subscribers and connections an author has on their social networks and website. It also relates to the number of social interactions one has on their various social profiles. Every platform has an algorithm that surfaces your posts to more people based on the volume and velocity of engagement. So a post that has 30-40 likes and 10-20 comments within a few hours will most likely be seen by significantly more of your fans than a post that gets 5 likes over 3 days.
When the number of social fans and the velocity of engagement with content are high, the author generates “social proof” that their books are interesting.
Who Should I Attract?
Since readers, just like learners, have different styles, authors need to attract:
- the “trailblazers” who like sampling and discovering new authors
- the “connectors” who love telling others about what they’ve discovered
- the “tribe,” those readers who love being a part of the author’s inner circle. The tribe is often most likely to “like,” comment and share which spreads the message and generates additional social proof.
Social proof helps fence sitters make a judgment, at a glance, about an author’s influence in their genre and serves as a kind of litmus test for the undecided purchaser to take a chance and try a new author’s work. It’s both a math problem and a relationship problem that authors must solve to generate the kind of social proof to sell books. Here’s an example. If 500,000 people are following a certain author, a potential reader might make the assumption that this author is popular, is a good writer and might be worth their investment in both time and money. Social proof is a subtle advertisement for an author’s writing. It also helps amplify the author’s messages. For every one person who shares something an author writes on Facebook, as an example, Facebook estimates that another 160-230 people see that social interaction. This ambient awareness – seeing what your friends are reading, liking, sharing or commenting upon – is a subconscious endorsement. The potential reader thinks “I like Bill. Bill likes Author X. I might like Author X.”
Which Social Platforms Are Best for Social Proof?
As authors, we build social proof over time and on multiple platforms in order to reach the widest possible audience for our books. For example, I use Facebook, a weekly newsletter, public speaking engagements, guest blogging, a website, a YouTube Channel, Twitter, and Pinterest as the platforms to engage audiences for my books. Beginners need not utilize all of those platforms and some might substitute Instagram or even SnapChat for some of mine. The right platforms to build your social proof are the platforms where your ideal reader spends time. Business authors might want to consider be building their social proof on LinkedIn or Medium, and fiction writers should think about adding platforms such as GoodReads or WattPad to their social mix. I believe that because Facebook has such enormous reach and the largest audience of all the social platforms, it has become the social proof “yellow pages,” and as an author you can’t afford to have an “unlisted number.” So wherever else you build your fan base, include Facebook int he mix as an amplifying tool. Make sure you use all of the built in tools to help Facebook help your ideal reader find you. Those include adding a complete bio in your about section, listing all the titles of your books, adding a link to your website and other social networks, adding a detailed description about the subject matter of your books, and filling in all of the available information fields. Every word in your About section is metadata, helping lead the reader to your page.
How Does Social Proof Drive Sales?
Being active on social media helps readers find you. Building social proof means you’re delivering surprise, delight, inspiration, motivation or information that your reader craves and they see the value in spending time with you online and through your books. When you continue to deliver great content through your interactions with the fans who follow you, you have earned their trust and the right to tell them when you have something new for them to read. How can you do that without constantly saying “buy my book?” You can do it by inviting them to peek behind the curtain of your creative process and by treating them with the respect due to good friends. Let them be your insiders. Share your new book jacket with them before it’s announced to the rest of the world. Give them an excerpt from your book before it goes to press and invite them to give you their feedback. Do a Facebook Live Q&A with your inner circle of fans and talk about where you think you might take them in your next book. Treat them to a taste of your life outside of writing. Give them a heads up on any live events you are doing, before everyone else knows. And finally, only after you’ve rewarded them for being part of your inner circle, only then, do you ask. The asks are:
- “Please help me spread the word about this book that I’ve worked so hard to create. It would mean the world to me.”
- ” If you liked the sample chapter I’ve shared, please consider ordering a copy of the book. It comes out this week.”
- “Your honest review on GoodReads or Amazon would mean the world to me.”
- “If you think your friends, fans and followers might like the book, I’d be thrilled to give you an excerpt to share with them.”
- “I had so much fun on xyz podcast and I would consider it a personal favor if you’d take a listen and show the podcast some love with a like, comment or share.”
Your fans and followers are your social proof. When they like, comment, share or otherwise help you spread the word about your book, you’ve created social proof. If you found this information useful, interesting or helpful, it would mean the world to me if you would leave a comment, share it to your social networks or give me a thumbs up on Facebook.