I read a press release today from DigitalJournal.com which offered "3 Reasons Self-Publishing Authors Need Social Media."
The article made sense, especially when you consider there is no better way to reach an audience of more than a billion people than social media marketing, but it failed to mention the importance of having a quality book to sell and targeting the right audience.
It's not enough to say, "Let's start a Fan Page for the book!" and expect sales to climb. It's also not enough to start a Twitter account, buy several thousand Followers and start non-stop promotion of your book. Those thing simply will not help you move more books by themselves.
As the Social Web continues to expand, social media marketing becomes much more of an art than an exact science. There are very specific ways to make best use of a Facebook Page, and posting your book listing over and over again is not one of them. Also, since Facebook is really not much more than a billboard on the Internet Superhighway, it doesn't do much good just by itself.
If you really want to get the most from social media when it comes to promoting your book start by promoting just pieces of your book: quotes, or important points you make in the book. Target directly other social media sites which might have an audience interested in your book.
If you have a new vampire novel, try posting snippets of your book on Vampire Fan Pages, or pages for horror fans. You might also consider using specific hashtags on your Tweets (again, using content specific to your book or subject, not just a link to the sales page) in the hopes it will be picked up by the widest possible audience.
And blog. Blog about your book, blog about your topic and blog about things relating to your subject as often as possible. This gives you a stream of fresh content you can use to feed your social media sites, which in turn you can use to promote your book.
There are literally millions of ebooks on the market right now, with more coming every day. If you expect your book to rise above the crowd you need to push it there. Social media can help but only if you know how to use it correctly and only if you have a viable product to sell.
We all want to write a best seller, but if that were a guarantee none of us would have any need of marketing at all.