Marketing Series: What drives sales on Social Media?

What drives sales on social media?  According to research, social media influencers drive sales.  Obviously a sale isn’t guaranteed just because an influencer recommends your work,  but enticing them to do so is one of the best ways to make sales. Let’s take a look at how this happens.

Social media influencers change a consumer’s attitude toward a product or service until they intend to buy it. If a consumer is thinking about adding to his or her TBR list, then the opinion of a trusted book blogger will influence whether or not a person will consider putting a particular book on that list. The TBR list is what market researchers call “intent to buy.” The book blogger says, “Hey this is a good book,” and many of his or her followers will add that book to the TBR list with the intent to buy it, which drives sales. But there’s more.

The influencers  followers then have the opportunity to influence those around them.  If people care enough about your opinion, then you can influence people’s attitudes and behavior and this helps you to gain word-of-mouth advertising.  Or buzz. How do these book bloggers get that kind of influence? A study by Ashley & Tuten (2015) found three key factors people use to sway a potential consumer’s intent to buy: 1) product match-up, 2) the influencer is similar to the consumer, and 3) the consumers likes the social media influencer.  Let’s unpack that.

Product Match-Up means that the product matches the influencer, be it a celebrity or social media influencer.  An athlete would consume a sports drink. A social media influencer has worked at a cosmetics counter , might want to review  cosmetics. A mommy blogger, could review domestic items or recipes, etc.  

The Influencer is Like Us.  People are attracted to those with shared interests.  Having knowledge isn’t persuasive, unless people believe it’s coming from a trusted source (i.e. someone with a similar interest). .  Next time you’re watching a review, see how often the host emphasize how much they can relate to their audience. 

The Influencer is Likable.  There is a social psychology principle that the more you like someone, the more persuasive they become.  I’ll talk more about this in another post, if you’re interested as this also becomes a key concept for networking.  

Engagement and Sales.  So, does engagement really matter for sales?  If you’re promoting your own book, it’s really hard to say. If you say you’re book is good, your audience could assume you’re being self-serving or disingenuous.  Being too focused on selling your book is going to turn off a lot of people, especially the kinds of people who would buy indie books. Your content has to be focused on building social capital over sales. Sarah’s post, which  I mentioned in my post on events as marketing tools, also discussed this really well. 

Putting it into action.  In my experience, the indie community is supportive of people who are also supportive. For long-term relationship building and maintenance, being authentically nice is vital. The indie community doesn’t seem to be very tolerant of inauthentic relationship building efforts and rightfully so. So while engagement is really about making friends, this can indirectly help sales because your community can support your efforts through shout outs and book recommendations.  Some of your fellow creatives are also influencers who can potentially recommend your book. You can also become an influencers by reviewing other indie creative’s work. So, who are you making your content for? Who is your audience? Your audience is going to be an interesting mix of social media influencers (creators who are also influencers), fellow creatives, and potential readers (who could be a book blogger, a fellow creator, and someone who is only a follower).  As an indie creative, you occupy a different and perhaps more complicated space than those who are in the corporate gatekeeper type venues. Your content should be about letting potential readers and reviewers know about your work, helping people get to know you, and helping others find their audience.

Just a note. If you’d like a list of the scholarly articles that I referenced, let me know. I’d be happy to send you the citations. Contact me.


How to support Indie Writers!

Support indie writers by not only buying their books, but also leaving reviews. More so than traditionally published authors, indie writers depend on reviews. Help indie stories find their homes. Thank you and peace and joy to you!

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