Remember all the buzz about video app Periscope in early 2015? Marketing gurus were bombarding us on social media with videos they created with the new tool from Twitter. In my late 2015 blog post, “Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome,” I warned about investing a lot of time and energy into using new tools until you were confident they could help you reach your book’s target audience.
We might finally have a video app that can do that in Facebook Live. In fact, authors and Facebook Live could be quite compatible.
You’re not familiar with Facebook Live? You are if you saw this May 2016 video of Candace Payne trying on her Chewbacca mask. This epic video by the woman who has become known as “Chewbacca mom” has been viewed 185 million times and shared by more than 3.3 million people. (I dare you not to laugh along with you as you watch.)
I’m not going to explain how to use Facebook Live here — you can find lots of helpful information about that online, including this article on the Social Media Examiner site.
My goal with this article is to help you think about how you might use Facebook Live for book promotion and marketing. This piece of it is just important as the technology. You don’t need to spend any time learning about the app until you better understand what you want to accomplish with this marketing tool — and how you’ll do that.
11 ideas for authors and Facebook Live
Here are some ideas to get you thinking. Would a few of them work for your goals, personality, and book? You don’t need to limit yourself to one!
1. Do a cover reveal: You’ve finally selected your cover? Share it with your followers! Or, show them three options and ask them to pick their favorite and tell you why.
2. Solicit reader input: Noodling around ideas for a new character or plot twist? Tell fans and ask them for their feedback.
3. Show a bookstore or other event appearance: If you’re talking about your book before a signing at a store or other venue, recruit a friend to broadcast your event from your phone.
4. Offer advice: Give your followers helpful information that will help them do something better, smarter, or faster. That’s when Tenita Johnson does. The author of Grammatically Incorrect: When Commas Save Your Sentences & Your Reputation nudges people to write their books and offers editing advice.
5. Ask a friend to interview you: Oh, sure, you could talk about your book forever, right? But a Q&A format with a friend who is off camera, or starts in front of the camera then flips it to show you, is so much more interesting visually then you sharing the same information yourself, talking to the camera all by your lonesome.
6. Demonstrate something: This works especially well for cookbooks and how-to nonfiction. Food historian Amy Riolo, author of The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: Harness the Power of the World’s Healthiest Diet to Live Better, Longer, uses it to give people a glimpse into her cooking classes.
7. Broadcast from your book’s setting: Written a novel set in a real place? Take your readers there!
8. Flip through a family photo album: Written a memoir? Flip through the pages of an old family photo album so fans can put faces to the names.
9. Show your work space: Readers are often curious about where writers work. Whether it’s your kitchen table or a neighborhood coffee shop, show where you produced the book they love so much.
10. Change people’s minds: After Linda Cohen, author of 1,000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire, and Change Your Life, noticed people complaining about the inconveniences caused by a crippling snowfall in Portland, Ore., she hopped on Facebook Live to help adjust attitudes by asking followers about the acts of kindness they were seeing.
11. Host interviews with thought leaders: Arrange to do a series of short interviews with people who influence your audience while you’re at a conference.
Which idea will work for you?
Whether you’re a novelist or a nonfiction author, I’ll bet there’s an approach on this list that will work for you. You can also let it inspire you to think about other approaches you might try. I’ve seen authors host weekly “office hours” where followers can ask questions while others are more spontaneous, pulling out the camera to share an inspirational thought.
Still need more inspiration? Watch the videos on the Harper Collins Book Studio 16 Facebook page.
Just make sure you’re comfortable with the approach you decide to use. For example, you’ll never catch me trying to inspire or motivate you — it’s just not how I roll. I’m more likely to take you into a cool indie bookstore or interview an author or expert at a conference. Be true to yourself.
Once you know what you want to share on Facebook Live, explore how it works. The more you know about best practices and what’s working for other authors, the more confident you’ll feel when you try it yourself.
If you know an author who’s trying to figure out what to share on Facebook Live, be sure to share this post with them.
How are you using Facebook Live for book promotion? Tell us in a comment.