As a writer, the idea of promoting your books might leave you feeling uneasy. After all, your books are not generic consumer goods that have been mass-produced at a nameless factory. Your books are your babies. You have worked long and hard to bring them to maturity. So, everyone else should naturally adore them just as you do, right? Wrong.
Writing and publishing a book is only the beginning of a long and arduous journey. To get people excited about buying and reading your books, you have to actively promote them. Unlike in the past, when most of your book’s promotion had to be done through the publishers, the internet has made it possible for almost all authors to actively contribute to marketing and raising awareness about their books.
Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have made it extremely easy for authors to promote their work and stay connected with their fans. Even prominent writers actively use social media platforms to frequently engage with their fans, announce new releases, and address issues concerning their works.
One of the most effective ways of promoting your books is to run contests on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There are several benefits of running a book promotion contest. Here are a few examples:
- Raise awareness about your work – In this era when there is a limitless supply of distractions on the internet, you need something to draw people’s attention to your work. A social media contest is a great way to do that. And who doesn’t love free things?
- Sell more books – As a writer, you can always use more book sales. You deserve the reward for the difficult weeks or months that you spent working on your book. If your book does not generate any sales, you will no doubt feel disappointed in yourself. A social media book promotion contest not only raises awareness about your work but also gives you an opportunity to generate leads that can turn into conversions if you use them well.
- Generate more reviews for your books – Running a giveaway contest makes people excited about your work, and in the process, they begin talking about—and reviewing—your books.
- More engagement with your audience – Contests and giveaways generate more excitement and engagement compared to regular social media posts. People love incentives, and the prize you give at the end of your contest is just the perfect incentive to get people talking.
- Stronger fan base – Running contests establishes a personal connection between authors and their fans. Who doesn’t love having a signed copy of their favorite author’s book, especially one with a personal message?
- Inexpensive and convenient marketing for your books – If you are an upcoming author, chances are you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on marketing campaigns. The good news is that running a book promotion contest on social media is relatively inexpensive and easy. You do not need to spend any money unless you decide to promote your book promotion contest post.
- Growing an admirable personal brand – People admire charitable acts. Giving away your books leaves a good impression on your target audience, and when people admire your work they are much more likely to do business with you, aka more book sales for you.
Now that you know some of the key benefits of running a book promotion contest on social media, let’s dive into the steps you need to take to post your contest.
Choosing the Right Social Media Site to Run Your Contest On
There are dozens of social media sites today that each cater to different sorts of audiences. From Facebook all the way to Instagram and Tik Tok, each site has its own unique audience and features. Instagram is, for example, dedicated to visual content, while platforms like Reddit and Telegram are more text-oriented.
Before you settle on a given platform, keep in mind the specific audience you are targeting, the number of users on that platform, their ages, and similar metrics. For instance, teenagers and young adults are known to be more prolific users of Instagram and Tik Tok compared to older generations. If you want to reach a more junior audience, it makes sense to explore the platforms they are most likely to be using.
Among all social media platforms, however, Facebook boasts the largest user base, with more than 230 million active users in the United States alone. Across the globe, Facebook has more than 3 billion users every month. With these kinds of statistics, Facebook is a great platform to consider for your book promotion contest.
In this article, we are going to focus specifically on Facebook. Below, we explain the exact steps to follow to run a successful book promotion contest.
Step 1: Identify your Goals
Before you decide to run a contest, it is critical to identify your main goals. Remember you are giving away your books for free, and to make it worth your while, you need to gain something in return.
There are many kinds of goals that you can have as a writer. Below are a few examples:
- Increasing book sales – Perhaps your work has not been selling as well as you hoped it would and you now want to try some creative ways of selling more books.
- Launching a new book – You may have a new book published or self-published and you want to launch it with a bang. Running a contest is an amazing way to create a buzz around your new work.
- Building an email list – Email marketing can be a great way to connect with your audience and increase your sales. However, you cannot stay connected with your audience if you don’t have a quality email list. By asking your target audience to share their email address when you run the contest, you can build an email list that you can use to communicate with your readers later on.
- Conducting market research – Running a book promotion contest can be a great way for you to do market research. By taking note of the people who express interest in the contest, you can develop a better understanding of your audience. This, in turn, can help you target your work better in the future.
- Growing a personal brand – Your brand is a big part of your marketing strategy. Running book promotion contests is a good way to build your personal brand and show your uniqueness in the competitive world of book publishing and marketing.
Step 2: Determine Performance Metrics
How are you going to determine the success of the goals you had for the book promotion contest? This is important to determine before you launch your campaign. Below are some examples of metrics you might consider.
- How many people participated in the contest?
- How many shares did the post get?
- How many likes did the post get?
- How many people submitted their emails to receive future updates?
- How many people viewed or clicked on the post?
Step 3: Identify the Best Type of Book Promotion Contest
There are many kinds of contests that you can run on Facebook. Depending on your goals, you have to evaluate what kind of contest will be most suited to your purposes.
Generally, it is best to avoid contests that demand too many steps for entry. A contest that asks the user to take several steps is not likely to attract as many entrants as one that can be entered in a click or two. Below are some examples of simple types of contests that you can choose to run:
- Comment to win – This is by far one of the simplest types of competitions on Facebook. All the users have to do is add a comment to your post for a chance to enter your contest.
- Like to win – This type of competition is also similarly simple. All the potential entrants have to do is click on the like button for a chance to be entered in the competition.
- Like and comment to win – You can also ask potential entrants to take both of the actions above for a chance to enter the contest.
- Crowdsourcing Q and A – In this type of contest, you ask your audience to share their ideas or suggestions on a given question or topic with you. You could, for example, ask your audience to help you make a decision about two different book cover designs. You pick the winner from what you deem the best suggestion.
Step 4: Establish the Conditions for Entry
Before you run your contest, it’s crucial to determine who is eligible to enter the contest. For instance, it is important to specify your restrictions regarding the following:
- Age – Is there an age requirement for the people who are eligible to enter the contest? Perhaps your target market is women over 40 or men 18 and above.
- Geography – Do you restrict who can compete based on their location?
- Dates – Between which dates can one enter the competition?
- Students vs Non-Students – Is your contest only targeting people who are enrolled in schools and institutions of higher learning, for example, because that’s your primary reading audience?
- Identity – Is the contest only targeting people from a certain country? Maybe you’re limiting participation to Canada or the U.S. because of the cost of shipping some items.
Specifying the conditions of entry saves the audience time and targets your market.
Step 5: Settle on the Prize
A good prize needs to be related to your books. You don’t want to give out random items that bear no relation to your work as a writer because this will do little to achieve your objectives. There are many kinds of prizes to consider for your contest. Here are a few examples:
- Advance copies of your books – Sharing advance copies of your work with the winning contestants is likely to make them feel special. Having access to a writer’s advance copies makes the audience feel they are part of the inner circle, and this is likely to make them more interested in your work when you use this method.
- Electronic readers – With the rise of the internet and ubiquity of electronic gadgets, print books are facing serious competition from e-readers. Providing the convenience of thousands of books at the fingertips, e-readers are any booklover’s dream gift. Be sure to include an eBook version of your work.
- Customized merchandise – We all love a trendy backpack or a mug bearing our favorite quote. Book-related merchandise—ranging from bags to T-shirts—always makes for great gifts and prizes.
- Signed copies of your works – It’s always great to own a copy of a book containing the author’s signature and a dedicatory scrawl. Signed books establish a more personal connection between a writer and their audience.
- Gift package – Another great idea to consider is a gift package containing a few of your books and any other paraphernalia related to your work. You could, for instance, have a copy of your book (or books if you have a series), a bookmark, and a customized pen. You can then have these wrapped to reflect the spirit of the holiday that you want to do your giveaway on, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or Christmas. For true book lovers, there is nothing more satisfying than receiving a bundle containing items like these.
Step 6: Design your Book Contest Post
When designing your contest post, you need to make sure it is clear and easily visible for your target audience. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Create excitement about the prize in the headline – Even if you are giving something small, try to create excitement around the benefits the winner will get from the prize.
- Use great images – A picture is said to be worth a thousand words. Ensure you have a great visual in your contest post. This will help to capture the attention of your target audience in the sea of information on Facebook.
- Show the steps of entering in a simple way – Do not complicate the entry steps. Use numbers or bullet points to show the steps the audience has to take to enter the contest.
- Keep the sign-up / entry form simple – If you choose to redirect the entrants to a form on a third-party website, make sure that form is simple and doesn’t demand too much information from the audience. If forms take too much time to complete, your target audience may end up being discouraged and not following through with the signup process.
- Have a prominent call to action – Make sure your target audience knows what to do next after reading your post. Emphasize the action they need to take to be considered for the contest.
While in the past, Facebook required users to run contests using third-party apps, today you can do all the designing you need within the platform. However, if you are curious about external apps that you can use to design your contest for Facebook, here are some examples:
- Woorise – Woorise is a platform that enables individuals and small businesses to run social campaigns, giveaways, and other promotions. Woorise has a plethora of features such as an easy drag-and-drop interface, the ability to publish the contests on a range of social media sites ranging from Facebook to WordPress, great analytics, email notifications, and more.
- ShortStack – Like Woorise, ShortStack is another place for you to design contests, landing pages, and giveaways. With dozens of templates and designs, ShortStack is a great platform that you can consider when designing your book promotion contest.
- Wishpond – This platform has dozens of mobile-responsive landing pages, customizable forms, and a range of contests and promo designs that you can easily take advantage of, giving you the ability to publish the content on your Facebook page, your website, and even your personal blog.
- Woobox – Woobox enables you to design everything from hashtag contests to polls and comment giveaways. Woobox also allows you to create simple landing pages and web forms that you can use to collect sign-ups. Offering a free trial as well, Woobox is worth a try.
- Gleam – Gleam is one of the most popular platforms for running competitions and assisting businesses (and you’re a business if you sell your books or other book-related products or offers) with email capture. With subscriptions that begin as low as 10 dollars per month, Gleam is a platform worth checking out for running your book promotion contests.
Step 7: Review Facebook Rules
Before you run your book promotion contest, you should evaluate the Facebook terms and conditions surrounding contests. Here are some of the key rules you should stick to in order to avoid being banned or facing similar problems on the platform.
- Contests can only be run on a Facebook Page, not a personal profile – Facebook does not allow you to run contests on a personal profile. If you do not already have a Facebook Page, make sure you create one before you run your contest.
- Don’t force people to take given actions on Facebook as a condition for entry – Although some people overlook this rule, Facebook prohibits those who run contests from forcing people to share or follow certain pages in order to be eligible for a contest. If you want to make such actions part of your contest rules, you need to direct the users to a third-party platform where you can stipulate them. In general, avoid asking users to tag their friends or share the contest post on their personal timelines to be eligible for the contest. If the users choose to share of their own volition, well and good.
- Specify that your book promotion contest is not sponsored by Facebook – Make sure entrants understand that your contest is not promoted or sponsored by Facebook and that there Facebook has no legal responsibility for your contest.
- You are responsible for all legal details – You must bear legal responsibility for any contests you run on your page. You need to clearly understand that Facebook will not help you in getting the legal aspects of the contest right.
- Get permission to use any material submitted by users – If the contest involves users sending or sharing any material with you, such as photos, make sure you have their written permission before you use the material. Better yet, before they submit anything, make sure they understand that you will be using the material—you still want their written permission.
- Understand that exchange of value for entry can be tricky – Facebook prohibits requiring users to exchange something of value for a chance to enter the contest. This means, for instance, that users should not have to purchase something for them to be eligible for the contest.
These are some of the basic rules you need to observe as you plan to run your book promotion contest on Facebook. You can check out tips from Facebook about the rules and best practices here.
Step 8: Boosting your Contest
Having posted your book promotion contest post, now it is time to think about boosting.
Boosting a Facebook post means paying a certain amount of money to have the post shown to more users on the platform. If you are an active Facebook user, you have most likely come across posts that are tagged “sponsored.” When you boost your post, Facebook does the heavy work for you by making your post visible to more users and also giving you useful metrics to determine the success of your campaign.
While not mandatory, it is a good idea to consider boosting your book promotion contest at least for the first few days. This gives you the chance to reach users who may not necessarily be familiar with your work. In addition, boosting a post on Facebook does not typically cost an arm and a leg.
If you decide to boost your book promotion post on Facebook, keep in mind these basic tips:
- Have a specific time limit in mind – If you boost a post, it’s good to keep the campaign running for a given period of time. Typically, you should avoid boosting for too long because statistically, the effectiveness of your campaign declines the longer you run it. On the other hand, you should not run your boosting campaign for too short a time, because few people are then likely to notice it. A period of a few days to a week should suffice.
- Have a targeted approach – When you choose to boost your book promotion contest post, keep in mind that Facebook allows you to narrow down the audience you want to reach. You could target people who live in a certain area, for example. The more targeted your approach, the more likely you are to get tangible results.
- Keep track of the performance – Do not boost the post just for the sake of it. Make sure you monitor how many people have been reached and whether they are responding to your post as you hoped or expected to do.
Besides boosting your contest using Facebook, you can also manually share it with your audience on other platforms. If you have an existing email list, let your audience know about the contest you are currently running and share the instructions. If you use other social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, consider cross-posting there as well to attain more organic reach.
Step 9: Selecting the Contest Winner
Once the contest period is over and you have received entries, it is now time to pick the winner. There are many ways you can go about selecting a winner, and these are entirely dependent on the type of contest you chose to run and whether you used any external apps to run the contest.
Here are some tools you can consider using when selecting the winner of your contest:
- Random Result – This tool is a great random results generator. All you need to do is provide a list and it will do the random selection for you.
- Good Luck Fairy – This is a simple tool that can be used on most Facebook contests. To select a winner, what you need to do is fetch the link to your contest post on Facebook and paste it on this tool. You will then get 4 winners based on likes, comments, likes and comments, and comments with the most likes.
- Random Name Picker – This is a simple tool that is particularly useful if you have a small contest. All you need to do is manually enter the names in a list and the tool will pick a random winner.
Step 10: Concluding the Contest
Once you have selected the winning entry using a method of your choice, it is now time to announce the winner and conclude the contest.
Make sure you acknowledge and appreciate everyone who participated in the contest. Thank them for their time and notify them of any events, discounts, or future contests coming up. If you collected emails from the contestants, make sure you follow up and keep them abreast of any news and updates.
Contact the winner via private message and, if possible, ask them to send you a photo of themselves with your gift. With the consent of the winner, you can post this on social media to showcase the success of your book promotion campaign.
If you have made it this far, congratulations! You have successfully raised awareness about your work and hopefully earned yourself more potential clients—and with that, more book sales.