TikTok for viral book marketing
Gone are the days when TikTok was considered an app for kids. Since its international launch in 2017, the video sharing app has grown into one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world, with, by some estimates, one billion monthly users.
While the app is still the most popular with teens and young audiences, the level of exposure TikTok brings is second to none. With trending music, flashy filters, and unique editing capabilities, TikTok makes it relatively easy to reach viral status. It is very possible for freelance writers to reach millions of viewers and potential readers on TikTok. They just need to know where to find them and a good strategy.
Find your audience
Marketing has always been one of the biggest challenges for self-published authors. There are a number of reasons for this, but it’s usually the lack of big advertising budgets and experienced PR teams fueling book launches, an advantage traditionally published authors have over their freelance counterparts. Many new authors are faced with the same question: how do I get my book presented to as many people as possible?
Failure to identify their target readership is one of the biggest marketing mistakes freelance writers make. Not all readers are the same, and neither are social media platforms. To be successful with your social media marketing, you need to identify the ideal reader for your books and the social media platforms they are most likely to use. Age, gender, income, and even moral values should all be taken into consideration when identifying who is most likely to read your book.
What separates TikTok from other social media platforms is the large user base and popularity of niche-specific content, which is the driving force behind the app’s algorithm. With TikTok, there is no need to research if your target audience is there. With millions of people using the platform daily, they more than likely are. Now all you have to do is find them, which requires examining the hashtags and trends within the TikTok: BookTok community of books.
Social media and the online book community
Users interested in content related to books have flocked to social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, which emphasize visual media. Large sub-communities have been established on these platforms by book enthusiasts looking for easily digestible book-related content.
Recent trends in social media suggest that users have a shorter attention span, prefer mobile browsing, and engage more with visual media, especially short videos such as Instagram reels, stories, and IGTV. Combined with the fact that most of us judge books by their covers, this has spurred a massive increase in the amount of book-related content featured on these platforms.
However, not all social media platforms work the same. The content of YouTube books typically consists of longer videos that provide reviews, in-depth discussions, and recommendations. Instagram’s book-related content tends to feature photos of attractive stacks of books, home shelves and bookcases, and aesthetic reading nooks.
Although the length and form of the content may vary, BookTube and Bookstagram provide users with the ability to easily find the latest releases, trending books, and recommendations by genre. Book content creators basically provide free press and word of mouth advertising to authors simply by uploading photos and videos to these platforms. TikTok’s online book community does the same, with the added bonus of having the power to make your book go viral.
TikTok Online Book Community
Known for its catchy music, lip-syncing duets, and viral dance challenges, TikTok has appealed to those looking for a friendly and fun social media experience. BookTok’s network of writers, book lovers, avid readers and content creators share videos in fun, new and exciting ways.
The nature of TikTok has transformed the way book-related content is shared. BookTube and Bookstagram, as well as book blogs and other book content, are here to stay. However, these other platforms do not have the same viral quality as BookTok.
After a walk New York Times article, E. Lockhart, We were liars, was back on the diary’s 2020 bestseller list after being shared in an emotional BookTok video that went viral. This isn’t the only example of TikTok driving book sales, and several major publishers have shifted their marketing strategies accordingly. Independent authors should do the same.
Finding your way on BookTok
The first place to start before marketing your book is to get a general idea of the BookTok community. What are other authors posting on the app? What hashtags do they use? Look for authors who write in your genre and who are actively involved in the online reading community. Follow content creators and readers who regularly post book content. This will give you an idea of the type of content you might want to share in relation to your book and an overview of how the app works.
The key to going viral on TikTok is to follow the trends. Simply browsing the app’s discovery feed will tell you exactly which sounds, music, and hashtags are popular. However, using trendy music and hashtags alone won’t make you go viral.
Some sounds and hashtags can get you a few hundred or a thousand views, but not necessarily from potential readers. Big Black Chapters co-founder and head of social media, Tiffany Richardson, has had some marketing success on TikTok, but not by plugging in her books. She incorporates trendy sounds and singing duo challenges that appeal to her target audience in a non-promotional way. “Through my work on all social media platforms, I have realized that readers generally ignore or find no weight in writers who promote their own work,” she says. “I have found that word of mouth from readers, engaging and witty marketing content, and interactive book-related content posts will attract a reader to your work much more effectively than sharing your book link or simply to say to readers, “Hey! I have a book that might interest you! ‘”
Instead of using the popular #ForYouPage and #FYP hashtags, try the industry and gender specific ones, such as #WritingABook, #TikTokBookClub, and, of course, #BookTok. With these hashtags, you will have a better chance of reaching someone who will actually buy your book.
Sharing books and marketing brands on social media platforms is nothing new to freelance authors, but through the use of TikTok, freelance authors are able to attract new readers by the thousands and make discover their work to the general public through funny videos, almost like broadcast advertisements. . TikTok also puts readers face to face with freelance authors, showcasing their personalities and their own reading preferences. Having to capture the attention of readers with videos that are 15 seconds to a minute in length essentially forces freelance writers to be creative, entertaining, and engaging. Additionally, these ad snippets are useful on other more image-based social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. TikTok put marketing and branding in the hands of freelance writers in a truly game-changing way. Every day is a new day to go viral.
Raquel Shante Delemos is the co-founder of Big Black Chapters, a platform dedicated to supporting independent authors of color.
A version of this article appeared in the 9/13/2021 issue of Editors Weekly under the title: TikTok for viral book marketing