TikTok is hugely popular, and that fact alone makes it a great marketing opportunity. Some people think of TikTok as a social media platform for posting challenges, life hacks, humor, pet videos, food, sports, dance and anything else you can think of. So it should not be surprising that it can also be a fantastic marketing tool, including for promoting books you wrote or promoting yourself as an author. If you want to promote yourself or your book, obviously the goal is to reach as many people as possible. Authors are raving about the faster results they get on TikTok compared to other social media sites like Facebook.
To start the discussion, let us dive into common questions about marketing a book on TikTok followed by a discussion on how to maximize exposure through some marketing concepts.
Yes, you can promote books on TikTok, whether it is your own or one you enjoyed reading. Tiktok is an excellent social media site for promoting books because it has such a large number of monthly active users, including 130 million in the U.S. alone and 1 billion globally.
In fact, there are several popular TikTok hashtags devoted to books where you are more likely to find a target audience since these sites attract book lovers. They include #booktok, #book, #reading, #booknerd, #bookish, #bookrecommendations and #bookrecs, but you can find many more. For popularity concerning all things books and literature though, the short videos on #booktok top the list. This niche drives book sales.
So many authors are successful on this social media site, and the books sell via TikTok even though there is no direct link to buy the book. When you look at your metrics on other social media sites, the majority of views come from people who are following you. TikTok is different in that it is based on viral content. People who are not necessarily followers can watch your content without becoming a follower. When a TikTok video goes viral, the conversion to sales numbers is likely to be high. Blowing up Tiktok numbers, meaning it goes viral, usually leads to consistent increases in sales. Consistent means you sell a number of books every week or month after the initial surge in sales. It makes for very nice revenue flows.
One Tiktok marketing strategy is to promote yourself and your book by building an audience over the long term by recommending books in the same genre or books with a similar quality as yours - like emotional, funny, historically accurate, etc. Use the hashtags that help you reach your target audience. You can add relevant hashtags underneath your video as part of the caption that indicates the type of book you are selling, like #romancebooktok, #YAmystery, #scifibook or #mysterybook.
For authors, it might be something like #author or for an author trying to get his/her name out in front of a publisher, the hashtag #writingabook is effective. As mentioned, you can also use a hashtag that reflects a combination of writing and book genre, like #writinghealth. Give your hashtags careful thought.
The hashtags refer to niches, and if you can use ones that are on the verge of trending, the results could be impressive. It requires working TikTok in the sense that you must pay a lot of attention to content. Use 3-5 hashtags that have meaning to your video.
The actual sale is made on a site like Amazon or your website. Readers can buy books on Amazon, but Amazon now offers the subscription service Kindle Unlimited in which authors get paid by the total number of pages read in a month. This is another source of income. The TikTok hashtag is #kindleunlimited (no surprise there).
On TikTok, link to Amazon or a website where your book is sold.
Writers use TikTok and are extremely creative in marketing themselves. Most do not simply hold up a finished book and say “buy my book.”. An author shows herself typing lines from a book in progress with a caption that shows what she is writing. Some authors have a character come to life as a real person who is on the video or creates an image of one or more book characters, using a program like Artbreeder.
This is a good viewer engagement tool and allows the writer to solidify the image of the characters in someone’s mind. This strategy can be used for any book, including non-fiction. For example, you write a series of nonfiction books on environmental sustainability in different cities. The video can show you explaining the concept while visiting various specific spots, or you can create images with captions. Making your video stand out is important.
Tiktok is a great resource for independent authors, a growing community who bypass traditional publishers, and for authors who do use a publisher. One of the important metrics to keep in mind is that the majority of TikTok users are under 30 years old, so books attractive to this younger cohort are likely to find more success. However, that does not preclude any author from marketing a book.
Tiktok works well as a platform for promoting books because of the size of the audience but also because you can quickly engage fans in various ways, like answering fan questions in a threaded text or answering common questions on a video. Interacting with your followers is a book-selling tactic that works. You can also interact with other booktokers or whatever niche you join by making comments and joining livestreams. This helps spread your name around the book community, and eventually, you will be very recognizable.
One suggestion is to do a series of short videos to make people feel like they know you. For example, you can show action like a time-lapse of you reading something in the book, expressing emotions over the storyline or showing flashes of relevant images or words set to music. Showing emotions is important, even if just introducing the book. In other words, the inanimate book is infused with life in a short video. Readers get a sense of the book but not enough information to ruin the ending. The marketing idea is to make the viewer want to know more.
Tiktok works well as a platform for promoting books because people like watching videos and they like short bites of information. The nice feature of TikTok is that you can deliver both in a brief video and in an interesting or fun way. Another advantage of TikTok is that retailers and publishers look for authors and books that are popular.
Be sure to use a variety of content styles, like the green screen filter or sharing messages via text as opposed to using voice-over.
There is a large variety of video content that authors post. Following are some examples from real-world TikTokers to get your imagination working. Authors:
Like most social media, there are ways to maximize exposure of yourself as an author and your books. For TikTok, that means creating valuable content and using hashtags.
Tiktok videos were originally limited to 15 seconds and were then increased to 60 seconds, then three minutes and now 10 minutes. Making a 10-minute video is quite different from making a short 60-second video. It is important to remember that people will only watch a video that long if it presents information of value. It takes a lot more creativity, time investment and planning, For authors and booksellers, keeping the video under three minutes max probably makes more sense than doing a 10-minute video. YouTube already enables posting 10-minute videos, and you can link to a variety of social media sites, including YouTube. Most people use TikTok because they are looking for short bites of information.
A TikTok video has to be very good to keep people’s attention. People frequently decide in the first few seconds if they plan on watching the rest of the video and certainly within a minute. It used to be the first second of viewing, but now there are longer videos and viewers know that.
Try to get your video to come up on the For You Page (FYP) of viewers. One issue with Tiktok is that no one knows how the algorithm really works. There are plenty of theories and suggestions as to the best way to get your TikTok link on the For You Page, but no one knows for sure. A lot of TikToKers include the hashtags #fyp and #foryoupage in the hope their link will show up on people’s For You Page which is the feed of recommendations that is personalized to each TikTok user based on the videos the user interacted with.
Though there is no proof the hashtags work, they might be and probably are doing so. It certainly does no harm to try using such a hashtag along with others that are more specific to bookselling. Perhaps one day digital experts will figure out TikTok’s engagement metrics, but chances are they are produced through a complex algorithmic process that blends multiple analytics leading to specific recommendations.
Use Tiktok analytics to dive into when the posts are viewed most often. You can use this information to post your videos when interested people are most likely to view your video. Regularly post videos. As a minimum, post several times a week. Some people post every day or several times a day. This keeps your audience engaged because they will return again and again.
Use Tiktok Sounds which is music that helps the post go viral. The video sound adds fun to the video, making it more entertaining. You can choose music from the Tiktok Sounds Library, selecting the most popular ones. You can also create original audio or save a song that another TikToker used. It is recommended to mostly use familiar tunes as background music to attract more people to your videos.
TikTok may have started as a social media site for publishing entertaining videos, but it has become an excellent marketing tool. The key is learning the ins and outs of what works best when it comes to creating video content to attract viewers. Though Tiktok is not complicated, do not underestimate its marketing ability. It appeals to a modern audience that prefers to gain information quickly and visually and in an entertaining way. You can promote yourself and your books and have fun doing so.