When it comes to promotion, we indies like to stay well inside our comfort zones. Facebook, twitter, maybe Google+, and that’s often about it. Of course there are plenty of other options. Pinterest, Tumblr, blah,blah, blah.
But even if we are engaged on these sites our reach is invariably limited to fellow authors and a desperately small circle beyond, usually in a handful of English-speaking countries.
And therein lies the problem when it comes to making an impact in that blossoming global ebook market beyond our shores. HTF do we get noticed by readers in India or Indonesia, Mexico, Myanmar or Malaysia, Vietnam or Venezuela?
Yes, all these countries use Facebook and twitter, often on a scale beyond anything we might expect, but if we have an existing FB or twitter account with a ton of US/UK/Australian/Canadian/NZ friends, then the platform algorithms will do their level best to keep it that way.
Why? Well, how would you feel if your inbox was overrun with tweets or FB posts from people you’ve never heard of in Nicaragua, Niger, the Netherlands, Nepal or Namibia? And in a foreign lingo to boot?
So for very compelling reasons our existing Facebook and twitter accounts are NOT the best way to reach the global markets beyond our shores.
Yes, India has over one hundred million active Facebook users, but we all know how most of our FB posts aren’t even seen by our connected friends. What chance getting noticed by any of those one hundred million Facebook users who aren’t our Facebook friends, even if the algorithms were on our side?
Wehear back constantly from frustrated indies saying they are promoting their Flipkart and e-Sentral links on Facebook and twitter but nothing happens.
One key reason is quite simply because no-one in those countries are seeing them.
One solution is to step outside our comfort zone and sign up to a messenger service or social media platform in a distant land that doesn’t know or care about your friends and family back home.
How will we gain traction? The same way we did on twitter and Facebook when we first started out. By making friends, beings sociable, and promoting others.
Yes, we know, we all have zero time and can’t be bothered. But is that really true? Somehow we are finding the time to endlessly tweet and FB the same book details to the same handful of people over and over, usually to ever-diminishing effect.
Take some time off from twitter and Facebook and try signing up and being social (yes, social, not ramming our books down everyone’s throat from day one – there’s a clue in the term social media platform) to a messenger service or Facebook clone that we in the US and UK may never have heard of but which are having a big impact in the countries we are trying to reach.
Take Whatsapp. Never heard of it? Obviously you haven’t read our previous posts on India!
Whatsapp is a Facebook alternative in India (and elsewhere), currently boasting around fifty million monthly users. And yes, it’s in English.
If we know someone who can speak Mandarin we might want to sign up to Sina Weibo, WeChat or Tencent.
Never heard of them? If you live in China you will have.
Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of twitter, has 148 million active monthly users, knocking India’s Facebook for six.
WeChat in China has 350 million active users each month. That’s more than the entire population of the USA!
Sounds impressive until you consider that Tencent has 800 million active monthly users. At one point in April Tencent had an incredible 200 million users online at the same time!
Of course, unless we have ebooks available in China there’s not much point spending time promoting there.
But even if we are exclusive with Amazon, we can take advantage of a ton of other social media platforms to strike up a presence in key countries like Brazil, or Mexico, or Japan.
Line may be a Japanese messenger service, but you can download the Windows app right here.
And you’ll be delighted to find it’s in English.
Never heard of Line?
Here’s the thing. Four hundred and ninety million people around the globe have.
Line has a measly ten million users in the USA. But… It has fifteen million users in Mexico, and eighteen million each in Spain and India.
Thailand had been in second place for Line, and Indonesia third. That was way back in… April.
In the past six months alone Line found ten million new users in Indonesia, taking it up to thirty million, and knocking Thailand back to third place with just 27 million users.
A reminder here that Indonesia is tipped by EBUK as one of THE key places to be.
Line’s top spot is still held by Japan, with over fifty million users.
And because their algorithms haven’t got you locked down into a pattern, you can start off fresh, find fellow writers and readers and make social contact, and gradually introduce your books to all the new friends you’ll be making.
Try a mixture of English-language and local-language. Yes, use Google translate or whatever. No, it won’t be perfect, but at least you’ll be seen to be making the effort, and that will count in your favour.
Line is just one of a gazillion options available. There are more social media platforms out there than you can shake a banana at, and yes, it would be senseless to devote all your time to chasing them.
But pick maybe one or two that have a good presence in the countries you are targeting for your books, and give them a try.
Want to target Indonesia (an especially good bet for indie authors in Australia)? Yes, of course twitter and Facebook are humungous there, but see above.
To be productive in Indonesia try a new account with Line (thirty million users, remember?), or try the aforementioned WeChat or Whatsapp, both making big gains here.
Or try Kakao Talk, or Bee Talk, or Blackberry Messenger. Or Viber.
Viber began life in Israel, but is now part of Rakuten (Japanese) who own Kobo. It could be worth getting on Viber just to be part of the Rakuten ecosphere.
Don’t make the mistake of dismissing Rakuten as some two-bit Japanese outfit that happens to own Kobo. Rakuten is BIG. Globally, not just in Asia.
Go on, set aside five minutes now and then to give one of them a try.
One of us might just find ourselves a bestselling author in a far-flung land. And how cool would that be!