Wondering how to get people excited about your book? Do you want people actively sharing your book with their friends?

In this article I’ll reveal some of the social media techniques I used to get thousands of people excited enough about my new book Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition that they shared it with friends and peers.

By the way, you don’t need to have a book to benefit from these tactics.

Why Social Media for Books?

Back in the old days, book promotion heavily relied on the traditional press. I remember the challenge of promoting my first book (Writing White Papers) back in 2006. I had to work with journals and print magazines—and their long editorial cycles. I also needed to speak at physical events and perform many other time-consuming tasks.

The success of a book promotion hinged on getting it reviewed by the “right publications.”

This typically meant spending thousands of dollars on PR firms who had established contacts with elite publications and creating press releases that hopefully caught the eyes of editors. Not to mention a lot of prayer.

Today, authors have an amazing advantage. Not only are there millions of bloggers whose collective audience is larger and more engaged than that of the traditional press, there are also millions of consumers who are one click away from sharing your work with their friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Power to the people!

If you can make it easy for people to share and get excited about your book, you won’t need to spend big bucks or hope you make the list of some old newspaper that no-one really reads anymore.

Below I’ll share the techniques I used to help my book go viral with social media.

#1: Embed a Retweet button in a free chapter of the book

Everyone loves a free sample. In my case, I gave away the first chapter of my book as an immediately accessible PDF. I included a Retweet button in strategic locations in the chapter. This allowed people who loved what they read to easily share it with friends on Twitter.

retweet button
I included the above button on the dedication page of the free chapter and the final page of the PDF, enabling people to share the free chapter on Twitter.

When someone clicks on the Retweet button, it populates a precrafted tweet that says: “I’m reading @mike_stelzner‘s new book: Launch! Get the 1st chapter free here: http://bit.ly/kipZZK.”

Within the first two weeks of the launch of my book, more than 27,000 people clicked on that link!

sample retweet
Here’s how the link looked on Twitter.

Click here for an article on how to add Retweet buttons to PDFs.

#2: Create a “Spread the Word” page

To help things spread via social media, you need to make it easy for people. I created a special page on our book promo site called “Spread the Word.”

This page contains a short letter from me asking for people’s help. On the page I include some prefabricated tweets that people can share with the click of a button, as well as instructions on how to share the book on Facebook and LinkedIn.

spread the word
A clearly visible link on my book page encourages people to help get the word out via social channels.

When I sent emails to my list about the book, I always included a P.S. that said something like: “I’d love your help spreading the word about Launch! Click here to find out how you can help.”

#3: Design a Facebook photo contest

There’s nothing like a fun and friendly competition to get people excited about your book. And there’s no better platform than Facebook to get things rolling.

About two weeks before the book launched, we worked with the fine folks at Strutta to develop a photo contest. The premise was simple, yet creative. We called it the Help Me Launch photo contest.

All participants needed to do was take a creative photo with the words “Help Me Launch.”

photo contest

We had only 50 Facebook fans when we started the promotion, but that quickly grew to more than 1000! More than 70 people submitted creative photos that caused a viral storm.

Ken Sehres
Here’s the grand prize winner, Ken Sehres from http://855donttext.com/.

#4: Organize a Top 50 Bloggers promotion

Bloggers are the new press. Engage them and watch what happens.

I crafted a post called How Bloggers Can Use Book Reviews to Connect With Experts a month prior to my book’s launch.

In the post I made the case why bloggers should do book reviews and included tips on how to do them.

Near the end of the post I asked, “Want a chance to review a new book?” I explained, I’m inviting up to 50 bloggers to review my new book on their blog and receive an extra copy they can give away to their readers. Here’s how you could win two free copies of my book…” I went on to explain the application process and how I would select the winners.

top 50 bloggers
I created a contest where bloggers applied to be selected to review my book.

More than 120 bloggers applied to do reviews. We selected the 50 winners and mailed two books, along with instructions on how to create the review.

This technique created a lot of exposure because each blogger created multiple posts about the book. They wrote about how they were giving away the extra copy of the book and also wrote book reviews.

We added an extra incentive by mentioning we’d pick one of the 50 bloggers to write a book review column for Social Media Examiner.

This idea came from a discussion with my friend Jay Baer, co-author of The Now Revolution.

#5: Broadcast live videos with experts

Our launch date for the book was June 6 (the first day people could order the book on Amazon). I invited three experts to special live broadcasts using TinyChat.com. Mari Smith, Jay Baer and Joe Pulizzi each joined me for one hour live.

mike and mari
I interviewed experts for three hours, sharing their knowledge with viewers.

To promote the event, we wrote a blog post entitled Want to Grow a Loyal Fan Base? Four Experts Tell You How where we revealed how the event would work.

During the interviews, we talked about subjects related to the book, but did not overtly pitch the book. Rather this became a fun and educational activity that was valuable for all attendees.

#6: Add social share buttons

Adding social share buttons to your page is a powerful marketing tool for two reasons. First, these buttons allow people to easily share your page on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Equally important, they also provide powerful social proof to first-time visitors to your page. When someone sees that hundreds of people have shared your book with their peers, it triggers the thought, “maybe I should closely examine what’s here,” in the minds of visitors.

social share
I added social share buttons to the top of my book page as seen here.

The cool news is you can embed these buttons on any page! Click here for the Facebook Like button, here for the TweetMeme Retweet button and here for the LinkedIn Share button.

#7: Add Facebook Comments

Facebook allows you to add a commenting system to any web page! This is very effective because you can make a book page look like a blog.

What’s amazing about the Facebook Comments system is it allows you to change your personality. For example, I could easily reply with my personal identity or my Facebook page brand. I selected to always use my Launch Facebook page to help grow a following there.

facebook comments
The Facebook Comments technology makes it easy for people to leave comments on any page and allows you to reply as your Facebook page.

#8: Leverage photos on Facebook

Photos are more likely to make their way into your Facebook fans’ news feeds. A fun way to get people talking about your book is to take a screen shot of something exciting and share it on Facebook.

For example, when my book became both #1 and #2 on Amazon’s hot new releases in the Sales and Marketing category (due to the print and Kindle versions), I took a screen shot and shared it with our fans on our Facebook page.

This created a great response including both congratulations and glowing endorsements from folks who were reading the book. It also was widely viewed by our fans.

facebook screenshots
By simply posting an image on our Facebook page, it was widely viewed and commented on.

#9: Create fun videos

There’s no better way to build a connection with people than video. I decided it would be fun to “share a special moment” with my fans.

I located a store in my area that had my book in stock. Then I took a video (with my kids) showing my response to finding the book.


This video was fun to create and showed my personal side by getting my family involved. I posted the video on Facebook for my fans to see.

I also signed a copy of the book and shared that there was one autographed book waiting for the first lucky person who got into the store. To my surprise, the person who purchased the book (Stephanie Nivinskus) took a photo and posted it up on Facebook!

signed book
A fan shares how she discovered my signed book in a Barnes and Noble.

So there you have it!

With a little bit of creativity, you can do some amazing things with social media. You no longer need to rely on the traditional press to successfully launch a book (or any product).

What do you think? Have you used any similar techniques to promote a book (or other product)? Please share your comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

Image: Flickr