As a “millennial” verging on my 40s, the first time I heard about TikTok, I rolled my eyes and said—“Ok, videos of kids lip-syncing and dancing. Yeah, that has no relevance to my life.”
Then, about a year later, I started hearing whispers in the book community:
“People are making a killing selling books on TikTok.”
“Tiktok is the social media trend all authors need to be hopping on.”
“Want your book to go viral? TikTok.”
Though I may not be a part of Gen-Z, as an author interested in promoting my books it would be pretty foolish for me to ignore that generation. Especially when they’re quickly growing up to be a part of the lower age demographic for my target audience. With all the buzz about TikTok, I realized it was time for me to start paying attention. Here’s the scoop:
#BookTok is a force to be reckoned with.
If you’re like I was, you may still be wondering how short video clips made famous for dancing could have anything to do with book sales. The answer is easy: #booktok.
Like other social media platforms, TikTok relies on the power of the almighty hashtag to connect its users with content that they’re interested in. In this case, the nascent book community on TikTok really came into its own with the hashtag #booktok. While there are (many, many) other book and writer related hashtags, the community that has made TikTok relevant for authors is #booktok.
So what is BookTok?
The simple answer: it’s word of mouth referral that no amount of money can buy. BookTok is a community where readers converge on the modern day water cooler that is social media. There, they talk about the books they’re reading, the books they loved, the books they disliked, and more. When a book gets talked about or shared enough, it starts to get buzz. That buzz, of course, translates into sales.
BookTok is so powerful in helping to sell books, in fact, that retailers like Barnes and Noble have responded to it by displaying books that are highly and often recommended on the platform—that’s pretty amazing.
How to participate on TikTok:
Maybe all of this is old news to you and you’ve heard a lot about BookTok or how TikTok can be a great social media tool for advertising. Or maybe you’re interested but just don’t know how to get started or take advantage of the platform. Either way, here are some tips to get you going:
- Use the Bio to make your niche clear and redirect traffic to your website. For TikTok users who have less than 1000 followers, the only way to have a link in your bio is to have a business account. As an author, that’s easily doable and a good way to start linking people back to your site. Remember—you should have an easy way for other users to find out more about you and your books.
- Follow some social media experts on the platform in order to start to learn about trends, types of videos, effects, content, and music.
- Engage! One of the most important parts of any social media is taking the time to engage with others. If you simply post without doing anything else on the platform, you won’t be likely to grow or see results.
- Only share what you’re comfortable sharing. Not into dancing or lip syncing? That’s ok—you don’t have to. The more time you spend looking at other videos, the more you may feel inspired to try something that makes you comfortable. There are plenty of types of videos to make. You could make some “about me” videos, talk about writing tips or your process, discuss books you love, or share snippets of your book.
Regardless of what you share, the most important thing to remember: any social media promo is a long game. Post consistently and engage and you’ll start to make progress over time. If you’re committed and in it for the long haul, here’s one more tip to help: have fun! The more you enjoy the platform, the more likely you’ll use it in a manner that’s effective.