Updated: May 11
So let’s assume that you have set up a social media group based on a general topic in which you are fascinated, and which is connected to your book or books — for example, a group called ‘Victorian Detectives’, which is associated with your recent series on Shylock Bones, the pirate-turned-detective who lives at 221a Butcher Street (I’m just making this up as an example, go easy on me.)
The group has gathered together a couple of hundred people who are engrossed by Victorian fiction generally and love detectives stories, Sherlock Holmes and all the rest of it. Daily, in the group, members post material about the topic, and you do too, encouraging debate and contributions and everything else that happens in a well-run social media group.
Now, because of their fascination with the same thing that you’re fascinated by, these people are ‘warm prospects’ for your book series. Not all of them are going to rush out and buy your books, but you’ll be able to mention them now and again and perhaps even link to a page where they can buy them — and not be rejected outright. You will get some, if only a little attention — far, far more attention than a spamming and possibly expensive ad campaign will get. You will get, in fact, one or two sales, if you manage this properly and keep the group on-topic rather than turning it into a sales page for your book.
But is there anything you can do to ‘heat up’ your warm prospects so that they become ‘hot’ prospects?
Yes, there is. But it involves a command of the art of communication — and it is most effective when it is used with authenticity. In other words — and this is important — if you set out to try to get ‘conversions’ (a modern marketing term which is, I think, a bit off-putting and potentially insulting to your customers) then you will be less effective than if you simply set out to have a chat about something that both you and the ‘chatee’ are interested in.
Affinity — communicating about things of common interest — warms prospects up without any effort to ‘sell’ on your part.
People like and trust people who are most like themselves or who like similar things.
Human beings naturally gravitate towards people who are similar to them.
You can and should create powerful rapport with warm prospects thereby increasing the potential for sales while building rock solid, long term relationships with your readers.
But if you set out for the ‘sale’, you’ll undermine your rapport.
Aim for the rapport and you’ll eventually get the sale.
Create rapport by talking about similar interests:
“You like the Agatha Christie? I love Agatha Christie.”
“You love The Hound of the Baskervilles? I loved it so much, I once wrote a screenplay for it.”
All of those things (if legitimate and authentic) play a factor in building rapport.
‘But I don’t have the time (or energy) to chat one-on-one with every single potential reader!’ you might protest. You’re right — chatting authentically is extremely difficult to duplicate when you're not communicating one-on-one, when you're talking to a marketplace — and there might be hundreds of people in that marketplace.
But this is where social media comes into play for real: the expectation people have of social media — indeed, the very reason social media exists and flourishes — is that they will be able to share interests, feelings, opinions, likes and dislikes with groups of people. That’s why ‘selling’ doesn’t work so well on social media sites, and stands out like a sore thumb — people aren’t on social media to buy, they are there to share. So a comment thread in which you engage with one or two people can be viewed and engaged with my anyone in the group.
The science of persuasion and influence tells us that if your feelings and beliefs are more or less the same as your prospects, rapport building occurs. Hence the effectiveness of your social media group: the very fact that you have set it up establishes that you share similar beliefs, interests, and feelings with whoever joins it. When, through continued communication, you demonstrate the common emotions, concerns, and beliefs specific to your marketplace, their specific needs, and the solutions they’re after, you grow more and more rapport with them.
Eugene Schwartz, a copywriting legend, always said the most important thing to generate rapport is generate agreement.
You want your warm prospects nodding their heads, liking what you’re posting and commenting. The best way to do that is by starting with things that they already believe and the emotions they already feel. Take the internal dialogue that they're already having with themselves — for example, about Victorian detective stories —and echo it, expand upon it, elaborate it. This creates rapport, making it easier for them to agree with the things that you might introduce later — such as your specific book or books.
It’s not a case of merely acknowledging the emotions, feelings, and beliefs of your prospect — you must demonstrate that you share common feelings and emotions.
This would be an effort and smack of fakery if you were trying to ‘sell’ products that you didn’t really feel good about, but in this case you actually already share many of the emotions, feelings, and beliefs of your prospects. That’s why you wrote your books in the first place.
All you have to do to succeed is talk about the things that you already love. Express your feelings about them in the same way they might talk about it, using their words, empathising by showing them that their emotions are also your emotions. It’s not hard in the setting of social media groups, because that is exactly what is expected. Your prospects want to know that you have the same feelings and emotions, not just that you understand them intellectually.
When you do this well, you provide them with a channel through which to express an emotional commitment.
“Finally someone who understands Conan Doyle like me!”
“Finally somebody is saying what I've been thinking, feeling, and repeating to myself all this time about this story or author!”
That flow of committed emotion is precisely the reaction that you want them to have. That is what transforms ‘warm’ prospects into ‘hot’ prospects.
And at no point are you being ‘fake’ or ‘salesy’ because you are probably at least as enthusiastic about the topic as they are. All you’re doing is demonstrating your own emotional commitment to a particular subject or field — in this case, like attracts like.
Rather than pumping out wasteful ads about your book, which are just ignored, deleted or marked as ‘spam’, invest time in this process of building bonds with your prospects, generating rapport, likability, and trust with a known group of warm prospects.
You’ll feel better, get more interest— and sell more books.