How To Profit From The Promotional Power Of Twitter

Last year agency author David McClure wrote about how social media helped launch his book. Here’s what happened this year.

For the last few summers I’ve tried to promote my book on the royal finances “Royal Legacy “ by being the first to tweet about one of the biggest financial events of the year (at least to sad Windsor-watchers like me): the announcement of the Queen’s private income from the profits of her hereditary estate, the Duchy of Lancaster (HM hit the jackpot in 2016 with record receipts of £17.8m).

In year one, I broke the story on Twitter thanks to my night-and-day stalking of the Duchy website, but new to social media I made the mistake of posting it solely on my Twitter feed rather than sending it to other tweeters with a large following. Since those following me numbered a mere few dozen (including one claiming ancestry from God) my world exclusive passed unnoticed.

In year two, I was more savvy. Again I was first with the news of the Queen’s bumper profits but this time I tweeted it directly to all the royal correspondents of the mainstream media. This hit the spot. The story soon went global with all the major news outlets covering it in detail (the Daily Mirror even featured it in a special on-line poll). Although most of the royal reporters tweeted their thanks for the tip, their copy contained not one mention of my book.

This year I tried a more targeted approach. On getting advance word of the Queen’s record profits, I decided to give the story to a single reporter rather than the whole press pack. To keep it under wraps, I sent it to him on Twitter’s private direct messaging system and within hours it was published on-line as an exclusive.

It was a big splash on the front page complete with two quotes from me and a prominent mention of my book. At last I’d hit gold.

I expected the piece to follow the same path as the previous year and be picked up by all the major news organisations (after all, 2016 like 2015 was a year of record profits for the Queen). Who knows they might even commission from the author of the quotes a full article on the Duchy? Alas, the news got muted coverage in the mainstream media as the post-Brexit political crisis crowded out royal reporting and almost everything else.

But on Twitter the story was, well, another story. Once I posted this link to the article (“Me and my book get wide coverage in this exclusive piece on the Queen’s record profits from her estate”) along with a cover photo of “Royal Legacy”, it soon went ballistic. In the course of the next 48 hours my Twitter feed alone recorded more than 150 retweets or likes and my Twitter following mushroomed by 20%. More significantly my Amazon book sales ratings began to rise.

Why did the message cut through on social media this time? Giving the story as an exclusive to one newspaper (with the tacit assumption that “Royal Legacy” would get a mention) certainly made a big difference. Not only did it ensure that my book wasn’t ignored but it gave the message a clearer focus for others to latch on to and repeat. Another factor in creating this Twitter squall involved riding on the air currents of a more powerful partner. I sent my tweet to an anti-monarchist campaign group which kindly retweeted it to their many-thousand followers. And so the chain reaction went on…

…And the moral of the story? If you don’t have a big following on Twitter, piggyback on those who do. But more importantly if you want to maximise its power to promote books, try to target your tweets.

David McClure is the author of “Royal Legacy” Thistle Publishing 2015, available at Amazon

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David McClure

David McClure is a television producer and freelance writer and journalist. He has worked for Reuters, BBC News and Thames Television and made current affairs programmes for Channel 4 and Sky News.   He was also written for The Sunday Times and The Guardian and is currently developing a...More about David McClure