7 Tips for Utilizing Social Media
Social media is one of the tools book publishers need to have in their Web 2.0 arsenal. Web sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Gather not only draw millions of visitors, they also provide those visitors with a platform to converse and connect around shared interests and passions. On Gather (www.Gather.com), which President and COO Carl Rosendorf describes as “MySpace for grown-ups,” “Books” is one of 11 “essential” channels that visitors can navigate to find content and conversation of interest. Gather’s “Books” group boasts more than 45,000 members, who read, contribute and/or comment on original content such as book reviews, articles and live chats.
“What makes the Gather experience so unique is not the original posted content [such as a book review], because that you can find almost anywhere,” says Rosendorf. “What makes it so unique is the resulting conversation between the members themselves, and many times, between the member and the author.”
Rosendorf offered the following tips and examples on how book publishers can use social media to involve and expand their audiences.
1. Create a fun, engaging contest. “Generally, we create the concept [for the contest],” says Rosendorf, who notes that these contests can be simple or complex, and can focus on a specific imprint, genre or title. “We work with the publisher and get a sense of what their goals are.”
One of Gather’s most well-known competitions is First Chapters, which the site devised with Simon & Schuster imprint Touchstone and Borders (http://FirstChapters.Gather.com). When it launched in January, First Chapters called on first-time authors to submit manuscripts for a full-length work of fiction. Tens of thousands of Gather members narrowed the pool from 2,700 entries down to five by voting on the first chapters of each manuscript. Then, a “Grand Prize Judging Panel” chose the winners from the finalists. The panel surprisingly chose two winners instead of the originally intended one, and both books were published by Touchstone in September. “[The competition] was covered in The New York Times, on CNN. It was picked up all over the world by the [Associated Press]. It generated tremendous excitement,” says Rosendorf.