Five Ways to Increase Your Social Media Currency
Social media has shaken up every industry, and the book publishing space is no different. Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, book trailers and more are becoming mainstay tactics in the publishing world to connect with readers online.
But like all industries, publishing is a business. Social media strategy must align with business goals, and for publishers, that's selling books. Generating online word of mouth about new releases is an important step toward increasing sales, which can make social media a perfect fit for book promotion.
Books are social; they have been for centuries. Knowing how to leverage this in the social media space is key. Engaging readers and prompting them to share your content will help you create a fleet of "agents" who can share their passion with friends and family. Fans of authors and lovers of great books can generate subsequent waves of publicity for you in social media.
Here are five ways to boost the chances that readers will become digital evangelists for your titles:
1. Include social sharing options in all e-mail communication.
E-mail continues to generate one of the highest returns in online marketing. Ensure that e-mail recipients are armed with tools that make it simple to share your e-mail content with their social media networks, in addition to links to your own social media outlets. Many e-mail service providers, such as BlueHornet, include built-in sharing capabilities.
2. Include clear calls to action.
In a recent six-country survey by DDB Worldwide Communications Group (the "Facebook and Brands" survey, released in October), 92 percent of respondents said they would recommend a brand they currently "like" to a friend. Fans are willing to share, and being clear about what you'd like them to recommend to friends can nudge them toward taking action. For example, a publisher posts a book trailer for a new mystery novel to its Facebook fan page wall. Add a brief, relevant request to the post, such as, "Know friends who love the suspense of Author X's work? Share this video with them." Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
3. Identify influencers and arm them with engaging content.
Identify readers on social networks who connect with others frequently about your authors or titles, and present content to them that enhances the conversations they are already having. Social CRM (customer relationship management) tools allow companies to manage and track conversations in the social media space and uncover insights into their fan base. They can be used to identify the most active advocates for your authors and titles. Providing these influencers with insider information, such as breaking news about upcoming author appearances or little-known facts about an author's creative process, can energize them. Consider providing them with other tools, such as shareable widgets they can embed on their own blogs and profile pages. Providing special widgets only to influencers can create exclusivity and excitement, both drivers of social sharing.
4. Create an offline/online loop.
Conversations about books, while increasingly moving online to sites like Facebook, Goodreads and LibraryThing, are still strong offline. Create opportunities for readers to connect these two areas. Provide downloadable reading group and book club discussion guides through your social media presences. Encourage readers to take their clubs' offline discussions back online by asking them to share their clubs' thoughts on authors' Facebook pages or by sharing widgets with their online social circles. Long line at a book signing? Get readers in line to tweet their favorite character or answers to trivia questions about the author for a chance to win a prize. This exposes the activity to readers' own online network. Get creative; there's a way to tie social media into nearly any event.
5. Customize the Facebook experience.
Facebook fan pages offer marketers a tremendous amount of freedom to create custom tabs. Creating an engaging experience will boost the likelihood that readers will share your page and your content with others. Tools are available on the market (like Shoutlet's social media management platform, as one example) that can assist publishers in building custom tabs that showcase everything from image slide shows to recorded author interviews. For publisher fan pages, build a tab that rotates content about titles as they are released, or create a shopping tab that allows readers to shop for titles right from your Facebook page. For author or title fan pages, possibilities include tabs featuring author bios and tabs that include an author's Twitter feed or book excerpts. Adding a Facebook "reveal" tab—a tab that requires new Facebook visitors to "like" the page before accessing content—can propel the size of the fan base while offering exclusive content for book lovers.
Building vibrant Facebook custom tabs doesn't always require an inordinate amount of resources. By having tools in place and being savvy about repurposing content that's already been created, it can be well worth the effort.
At its core, social media is about conversation. Publishers have recognized the importance of maintaining a social media presence. By taking extra steps to empower readers with socially shareable content, publishers can tap into the powerhouse that is social media. BB
Jason Weaver is CEO of Shoutlet, a social marketing communications platform.