I will try to answer an obvious question: are all these social media strategies right for the publishing industry?
I'll do my best to bring to you the latest news on apps and what-else could be useful for small publishers. I will also provide some suggestions in the use of the basic tools that are already been used in the marketing field by big and small companies alike: Facebook, twitter and Linkedin.
I'd like to start by talking about Facebook.
Everybody knows what FB is. It doesn't matter if you're living in Africa or in Iceland, you'll be able to find users from all over the world - or wherever they have an internet connection.
Lately there's been a boom of pages dedicated to all kind of things, from make-up products, to animals adoptions.
The publishing industry hasn't missed the chance to join in, and publishers - especially the big ones - are now basically opening a new page for each new title released.
I'm going to use a couple of examples. I'm a huge Charlaine Harris' fan (True Blood anybody?), and while I was minding my own (ha!) business on twitter, I came across a retweeted msg from a friend of mine. It was something along the line ''RT this message and Like our page to win a free copy of Charlaine Harris' latest book''.
Of course, I followed the link and landed on this FB page http://www.facebook.com/GollanczDarkFantasyAs you can see it's a page dedicated to Gollancz inprint Dark Fantasy, which includes all the titles published under the Twilight-sort-of tag - even though Harris' books are waaaay better than that sparkling saga!!!
Anyway, 2.5k people are Liking the page and following the updates loaded by the digital marketing team behind all this. They offer 2 free give-away per week, they engage fans, asking their opinion on covers and anything else. I find it to be quite repetitive at times, and they don't seem to reply to many of the comments people post, and that's what I think it should be done.
It's important to show the reader that there's a real person behind that page/screen, and not merely a team of bored people. I mean, I appreciate how this kind of job isn't necessarily the most exciting one, but the reason why you start and run these pages and your various social network accounts is to engage with potential readers. Liaise with a potential customer and develop your market. This is something that needs to be kept in mind by big and small publishers alike!
Whereas big publishers already have a reputation and cover a big part of the market, and therefore will have automatically thousands of people interested in their page/blog/account, it's the small publishers who should focus on updating relevant and interesting content and create a meaningful dialogue with their 'fans'. They need to find them, lure them in and keep them put.
In Gollancz case, for example, there's this kind of detachment from the readers. Sure, there are some interesting, catchy lines such as 'are you thirsty for Thursday?', making a connection to the vampire books they're marketing, but in my opinion that's not enough.
You need to reply to your 'fans' as much as you can, appreciate the fact that they thank you for the book they've won, and so on. They'll feel appreciated, and as all human being, people like to feel appreciated, noticed and involved. I know I would!
Mind Your God**mn Content!
I loved this title...eheheh! :)
But seriously, when taking care of your FB page or work blog, you need to be careful and think about what you're writing about. You can give your content the direction you prefer, but keep it coherent.
When it comes to publishing-related content, I prefer an approachable and light tone. Books are made to allow us to dream of other worlds. They make us laugh and cry, dream and study. Unless you're selling exclusively serious legislation tomes, than your tone should be fresh and nice. I'm not saying you should address your readers with ''yo! mate'', or greet them like ''c y'all!!!'' - you're not 13! - but you should keep it light and interesting. I know it's not the easiest thing, but hey! you're talking about stories, and there's already so much seriousness and sadness in the world!
Customisation is the salt of life. Nah, I simply hate @ and # in my FB news feed! So if you really have to send the exact same message from all of your accounts, at least have the decency of edit it a tiny little bit, so people won't have to read the same thing, in the same format over and over again. RT are already extremely annoying when half of your followers follow each other!
More formats make people...content! (I know...)
I always wonder if I'm the only one fascinated with pictures. I love going through them on FB and on Twitter. Not only pictures of my friends, but also of strangers. Is the voyeurism of it I think, the excitement of peering into people's lives. The colours are appealing, and honestly people usually post the weirdest stuff. So why not post pictures of your products, of your team, of your office. Let the readers/fans/followers know what's going on behind the page, that's always interesting. Show them some artwork in the making, ask for their opinion - you're actually sell the products to them so you might as well want some feedback!
Upload a book-trailer. I haven't seen many, but they're really not that hard nor expensive to make.
Upload an audio interview with on of your authors; organise a Q&A and ask the author to answer to the readers' questions. Give sneak-peeks, build anticipation.
Speaking of pictures, I came about this new app called Color, which allows you to build a network with people who are physically close to you, whenever you update a picture from your phone. All the pics are public and visible to anybody within 100 feet. I don't know how this could be useful for publishing, but if you see a book you're interested in and take a pic of it, it will be then shared by anybody in your area who uses the app. If the content is interesting then it will appeal to more and more people. Word of mouth is always great, isn't it?
It's not (exclusively) about sales!
I can never stress it enough. If you're looking into sky-rocketing your sales thanks to your FB or Twitter account, then you don't have a clue! Sure, every visitor in your blog/page/website, or every new follower is a potential customer, but what they're really looking for is not an easy sale. People know better, and go after free stuff. True story. It's a little bit like throwing a giant net in the sea and wait. You'll eventually catch some fish, but you'll have to make sure you keep them in the net.
OK, I think that's all from me today. I'm so busy in preparation of the London Book Fair, and I'm really sorry I managed to update the blog this late in the week!
More from me on publishing and digital marketing in a few days! ;)