Some Alternate Approaches to Online Book Marketing (Part 3)

In this concluding part, we will look at how social media can be leveraged to market books.

  • Excerpt Blogs
    Excerpts help create great discoverability for content, specifically if the excerpts are chosen well to represent a true cross-section of content areas that distinguish a book. The easiest way to do this is to create a blog with a free service provider like Blogger or WordPress. These hosted blogs come optimized for search engines, allowing them to crawl through the blog content. In addition to the excerpts, book description, expert reviews and links to review/author blogs help in providing a complete representation for the title. Link exchanges and ping backs help drive additional traffic to the blog. Each title can be a separate post, with the book title and author as the main topic of the post. The posts can be tagged with subject categorization and keywords for ease in navigation. Widgets and book previews provide additional functionality to such posts.
  • Email Campaigns
    Email campaigns have been the tried and tested tool for targeted marketing programs. Databases of existing customers are a good place to start up/cross-selling titles of interest. Permission marketing techniques that provide something of value, like a newsletter or new title updates, can be used to gather email addresses of potential customers. Always ensure that the target of such campaigns have volunteered to receive information, in compliance with anti-spam norms, by specifically choosing to receive promotional material. Third party email marketing companies like Constant Contact provide excellent functionality in sending out emails to thousands of contacts and also provide reports to measure the efficacy of such campaigns. Along with individual campaigns, publishers can choose to do permission marketing by sending moderator-approved mails to existing communities on mailing list servers and discussion forums.
  • Social Bookmarks
    Social bookmarks provide great SEO and should be an essential part of every online marketing strategy. These sites allow a site to be bookmarked with tags. People using these sites choose to receive website recommendations based on tags they are interested in. They can then vote a page up or down, send it to their network and write reviews about the website. Publishers can bookmark title description pages, excerpt blog posts, author videos, summary presentations, book previews and other promotional material to attract traffic. Each of these pages can contain links to the bookmarking sites that encourage readers to add or vote on the page. Bookmarking sites like Digg, Delicious and Stumbleupon are popular, with millions of users visiting recommendations from these sites everyday.
  • Social Reading Lists
    Reading lists are personal booklists maintained online by readers, and are usually classified based on books that they have read, books that they own and books that they intend to read. They provide features that allow users to maintain a personal reading list and catalog their own libraries. The books on a personal list are linked to a common instance of the title that shows who else has the same book on their reading list. Users can interact with each other by adding friends and discussing books. Comments and ratings are presented to all users. This presents opportunities where publishers can add more information on a title than what is available through the standard metadata. Publishers can create their own profile and add books that they publish to their profile. They can add additional links to author videos, reviews and information on purchases in the form of comments on a title. Most of these lists provide the facility of creating paid institutional accounts, which the publisher can subscribe to and create an account in the firm’s name. Some of the popular reading lists are Shelfari, LibraryThing, GoodReads and BookTrails.
  • Social Network Pages and Groups
    Being present on social networking sites has become an essential part of a company’s CRM and support strategy. Companies are also using their social network presence to drive promotions and manage relationships. Most social networks allow companies and businesses to create an account and manage their customers as followers by providing functionalities like groups and corporate pages. If deployed well, this strategy can lead to thousands of followers on these group pages with whom relationships can be managed. FaceBook, MySpace and LinkedIn, to name a few larger social networks, provide groups where surveys, calendars, event invites, contests and promotions can be carried out. Providing rewards for followers on these groups – in terms of additional discounts, sneak previews, event invites and freebies – can extend the relationship further. Successful companies have not only generated customer goodwill, but also boosted branding and sales from these social network groups.
  • Twitter
    Twitter is the new mantra in social presence. Hash tags, RT and @ are a few Twitter specific jargon that is now almost a part of the daily communication process for those online. Twitter allows individuals and companies to get followers, who like to keep track of what the company / individual is talking about, and receive a feed of their posts. Following back these users and listening to what they are saying establishes relationships. Each post can be tagged with a “#subject “ tag to help users find the post easily when searching. Followers generally re-tweet or RT (a form of forwarding) a message that they find interesting to their own followers. This creates a powerful word-of-mouth network of people interested or talking about the same topic. Businesses have successfully used Twitter to create brand value and also generate sales through specific Twitter promotions. It is also not uncommon for companies to carry out contests asking people to re-tweet their posts. Publishers can tweet about topics covered in their books, author events, book previews, special promotions, sneak peeks, and also RT their author’s tweets to keep the community engaged.

These tools, when used along with existing book promotions and online ad campaigns, can generate considerable brand value and sales. They also contribute to building publisher-driven reader communities. These communities are vital for a publisher, particularly in the current system, where maximum contribution to sales come from one single retailer who does not share buyer behavior or profile with the publisher. These tools provide crucial means of reaching out to readers, listening to them, engaging them in a dialog, and in building a direct relationship with them.

Read Some Alternate Approaches to Online Book Marketing (Part I)

Read Some Alternate Approaches to Online Book Marketing (Part II)

References for statistics mentioned in this whitepaper

  1. Ebook Statistics, IDPF, http://www.idpf.org
  2. 2008 US Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behavior, PubTrack Annual Report, Bowker, http://www.pubtrackonline.com/
  3. Online Usage Statistics: A Publisher’s Guide, The Association of American Publishers,http://www.publishers.org/main/Conferences/Conf_Pub/conf_Pub_01_09.html
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