A MarketForce research study profiled in Forbes magazine asked consumers about how they engage with brands from various industries, including retail and entertainment, and the findings can reasonably be applied to how readers come to buy the books they do. One of the most interesting findings was that 81% of respondents said that they made purchases as a direct result of social media posts from family and friends. Moreover, 78% said that their buying decisions were influenced by companies’ social media posts.
1. Think strategically about where to place social media sharing buttons on your site. Don’t be bashful. Consumers – including readers – are used to sharing, and if the content is good, they actually like to do it. Readers in particular love to tell others about the books they think are amazing, about a review that’s making them want a book, or about a discount from a favourite publisher. You’ll find a really good post on where to place social media share buttons right here.
Screen shot #1: Prominent, yet elegant, social media sharing buttons on Coach House Books blog posts.
2. Make it easy and intuitive for your site visitors to share the good news about your books. Did the book get a rave review? Make it a tweetable link. Here’s a quick guide for how to do this. And think of how quickly people “use” web pages. If you don’t make it super-fast for them to share your content, they might not, so pre-set the content that will appear when users click on a share button. That way they don’t have to compose the post themselves. Both Twitter and Facebook provide well-established tools so that web developers can preset which data (text, images) is used by default when content is shared from their site.
Screen shot #2: On Open-Book.ca, the content is amazing, and many readers will want to share. When they click on the share buttons at the top of the post, pre-set text and images are at the ready so all readers have to do is hit one button: post.
3. Make your social media posts exciting! Rather than “Trees of Ontario is available now at your local bookseller,” how about “What is Ontario’s most common tree? You might be surprised! Find the answer here” – where “here” is a link to your book title page complete with buy links. People want to be intrigued, not pushed. And while you’re appealing to that wider interest set, make sure to hashtag properly, for example, #forestsmatter, and cc: key organizations or individuals, ideally with lots of fans (e.g., @ncc_cnc – the Twitter handle for Nature Conservancy Canada, which has more than 30,000 followers). See how much more opportunity there is with the second approach to sharing than with the first?
4. Think about what your audience is interested in. Deliver content to them, not just notices about your new books. If your firm specializes in environmental books, post about environmental news in general. Celebrate other people’s environmental good works by retweeting them, congratulating them, and posting about them on Facebook. The more sincerely generous you are, the more you will attract a likeminded community and a target audience by extension.
5. Thank readers for sharing your content. By doing so, you acknowledge them as brand ambassadors and tell them you value their help in promoting your books. And guess what? They’ll be even more likely to talk about your books the next time around.
Three years ago, BookNet Canada reported that 40% of Canadian book buyers had discovered the title they purchased online. That proportion will have only gone up since then. So a considered strategy aimed at maximizing the number of your fans talking about your books online is well worth the investment, and one that – once you’ve got a process – won’t take too much time and will actually be lots of fun!