In the last few weeks, I’ve been to several accounts to present upcoming titles and share information on key marketing strategies. In each meeting, I’ve asked how the account was using social media to help grow stronger relationships with current customers and potential new ones.
The feedback ranged from one account who totally gets it and is seeing higher traffic and a growing fanbase to another account that conveyed their fears about not being able to control consumer response and had done almost nothing in the social media world.
With publishing in a state of transition, it’s all hands on deck. We need each other. Print ads and top shelf placement aren’t enough to motivate consumers to buy anymore. We’ve got to be working together to grow tribes of readers who want to buy books, no matter what format they get them in.
Had I been one-on-one with the groups moving into social media slowly and had more time to share, here’s what I would have said to them:
1. Jump In- Do Something. Start a blog where you can control the messaging and comments. Or start a fan page on Facebook and offer discussion topics and exclusives at your stores. Yes, it takes a bit of someone’s time, but people are talking about you whether you are in the space or not. Wouldn’t you rather be able to chime in on the conversation?
2. Listen-Designate someone on your team to begin spending even 30 minutes a day in social media places like Twitter and Facebook “listening” to what consumers are saying about your store and key products. Once you know that, you can start looking at strategic ways to begin talking to these people and create a group of followers who are interested in your products.
3. Learn from Others Mistakes and Successes- Marketing 101 is asking questions from people you see doing it right…and wrong, and then using that information to create programs that work for your brand. Have your team spend a bit of time researching three companies that are doing it well. What’s their frequency? How are they connecting? How are they finding new people to join their tribe?
4. Be Sincere–If you create genuine relationships, it will build your brand value with consumers. If you just try to sell to consumers, success will be short lived. Offer exclusive interview content, share stories of authors who stop by to visit, offer discounts available only through your social media outlets…be a resource and make sure there’s two-way conversation.
Realistically, this info applies to more than just retailers. It’s the same steps I worked through when I began plugging into social media , and it’s the things we suggest for authors. But within the world of books and publishing, it’s clear that the more connection points we have collectively, the better we’ll be set to manuever through the changes ahead.
Resources? I’ve learned a ton from Michael Hyatt. He’s a natural when it comes to these things. And two books I’d highly recommend are Seth Godin’s Tribes and Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s Trust Agents. All of these folks really cemented my belief in the power of social media.