Publishers Need Social Media

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

shutterstock_110129294Book publishing is a legacy industry with the advantages of a history, established conventions, and deep institutional knowledge. Social media, by comparison, can feel fleeting. Platforms come and go so quickly.

But, social media is about a conversation rather than a platform. And, “the concept is here to stay,” said Morgan Baden social media and internal communications director at Scholastic. Speaking yesterday at the Publishing Perspectives Reaching Readers conference Baden explained that social media has successfully “broken the barriers between brands and consumers” and that “what the consumer says matters in a way that it hadn’t before.”

Readers are discussing, recommending, and sharing books on social channels and publishers should certainly take the opportunity to listen to, learn from, and lead that conversation.

At its essence, social media is “a multidirectional conversation” and ought be used as a “lite marketing tool rather than as a sales tool,” said Baden.

Start with Strategy
Publishers, imprints, and authors with a clear passion for social media and an authentic public voice should begin strategically.

Here is the outline Baden shared for getting started:
• Set goals.
• Establish a realistic measure of success.
• At first, spend time only listening to relevant people and brands.
• Start small, perhaps on a single platform with a modest production calendar.
• Map the message, What does the first month of FaceBook posts look like?
• Determine who you want to be talking to.
• Decide what kind of personality you want to portray.

Antisocial Authors are Okay
Authors who opt not to have personal social media accounts or whose voice doesn’t correlate effectively with the books they write can still be part of the conversation.

Baden described some viable strategies for working with those authors who aren’t poised for an ongoing social media presence. She recommended inviting these authors to write guest blog posts or take over the publisher’s FaceBook page or Twitter feed for an hour answering readers’ questions. For even less social authors, a publisher might merely offer unique content to the social media community such as a sneak peak at the first chapter or an early cover reveal.

“Social Media has been very kind to publishing,” said Baden. And in the continuing digital transition, publishers would be wise to welcome kindness.

Image Credit: social media image via Shutterstock

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