The Book Marketing Social Media Hierarchy: Which Sites to Use for Which Purposes

Social media has made reaching a wide audience without spending much money buying media time easier than ever. But social media takes time, effort and opportunity cost. So, which social media channels should book marketers spend time with and for what purposes?

A panel at the Digital Book World Marketing + Publishing Services Conference & Expo provided the answer:



Facebook is a good place for publishers to brand themselves corporately and for authors to interact with readers.

“Authors don’t have to be on everything, but Facebook is one of the easiest for them,” said Open Road Media’s chief marketing officer Rachel Chou, adding, “If you’re posting on Facebook and not putting money behind it, they’re [Facebook users] not seeing it at all.”



The panel debated whether Twitter actually helps publishers sell books.

“It’s a tough question,” said Houghton Mifflin Harcourt director of culinary marketing Brad Parsons said. “It’s more about awareness.”

Chou said that Open Road has had success using Twitter to disseminate content like images and videos. Chou and Kristin Fassler, director of marketing at Random House Publishing Group, both experimented with advertising on Twitter, but warned that caution was needed because it can get expensive quickly.



The panel agreed that Tumblr was good because its users skewed very young and the platform made it easy to share images, videos, infographics and quotes from books.

Following along with the panel’s conversation on Twitter, Tumblr’s head of literary and nonprofit outreach and of the new Tumblr book club Rachel Fershleiser added that Tumblr can also be used for “in depth discussion,” citing the new Tumblr book club; the spreading of long-form stories, citing a Tumblr “recommended reading” site; author branding, citing Neil Gaiman’s Tumblr blog; and publisher branding, citing Penguin Teen’s Tumblr blog.



Pinterest might present legal issues for publishers, depending on the images being pinned. Further, it may not help sell books.

Pinterest is a “big time suck,” said Chou. “You have to be active and re-pinning and not just doing your own board and if you have a couple people who can spend a few hours a week doing that for you, good for you.”



While not all publishers and authors have created video content or have the ability or plans to do so, YouTube could be a powerful social platform for having meaningful connections to readers.

“YouTube is great for advertising, both for the targeting you can do and the information you get back,” said Houghton’s Parsons.

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9 thoughts on “The Book Marketing Social Media Hierarchy: Which Sites to Use for Which Purposes

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  4. MarkBeyer

    I am using all of these to assist marketing my two novels, published by a small press out of Chicago (Siren & Muse). Mr Chou is spot on when he speaks of “awareness” rather than book sales. One of the best features of any soc-media site is the ability to introduce, engage, and tease (in a positive way) your potential readers. Another feature is an author’s ability to actually FIND his readers — the ones who will be interested in his type of writing — Mark Beyer, author of WHAT BEAUTY and THE VILLAGE WIT

  5. Eric

    Another great website for marketing ebooks is MyLi (My Library) which is not only a free cross channel social media marketing tool for ebooks but a BYOD web app that incentives sharing and book ratings. MyLi shows each of the online retailers for each book they’re streaming and pay publishers every time a book is opened on the website.

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