The Optimized Publisher: Social Integration

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

The Optimized PublisherHave you ever read a book, heard a song or watched a film that was so amazing and inspiring that you just had to share it with everyone you know? Before social media, this involved a lot of lending and borrowing (I have lost so many “borrowed” books, CDs and DVDs this way). But with the start of Facebook in 2004, social media (Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) has made sharing your favorites a lot easier.

The statistics show a continually increasing social media revolution:

• More than 50 percent of adults (18 and over) use two or more social media sites.
• More than 90 percent of teens go online daily, with half that number checking their social media sites several times a day.
• Facebook continues to be the most popular site, followed by LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. In fact, Instagram just passed 400 million users, passing Twitter’s estimated 316 million.

Social integration is also of great use to e-commerce. Online sales will generate more than $370 billion by 2017, with referrals by the top social media sites bringing customers closer to converting visits into purchases. So, as an independent book publisher, how can you take advantage of social media through your online presence?

One popular social integration solution is through social sharing buttons. Some of you may already have these buttons in place or have seen them being used on blogs or online news sources. In this post, I hope to provide some guidelines on making social sharing a growing part of your online brand and a contributor to online purchases and customer retention. It is a key part of creating a modern, optimized publisher’s site.

As I mentioned, a few of our evaluation participants use social sharing on their websites. The average score for this Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Factor is a 2.5 (a “D” grade), however, so I hope a few tips will help participants and readers alike take advantage of this great referral source.

Social Integration

Social Sharing Is Caring

Just to be clear, social sharing is not having a “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter” button. A social media presence is important, especially if you update your pages with new content on a frequent basis. But social sharing, to take an example from Xist Publishing, looks more like this:

Share This Product

Social sharing buttons are found in the bottom or side navigation of a webpage. They are typically not found on a homepage (that’s usually where the like us/follow us buttons are), and are more suited to pages with unique information—in this case, a book.

A visitor who is interested in sharing the book’s webpage clicks on one or more of the social sharing buttons and that link is posted on their social media page for all of their followers to see. And that’s where the “magic” happens:

• A link to your book is now viewable and clickable by all of this individual’s followers.
• The average number of Facebook friends per user is 338. For Twitter it is 208, and 300 for Pinterest. For most profiles, this number continues to grow daily.
• You have just improved your brand, author and product.
• The number of “social discovery” purchases made through social media continues to increase, with a 200+ percent increase for 2014.

In addition to increasing your potential brand awareness and customer conversion rates for purchases, social sharing buttons have the extra benefit of improving your SEO rankings. They may not be the most important SEO Factor, but social sharing buttons can contribute to your placement on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) if your webpage information is shared frequently:

More shares equals better placement. The more your link is shared, the greater chance it will be more visible in the SERPs.
Popularity gets you noticed. Depending on your search engine and social media connections, SERP entries can contain updates (number of retweets, likes, etc.) on how many times the link was shared. With this extra detail, entries that are popular continue to be popular for future site visitors. Additionally, Google has announced that Twitter updates will now be appearing in desktop search results.
Tracking keeps your content fresh. Most social media sites offer analytics for the number of visitors who share a link. This allows you to analyze which links were the most popular and led to purchases, helping you optimize what you share to your customers in the future.

Rich Pins, Twitter Cards and Open Graphs

One of the many options that can be found in social media sharing is the “share with a friend” button. While emailing your friend about a great new book can be helpful, it is only a link to a page. What if there were more detailed social sharing button links that could send extra details about the book or author? Fortunately, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook have great tools for doing just that:

Dragon Moon Press uses Rich Pins from Pinterest.

Rich Pins

SilkWords uses Twitter Cards.

Twitter Cards

The Secret Mountain uses Open Graph from Facebook.

Open Graph

Here’s a bit more information on these social media solutions:

Rich Pins are links shared through the Pinterest site that provide additional details about the information on that webpage. You can create a rich pin for products (books), articles and more. When you pin something from a product page (“Pin It”), the user gets more than a link, as can be seen at Dragon Moon Press, where you also get a thumbnail of the book cover. However, while photos and site links are important information to pass on via social media, I would encourage Dragon Moon to add a bit more information to the rich pin, if possible, such as price and availability.

Twitter Cards are shared through the “Tweet” social sharing button. The cards allow you to send more than a link. Have a look at the card for Storm at Sea for SilkWords. They use their Twitter cards to highlight the book name and provide a link and a hashtag. But there is so much more that you can do with a Twitter card and 140 characters. I recommend optimizing their cards to include images, prices and book ratings.

Open Graph is a Facebook tool created in 2010 that allows you to share more information and better control what gets shared than would normally be found in a simple link. When a user clicks on the Facebook icon or other share button on a webpage, the information can be set to display what you want, not what Facebook assumes you want. This code needs to be set on your webpage.

I would recommend to each of our publishers in this example, and those who do not use these social media tools yet, to optimize these solutions: add as many features for these pins, cards, and open graph as are available. The more information you provide, and the better the information represents your titles and your business, the better chance that a single social share can lead to more visitors and purchases. (I did a DBW webinar last December about integrating, optimizing and leveraging social media in the publishing industry).

Sharing the Right Buttons Means Everything

Social sharing buttons can be set up for websites through plugins (there are many available) and hard coding (for the web designers in the group). I would warn you not to clutter up the page with too many of them. Most users will choose one or more of the three mentioned already (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), so going beyond three or four might confuse the user. It’s best to choose your sharing buttons based on your customer base and the online demographic you hope to attract. For example, Instagram is a pretty popular social media site right now, but it may not work for your specific book catalog or readership. Then again, it might be just perfect.

Following this post on social sharing and integration, let’s move on to some things to share, such as your authors. Authors can be both your greatest asset and your best customer. I think that working on a strategy to best promote them and their books can be extremely important content for social sharing and other SEO factors.

How have you integrated social media into your site? Is it optimized, and are you taking advantage of the more advanced sharing options the platforms provide? Let me know in the comments below.

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