Social Media is not about selling. It is a form of communication. Its value is in building relationships with your customers. You are not going to start selling massive amounts of books because your store has a Facebook page or you are on twitter. But you are going to be more engaged with your customers and be a better bookseller in your shop too.
I feel like I’m relatively new to Social Media. I decided to start a Facebook page for Pages & Pages last year but realized I had to set up a personal page in order to do so. My expectation was that I would never touch my personal page and just concentrate on the store’s page.
But social networks are about The Three R’s: Relationships, Relationships, Relationships and the moment I created my personal page I started reconnecting with old friends and colleagues who I hadn’t heard from for ages. Not only that I discovered a wealth of information at my fingertips from authors, publishers, TV shows I like. And I could interact with the information, share it with friends or discuss it with other people who shared the same interest.
Initially I resisted Twitter. I didn’t quite understand it or how I could use it as a bookseller or personally. But John Birmingham convinced me to give it a go after he wrote a piece about Twitter and the Liberal Party leadership spill. I was a ‘friend’ of John Birmingham on Facebook and he uses twitter to feed his Facebook updates so I was aware of how he was using Twitter to not just talk about what he was currently doing but also to circulate his different blogs. So I jumped in and as anyone who follows me knows I’m now a complete Twitter junkie and have started my own blog too.
Social Media is about broadcasting ideas. You can then engage in online conversations or build online communities around the ideas you or someone else broadcasts. Bookselling is perfectly suited to Social Media because books themselves are full ideas and as readers we all have ideas about the books we read. We all love talking about books and Social Media can be an extension of what we all do everyday in our shops and at home, talk about books!
The best thing about Social Media is there are no rules (well actually there probably are a couple but they’re more about etiquette than a rulebook on what to do). One of the best things I enjoy about Twitter and Facebook is experimenting. You can experiment with competitions, ask people their opinions on subjects or even ask for help on projects. Following other people is as important and getting followers. Not only does it provide you with content to share but also you can see what and how other people use social media to get your own ideas and inspiration. You could easily start a twitter or Facebook account and happily just follow people without contributing and gain a wealth of knowledge and information.
While Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, YouTube all exist separately from each other they also work very well together. Find your strength in one and use that strength to feed other Social Media. You will find that the other social media will also start to feed back to the one you have a strength in. Booksellers in the US are embracing “Online Handselling” by videoing staff talking about books they have read, posting them on YouTube and then sharing on Facebook, twitter and blogs.
Online retailing and eBooks are becoming more significant in bookselling. Communicating with our customers is more important than ever. Our customers are not in our bookshops all day, everyday. Social Media is an effective way to communicate with your current customers as well as reaching new customers. The best booksellers have always been (and always will be) the best communicators, physically and digitally.
Also check out Angela Meyer’s blog here