E-marketer reported this week on the most popular websites in the world, ranked by page views. Half of the most popular websites are social media. The other half are search-centric. Leaving aside the four search sites (Yahoo!, Google, Live.com and MSN) – how can publishers – and authors – best tap into the top four social media sites?
MySpace is still the biggest in terms of page views and income. A number of books and publishing companies from HarperCollins to Snowbooks have their own MySpace pages. But I tend to think that profiles are for people, not products. Authors and publishing staff can create trust and engage their readers by being themselves online – while still linking to their books. For example Mitzi Szereto (author and anthologist) and Shiona McDougall (Marketing Director, HarperCollins), to shamelessly pick on my own MySpace friends.
Facebook is still where it’s at, in my opinion. Again, profile pages should be used by people. Authors, publishing staff – or how about book characters? Alison Kervin, author of the recently published The WAG’s Diary, has set up a Facebook profile for her main character, Tracie Martin – with a suitably celebrity friends list. An innovative use of social networking that I’ve not come across before.
But Facebook also makes it easy to create groups, which can be based around individual titles. You can add value with plenty of resources and links on the page – now including video. And you can send regular messages to the whole group, if you want. It’s a ready-made, opted-in mailing list of people who came looking for you – that’s incredibly powerful.
Canadian podcasting guru Leesa Barnes recently wrote a book called Podcasting for Profit, and has used a Facebook group as part of her marketing strategy. HarperCollins Canada (what is it about Canadians and social media?) have created a group called Business And Motivational Book Review – Foreword Thinking, as a fan club for their Foreword Thinking podcast – which is about motivational business books that they publish.
You see how three-steps-removed from books some of this stuff is? Lots of blogs and podcasts have associated Facebook groups, which help facilitate community (yes, including your very own publishing talk group – currently with 307 members). The great thing about using Facebook in this way is that people can find you. Given that the other half of top sites are search sites, this clearly matters. Try typing ‘publishing’ into the search box on Facebook, for example…
Orkut is a new one on me. It’s a Google thing – you sign in with a Google account. I’ll try it out, so you don’t have to (I love spending time on social networking sites and calling it ‘work’…) Meanwhile, if anyone has used this in a bookish way, do let us know.
YouTube is the biggest video sharing site – though there are others. Video is really taking off at the moment – for publishers and business generally – and it’s a topic I shall return to soon. Even if you just want an author-talking-head on your companion website, it makes sense to upload it to YouTube (or other video sharing site) and then embed it on your own site, if only to make it easy for people to pass on. Having said that, some videos are clearly more pass-on-able than others. I’ll review some different styles and approaches in another post.
All these things help engage your readership, build trust, community and two-way conversations. The people who find you on these sites are already interested in your products and what you have to say about them. Isn’t that a network worth joining?