10 ways to optimize and monetize your social media strategy in 2013, and sell books.

First of all, thanks everyone for reading my posts - apparently one of my posts was the most read on Futurebook this year, amazing! No surprise that the post was about improving online book sales - it says a lot about the current climate we're in and the tough battles that many publishers are facing, big or small. The post in question has since been translated into Italian and Spanish and repurposed across the web. It brought me loads of interesting connections on Linkedin as well as many people trying desperately to sell me eBook conversion and guaranteed number 1 SEO services. Thanks to the Futurebook team for providing the platform: it’s a great initiative.

I thought I'd finish up what has been a quite dramatic year for our industry with a look at how to monetise social media. I know this is something everyone is grappling with. 2013 should be the year you question the ROI your social activity is generating. 

Almost every publisher now has a social media presence of some form. If your company doesn't you probably aren't even reading this article. So hopefully I'm preaching to the converted. 

1. What are you known for? 

It's a simple question. Think about all the brands, people and pages that you follow on your personal Facebook account. The likelihood is that those that appear in your feed (ignoring Edgerank) and you haven't culled, offer you something specific, whether it's *hilarious* cats, amazing photos, deals (zzz), travel inspiration, comedy or something different. Most other brands in your feed you'll have liked to enter a competition or similar and haven't yet unliked. You should interrogate your own strategy to ensure it achieves specific goals and that you become known for something and most importantly, valued. There's a place for the general brand offering but you still need to define what people expect from you and then deliver on it repeatedly. Don't just make your strategy about giveaways. 

2. Pick your battles. 

Don't use your brand channel to try and sell every book you publish. Use it tactically and sparingly or you'll lose your effectiveness. Remember you are operating in a social environment, not a commercial one, and sensitivity to that is crucial. Resist the urge to promote every book you publish unless it's something that will be really popular to your fans and followers. For example, if you are going to do a special promo on a book that you think is highly relevant to the majority of your audience, promote that. Give your social followers the inside info and tell them first, they'll appreciate it.

3. Data, data, data. 

Email marketing is not dead. At all. You need data. Are you collecting it at every possible opportunity? Are you creating 'anticipation lists' for new releases? Are you asking people to sign up to be the first? Are you adding that opt-in box when you run competitions? If someone tells you there isn't an opportunity to capture data in their campaign, they are mistaken.

4. Put a value on data.

For all the reasons above. Set a CPA (cost per acquisition) rate for all the data you accumulate. Give the work some value. Set your social media execs some mock-financial data targets with incentives and bonuses just like you would with sales people.

5. Identify your advocates

We all need brand advocates. These are the people who always like your posts, retweet you or comment on your blog. Identify who these people are and engage with them. They will likely have big circles of friends and contacts and have large spheres of influence. Create special groups just for them. Build 'insider' campaigns for them. They will do your marketing for you if you nurture them properly.

6. Don't spend big. 

Some of the worst social media activity is also the most expensive. With cool new tools like Tiger Pistol coming on to the scene, social doesn't need to be expensive. Be confident to knock back that $25K agency proposal to build and run that epic social campaign. I guarantee you can achieve the same results with available tools and a bit of design resource.

7. Analyse and interrogate.

Too often in publishing we just look forward and not back. Social is the ultimate example because it moves so quickly. Your campaign will come and go in a flash. But January is a great time to look back and see what worked in the last 12 months and, more importantly, what didn't. Analyse everything: What post structures were successful? How did you get the most likes and retweets? What were you doing during those audience growth spikes? Report on it and learn from the failures.

8. Identify your conversion funnel and set an end objective. 

You can do this for every piece of activity you do. Even a harmless tweet can have a conversion objective. Do you just want X number of people to see it? Do you want a certain number of RTs? Do you want email sign-ups? These goals give you measurable ROI and, again, if you add a $ value to the activity you can set commercial KPIs for everything you do.

9. Acknowledge social as a part of SEO.

Link-building activity is a priceless way of driving SEO performance. The more your content is shared and the more people link to it, the more relevant and popular Google judges it, thus boosting the search ranking of the web page being shared. Social media provides a quick and easy way to get links out (once you have an audience). If you want to rank for a search term, include social as part of your link-building strategy.

10. Make use of Google Plus, if only for this reason.

Google Plus - finally a use for it! Claim authorship on your content and your author's content. Even just from an SEO perspective this is worthwhile. You know when you do a search and you see someone's pic come up against a content result? That's called 'authorship' and you can essentially link any author to any piece of content they have published on the web and create a strong visual statement in search. Find out how to do it here.

 And 2 bonus points...

11. Recognise most of your users are mobile.

It's vital to acknowledge that the experience most people have with your brand or author in the social space will be a mobile one and it's equally important to understand the implications of that on your activity and the types of marketing you engage in. Many Facebook apps for instance won't work on mobile devices. The design of your Twitter page is pretty much irrelevant to mobile users, bar your icon and bio. It all needs to be considered. Understanding the context your user is engaging with you in will help you in optimising your strategy to achieve best ROI. Almost all marketers work on desktops and many invariably don't check their work on mobile devices, even though this is a vital QC step.

12. Make sure your authors are social too.

It's great to have brand followers but the connection between author and fan / follower is much stronger. Almost all of the successes seen in self-publishing ebooks were initially driven by social penetration (and price). As publisher, one of the ways to add value to your authors is to demonstrate a real understanding of social media and to help connect the author to their fans. You can even run the channels for them and build the service into your contracts to offset the cost in time and to ensure you own any data collected. This is yet another way that publishers can mutate their service offering to adapt to the changing landscape.

Have a great Christmas and New Year - fingers crossed those Mayans were wrong....

Connect with Nick Atkinson on LinkedIn


Inside Information

I used your ideas about providing social followers with inside information, and claiming content on Google +. I'm an author, and I have a lot of content that's not only unclaimed, I haven't even found ways of putting it out there. So thank you.

Social publishing from the inside

NickAtkinson7's picture

Thanks for taking the time to write such a great comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Let me clarify my position on the point you raised about my proposal to reject the advances of expensive social agencies. Firstly, let me say that I believe a great agency partner can be an incredible weapon, although there are a few duds out there. I think my point is more about developing publisher confidence in social and making publishers think hard about skilling up and reconsidering the structure of their marketing teams (I agree with you that as an industry publishing *can* be a little behind the rest of the web in terms of digital marketing skill, but I'd counter and say that there are a few gun marketers in publishing too). I'm not saying for a second that publishers should never work with social agencies, they should and the specialism a good agency can bring is valuable. However, the internet is only going to get more social and developing the in-house skills to be able to concurrently execute multiple streams of social activity, coupled with understanding how that translates to ROI is going to become very important for many businesses. I'd also counter a little by saying that much of the best social marketing I've been part of has been free and hasn't needed an agency.

There will always be a place for the strategic thinking, asset development and campaign-based activty that agencies bring but I firmly believe that publishers need to develop the skills internally to manage social presences for themselves, brands and authors. I think this is an important service for publishers, as content specialists, to be able to bring to the table when working with authors. Audience development is a skill publishers have alwyas had offline, the challenge is to transition that skill to the web. 

Putting a value on data - and services

Nick, I enjoyed these points immensely. You sum up succinctly many of the key points that are critical for social media, for monetisation and F-commerce.

I run a Facebook Marketing Agency called Social clay and I felt strongly about two things you mentioned.

The first is putting a value on data: We have mechanisms created internally which allow us to report on the value of Likes, Comments and referrals to eCommerce, but clients often don't allocate their budget effectively to enable this technology. You post taught me that we must put our foot down to ensure clients are measuring - even if this means turning away work where clients say they dont care about data - how can they value the service we provide, without this data?

The second point you raise is "knock back that $25k campaign". This I strongly disagree with. The worst thing that publishers can do is to think for $25k I can buy a year of intern / junior marketing person and they will do it for me. It simple isn't a valid argument and this is the only point where I think you mislead your audience.

An agency (yes yes, such as ours) brings a wealth of experienced partners who between them can call to mind examples of what has worked and what failed in their careers. Planning your campaign to be successful first time is a benefit the intern cannot provide. Moreover, your $25k junior marketing person cannot create a dynamic page tab, a permission app with access to user data or an F-commerce campaign to actually sell books on your Facebook page. An agency like Social clay does this every week.

You should be encouraging the folks in Publishing to use Agencies like ours to catch up with other industries (who are miles ahead in their use of Facebook - mobile communications for example - see Blackberry / Vodafone / O2).

Thank you for the opportunity to join your discussion.




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