Does Twitter sell books? If it does

With so much excitement and enthusiasm surrounding Twitter, I decided to look for concrete examples of success on social media in publishing books. I interviewed two different editors to get their thoughts on how engaging on Twitter has benefited them.

Twitter requires an investment of time and resources, so the first and most obvious question is, does it work? Do you sell books? I asked Michael Taeckens, advertising director for Algonquin Books, and he emphatically replied, “Yes, absolutely.” I also agree. At FSB, we are running tests to judge the impact of Twitter chatter on sales and the picture is undeniable: Twitter is generating sales (more on that next month).

Algonquin Books (@algonquinbooks) appeared in the recent Huffington Post article on the 12 best editors on Twitter. Another editor on the list was Alfred A. Knopf, and I asked Mary Buckley and Pamela Cortland if they think their efforts to manage Twitter feeds sell books. They also said yes. The dynamic duo have been tweeting for Knopf (@aaknopf) for just over a year. Although they were not hired for this position, they seem to be natural at it. First they took over the Facebook page and then the Twitter feed. “In April 2009, we decided to create a more active presence. Mary and I split the responsibilities of tweeting because we were both interested in the potential of Twitter to engage with readers,” Cortland said.

The growth in follower numbers for both Algonquin and Knopf has been substantial. In 2009 Knopf had 1,581 followers and today they have more than 32,000. I asked them what is the secret of their success and if the growth was constant, “Our growth goes in streaks where some days we will increase by fifty followers and the next by two hundred. On average, we gain about a hundred followers a day. We see a great increased when our authors with a large following (eg, Anne Rice, Nicholas Kristof) retweeted posts they were interested in. Additionally, we found that our tweets on general literary news, such as book festivals across the country or debates around the world of the Current book has attracted a wide audience. ” Algonquin also has a huge following of over 26,000.

The trick to your success may lie in building a community that is so crucial to Twitter. Taeckens explains his three-point plan for engagement: “First, be proactive in interacting with other people; you must engage in conversations, not just post as if you are reporting to a captive audience. Second, show your sense of personality. Use your wit, humor, creativity and have fun. Third, post and comment on topics that you know and care about, not just literature and publications, but all topics of cultural dialogue. “

Building communities and loyal followers is a time-consuming endeavor, especially since none of the Twitter feeds are run by dedicated community managers. Taeckens has the demanding job of being the director of advertising and this fall he will move into his new role as director of online and paperback marketing, while Mary Buckley is deputy director of advertising and promotions and Pamela Cortland is deputy director of marketing. How do they manage to run such successful Twitter feeds? “From the beginning, we created a ‘tweet days’ toggle system, so that we weren’t exhausted in the effort of finding interesting things to say. Hootsuite allows us to queue up our daily tweet load within a small block of hour of morning. We always hear interesting news about books (on blogs, industry sites, in the newspaper, on Twitter), so it has never been too difficult to gather material to tweet. Colleagues are more aware of the potential of Twitter to reach to a wide audience of readers, booksellers and media contacts, they have been wonderful feeding us with rave reviews and author events, “said Buckley.

For Taeckens, Twitter seems like a natural extension of his job: “It depends on how good you are at multitasking. I’m used to multitasking and I love it. I think it’s a skill that people will have to hone, because Twitter and other forms of social media are becoming more and more important. If you’re not particularly adept at multitasking, you can always reserve certain periods of time throughout the day to sign up and participate on Twitter. “

To a simple question, both companies provided inspiring answers. What do you think is the biggest benefit of Twitter for authors and publishers? “It is very exciting for our company to interact directly with readers, authors and booksellers. Twitter allows publishers like us to be listeners as well as content providers. Being in a virtual room with millions of readers makes us more aware of what people want from us. us, our authors and the literature, “explained Cortand and Buckley. Taeckens eloquently added: “The opportunity to convey your personal and unique sense of identity in real time.”

In both cases, Twitter managers found a place to express their passion for their books, authors, and industry. They didn’t set out to build a large following. They set out, almost as an experiment, to engage with a community and found it extremely rewarding and successful.

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