Using Social Networking to Market Academic Books

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Laura Sell, Duke University Press

June 17, 2009

Slides (PDF)

  1. Duke is using a variety of social networking media: our blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our soon-to-be-launched website. We have been blogging for about 2 years, on Facebook for a year and a half, Twitter since October 2008, and YouTube since late last year. We hope to be launching the new website this fall.
  2. We have an active blog. We try to post once a day, or at least several times a week. But since others are discussing blogs on the panel, we won’t focus on it here. But keep in mind that all your social networking tools should be working together. It’s fine to overlap!
  3. Our Facebook presence has been very successful. We have over 450 fans. They include our authors, prospective authors, and readers. Our Facebook audience in particular seems very targeted. We are finding it to be a great place to promote our academic titles and news about the Press. How are we doing this?
    1. Status updates. These post to our fans’ news feeds. We usually try to include a link or picture to make them show up better. Status updates can be a mention of new release, a prize or a great review, or an announcement about a catalog being released online.
    2. Updates to fans. We use these less frequently as they do not show up in fans’ news feeds. Fans must click on a link in order to access them. We have used them in the past to promote our contests.
    3. Contests. These have been a really successful method of generating original content for our page. We have used both the Notes and Updates feature to launch contests and also the Status Updates. The latter has been more successful. You want people to think of your fan page as a place where they will find interesting links and comments on those links.
    4. Communicate your message quickly, as we did when SCMS was cancelled.
    5. Pictures, links, etc. Links to blog and Twitter feed.
    6. If you’re willing, or others in your organization are willing, consider promoting press content on your personal Facebook page too. Our editorial director, Ken Wissoker, has over 600 friends, many of them authors, editors, and other academically influential people. They trust him and we get lots of hits when he cross-posts something.
  4. YouTube
    1. Author interviews and mini-lectures. New series “Inside Duke Press.”
    2. Doesn’t take fancy technology. We use a Canon Powershot and Windows Moviemaker.
    3. Use other social networking tools to spread the word about videos. YouTube videos spread virally.
  5. Twitter
    1. Twitter can take a lot of time. Best person to tweet is someone who is already reading a lot online. We have 2 people tweeting, me, and Jessica Lucas from our journals division. I think any more than 2 people would get confusing.
    2. Get a tool like TweetDeck. Helps to sort all your followers.
    3. Why tweet? As with Facebook, we want people to think of Duke Press as a place to find interesting content, to associate our brand with learning more about news, events, etc in higher ed, literature, publishing, and culture.
    4. We strive for openness on Twitter. Only about a quarter of our tweets are directly related to Duke Press.
    5. Twitter can also be useful to you professionally. It’s a way to see what other presses are doing at a glance, to catch up on news, to follow interesting discussions, read news about conferences you can’t attend.
    6. Twitter is a great place to break news. We have used it twice for this purpose, once when Eve Sedgwick passed away, and when we launched Ann Dunham’s (Obama’s mother) book. You can really get your message to a diverse group very quickly. But have all your ducks in a row, because the calls will come in immediately.
    7. Use hashtags (#BEA, #AAUP09) to insert yourself into larger conversations.
    8. Metrics. Many interesting sites.
      1. TweetStats: lets you know how often you post, when you usually post
      2. Twitteranalyzer: Lots of stats on which tweets are most popular, most re-tweeted,
      3. Retweetrank: Shows you recent retweets and your retweet percentile. Getting retweeted means you are spreading your message effectively and that you have something interesting to say.
      4. Tweeteffect: Shows you when you gain or lose followers.
      5. Shows you ratio of followers to friends (people you follow).
  6. Our new website
    1. Will hopefully launch this fall.
    2. Will feature built in social media like ability to recommend books to friends, develop reading lists, use social networking tags. Will fully integrate with our outside social media tools.
  7. Things to consider
    1. Consider how often you want to post to Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. With Facebook, you don’t want to overwhelm fans’ news feeds, so posting a few times a week might be best. But with Twitter, more is better, as long as your tweets remain relevant and interesting.
    2. Coordinate your social networking tools. Use Twitter to promote a guest post on your blog. Use Facebook to encourage your fans to follow you on Twitter. If you’re having a special sale or promotion, post that information to all your tools. And check out this new social media marketing effort by Chris Anderson, author of Free, and The Long Tail. An interesting combination of traditional marketing (free books to “big mouths” and online).
    3. Have a consistent voice. Duke strives for a casual, yet official voice of the press. We never post about what we’re having for lunch or tweet links that are of personal interest but that don’t fit a higher ed/literary culture/publishing theme. To spread the work around, you can have multiple people working on these tools, but access should be controlled or you will have duplicate posts and a confusing voice. But it’s ok if your voice for Twitter is a bit different from the one on your blog, which allows for more depth, for instance.
    4. Be ready for what’s next. Hardly anyone was on Twitter a year ago and now it’s on the cover of Time Magazine. You need to be reading and thinking about these issues all the time. You may want to create an iPhone ap, figure out a way to get onto people’s Google ipages, who knows?
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