We’ll look at some of the best ways to locate key influencers
- Search engines and specialised search tools
- Social networks
- Reading communities
- Other sources of digital connections
- A few useful resources
Photo Credit: daoro
The good news is that most of the people and connections you’ll want to make have a public presence on the web, so search engines are usually the best starting point for locating them. But don’t just think Google, there’s a lot you can do to narrow your search and to quickly identify your best prospects.
One of the biggest ways that digital and traditional book marketing diverge is in the role played by social networks. They’ve provided a place for experts and enthusiasts of all types and interests to congregate, and have opened up a whole new group of influential connections for publishers. Social media is often referred to as word of mouth on steroids. Here’s where you can find many of those fans with the megaphones.
Twitter is the second most popular social network after Facebook. It’s a simple tool for finding and following people who are influential in your field. It’s very open and democratic. You can follow (connect to) and tweet with friends, bloggers, journalists, experts, even prime ministers and presidents. Following someone doesn’t require that you ask their permission, you just click the Follow button.
Like Facebook Pages, a lot of Twitter’s posts are publicly available on the web but to get the most from it, you need to join up. It’s free and takes just a couple of minutes (twitter.com/signup). Twitter is unusual because it limits posts to 140 characters. You have to be succinct but it’s surprisingly useful. One of Twitter’s best uses is sharing links to interesting items on the web, making it a very efficient way to keep up with your field and to inform other people about what you’re doing. For this reason, it’s a great place to find the real enthusiasts and experts in any niche.
You can use Twitter’s search box and its Recommendations lists to find people and topics in your field of interest. For more fine-grained searching, use Twitter Search (https://twitter.com/search). It has an Advanced Search form that gives you more control over results. More on Twitter later when we cover your marketing toolkit.
We’re going to look at Facebook in more detail later when we cover your online marketing toolkit. It is so big now – more than a billion users worldwide and more than half of all internet users in many countries – that it warrants special attention. For now, we’ll look at Facebook Pages as sources for our key influencers because a lot of special interest groups, public people (writers, for instance) and businesses use Facebook Pages.
Like blogs and media sites, Pages can be magnets for like-minded people and they offer plenty of scope for you to contribute content. Facebook Pages are different from the rest of Facebook because they’re out on the open web and even if you don’t belong to Facebook, you can find them by searching.
To use Pages most effectively, you’ll need to join Facebook – to get your own Profile in Facebook’s jargon. Once you’ve done that, you can ‘Like’ a Page which keeps you in touch with what’s happening and lets you contribute to it. You can search for Pages from within Facebook, too, once you’re a member – and create your own Page, as we’ll see later.
If your ebook is aimed at business or the professions, you should join the LinkedIn social network. LinkedIn (linkedin.com) is all business but like Facebook, it’s a way of networking with like-minded people.
One of LinkedIn’s most powerful and useful features is its Groups. These cover a huge range of industries, job functions, academic disciplines and technologies. Some groups are open membership, for others you’ll need to apply. The best are very active with plenty of opportunities to contribute and are a great way to find people who might be useful additions to your network.
LinkedIn is free to join, and simple to get started with. While some of its groups are on the open web, you’ll need to be a member to find most of them and join them.
If you want to get a taste of what groups are like, try a few from this list of LinkedIn Groups Directory (some are public but for others, you’ll need to sign up for a free LinkedIn account).
Other social networks
- Google Plus from Google, isn’t important enough to consider using as a book marketing tool but Google is busy integrating Google Plus into its other products such as search and as a minimum, it’s worth filling out your Google Plus profile and linking your various online resources such as social networks, blogs and websites to your account. You’ll need to open a free Google.com account if you don’t already have one, then go to View Profile and make any changes and additions.
- Pinterest (http://pinterest.com) is different from the other networks because of its strong graphic focus — users ‘pin’ images of things they want to share, and create and follow pinboards of other users. Here’s an example from ebookseller Kobo which shows how Pinterest can be used to promote ebooks (http://pinterest.com/KoboBooks). Notice how you can follow the whole KoboBooks Pinterest feed or just the individual ‘Boards’ that interest you.
There are several other social networks including Tumblr (https://www.tumblr.com) and StumbleUpon (http://www.stumbleupon.com) but neither of them has yet become a significant force in promoting books.
Reading communities: Book social networks
Most people think of Twitter and Facebook when they think of social media. But readers love to talk about books which has led to development of some specialised social networks dedicated to discussion about books. The largest online reading communities are:
- Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com). The biggest online reading community has more than 50 million members making it the size of a mid-sized country. It provides several worthwhile promotional opportunities, both free and paid. Amazon owns Goodreads.
- Wattpad (http://wattpad.com). This is a little different in that it’s a community of both readers and writers who create and share stories. Many authors use Wattpad to build an early following for their work, and to get feedback on their writing.
- Librarything (http://www.librarything.com). The pioneer with more than 2 million members.
You should join at least one and observe how they work. They’re a treasure trove of reader reviews and chatter. You can also see who are the most influential reviewers and group managers. You can add some of them to your network and aim to get your own ebooks reviewed on the sites.
Look, too, for country-specific groups and selections that will help you locate key people close to home.
The influence of these social networks extends beyond their membership. Goodreads reviews appear on Amazon.