I’ve been reading and really enjoying a galley of Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on your Passion, Gary Vaynerchuk’s business book coming out this October. All criticism of the man aside, I think that Gary probably has the best handle on how to use social media and the internet to create and promote a brand based on your passion. Vaynerchuk also has some fantastic ideas that existing businesses – I’m looking at you, fellow indie booksellers – can use to connect with their customers and grow their business.
While I certainly don’t want to steal any of Gary’s thunder or give away too much from his book, there is one statement that I came across that I just have to get across to booksellers. About halfway through Crush It! he writes that search.twitter.com is “the most important site on the internet.” For a lot of indie bookstores, the site presents an opportunity to use Twitter in an incredibly effective way.
One problem I’ve found a lot of booksellers seem to be having is figuring out exactly how to use online tools to communicate with their fans, especially in the case of Twitter. More than a handful of stores simply start an account and post links to their store blog – essentially, an extension of their RSS feed. Even more start an account, post a handful of times, and abandon it when they aren’t seeing any results. While there are certainly booksellers and authors that make great use of the tool, they are a mere drop in the ocean of underused accounts.
Enter search.twitter.com. Hop onto the site and click advanced search, which will let you search for tweets in a certain area – say 5, 10 or 20 miles from your store. Then search for read. Or reading. Or book. Or literature, or any book-related word you can think of.
It’s that simple.
If my results are any indication, there will be people around you talking about books. People tweeting about loving what they’ve just read and people looking for book recommendations. Authors talking about their books and people posting book reviews. You’ve instantly found an extremely specific and engaged audience for your store. Now, this isn’t a time to make an obvious sales pitch to someone, which tends to turn people away. Instead, check out their tweets. Recommend a book they might like. Ask what they’ve read, or how they liked the last book they finished. RT (re-tweet) messages they have about books and reading.
By doing this, you’re not only helping potential customers find their next great read. You’re also building a community around your store. People will come to you (or send @replies or DMs) with questions about books and looking for suggestions. Folks on Twitter near and far will come to see you as a resource worth following about books and literature. Some of these readers will turn into customers, and more will mention your store as a place to look for book suggestions. By simply helping people find good books – something your staff is already doing in the store – you’re reaching an audience that might have never even stepped through your door before.
That’s it for your Twitter homework, booksellers. Put in 10 minutes of work a day, reach new customers and make some new friends, and take your book expertise outside of the walls of your store.