Today, I was speaking to a web guy discussing how to get a blog up onto the site of a new and growing Jewish publisher. We were talking about how helpful a blog is for sharing material with people. The web guy described how he has been setting up more stores on Facebook lately. I asked if people actually shop that way and he said “Probably not too much. But it puts the images in front of people, they start thinking about what we are selling and then down the line they often do buy.” I knew the answer before I asked but, I still always ask. As he spoke about how social media is often just getting people aware and interested in something for a later purchase, I had a “eureka” moment and I thought “social media is hand-selling”. I’d never connected the two so clearly.
A little explanation is in order. When I started working in the publishing world, a big part of how we promoted books was by getting the staff of bookstores knowledgeable and excited about our books. We sent them covers and then when there were advance reader copies ready, we sent those. And finally, when the book was published, we often sent them copies of those as well. We even visited the stores and met the people (I know, hard to believe, no email, no online chat but a real live encounter with another book person!) We schmoozed about the book, we told them about the plot, the author, who might read it and why we loved it. And then we hoped they’d read the book and feel the same as we did because if so, they’d share it with their customers. And this led to book sales. It still does. It was (and still is) a process that sells books. And social media today is a new version of hand-selling.
We share book reviews on social media. We quote them. Others share them. Readers talk about books they read. Others react. And so on. And all of this leads to books being sold and read. And that is a good thing.