SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING: you just can’t do without it!


Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram… take your pick. How many times in a day do you visit one of these or any of the other numerous social media sites that dominate our virtual world? Let’s face it—we all check our feeds multiple times in a day. Therein lies the MOST important reason to be on social media as a company, as a brand. Here, Varsha Verma explores the ins and outs of social media for publishing industry – whether it is for trade books or education books. Social media has become a part and parcel of our life. Our phone is full of varied social media apps, which we use for various reasons. Some apps take us into the world of our friends and family, others help us to connect with people related to our work.

Trisha Niyogi, Niyogi Books (Left), Naveen Choudhary, head of marketing, Global Academic Publishing, Oxford University Press (Middle), Subhashree Das, digital marketing manager, HarperCollins India (Right)Social media marketing has become an important part of any marketing plan. Even publishers are using this platform to reach out to their target audience. Doing it right does take some work, especially to standardize your brand across social media sites – your face or brand needs to be consistent and each site requires a bit of customization to achieve this. Social media allows higher brand recognition, especially in publishing where more readers will ask for a book by its title or author rather than the publishing house. Perhaps the most significant element is that social media is a place where brands can act like people do and engages readers in ways that many traditional avenues of marketing can’t.

Here, Subhashree Das, digital marketing manager, HarperCollins India; Trisha De Niyogi, Niyogi Books and Naveen Choudhary, head of marketing, Global Academic Publishing, Oxford University Press, share how they use social media for brand recognition and further enhancing the overall sales for their publishing house.

AABP: What constitutes a social media strategy?

Subhashree: A great social media strategy should have goals that align with your overall company goals that are then broken down into tactical tasks. Aside from promoting specific titles with buy now links to drive purchase intention, it’s important that your strategy also enables you to build brand love. Users should love interacting with you, love the books you publish, want to associate with you and be loyal to your brand. Our brand film – Books Create Stories, Stories Create Books – has close to a million views and has resonated well with readers. It has also won us awards and recognitions as a brand.

Secondly, it’s important to identify the correct TG – who, where, why will they be interested, what do they like to talk about? Keeping this in mind, your content strategy is tailor made. Thirdly, a platform specific strategy is key to success. Choose your channels wisely based on where your audience is and make sure that both the visuals and tonality of what you do is specific to the platform. Social media algorithms constantly change and a good social media strategy must be updated constantly to keep this in mind.

Always keep an eye out for what your competition is doing as well as brands across industries. We continuously measure our Klout scores against people and brands to see how well we are doing online and how we at a 94 points score compare against them. Lastly – monitor, adapt, measure.

Trisha: The basic objective of any marketing strategy is to convince and convert. Whatever be the goal of a publisher—be it branding, sales or community building, a social media strategy is essential to reach out effectively to the intended audience.

A social media strategy can be broadly divided into three parts. First, even before the content is generated, we must understand what does our target market want? Then comes Ideation, the creation of unique and original content for this audience. And third, how efficiently do we communicate with our audience—here the decision must be taken about which social media platforms to focus on, depending on one’s target audience.

Naveen: Social media is a tool for marketers like any other media, so basics will remain the same even in this case. I noticed that many of the social media marketers tend to think on technical side more instead of marketing side. Most of them see social media as a technical tool instead of one more effective media tool. Strategy should be planned keeping the market and consumers in mind.

Social media strategy should be divided in two parts – strategic and tactical. While planning a social media strategy, marketers need to decide the long term strategy as well as short term objectives which will be more tactical in nature.

AABP: What’s the first thing publishers should do when creating a social media strategy?

Subhashree: The first thing is to integrate with other marketing initiatives. Your entire marketing strategy must be cohesive. It’s also necessary to cross promote on-ground activities, online for amplified reach. Then look at reach & engagement vs specific social media platforms.

Trisha: The first thing a publisher should do is make a social media plan and a social media calendar for the year. This will help to think through what content will be posted and promoted, how often content will be released, and what the nature of the content will be.

This will ensure that a regular stream of fresh and original content goes out consistently across various social media platforms. Audiences are hungry for good content and ensuring that content is tailor-made for various target groups and customized for different social media platforms —pictorial, video, text—is essential.

Naveen: Content strategy and the medium are two areas I will focus first while creating a social media strategy. Content: Determine your user’s interest and then create content which they want to talk about. Identify the relevant issues and create content. Medium: Publishers must research around the channels they want to use. Conduct a competitive research and plan strategy accordingly.

AABP: What kind of goals should publishers set for their social media strategy?

Subhashree: There are many many goals that can be achieved through social media. However, if I need to pick a few important ones, I would say:

  • Increased brand recognition & loyalty – HarperCollins India has been doing this through our brand film and constant engagement through influencers.
  • Boost brand engagement – We are one of the most engaged publisher brands in the country* (*Unmetric).
  • Build a community around your business – Harper Broadcast is an award-winning content community platform.
  • Drive purchase intention – A key focus area is to ensure that we give users the shortest route to purchase a book, and also content that makes them want to pick up a particular book.

Trisha: A publisher should set measurable goals aligned with the company’s strategy when creating a social media strategy in order to quantify a return on investment. Social media metrics such as leads generated, conversation rate (the ratio of comments per post to the overall number of followers) and web referrals are more valuable than simple ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’, though those should be tracked too.

Using various Analytics tools to track these will help you keep an eye on how your business is developing. Facebook Analytics and Twitter Analytics are the two easily accessible tools to us today. Also be aware of new social media channels as well as the newer offerings within each of the existing platforms that are constantly emerging and see if you need to include them in your plan to reach your audience. One of the most recent and popular tools is Facebook Live through which you can reach out to a much bigger audience.

However, we must remember social media strategies need to be flexible to adapt to the changing requirements of the audience as well as the changing evaluation of our audience. Last but not the least, it is an ongoing process and social media success doesn’t come overnight.

Naveen: The consumer behaves and interacts in different manner at each social media channel. Also, the type of content shared on each channel is different. Not just publishers, but marketers from any industry must understand this difference; accordingly they should set separate goals for each channel. Despite different objectives and goals there will be some areas which will be common everywhere, only the priority will change. For me, the following four goals should be part of the plan:

A. Increase follower base: More the merrier, but ensure that you are getting right kind of followers on your page. The subscribers/followers are the ones who are going to help in achieving organic growth.

B. Engagement: Comments, likes and shares are considered as engagement on social media. Marketers should focus on increasing the engagement.

C. Generate traffic: Social media is becoming one of the biggest tools to generate website traffic. Links shared with good content generate good traffic for the website. News websites are heavily dependent on social media to achieve this goal.

D. Brand connect: Last but not the least, social media provides opportunity of two-way communication with the consumers. Marketers should use this medium to listen to their consumers and respond to their queries efficiently.

AABP: How can publishers determine what social media platforms are best for reaching their desired audience?

Subhashree: Firstly, we need to be where our audience already is. Secondly, we should make content in the format that is most likely to be consumed.

Social media marketing means spreading time and money over multiple platforms. Marketers must decide how to split resources between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, etc. All platforms are not equal. Each social platform must have a bespoke strategy as users are on them for different reasons.

A few examples to illustrate this: Most Instagram posts need to be visually stunning real images. Twitter is great for trendjacking. See what’s trending and if you have a book or author that is an expert on the topic, plug them in. Facebook has increasingly become a media led platform and is effective for paid content that increases reach. Micro-targeting is another important aspect to keep in mind so you reach tailor made audiences basis sales data and author brand. A blog is a good way to let readers know about books, authors, news and events. Video is a format that is on the rise so we try and create original video content of authors, books & reccos. Focus on Email, because while social media may be good at driving awareness, email is superior at driving sales. There are good online social reading communities (Goodreads, Litsy) already. Find the best way to tap them.

Our own award winning content community, Harper Broadcast, initiated in October 2016 is working well for us. The newsletter now has 12K+ subscribers and the YT channel has over 25K video views. This continues to be a key focus area for us in 2017 with more weightage to new video formats and collaborations.

Trisha: It is imperative to first understand what content works best on each of these social media platforms. Each social media platform has its tone and its audience, and hence your content works differently on each of them. For example, stories, visuals, videos reign on Twitter and Facebook, on the other hand, LinkedIn works in a different space altogether and the content is more oriented and effective towards generating referrals. Similarly, Instagram, which is the fastest growing social network, has a vibe of fun and aestheticism as it is driven by good-quality and innovative visuals. But, one must remember, social media activities have a greater reach when cross-linked with the other social networks as well as tangible activities.

Therefore all social media posts about new books, book launches, events and activities on various platforms should link back to the publisher’s own website in order to generate leads and send traffic to the main source.

Naveen: Find out where the customers are. Is it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest or any other channel? Find out the channels where the consumer speaks and go deep there.

Once the right channel is identified then be available to them. Talk to them and allow them to talk to you.

AABP: How should publishers measure their social media success?

Subhashree: Different people will use different metrics to gauge social media success, but I believe the most important one should be engagement. It’s not enough that a user sees your content; they should be compelled to engage with it, with you.

Social media is an important avenue to build brand love (from a publisher perspective) and purchase intention as well as awareness (from an author & title perspective). Not only does it work as a broadcast for all that’s new but also as a great mechanism to converse with readers. There’s increased ROI and more importantly better analytics to gauge just how well a piece of content is doing.

Trisha: As mentioned earlier, success varies with your social media objective. For example, if driving traffic to your webpage is the objective of a specific social media strategy, it is imperative to measure through the analytics such as the webmaster, to understand your conversion, study the audience and design your content and campaign again accordingly to get higher returns.

As publishers, we must clearly define our objectives and the results we intend to achieve. However, many a times, it is difficult to see well-defined results, thus, we define proxies such as ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ to measure successes. And so it is imperative we make sure that the proxies imitate the actual outcome as best as possible.

To take an example, if a publisher is launching a new book and posts notifications about the book on various social media platforms, then the number of likes, shares, retweets and people indicating interest in ‘going to the event’ are positive metrics. However, this has to be viewed in the light of the number of people who actually arrive at the event and the total number of books sold and orders placed at the event as a tangible metric of success. A sustained social media effort can continue to create generate interest in the book and generate more sales leads over time. While awareness and branding are essential, finally book sales are the ultimate metric of success.

Naveen: Measuring the success will depend upon the objectives and the goals finalised. Marketers should create metrics to measure success of each goal. If the goal is increasing engagement, then the number of comments/replies, share/retweets will matter. If the goal is to drive traffic to the website then success will depend on the number of clicks on URL, web traffic through social media channels and conversion.

I personally feel that among all the goals, engagement is the most important one and the social media success depends on it. Once the consumer engages with the content, rest all goals will automatically start falling in place.

To conclude, I would say that not just the numbers, but publishers should focus on engagement-driven strategies as well. They cater to the present requirements of the brand while providing critical inputs on the future choice of books.

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