“All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.”
–Robert Hass, “Meditation at Lagunas”
For marketing departments, all the new thinking is about “earned media,” which means social networks like Facebook and Twitter. For publishers this resembles all the old thinking about “earned media,” meaning book reviews. The old saw is ads don’t sell books, reviews do. Of course, ads and reviews in fact support each other—they’re not mutually exclusive—but that idea never gained much traction in traditional publishing circles. (Even though the most commercially successful books tend to be those with bigger ad budgets and no review coverage; but I digress…)
However you stand on ads versus reviews, the old saw doesn’t cut it anymore because major book review pages are declining precipitously. Publishers Lunch reports that review coverage from 1st quarter 2008 to 1st quarter 2009 fell 14%. Further, 2009 review coverage is down 18% compared to 2005, and 24% compared to 2004. At the same time that books are losing exposure in major print media, ad budgets are naturally getting slashed. In this environment, online advertising makes a lot of sense. You can target customers in new ways, and even build new audiences by targeting vertically by interest. Ad networks like the Verso Reader Channels make this easy to do for a small investment.
Social media is a crucial piece of any online marketing plan. It is beyond its “inflection point;” sites like Facebook are now part of the fabric of our daily interactions. Facebook already has 55 million active users in the U.S. alone, and more every day. Most importantly to book publishers, the fastest growing FB demographic is age 30+. In just the last two months, the largest demographic over all has become 35+, taking over from 18-34. So it’s very important that authors and titles have presence on some kind of social media –especially Facebook and/or Twitter. Similarly important for selling books, the highest indexing group on Twitter is now the 45-54 demographic—that’s the demo we need to sell $35 hardcovers.
So we agree with the talk at last week’s Ad Age conference about the importance of social media. But we disagree about the terms. (more…)