Facebook is often touted as the need to be on site for social media. However, as anyone who has a business page on Facebook knows, Facebook isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and in fact is fairly unfriendly to business. The metrics that Facebook has set up for Business pages is designed to make sure that only a small amount of your fans will ever see your content, unless you pay Facebook to promote your posts. Even then, you will never hit your entire fan base or the people they know. In fact, what I’ve noticed about Facebook is that unless a person interacts with a business page on a regular basis, that page will disappear from their news feed. Obviously, this is not ideal for business owners. And while you can pay Facebook to boost your posts, unless you see a definitive ROI, you end up wasting a chunk of change that could go toward more effective methods of marketing your business.
The other day, thanks to an experience I had with Pathway Books in St. Louis, I came to a realization of how bookstores and authors can get around these particular issues. Pathway books has a Facebook group called Friends of Pathway. On it the various people in the community share something that interests them or talk about the bookstore or upcoming classes. The group gets more interaction and better metrics because it is a group, so Facebook isn’t filtering it in the same way that your business page is being filtered. I joined the group a few months back after I set up a couple of events at the bookstore. I started sharing my blog posts on that group page. I got some interaction from that group page. When I visited the store, everyone I met already knew me. We’d never met in person, yet nonetheless they already knew me and were excited to meet me in person. I’d never really seen that happen with other bookstores, but the owners of the store told me that my posts on that group page had already set up a buzz before the event.
My suggestion to independent bookstores is that they should set up a group page and invite their customers to join that group. Your bookstore isn’t just a store. It’s also a community center. It’s a place where people meet to buy books, get readings, meet authors, and attend workshops. Authors should also join such group pages and participate by sharing blog entries, information and occasional promotions of upcoming workshops at the bookstore. You need to make sure what you share is mostly content as opposed to promotions. You want the customers to get to know you and develop a relationship with you. When you visit the store, the customers will be excited to meet you and will also feel they already know you.
Getting creative with the social components of social media can help you find ways to get in front of your customers, build relationships with them and generate excitements and interest in the events. It can help bookstores also get in front of their customers and keep them in loop about the latest news, while also engaging the customer questions and commentary.