Atlantis Books opened its first shop in April this year and it already has another two stores. Co-owner Fraser Newman puts a lot of their success down to social media.
“This is a very powerful tool for booksellers,” Fraser says, “In the past booksellers laboured over newsletters and reviews in newspapers. Now we can reach our customers instantly at any time of night or day – and it is fun and interactive.”
Atlantis Books has seen its following on Facebook boom with over 2,900 likes already. Fraser says, “We’ve noticed we can say something on Facebook and immediately we’ll notice people coming into the store responding to it. I cannot overstate the case for good social media engagement.”
Facebook, at least for Atlantis, has until now replaced the need for newsletters and other forms of advertising, though they still market heavily in local newspapers in their three cities.
“Newsletters are good for a certain demographic. But you only get to send one out once a month or so, people rarely read them and you don’t know who you are targeting.”
Targeting is a major factor in Atlantis Books’ success on Facebook. The page’s ‘Insight’ feature allows staff to see who is on the page. They can then shift their focus appropriately. Fraser sometimes sets goals when he sees the demographics moving too far in one direction. For example, when the balance of under 24 year olds shifted too far toward female fans, Fraser carried out a drive to appeal to male under 24 year olds as well.
“This keeps us grounded. We want to be a mainstream, mass market bookshop for the average punter. Our Facebook page has to reflect this. Therefore our goal is always to have a good bell-curve distribution for our demographics. It is never going to be perfect though. Younger people are on Facebook more than older, and females are more likely to engage on a page than males.”
Another thing to look out for are Facebook rules.
“A lot of people miss these,” Fraser says, “But Facebook can actually be quite strict. There are rules around images, advertising, give-aways and competitions. People need to be familiar with these and not be lax on following them. As your page grows people will notice when you break the rules and dob you in. There is nothing worse than planning a promotion and then having Facebook pull the plug on it.”
This is important because one of the most successful ways to grow followers on a page is with competitions.
“Dollar for dollar competitions do more for a page than anything else. Sometimes we’ll have 100+ people enter a competition and we sell a lot of the same book afterwards because people are sad they missed out.”
The key to a good competition is a worthwhile prize (no reading copies thank you!) and a decent question people have to answer in order to get some engagement with customers. It is also important to remember that the prizes should not be just fiction but reflect the different areas of the shop.
“Too much of the book industry is geared up for fiction sales,” Fraser says, “But they are only a small part of total sales. Your Facebook page should reflect this.” (below is a selection of comics available at their Whakatane store.)
Another way to get people engaged is with open ended questions or fill in the gaps. Social media users love to share their ideas, even if no one else is really listening. So simply chucking discussion points out there can really get people going.
At the end of the day though success on social media comes down to having an attractive online personality and putting in the hard work.
“Don’t just just put up photos of your new releases,” Fraser says, “People want substance and a little fun.”
Article supplied by Fraser Newman, Atlantis Bookstore