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Videos, YouTube and books – effective social media for publishers

October 26, 2010

In the past, some publishers used to create small advertisements for TV promoting the latest blockbuster for authors like Jeffrey Archer. Of course, the problem with mass media advertising of this kind is that its impact is unknown. And the cost is high. Very high. But with the growth of social media, book publishers have new opportunities to reach followers in their “tribe” with contextualised video designed specifically to leverage interest from known prospect and customer groups.

In a recent post by Michael Hyatt, the Thomas Nelson CEO highlights a range of different trailer examples that have been successful and showcases their own YouTube channel. What a great idea – books come alive in the mind of potential readers; moving beyond the old hackneyed phrases to become living emotional entities in the minds of prospects.

Trailers for books (or book trailers) become like album sleeves of the past – collectables and identifiers of self. They can be posted onto Facebook. They can be passed among friends. They can end up anywhere and, in so doing, they legitimise choice. Books move from the realms of the bookish into the world of consumer goods, personality mirrors and aspirational products.

But there’s more, and Hyatt refers to it in his blog. For years the bane of authors has been that publishers have never had the time to market their books. They complain that publishing staff don’t know what their books are about. These trailers take a book beyond the tedious in-house Powerpoint presentations to engage salespeople and marketers alike.

One of the hardest things to do in publishing is to get people to understand what a book is, what it does, who it’s aimed at and why they should read it. Book trailers on the other hand provide a way for creatives within your business to think about your books in a different way. No longer do they think how they can write advertisement copy or ATI/AIS material – instead, because the medium is exciting, the book itself becomes exciting and relevant. Marketers actually want to do some marketing – at least the sort they dreamed of at college before grim reality knocked it out of them.

And here’s where book trailers really meld into the social media world. Social media is about sharing based on word of mouth and trust. By engaging everyone from copywriter to end-user, projects become interesting and self-sustaining. Although anyone can write a rubbish flyer or catalogue entry (and many will because frankly they are not energised to do better), staff who get involved with video and social media will see that this is an opportunity to be effective. Good media reflects well on those who create it.

So, if your company hasn’t yet experimented with video, perhaps now’s the time. Brand, as we know, is now the most crucial element in the marketing mix as publishers are subsumed within ever-bigger brands such as Amazon or Play. But book trailers provide the publisher with yet another opportunity to remain relevant in the modern world – both from a customer and a staff point of view.

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