If focus on community was a strong theme running throughout this year’s Australian Booksellers Association conference, then utilising social networks and having an online presence was stressed as an integral part of tapping into community.
Pip Lincolne, whose flair for social media has worked wonders for her business Meet Me at Mike’s, insists that to make that work, a business needs to have ‘really nice online manners that are the same as your offline manners.’
It’s not usual that we talk practicalities at The Cultured Animal – we’re more partial to philosophical cloud-lounging – but Pip was so endearing, I thought we’d reproduce some of her pointers from the conference.
Pip Lincolne’s Guide to Online Social Deportment 101
- Show off: Speak in your authentic voice across multiple online platforms. Talk to people as you would in real life – because they matter to you.
- Avoid the niche: Don’t just blog about books. That’s boring, and limits your audience.
- Share nicely: Link, be generous, give.
- Eavesdrop: Listen and respond to your readers/customers.
- Thumbs up: Praise, link and credit others where it’s due. If we support others, we foster community, which in turn supports us.
- Return calls: Metaphorically speaking, of course. Don’t let your page/blog languish – it’s bad for business. Community is about conversation. Pip says, ‘Providing a place to have a chat and then leaving the room is bad manners. It’s not a monologue.’ You wouldn’t do something like that in real life. (Unless your friends were really, really tedious.)
- Pied piper: Lead with projects which create and nurture community. Think outside the shop. It all feeds back into business – and good times.
- Host it: Be a place where communities can share information on events outside your shop doors.
- Invite: Pip says to ‘smooth out the distinction between online and offline’, following up or preceding real-life events with online content. ‘Blend it together.’
Fundamentally, says Pip, having a blog is the most important thing for any business – it’s where you make yourself heard. A blog can then feed into Twitter and Facebook as secondary plaforms. But it’s important that your voice is sincere, or nobody with listen. ‘Strategy is important, but sincerity is the most important thing.’
What a shame The Cultured Animal isn’t making any money out of its excellent online social skills. But I promise to be nice, if you promise to keep reading. (At least, most of the time.)
So, that sums up our reportage from the ABA Conference for now, although some of the many inspiring ideas from what was an overwhelmingly positive couple of days may pop up again, albeit reincarnated in some other fashion. In the meantime, it’s back to cloud-lounging for a while. Or perhaps lounging on a fence, in the sun. With a real book. Bought from a real shop. (No subliminal messages there.)