Social Media and the Christian Bookshop

Run a Christian bookshop? Want to increase your charity or ministry sales? Anna Clarke, Digital Marketing Coordinator at the Booksellers Association, updates sellers on social media and offers some practical advice.

More people are signing up to Social Media websites like Twitter and Facebook every day; there are currently 800 million active users on Facebook and 100 million active users on Twitter and these numbers are all steadily climbing. Businesses, as well as individuals, are joining these networks, using these alternative channels of communication to create strong brands, market their products, engage with their existing customers and gain new customers.

It’s now crucial for all businesses to have a visible, online presence. Consumers now go online to browse, communicate, shop and research; it is therefore vital that retailers establish a place for themselves in this online arena. A large part of what the BA (Booksellers Association) has been doing in recent years is to encourage our members to make use of social media; it is a free and incredibly valuable resource and one that unfortunately still remains untapped by many of our members.

We have been highlighting the value of social media as a business tool, to our members. We are very pleased that already a huge number of our members are active on both Facebook and Twitter. According to our membership records there are already 1287 shops using Twitter and 1352 using Facebook in a business capacity, and there has been a marked increase in recent months. However, although these numbers are encouraging, there are still a vast number of bookshops that aren’t using social media, particularly in the Christian sector.

To encourage even more of our members we have also established the BA as an organisation on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, allowing our members to stay up-to-date and informed about our work. Connecting with us online will mean that our members can receive relevant and current BA news and real-time updates from our social media team. Our followers and fans are able to keep abreast of the latest book trade news and goings-on, as well as stay informed about the work of the Association.

So, you might now be wondering how you can put all of this into action. Social media can be useful to businesses in various ways; here are some things you can use it for:

  • To engage with your customer base; monitor feedback, demonstrate good customer service and troubleshoot any queries.
  • Market author events; use the Facebook events feature to promote upcoming shop events and update fans with pictures and videos of these events.
  • Run promotions; offer exclusive competitions for your Facebook fans and Twitter followers, which will encourage customer-to-bookseller engagement as well as encourage shop sales.
  • Promote your stock; reinforce your expertise and be genuine in your advice – post staff book recommendations. It is this that will lead to sales, not an overt sales pitch.
  • Share ideas; use social media to connect with other booksellers and learn best practice from what they’re doing. There’s a whole host of booksellers using social media in lots of imaginative ways. Check our Directory of Members to see which bookshops are on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and get connecting!
  • Increase sales; a new Facebook application allows you to sell products through your Facebook Page.
  • Stay up-to-date with industry news; follow and become fans of other relevant organisations, such as The Bookseller Magazine and campaigns like IndieBound.
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