Harkable's Francis: 'authors must take up challenge of social media'

Harkable's Francis: 'authors must take up challenge of social media'

Authors must “take up the challenge” to excel at social media, building communities around their work, while publishers must build “meaningful digital experiences powered by social media, data and technology”, Harkable co-founder Will Francis has told The Bookseller’s Marketing and Publicity Conference in the first keynote speech of this morning (30th June).

But Francis also said that he thought social media users were becoming more passive, and that while social media was not dead, it was “the end of the era of social media as we know, or knew, it”.

“That era when people used platforms like Facebook and Twitter for hours a day, sharing their lives with colleagues, friends,” he said. “The era in which brands could step in and reach those people quite easily with a message or piece of content. That’s over.”

Social media marketing “either requires an obscene amount of money or a huge amount of time”, said Francis, which many people did not have.

Giving examples of campaigns Harkable, a creative digital agency, had run, including one with Penguin Random House’s Portfolio imprint, Francis said success was often about “participatory content, about co-creating with the audience”.

Francis also said that because of the current technology landscape, authors needed to become “full-stack”, another way of saying multi-disciplinary.

Anyone, including authors, can become a marketer now because they can use simple interfaces on a variety of platforms. Francis said authors were creative, and being able to use social media tools was “just the beginning”.

“To be a truly great marketer and to build a passionate community around your work requires creativity and the ability to realise good ideas,” he said.Authors are the people who can do that, said Francis.

Francis is the author of Cocktails of the Movies, which is being released in September in Prestel. The marketing campaign for the book has four “pillars” – a cinema partnership, PR in print and broadcast media, social media content and community, and reaching influencers.

The Bookseller’s Marketing and Publicity Conference is taking place today at Southbank Centre in London. Speakers later today include former Folio Society m.d. Toby Hartwell, author Nikesh Shukla, Transworld publicity director Alison Barrow, The Pool’s c.e.o. and founder Sam Baker, and Sandra Taylor, head of events and PR at Waterstones.

The conference can be followed on Twitter using the hashtag #MPConf15.