The use of social media and consumer insight do not "replace our gut instinct", The Bookseller's Marketing and Publicity Conference heard today (8th July).
Speakers from publishers including Transworld, Wiley and HarperCollins were among those who spoke about the role of publicity and marketing professionals in selling books.
More than 270 people from the book trade also heard from YouTube's Jessica Elvidge and Buzzfeed's Daniel Dalton about how publishers can use social media more effectively.
Transworld's head of marketing projects Claire Evans said that publishers needed to reach people who were most unlike them and could this by using consumer insight. She also said companies needed to make sure all members of their organisation, from designers to marketeers, were aware of how consumer insight could help in their jobs, but added: "It is important to be clear that talking to readers isn't the answer to everything. We're still the ultimate decision makers.
"Consumer insight is not there to replace our gut instinct. The best use of consumer insight isn't as a prescribed thing, but as a springboard to creativity."
Buzzfeed staff writer Dalton gave publishers tips on how to use social media to their advantage, including making sure that everything posted to platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest was "valuable to your readers and community, and relevant to your business".
He said stories were key, and that publishing had the advantage of being a business with a lot of good content.
"If you wouldn't click, comment or share [the content], then don't post it," he continued. "Everything you share should entertain, educate, inform or engage."
Elvidge, YouTube's creative strategist, said success on the video channel was down to choosing good pieces of content from books and tailoring them to be interesting visually.
"There is a lot of creative thinking to be done in adapting for YouTube," she said. "It is not a case of lifting words and reading them aloud."
She advised publishers to pick key points and make sure any videos they put up had a "take away" for the viewer.
Wiley's brand manager Danny Asling emphasised the importance of listening to readers, something the company did when it started to attend microbiology conferences, using them to build an audience by engaging with students.
Katie Sadler, HarperCollins' digital marketing manager, talked about the "Game of Thrones" campaign run for 12 weeks before, during and after the screening of the latest series of the show on Sky One.
She said the campaign, which included creating and sharing infographics, key quotes from the books and images, resulted in a 16 per cent year on year increase in sales of the books by George R R Martin.
Follow all of the debate from the conference on The Bookseller's Live Blog.
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