IPG looks at 'reaching readers'

IPG looks at 'reaching readers'

A consistent brand online is the key quality publishers need, according to speakers at the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) autumn conference yesterday (14th November).

Using social media regularly and with an identifiable public voice was a recurrent theme of the event, which focussed on "reaching readers".

Kate Wilson, m.d. of children's publisher Nosy Crow, described how the company tried to reach readers with no direct spending power. She said: "We have a challenge, in that we have to try and reach readers, but also those who are a step removed – parents, teachers and librarians." She said that using Twitter and a blog to both proactively talk about the brand and to bring readers into the discussion had become second nature, but advised people to find a personality and stick with it. She said that the five key things to be were "consistent, responsive, respectful, grateful and generous", using social media to enter into conversations rather than broadcasting a message, and offering something to readers.

Social technologist Suw Charman Anderson spoke about the benefits of social media to small publishers, advising them to learn about the demographics of different services and thinking about how best to use content to reach people with the result of selling more books. She said: "Social media in itself is not a goal. The number of Facebook likes you get or Twitter followers you have is not the goal – selling more books, that is a goal."

Other sessions at the conference focused on other ways of reaching readers, including issues of distribution and online discoverability.

Colin James, group IT director for Penguin Random House, spoke about how distribution had changed. He said: "It is hugely challenging to support bricks and mortar stores. We have moved now to a 'little and often' model. Ideally for us, we would deal with large volumes shipped occasionally because that is cheapest, but now some independent shops get deliveries daily, because that is what they need."

Discoverability was tackled by Guy Fowles, online marketing manager at Constable & Robinson and Rob Nichols, the publisher's digital and communications director. Nichols urged publishers to be consistent with their metadata to ensure their books could be seen on Google and Amazon. He said: "Good metadata is what sells your books, even when you're not there."

Matt Haslum, consumer marketing director at Faber, described how a brand can be spread consistently through outside partnerships, and described how Faber had worked with brands such as jewellery company Tatty Devine to reach new audiences. He said: "Partnerships are a cost-effective way of reaching new audiences that couldn't be reached before. We are a cheaper, easier way of adding authentic, quality content to brands, and that is what they want."