Sunday, September 26, 2010

Networking with Changing Hands, Using Social Networking

I spent a lot of time at our IBC (Independent Booksellers Consortium) meeting with Brandon of Changing Hands of Tempe. I know the folks at that wonderful bookstore for several reasons.

1. My sister Merrill (who coincidentally visited this past weekend) lives in Tempe and it's a regular stop on my visits. I've even worked there on a few previous visits during Thanksgiving weekend. I was hoping that it might happen Thanksgiving weekend 2010, but I've wound up (surprise) scheduling too many events then. The artisan craft market is coming back, starting that Saturday, and we've booked the author of The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur to talk (and offer some shopping treats) on Sunday. You'll be hearing more about those events in the future. So alas, if I get to go to Phoenix to visit Merrill, it will have to be in the winter. (Photo courtesy of the website. This doesn't give you a sense of the size of the store, which is larger than Boswell. I also wish you could see the flooring. It's Quite lovely.)

2. A good number of my customers do some wintering time in Phoenix and are talk about the store when they come back..

3. Gayle, Bob, Cindy, and Brandon, are well, just very friendly and easy get to know, and the IBC is a lot about networking and socializing. I am very lucky to have been able to take on the Schwartz membership in this organization.

I know there are exceptions, but I think that is often part of an independent bookstore's success. In the past, not so much, but many of our old advantages have vanished, and relationships have become much more important. If you like reading newsletters, here's theirs from August. Gayle's currently recommending The Debba, by Avner Mandelman, a mystery of sorts about a Canadian who returns to Israel to try to solve the murder of his father, a playwright whose play, "The Debba" led to making a lot of enemies. Notice I'm not afraid to say "Canada" in my blog posts.

So Brandon, a social networkologist of the highest order, has given me some tips on using Facebook, some of which we've taken, and Twitter, which honestly, we're not taking as much. I try to link my blog posts there, for example, and sometimes we get some nice hits from that. Interestingly enough, though we have a large (for our size and how long the store is open) email list and get very good opens, it's hard to get folks to click through on our links. We do enough for me to keep linking, but a smaller percentage than you'd expect look at the reviews and things. The most frequent links, actually, are to our website, to look at books in more depth.

One of his best suggestions to build Facebook loyalty was giveaways. Our first this week, for Florentine Opera tee shirts, promoting "Rio de Sangre" in October (as well as our Florentine Opera Insights preview last week), was our practice run. We're trying another tomorrow, and it's a big deal, David Sedaris tickets to his show on October 23rd at the Riverside.

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