Hello Dear Readers:
Happy belated chocolate bunny day. Hope you are all recovering nicely.
And with the pleasantries out of the way, I will now begin my lecture on the importance of understanding and participating in social media. This is a lesson that Amazon learned–or at least, we hope they learned–yesterday via the lovely bookish community on Twitter.
- Many GBLT and erotic themed titles at Amazon.com recently mysteriously stopped displaying their sales rankings (which are a key factor customers consider in making their buying decisions).
- The Bookish Twitterverse POUNCED on this — even though the issue itself started a few months back – Sunday it snowballed — and …
- Amazon said NOTHING. Amazon was completely absent in droves.
I am not out to demonize or make a scapegoat of Amazon. Amazon may be completely innocent of causing this “glitch,” and there are plenty of theories (conspiracy/technical glitch-based/and otherwise) being bandied about regarding what actually caused the great de-ranking of Easter Sunday, but Amazon definitely is guilty of one thing: Ignoring the collective online outrage of their customers and content providers during a critical time — which is just sad when you’re talking about a major player in web commerce.
“So, Kat” (you may be asking yourself — which is a funny thing to ask yourself unless your name is Kat — i so crack myself up): “Monday morning quarterback, much Missy?”
And to this I reply, “No. Absolutely not.” And here’s why: while Amazon was noticeably offline and seemingly unaware of this situation, a whole heckuvalot of their indie competitors were savvy enough to be right there on Twitter’s front lines and engaging with the publishers, authors, readers, and other players who were leading this conversation. Those indies, and their supporters were helpfully (and quite cleverly) offering a suggestion to the angry and frustrated Amazon customers: “Not happy with Amazon? Try us instead!” (The American Booksellers Association even received a nice nod when their acronym was appropriated for the cause –ABA, “anywhere but Amazon.”
The lesson, my bookish buddies, is this — Amazon can’t afford to ignore social media (Twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc.) and neither can you. There are just so many reasons not to ignore it. Carri Bugbee, a twitter celebrity in her own right (her twittering prowess as characters from the AMC show “MadMen” is legendary)–and PR pal of mine, sums it up rather succinctly:
After several PR crises that exploded on Twitter in the past year, it’s kind of astounding that any large brand could still be caught with its pants down over a weekend. The Motrin Moms should have been the final warning to all who were still clueless to the power of social media.
I’ve been saying this since I found myself in the middle of the Mad Men Twitter kerfuffle last August: it’s time to staff your PR team like you’re running a 7/11. The Internet never closes. Neither can you. A quick look at @Amazon indicates they have no idea how to do Twitter right. That’s ironic for the biggest pioneer of user-generated content! Unfortunately, they’re just using Twitter to broadcast sales messages – not to engage with customers. If they were smart, they’d be using Twitter to quell the outrage.”
So, if you care about what is happening with the community of books and publishing and readers — you need to engage with them via social media. If you don’t know where to begin, I recommend checking out this HubSpot primer, “How to Use Twitter for Marketing & PR” for starters.
For me the take away from the “#AmazonFail” fiasco is this: There are a lot people in the book community who are very passionate. And, a lot of the most passionate of these people are online and engaging with each other. And when they get excited about an issue, they can make the audience for that issue much bigger than just their seemingly small online circle. Consider what Brett Sandusky (a passionate bookish twitterer if there ever was one) had to say about the situation:
The fact that a movement on Twitter caused so much upheaval, and garnered interest in the traditional media is significant. This is the point of social media, and we have proved with yesterday’s tweets that much can be done when people make a statement.”
Here, here, Brett. Let’s all remember that. And, let’s channel some of the passion that was displayed Sunday into some positive directions for the community of those who love books and publishing!
Okay, you can have the soapbox back now.