Social media is becoming an increasingly vital way for bookstores to connect with their communities. It’s also a way to attract customers who aren’t local but want to shop with you virtually! Here are ideas for how to use your social accounts in ways that highlight all your store has to offer.
Dos and Don’ts
Do start small
From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to TikTok to Pinterest to YouTube, the amount of social media accounts your store could use may seem endless. Don’t be afraid to start small by building up the content and engagement on one specific account. Think about social media as a tool for reaching a wider audience and amplifying the fantastic work you’re already doing. Your efforts should be scalable and not overwhelming for you or your staff.
Check out what other bookstores, libraries, and readers are doing on their channels for inspiration. Take chances on new types of content or ideas—you may be surprised by what sticks! Most of all, make sure you and your team are excited about what you’re doing because then your followers will be too!
Don’t assume all of your patrons are on one platform
Readers are becoming more selective about which social media platforms they spend their time on, based on which ones they personally use most often. Limiting your store to a single platform could be cutting you off from valuable opportunities to connect with your community. Take a look at other businesses in your area to see which platforms they seem to be finding the most success with when it comes to engaging with patrons.
When managing multiple platforms, you should always be looking for ways you can save yourself time and extra energy. Streamlining your process as much as possible will make it easier to consistently post across multiple platforms.
Don’t wing it
Consistency is key on social media, and having a schedule and method for planning out your content will help to ensure that every post you make is creating forward momentum. Here are tips on how to get started!
Do find fun ways to engage with your patrons
There are tons of creative ways to connect with your followers: set up a specific time each month to offer custom book recommendations in your Instagram stories, ask followers on Twitter to describe the book they’re reading in a single GIF, challenge viewers on TikTok to duet your video with one of their own (like this one!). These small moments of interaction add up and help to create a stronger connection between your store, staff, and patrons.
Don’t forget about accessibility
Your social media accounts should be as inclusive as possible. Many apps are working on updates (such as automatic captioning for videos), but some still require workarounds. Here’s a look at ways to make sure your accounts are up to par.
From book club meetings to storytime to conversations with authors, your bookstore likely hosts tons of events you want patrons to know about.
First, you’ll want your event promoted across every platform that you have. Think about promotion in three stages: the initial announcement, a reminder set halfway between the announcement and the event, and a final boost the day of (including a reminder once the event is underway). This will help to keep your event at the forefront of people’s minds, and is a great way to ensure that your audience sees your messaging.
For social media in particular, be sure to tag your guests so they’re easily able to promote the event to their own followers.
Create a graphic that’s easy to alter based on different platforms, this is because the size you’ll need to use in your Instagram story compared to Twitter will be very different. Canva is a free and excellent tool to use, and you can read our Canva tips here. A graphic should include all of the information readers need: time, date, how to attend (especially if it involves registering by email)—as well as relevant author photos or book covers. This ensures that it can be shared easily without losing any of the information potential attendees need.
If you need tips for hosting a virtual event, check out our advice here!
Take your Staff Reads online
The staff recommendations table is a beloved section of any bookstore, and can easily translate into virtual content. Your team undeniably loves to read, and likely enjoys offering up book recommendations. As the multitude of reader communities show, there is no shortage of ways to share book recommendations on social media. While some team members might be comfortable talking about books on video (such as in Instagram stories or TikTok), others might prefer to have theirs come in the form of a caption of an Instagram photo.
This sort of feature is also a fantastic way to introduce your team to even more of your patrons. Sharing recommendations consistently can help readers identify which of your store’s staff members they have the most similar reading tastes to.
Show off fun displays
Sharing in-store displays online is an excellent way to share your bookstore’s ambiance—local readers will recognize why they love your store, and non-locals will be inspired to stop by. The Ripped Bodice always shares their new window displays on social media, and often take followers behind-the-scenes in the days leading up to the big reveal to show how their windows go from idea to showstopper. Meanwhile, The Last Bookstore used their TikTok to give followers a tour!
Reveal new merchandise
Consistency helps followers stay engaged with your social media channels, and it helps to ensure you don’t need to come up with unique ideas every time you’d like to post. Sharing a stack of new releases every Tuesday can help you show off what’s been added to your shelves since a follower’s last visit.
You can also make posts highlighting new items in your store like candles, mugs, and gifts! These posts are particularly helpful around the holidays to remind followers that your store can be their one-stop shop, even if they’re (heavens, forbid) buying for someone who doesn’t want a book.