How Publishers Can Use Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter to Increase Discoverability and Title Sales

March 10, 2020
Ingram Staff
How Publishers Can Use Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter to Increase Discoverability and Title Sales

You’re aware the internet is full of algorithms, especially sites like Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter. But do you know exactly what social media algorithms are looking for? Do you know all the tactics to position your titles for success on social media? Publishers and book marketers need to know where algorithms are looking and what tactics you can use to most effectively grow your brand and reach the right audience.

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

The Ins and Outs of Goodreads 

Why is Goodreads Important? 

Goodreads is owned by Amazon and is an authoritative source of information on authors and books. It’s used by millions of readers to track, rate, and review what they’re reading. Activity within Goodreads (content, links, user reviews, followers, etc.) is good for author branding and SEO on both Amazon and Google and elsewhere.

Strong Goodreads member activity suggests an increased likelihood for cross-channel sales success. (In particular, Goodreads activity has been correlated with brick-and-mortar sales.) All books should be completely and accurately listed on Goodreads, with strong, positive reader engagement.

So, What Does a Great Goodreads Book Page and Author Profile Look Like? 

Take the Where the Crawdads Sing book page and Delia Owen’s author page as an example…

Find Detailed Information and Stats About Your Authors 

Look at any book or author on Goodreads to see reader reviews, shelves, and lists; get suggested books and authors; and see Goodreads member engagement. From any Goodreads author page, look for the “Similar authors” link just above the author’s book list to see related authors based on Goodreads likes.

Check out detailed history and stats for any book (found at the top of the right-hand sidebar on any book page, next to the book title and below sharing links).

Goodreads Detailed History and Stats for Where the Crawdads Sing 

Understand Goodreads Member Activity, Reviews & Ratings 

See how readers are actively engaging with your books within Goodreads.

Currently reading: The number of Goodreads users who have indicated they are currently reading a title. This is a strong signal of the book's traction among the reading public.

To read: The number of Goodreads users who have added a book to their "want to read" shelf. This may be a book they already own or one they may purchase or borrow in the future. In either case, it is a strong signal of consumer interest and intent.

Number of reviews and ratings: Books should have as many legitimate and positive customer reviews and ratings as possible. Encourage readers and fans to submit reviews on Goodreads (via newsletters, social media postings, and other direct outreach).

Star rating: Average customer ratings on Goodreads should be 4 stars and up. If readers are negatively reviewing the book, make sure that you are positioning the book to reach the right audience and appropriately set reader expectations.

Goodreads Metadata Items to Consider

Make sure the book has an up-to-date and accurate listing on Goodreads.

Description: Does the Goodreads page include a detailed description of the book?

Cover: Is the cover image high-quality and legible?

Other media: Are there additional photos and videos available about the book?

Author: Is the title accurately linked to primary author?

How Social Media Impacts Your Titles 

The social web is part of a core foundation for online brand building, optimization, and sales growth that reinforces and enhances all other efforts. Social is critical, serving as both a leading and a trailing indicator of consumer interest as well as a powerful marketing and promotion platform. 

8 Social Media To-Dos

Choose platforms that align with your authors voice and what content you’re capable of providing. E.g. A portion of your audience may be on YouTube, but unless you can consistently create engaging videos, you may wish to reach them another way — say, Facebook.  

  1. Mix up your content, using images, text, quizzes or polls, charts, videos, and so on to engage people in different ways
  2. Use scheduling tools to streamline posting across your social channels. (Good examples of these include Buffer and Hootsuite.)
  3. Do more than just post. ENGAGE by commenting, sharing and liking. It’s called “social” media for a reason.
  4. Include publisher or author name in all account bios. For authors, you will also want to include most recent book or series name.
  5. Use best practice tools for properly sizing images for each network. (We expound on this below!)
  6. Stay in the loop with your influencers and competitor channels. Notice which posts are working for them.
  7. Keep all channels in line with your brand standards.
  8. If you have something you really want to blow out, consider paid social media ads. They’re affordable and effective.

Best Practices & Guidelines to Perform Right Now 

  1. Publishers and authors should utilize their own social platforms to actively mention titles and link directly to the retailer or retailers of your choice.
  2. Ensure a consistent look and feel across social networks and accounts.
  3. Schedule posts (for weekends, off-hours, and optimized for different time zones) to reach a broader audience.
  4. Follow and use hashtags to find relevant discussions and reach new potential readers.
  5. Respond to fan and follower engagement (e.g. like comments from fans, thank people for sharing, retweet or share posts from followers).
  6. Posts should always include a balanced mix of original, topical content, promotional content, and shares of other people’s content.
  7. Include photos, videos, and other multimedia content when possible to improve engagement.
  8. Test different messaging and content types to see what works best for your audience (track engagement, clicks and conversions), and include strong calls to action when appropriate (e.g., “Check out the latest post on….”; “New book by @_______. Buy it now”).

Facebook: A Shopper’s Path to Purchase 

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, representing a broad cross-section of most potential audiences.

Facebook is increasingly a source of news, media, and content for people around the world. Because of its size and longevity, Facebook offers broad reach with users of all demographics and interests. Facebook lends itself particularly well to organic branding efforts, on-sale awareness, and event/publicity awareness. Though it is rarely a direct driver of sales, Facebook is often an “assisting” aspect of a shopper’s path to purchase, whether it is in the form of discovery, a referral, or other manner.

Enhance Your Brand and Author Pages

  1. Ensure the primary brand/author page remains active and current, with regular posts and a complete profile, including links to all web properties (author website, book sites, other social media presences, etc.).
  2. Include a link to the Amazon product page or retailer(s) of your choice in Facebook updates. This may be done more regularly around the book launch or other promotion.
  3. Avoid being too "spammy" by interspersing promotional posts with other content and participating in relevant discussions around books, key topical areas, events, and news stories.
  4. Like and follow influential brands, paying particular attention to important influencers like booksellers, librarians, bloggers, media.
  5. Use Facebook Audience Insights to develop granular target audiences for Facebook marketing and advertising.

Twitter: The Real-Time Communicator

Twitter is a global network that enables communication through brief 280-character posts. Users post messages, comments, multimedia (photos and videos) and links to content around the web.

Because Twitter is a public network where anyone, not just friends or followers, can view posts, it is especially good for attaining broad visibility and enabling serendipitous discovery, engagement, and amplification. Tweets are visible on public profiles, sent directly to all followers, and can be shared (retweeted) and searched for by any Twitter user.

Twitter is particularly powerful for real-time conversation and trending news. It is a great source of data about who is following or engaging with you and how.

Amplify Your Twitter Presence 

  1. Include a link to the author's website in his/her Twitter bio.
  2. Include a link to the retailer or retailers of your choice in Twitter posts (from both the author and publisher profiles). This may be done more regularly around the book launch or other promotion.
  3. Actively engage with followers by replying to any @mentions and engaging in conversations with other users.
  4. Use a variety of on-topic hashtags to take part in regular and ongoing Twitter “chats” with the right audiences.
  5. Avoid being too "spammy" by interspersing promotional posts with other content and participating in relevant discussions around books, key topical areas, events, and news stories.
  6. Follow influential brands, paying particular attention to important influencers like booksellers, librarians, bloggers, media.
  7. Twitter enables ads in the form of promoted tweets that can be targeted by topic, followers of people, and users in specific geographic locations.

Consider these Highly Visual Social Channels that May Help You Reach a Younger Audience 

Instagram and Pinterest also offer nice opportunities for reach and many of the same best practices apply to these networks as well. Because of their highly visual nature, Aerio Previews can offer nice engagement content to use in these networks, enabling in essence, an in-app sample experience.


Very image-oriented with posts often discovered via hashtags. A limit to Instagram is the inability to include links in the posts themselves but, rather, in bio or in ads or shoppable posts. The right types of books and authors – those that lend themselves to highly visual creative – will work nicely in the Instagram environment. A primary goal here is reach and awareness.

Instagram’s audience skews toward a slightly younger demographic and is very lifestyle oriented.


The correlation between Pinterest and commercial activity (purchasing) is strong, with Pinterest users often using boards to track planned purchases or reflect recent ones. Pinterest is highly visual, with pins taking the aspect ration of many book covers. It also offers the ability to link out from pins so the ability to drive users to points of engagement or sale does exist and can be capitalized on.

Pinterest also offers a nice search engine so keywords and tags used in pins can facilitate discovery.

How Publishers Can Use Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter to Increase Discoverability and Title Sales
Ingram Staff

Ingram Staff

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