Further back in the not-so-way-back machine…

This link is over a month old, and but Booksquare’s Kassia Krozser speaks directly to what we were discussing a couple weeks ago about reaching our readers through online efforts.

Specifically, Kassia is talking about social networking vs. viral marketing. Our teen readers and their little siblings are as much naturals at the social networking thing as my generation of kids was at picking up Pong and the Apple IIe. It makes sense to them, having these kinds of conversations about whatever strikes their fancy–including books. And they’re savvy enough to know their spam from their real conversations. As she notes, readers don’t want to rehash the cover copy. Despite the seeming shallowness of online communication–it’s rather short and swift, after all–the depth that can come from these short conversations goes far beyond a sound bite.

So how does a publisher or an author start a conversation with teens via
social networking?

One thing I’ve found is that as I network on Facebook and Livejournal, this very blog, with adults who are social-networking savvy, the word of mouth of something that is of genuine interest to those I talk to gets passed on. We all know how fast a meme can spread, how linkage gets passed from one blog to the next. Right now there’s a list of science fiction and fantasy reviewers that’s being passed from blog to blog so one blogger can index all the reviewers out there, and it spread like wildfire–I’ve seen it on Wands and Worlds (I think?), Gwenda Bond (maybe? aw, it was somebody on my friends’ list feeds!), and several other blogs, who saw it on blogs I’ve probably never seen, etc.

Those adults will be read by the teens they know, who, if they find the conversation interesting, will share with their friends. Obvious, I know, but my point being that I think it starts there–friending libraries on MySpace and making sure they know about local booksignings through social networking, friending libraries on Facebook if they’ve gotten that far (I haven’t started looking for libraries on Facebook, so if you know if they’ve gotten into that the way they have MySpace, let me know; personally, I find MySpace annoying and rarely check in on it). Teen librarians are great at passing the word on to their teens about events and information that is interesting and useful to their particular community.

Also, I find that often authors themselves have more interesting conversation starters than publishers do, because they have a personal connection to the material that the on-message publishers don’t. This isn’t a bad thing! It’s just that it demonstrates the importance of the author’s efforts in reaching readers via social networking, because they can do what a publisher or even individual editor often can’t: offer that personal perspective, the behind-the-scenes look into the head of the creator that readers will find fascinating. It’s like seeing the making-of video, all those extras on the Lord of the Rings DVDs.

Anyway, just go read the post, because she has a lot more to say on it than I do. Go!