Facebook announced it’s Open Graph earlier this week, opening up to the rest of the web and making the user experience more social in the process. But what does this mean for books?
The two features that will have the biggest impact for publishers are the Open Graph and Like buttons.
The Open Graph is Facebook’s attempt to aggregate all of a user’s social activities from across the web into the Facebook platform. In doing this, they’re mapping connections between users and elements. There is HUGE potential here: 400 million users makes for a lot of social data, and if we can tap into that it will change the way we market and sell books.
The Like button, specifically, is a simple way to open Facebook up to the rest of the web—something that has been a huge problem for marketers trying to use Facebook to their advantage. Before this, Facebook users were only on Facebook and it was really hard to get them to either leave or bring information in. Now, Like buttons can be added to any web page, the same way that you would add a share button.
Make the most of it now:
Add a Like button to a webpage about one of your books. When a Facebook user clicks that they like that book, it will get pulled into their Facebook profile and show up to their friends, acting as a personal recommendation. This also creates a connection between that user and that book. (Feel free to replace ‘book’ with ‘author’ in that last paragraph—same deal)
Plan for the future:
The way Facebook will be creating these connections can change the way we sell books. Having access to the data that tells you that User A likes Book A, B, C & D and is friends with Users B, C & D who like Books B, D, E, F & H the most, means that you suddenly have information about potential readers that you never had access to before. With this information, you can make smarter auto-generated recommendations based on their current likes and the likes of their friends.
What that means, though, is that you need to have good metadata for your books! (totally didn’t see that one coming, did you?) Let’s say that a user has a lot of connections to Canadian authors who write mystery & detective fiction, but you don’t have the contributor flagged as Canadian and got lazy and used Fiction General as your subject category. Your book probably isn’t going to get pulled up as a recommendation for that user—and you’ve lost a potential reader.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. You can improve your ONIX files (it’s easy—I promise!—and BNC BiblioShare can help), which in turn will help readers discover your books that are right for them.