The book industry arguably hasn’t seen significant technological disruption since the Kindle… which Amazon launched in 2007.
So when a TikTok community dubbed “BookTok” began to drive industry sales in early 2020, with major publishing houses like Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins taking notice, booksellers skinned their novels and opened the app, fingers buzzing with curiosity.
Take the book of the month, for example. Samantha Boures, who manages media and influencer marketing there, told Marketing Brew that the company, which lets subscribers choose books from a curated selection each month, started using BookTokers as influencers in late 2020.
For the uninitiated, BookTokers are users who dedicate their TikTok posts to book-related content, be it reviews, recommendations, or re-enactments. In November, Mic said the community was “completely changing the edit.”
Boures said Book of the Month has worked with BookTubers “for a long time” and has also partnered with Instagram influencers. “We know these online book communities well. And when we saw this new one popping up, we were like, ‘This just makes sense,'” she continued.
So his team slowly experimented using a handful of BookTokers as influencers. After testing went well, they decided to formalize and create an influencer program around BookTok in early 2021.
Since then, she said the program has grown steadily: TikTok is now the social media channel where her team (which handles organic and influencer offerings, not paid advertising) spends the most time. time and effort.
Although it varies from month to month, she told us that between a quarter and half of the influencers the book of the month works with across all social media platforms are considered BookTokers.
For example, Boures shared a few videos from a specific novel—The love hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood – this book of the month paid BookTokers to publish. “This book sold really well for us and got a ton of positive reviews from members,” Boures said.
After being all-in on BookTok for over a year, Boures told us how his team measures success within the community and what content performs best.
To show creativity
In the influencer marketing industry, the freedom to give creators has been widely debated: do you let them do their own thing in their videos promoting your product, or do you send out a brief full of instructions?
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Boures experimented with both approaches while working with BookTokers, eventually finding a balance. At first, she said, Book of the Month gave its BookTokers talking points, specifically asking them for unboxing videos (Book of the Month influencers receive that month’s books as gifts and are tax-compensated for publication, although Boures declined to provide exact figures).
“These videos are great. They did really well,” she told us. Book of the Month measures BookTok’s success primarily through conversions, or the number of people who sign up for Book of the Month from from a particular creator’s TikTok.
She said she can generally roughly predict how many conversions a given creator will generate based on their past content (for example, whether they’ve posted about previous Books of the Month organically or whether they got advanced reading copies from publishers, those are good signs), along with their video views, number of followers, etc.
But when she started noticing more “off the shelf” (no pun intended) creative videos that were doing well not only on BookTok, but also on TikTok, she got curious and decided to leave the BookTokers with which Book of the Month worked. have a little more freedom to experiment.
“What the creators really liked was the flexibility to create content that they thought was cool and their audience would love,” she said. “Once we started doing that, we saw more and more people become interested in Book of the Month.”
The biggest challenge on TikTok, according to Boures, has been making sure people watching content from these BookTokers actually understand how the Book of the Month subscription service works.
Prior to BookTok, Book of the Month’s team of influencers primarily collaborated with BookTubers, so they found it harder to squeeze an explanation about the company into TikTok’s shorter length, Boures told us. Of course, 10-minute TikToks could change that.
Although BookTok is a somewhat niche corner of the internet, Bournes doesn’t think it will run out of steam anytime soon. “It’s increased so much, and so we haven’t found a ceiling yet,” she said. “There are new people every day logging on, creating really cool content and growing subscribers.”