Regardless, the activity has some fundamental aspects that can teach marketers how to effectively use social media for inbound marketing.
1. Invite Interested Readers
If you're forming a book club, you're likely to invite others who enjoy reading. Asking a friend who loathes opening any book (unless it has tons of pretty pictures in it) and would rather spend his/her day playing Mario Kart isn't your best bet. Inviting members requires an understanding of who would want to participate.
This is no different on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter. Your business can't be all things to all people, but it can be one beneficial thing to a certain group of people. Search for users who will benefit and enjoy the content your social media account has to offer or that addresses their problems that your products/services can solve for them. Start targeting your social media updates toward these types of people to generate an active, engaged, and qualified following of potential customers.
2. Pick the Right Book
There's a big difference between picking a good book and picking the right book. A good book is subjective to the reader and won't necessarily appeal to others. Book club organizers must understand their groups well enough to choose books that members will actually want to read.
Similarly, businesses must have a grasp of what their audience wants to get out of following them in social channels. Just because a certain topic interests you, doesn't mean it interests them. Put your feet in your ideal customers' shoes by developing and understanding your business' buyer personas, and share content and updates that truly speak to their needs and interests. If you want to delve into this further, just as a book club would allow its members to pick which book to read next, allow your fans to suggest which topics you should post about. Post a link to a brief survey or, for for instant feedback, tweet/post a quick question that asks folks what they'd be interested in learning about through your social presence.
3. Prepare Discussion Questions
When someone hosts a book club meeting, he/she doesn't simply invite guests over and let them take charge of the event. The host must be prepared with questions and thoughts to commence and shape the conversation.
This also holds true for the social sphere. Don't just create a Facebook or Twitter account and assume that your fans will take hold--it won't happen. Instead, prompt intriguing and thought-provoking questions that call on followers to respond and engage. This will help grow your reach and create a positive environment within your individual social media account. Fans will appreciate that you value their voice as much as your own.
4. Participate in Dialogue
The lamest book club members are those who join but sit silent during meetings. People want to hear each other's opinions and ideas about the book; otherwise, members wouldn't have been invited to join.
When you start increasing your social media following, don't let these users simply enjoy your company. Unless you share your voice with your followers, your company is worth squat. One great way to create awareness for your business is by participating in online exchanges. One place to do so, for example, is LinkedIn Groups. Find public groups that are discussing topics related to your business, and share your ideas there. Comment on discussions other members have started in the group (when relevant). This can help you become visible to a new audience while building yourself up as a thought leader and expert on a certain topic or industry.
Miss participating in book clubs? Never been in one? Well how about trying an 'ebook club!' Join HubSpot for our fifth Twitter Chat tomorrow, January 24th, 3:30 PM ET. Our book club-inspired chat will discuss our ebook, An Introduction to Lead Generation. Read the ebook and come hear what fellow marketers have to say about it. Author Kipp Bodnar will attend to answer your burning questions on the topic. The hashtag to follow along is #InboundChat.
Image Credit: Jukka Zitting