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SURVEY: Have You Ever Bought A Book Because of Twitter?

Evidence that Twitter and social media can sell books is largely anecdotal, so we want the facts. Take our survey!

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-chief

Scroll down to take the survey!

Using social media to promote books, as discussed in today’s lead story, is less a novelty and more the norm. Naturally, the strategic application of twitter and social media can do a great deal to promote yourself to potential readers. That is without a question. The real question is “Does Twitter make you buy?”

twitter book marketing

The evidence that Twitter promotions, parties, and reviews actually prompts people to buy books is largely anecdotal. And there are several people who doubt it’s ability to actually prompt someone to buy a book (Chad Post, publisher of Open Letter Books, has expressed his doubt about the power of social media to interest people in books quite recently in these pages).

There are reasons for doubt: for starters, the amount of characters a URL takes up in a tweet is significant, so it’s unlikely that people commenting on books are likely to be including direct-to-buy links in their tweets, that is unless they are paid to do so. That means that a high percentage of tweets promoting a title are likely originating from people with a vested interest in selling you the book . . . and we’ve all been told that it’s a poor strategy to try and sell directly to people on social media.

What’s more, if there’s no direct link, this would then require someone to pop open an window, do a quick search and then purchase a book — and as streamlined as it can be, it’s still several more steps than many people are willing to make when there’s a continual stream of new Twitter traffic to read through.

So, instead of anecdotal evidence, let’s try and glean a bit of real world data. Tell us, have you ever bought a book because of Twitter? And if you’re a publisher and willing to share your data with us — we will be happy to keep your name anonymous — please do get in touch.

Have You Ever Bought A Book Because of Twitter?

  • Yes, I searched for a title discussed on Twitter and bought it later (65%, 253 Votes)
  • No, I don't rely on Twitter for book discovery (18%, 70 Votes)
  • Yes, I clicked through a direct link on a Tweet and bought a book (11%, 41 Votes)
  • No, I always forget the books I hear about on Twitter (4%, 17 Votes)
  • Yes, I was prompted to buy a book because of a discount/coupon on Twitter (2%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 389

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17 Comments

  1. Posted February 23, 2011 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    What an odd survey!This is only reaching a closed group of people who already interact online.It may be hard to imagine but many buyers of books are not on twitter. This needs to be taken into account in a substantive way. I would like to see a much more informed view of exactly who buys books, where and why that gathers information off line as well.

  2. Erin
    Posted February 23, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Susan, I think you missed the point of the survey. It was in reference to a whole story about Twitter, so the survey is asking if that is an effective selling tool the way an author in a bookstore was 10 years ago. It was not an attempt to discuss sales across the board.

  3. Niki
    Posted February 23, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    What about “Have you ever bought a book at a bookstore event that you found out about via Twitter?” Because then the answer is yes. Otherwise, no.

  4. Posted February 23, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    The survey choices show a lack of understanding about the true value and nature of Twitter. It’s not a sales tool it’s a means of connection. I have bought many books due directly to interactions and conversations I had on twitter with book authors not the publisher. I recently gave a presentation on using social media like twitter to wine region tour operators and explained it like this: Social Media: It’s not marketing–It’s dating.

    I

  5. Posted February 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    If that book had some meaning to you why not I do’s not mater some time when you sing up you may get some thing for free and and even that book may be not the one but that may have a go to read a book. It for some book’s over look some things .And it may just be a sentence you may pick up on what you need.Tank you from Trevor

  6. Posted February 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Well look at face book and twitter have come to shear sociable life just ad them to gather for one site can not handle all on at once it fulls out Over load.
    This way thay run side by sid one falls out then you have got the other you may us.
    Or work to help it work. I think very good.

    I have made HTML ezzy i mad for like me HTML tort me HTML.

    I did not write the hole book I brought the right’s to re sell the book i own the book an in respect i did not chain eney of his writing. Jut used it as a sample
    how it works.
    Like i said HTML tort me.

    Copyright © All Rights 2011 Reserved by Trevor Anonymous.

    That Is possible. self studdy’s with some of the
    best teacher’s with the internet in come.That Is possible.

  7. Posted February 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t take this survey…

    Yes, I have bought books at stores and on Amazon that I heard about through people I follow on Twitter, but that doesn’t mean they sent me directly to an online store with their link. Maybe they sent me to a review they’d written or read. Maybe there was no link at all, but I was compelled to look up the book based on their tweet.

    Nor do I go searching for titles on Twitter, or find many online coupons via Twitter.

    So while I wanted to click “yes”, none of those choices represented how Twitter helps me buy books.

    Hope this helps!

  8. Posted February 24, 2011 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    I have actually bought a book because of Twitter, but for neither reasons given in the poll. I was recommended the book by fellow Followers. Or joined in on a conversation on a specific book and therefore bought it afterwards.

  9. Posted February 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Like other commenters have said, I’ve bought many books because of Twitter — but not because someone sent me to a book’s page. Twitter is all about community and interaction, and I often — almost daily — add a book to Goodreads or a wishlist because of tweets recommending it.

    When someone I like and follow recommends or discusses a book on Twitter, that gets my attention in a big way. If I later purchase the book, I’ll try to remember to give them a “mention” there and let them know!

    In the survey, I chose “Yes, I searched for a title discussed on Twitter and bought it later” — because that’s true for me, too. If I’m interested in a novel and want to see if other folks are chatting about it, I do search to see what’s going on. Twitter is a great tooling for getting real-time recommendations but, more than that, an excellent way to just talk about what we’re all so passionate about: books.

  10. Posted February 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I’ve bought several books because of Twitter. I follow several publishers and love to see their new book tweets. I research after the initial tweet and may purchase at a later time. It’s more of a passive book selling technique than the active. I also look for books that are getting good reviews so I can blog about them.

  11. Posted February 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I did vote in the poll, but my vote doesn’t represent the usual effect that Twitter has on my buying habits.

    It’s far more likely that I’ll make a mental note of a book in a Twitter discussion, or a blog post I read due to a tweeted link. Later, when browsing a bookstore (in person or online) I’ll see the book and pick it up, thinking that I’ve heard good (or interesting) things about it.

    Twitter rarely is the sole thing convincing me to buy a book. The same can be said for any other means of book discovery.

  12. Jeff
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    “Have you bought a book you heard about on Twitter?” should have been one of the poll questions. To that, I would have answered a resounding yes.

  13. CM
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Response #2 takes care of books that were “discussed” on Twitter. Whether you learned about the book through a tweet from a friend or something else, if you went in search of and later bought a book because you heard about it on Twitter, then your answer should be choice #2, Yes, I searched for a title discussed on Twitter and bought it later.

    I have never bought a book because of Twitter. I have tweeted about books that I enjoyed, though. I doubt anyone in my following went out bought one of them.

  14. Posted February 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I buy most of my books by what I see on Twitter. Whether isn’t a new book and I follow the author, or there’s a book review that grabs me. The past 6 months all of my book buying desicions are based off what I’ve been through people on Twitter

  15. Jennifer
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I have absolutely bought books that I heard about first on Twitter, based on reviews or recommendations by people that I trust there.

    And I know for a fact that people have bought books because of my recommendations, or because I linked to a review/website etc.

  16. MaryK
    Posted February 26, 2011 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    The thing about social media is that it’s social. You interact with people who are interested in the same things you are, and you gradually get to know who can be trusted and whose taste matches your own. If you’re a book person, you end up with a loose social circle that’s like a very informal book discussion group.

    *”dearauthor: Ohh Quartet Press will reissue Bad Karma by @Anne_Fraiser http://bit.ly/3OLxuU Frasier under name of Teresa Weir wrote some fab romances!”
    *”dearauthor: DITTO RT @historicals: Sarah Mayberry wrote one of my FAVE short contemps. Cruise Control. Sigh. Love that book! Sexual tension is palpable.”
    *”jane_l: The description for this Fringe show reminds me of the plot in the next Elizabeth Jennings book (which I liked a lot) http://t.co/matvf8g
    *”jane_l: His Wife for One Night by Molly O’Keefe is a friends to lovers/marriage of convenience. Tender, emotional http://amzn.to/foLOAx
    *”@courtneymilan: THE DUFF, by Kody Keplinger is awesome. Loved it. YA. Lots of sex. Book touched on lots of ugly subjects but was ultimately so sweet.”
    *”AnimeJune: @RRRJessica YES! The Wild Road is amazing! Sweetest gargoyle hero. @booksmugglers”

    No, I don’t buy from people who are promoting to me. (With the exception of Carina Press. They tweet interesting things about the author and the books, ie “CarinaPress: Hayao Miyazaki movies are favorites of @Lori_Ella. Jaq’s Harp was influenced by his Castle in the Sky.”) I follow very few people who promote directly. I don’t want to be subjected to a barrage of promotional material so I choose who I follow carefully.

  17. Posted February 26, 2011 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    It’s so good that you run this survey! Thanks a lot for this. I think it’s very important that people know all the possibilities of social media – and Twitter is a great example.

    Two essential benefits of Twitter are:
    1. Great discovery tool
    2. Used on a same device you use to read e-books (computer, tablet, smartphone)

    Yes, you can buy an e-book from a link shared on Twitter – and you can do it IN A COUPLE OF CLICKS ( http://bit.ly/fCoYym ). The possibility is here – with e-reading apps like Kindle. The only problem is that people don’t know it. They don’t have to go to a bookstore’s site, browse for a book and proceeed to check-out. Not any more.

    It’s where the strenght of social media is: purchases of digital content BECOME INSTANT. You can buy a book (or get a free sample) knowing that you can start reading it right away. From a discovery to a consumption: 10 seconds.

    I wrote a post on how to sell e-books on Twitter ( http://bit.ly/er9BT3 ). When I shared a link for a first time, I sold 10 books. Yes, not impressive, but I’m an unknown self-publisher writing odd genre short stories.

    I wonder how big would the response be, if such a buy-book link is shared by Neil Gaiman.

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