Altmetric Blog

The power of ‘being social’

Cat Williams, 31st May 2017

Since the launch of Altmetric Badges for Books last year, we’ve been fascinated to see the different types of attention that all sorts of books attract from all sorts of channels and audiences. Who knew, for example, that a computer algorithm could now recreate a Van Gogh, or the extent of influence that the ancient Egyptian’s have on our daily life?

These scenarios are just a small snapshot of the huge amount of engagement we see happening online every day. Data pulled from the Altmetric Explorer shows that in the last month alone we’ve picked up over 400,000 mentions of books and book chapters, including coverage in 14,000 news stories and references from over 1,300 policy documents and 11,000 Wikipedia pages. That’s a lot of attention!

We’re not the only ones who have noticed how powerful social media can be in making books more visible – Carmichael’s Bookstore in Kentucky and the Big Green Bookshop in North London have both discovered the value of engaging on these platforms.

Faced with insufficient sales and a need to make revenue quickly, they (or in the case of Carmichael’s, a supportive author!) turned to Twitter for help – enlisting followers to help spread the word and encourage people to visit them in store or purchase a book online:


The response they got was immediate and impressive – both besieged by orders from people who wanted to support their mission and help keep independent bookstores alive.


For the Big Green Bookshop, this wasn’t their first rodeo – they previously rose to fame for tweeting each line of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to media personality Piers Morgan, after he claimed to have never read any of the series.

The following and engagement that these small bookshops have managed to generate speaks volumes to the power of social media – and really shows how taking the time to interact with broader audiences in a more direct way can reap benefits and help make your content more widely read.

So the next time you’re publishing a book or contributing to a chapter, why not give it some thought? Equally, is there something you’ve already published that you’d like to make more visible? As a start, you could try sharing it on your own social channels and encouraging your colleagues or co-authors to do the same. Who knows who might pick it up and have an interest in your work!

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