The Power Of BookTok: Inspiring Minds For World Book Day 2024
Feb 09, 2024
Thanks to TikTok, renewed interests in forgotten hobbies are finally being surfaced. From crochet and cameras, to bullet journals and baking, the likelihood is that you’ve stumbled across a TikTok video in recent months that’s sent a blast from the past and reignited your past passions.
But among the vast array of resurfaced hobbies, one in particular has stood out from the rest and even sparked a viral movement. With over 181.7 billion viewers and 28.6M hashtag views, BookTok proudly stands among the platform’s top ranking content categories. Fuelling the love for reading among millions of users, BookTok serves as one of the most influential sources of book discoveries and book reviews, fostering a close-knit community of like-minded literature lovers.
The virality of BookTok hasn’t only been life-changing for those voluntarily involved, however. BookTok has made some serious waves in the publishing world too. As a movement that became well-known for the circulation of backlist titles, many have gone on to become best-sellers years later. Titles such as The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller and A Court Of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J. Maas, are now receiving the recognition they deserve and, therefore, contributing to the dramatic spike in book sales in recent years.
But what exactly is it that makes these titles appealing to BookTok enthusiasts? And can new authors use the power of BookTok to cash in on their own work?
If you’re curious about the inside happenings of the internet’s biggest book club, then read on as we explore the origins and future prospects of the BookTok boom, covering everything from industry insights to BookTok trends along the way
CHAPTER ONE: THE BENEFITS OF BOOKTOK
Since its inception in 2020, out of the bedroom of 16-year-old Kate Wilson, BookTok has proved itself time and time again. The resurgence of once backlisted titles continues to prove the sheer power this TikTok movement has on the publishing industry, but what remains a little more elusive is the criteria that popularises these titles.
How does the BookTok community determine which are worthy of circulation?
We can put this down to a perfect mix of TikTok’s viral-inducing capabilities and the BookTok influencers leading the “last wholesome place on the internet”. The community members posting fun, snappy takes on literature and the experience of reading, overall, tend to be those who do well on BookTok, and, in turn, set the featured titles up for success, as they’re whisked away by TikTok’s algorithm. The ability to interact with these posts through commenting, reposting and sharing means popular videos can go viral quickly, making user endorsement a defining factor in dictating BookTok trends.
But gossiping and reeling over newly-popular titles with a like-minded community, isn’t the only benefit of TikTok. Its power stretches much further than this. Successful BookTok posts have the ability to rekindle an appreciation of books in young readers, particularly Gen Z. In fact, 62% of TikTok users from the US have read at least one book based on BookTok recommendations and 48% of users read more books overall than prior to the discovery of BookTok.
Encouraging better reading habits can only be deemed a good thing in our books, particularly within a screen-obsessed world. What we’re now seeing are enthusiastic readers turn their attention towards physical bookstores, with many, including powerhouses such as Waterstones and Barnes and Noble, dedicated designated areas for BookTok trends, authors, titles etc. In fact, Barnes and Noble reported a 14% increase in book sales the same year BookTok launched on TikTok, as well as the addition of a BookTok page on its website featuring some of the most popular BookTok trends and authors each month.
Similarly, publishing giant Penguin Random House entered into a partnership with TikTok in September 2022, allowing BookTok users to tag their favourite Penguin Random House titles through a link in their videos. This directed users who clicked on it to a dedicated page with details about the book and a collection of other videos that link the same title. This feature paved the way for effortless book discovery, as well as provided a natural forum on which users could engage with others interested in the same book, initiate discussions, and connect on a deeper level. While the feature is no longer available, it was testament to the power BookTok has over the publishing world, today.
CHAPTER TWO: HOW CAN NEW AUTHORS LEVERAGE BOOKTOK FOR THEIR OWN GAIN?
The impressive nature of BookTok puts it leagues above what any regular book club could ever do. With this in mind, it makes this reading corner of the internet incredibly attractive to new authors looking to leave their mark on such an impressionable group of readers who yield the power of circulation.
Getting involved in relevant BookTok trends can help build up that all important engagement before launching your own title, so as to ensure optimal organic exposure and interaction from such a refined community. Organic exposure is crucial for getting in front of an audience who crave authenticity. Winning them over will result in a natural progression for plugging your work without running the risk of appearing sales-y. Check out Alice Oseman’s plug for Vol.2 of Heartstopper, below:
SOME NEWS! Volume 5 will be released on November 9th 2023… and there will be a Vol 6, the final volume of Heartstopper! #heartstopper
Here’s how you, too, can get started on BookTok as an author:
Download TikTok and create your profile
Remember to keep your profile image and bio as closely related to you and what you like to write as possible. These are the first tidbits of information new visitors will have of you when visiting your profile, so keep them relevant and high-quality. Remember, your passion for this industry will be reflected on your profile!
Follow BookTok accounts
Start following BookTok enthusiasts by typing #BookTok into the search bar. You’ll immediately be met with lots of names and faces who you can then scroll through and decipher who you’d like to add to your personal feed. Simply conducting this search will also let the algorithm know that this is what you’re interested in and your For You Page will be customised accordingly.
Don’t forget to keep up with current BookTok trends by paying attention to who and what is popular. This knowledge could come in very handy when you’re ready to launch your own work on TikTok.
Make your first video
Now the fun bit!
Hit the plus button at the bottom of your screen and record yourself talking about anything to your books or you as an author. Alternatively, you can tap into the latest BookTok trends to film more creative approaches to promoting yourself and your work, such as the silent book review trend whereby you can use your expressions to silently review your own work and entice users into wanting to get to know more about them. Take some time to observe what other authors are doing. TikTok thrives on trends, so keeping your content catchy and relevant is key.
Once you’ve made your video(s), be sure to hashtag and caption them appropriately. Aim for a mixture of broader, trending hashtags such as #BookTok and #author, as well as more niche hashtags relating specifically to your work.
It is important to note that the engagement you foster in your comment sections speaks volumes about you as an author. While BookTok is a relatively wholesome corner of the internet, be sure to prohibit commentary such as arguments and hate speech from here. Remember, BookTok is about readers, so you’ll want to entice them by offering a safe, judgement-free environment where they can interact with you and others.
CHAPTER THREE: THE TOP 5 BOOKTOK TRENDS
Participating in the silent book review trend requires users to rely on their expressions to tell the viewer what they thought of the book without using any words. This is a great way to maintain engagement throughout, as the user must concentrate on the video to understand what’s happening.
Lead male door lean
This is one of the BookTok trends that has our inner teenager giddy, as people’s partners attempt to recreate the door frame scene you’ll often read about in a lot of romance titles.
Show me your…
Using the trending sound, users are challenged to show each of their favourite books that fit the accompanying voice. From ‘show me your thickest book’ to ‘show me your favourite cover’, this gives BookTok influencers a chance to show off their collections and reading styles.
Coloured books challenge
Of all the BookTok trends, this one really sets the bookworms apart from the casual hobbyists. This trend requires users to show off their favourite books in a particular colour, from purple to green to black. This is not only a creative form of recommendation, but we also find it highly impressive when people get to show off their collections!
My 5 star reads of 2023 so far! Please comment some of your top books of the year!📚✨🏼 #topbooks #topreads #booktoker #fivestarbooks #fivestarreads #booktok #bookhaul #bookrecommendations #blakecrouch #darkmatter #recursion #elinhilderbrand #28summers #thefivestarweekend #yourstruly #sametimenextsummer #abbyjimenez #karinslaughter #tjklune #thehouseintheceruleansea
Another great way to round up those recommendations, this trend requires BookTok influencers to sit down and discuss the handful of titles they personally rated a whole 5 stars, whether throughout the past year, past month or in general.
EPILOGUE: IS THIS JUST THE START?
The BookTok phenomenon demonstrates the power of digital communities. If a group of like-minded individuals can gush over a certain romance novel and have it influence the operations of a national book chain, imagine what other digital platforms could do for the retail sector?
To young shoppers, social feeds are like shopping centres. Gen Z and Millennials, in particular, think social platforms are better than online searches for learning about new products (like books), making social feeds a legit retail sector. The one significant barrier standing in their way, however, is the proof of legitimacy. This explains why 43% prefer to shop directly with retailers than on social feeds. With giants such as Waterstones and Barnes and Noble dedicating sections of their stores to BookTok titles, they open up the accessibility for the 43% who would rather not purchase the book online, and, in turn, widen the community, as these people aren’t made to feel left out.
There’s no better time than now for you to reignite your love for reading and writing. BookTok is here to stay and will continue to shape the publishing industry one page at a time.
If you want to find industry insights, visit our influencer marketing and social media blogs.
@ Socially Powerful
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