Find out how Holland Saltsman, owner of The Novel Neighbor book and gift store, became a mini-celebrity with book enthusiasts well beyond her St. Louis neighborhood.
What has been a game-changer for growing your audience?
We were very lucky because we had a loyal following before we even opened the doors thanks to the success of our Indiegogo fundraising campaign (we raised $20K!) and our advance Facebook outreach. I also believe it was critical that we chose the right community in which to open the store.
More recently though, my “numbers” have increased exponentially, from social media followers to new people coming in the store whenever I am featured on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s website or podcast. It’s amazing – we have actually become a destination for people who have heard about the store when mentioned or interviewed by Anne. So what started as an innocent coffee meeting when I was a “fan girl” has turned into a very strategic relationship.
What are you favorite social media networks or platforms?
Initially, we were focused on using Facebook as our primary social media platform – sharing our events and mass quantities of information (articles, lists, and fun community news). We were also using Twitter to engage with authors and influencers and the community.
In the last four months, however, we’ve gotten much more consistent and strategic, and getting more response from Instagram, and are now actually able to sell products, books, and other things right from our Instagram account, so we are really trying to post there on a daily basis.
What are you doing differently this year to reach more people?
After reviewing the Novel Neighbor website analytics with my SEO expert, Patrick Powers Digital, we decided it was time to make the website work more efficiently, particularly with regard to visibility of and engagement with our EVENTS. We also wanted to optimize LOCAL SEARCH opportunities for being found in the area. So we have just re-launched with a new look for our website this past month!
What’s your stellar secret in connecting with your peeps?
St. Louis is a strong literary place. We are extremely lucky to have four independent bookstores supported in the area, but we are all very different. Our most “secret sauce” is that we know KID’S LIT! We have an incredibly strong reputation with the community, with publishers, with authors, and most importantly, with the kids – that we know our stuff in this genre.
Also, I believe we create the unique experience of helping people find the perfect things they didn’t even know they were looking for. We have truly developed a sense of community and engagement, both in person and online, that is consistent for our neighborhood customers. Heck, we are now carrying branded Novel Neighbor stuff (bags, mugs, candles) because our customers were asking for more Novel Neighbor!
Oh yeah – we’re also pretty funny – on the verge of snarky! It works well with the kids (and the adults who still act like kids).
Can you share some stellar stats?
What do you do to disconnect?
My first and best escape is to TRAVEL whenever I can. It’s getting easier now than it was when I first opened the store. I still love to READ, when it doesn’t feel like homework. It’s also fun for me to GET OUT LOCALLY to support my other community neighbors in their businesses. And, of course, the odd music festival with my sisters is a pretty good reset too. (Editor’s note: I agree, follow #SaltsmanSisters)
Also check Holland (and me) out on this recent Facebook Live video from Book Expo:
Should you make the pilgrimage to the store in St. Louis, please let them know that Holland’s big sister Nancy sent you! Also, if you are enjoying this series of “Behind the Seens – How Do They Do It?” let me know in comments and tell me who you would like to learn more about. I love going behind the “seens”!