Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years. What’s stayed the same? And what’s changed? We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.
Today’s post is by book marketing industry expert, Kelly Schuknecht.
A Tag on Amazon is a keyword or category label that customers can add. Tags can help customers find similar items on Amazon. For example, adding Tags to the listing for your book on Amazon can help customers find your book when they are searching the Tags for similar books.
You can find the Tag section within a listing on Amazon towards the bottom of the page. Here’s an example of the Tags associated with the book 33 Million People in the Room:
As a customer, you can click the existing Tags and add your own Tags, up to 15 per item. As you can see, customers have Tagged this book as “facebook,” “internet marketing,” “social media marketing,” “twitter,” and several other things. The first Tag, “facebook,” shows that this book has been Tagged “facebook” by 46 customers on Amazon.
After reading this book, a customer might be interested in reading more books about Facebook. Clicking on the “facebook” Tag will open up a new page of all products that have been Tagged “facebook” (currently 585 products).
On the left side the customer can narrow the search results by other popular Tags. For example, if the customer wanted to read more about marketing on Facebook, they could select “internet marketing” and narrow the results to 101 products. The results might give the customer a few ideas of books they might want to read, such as:
As an author, make sure your book is Tagged on Amazon with a number of keywords that will help potential readers locate your book. Look at the Tags for similar books to be sure you are using the same Tags, when appropriate.
I’ll cut to the chase: Amazon’s tagging system officially doesn’t exist anymore. The company released a statement as far back as 2013 that they were discontinuing the service. “Originally,” the statement goes, “the Tags feature allowed customers to tag products based on their interests and suggest a different organization of products on Amazon. We’ve since continued to innovate on our more popular features such as Wish Lists, Customer Reviews, and Improve Your Recommendations.” Which is all well and good (and we’ve even written about wish lists here, customer reviews here, and recommendations elsewhere) … but it doesn’t do much to soothe the burn of the original system’s absence, as these other features look and feel completely alien to tags, and deliver rather different benefits.
When I did a little digging into Amazon’s decision to ditch tagging, I discovered that there is, in fact, a consistent company-wide explanation for why they disappeared. While various (occasionally irate) Amazon customers speculated in the company forums that self-publishers were using the tagging system to drive traffic to their books (presumably at the expense of others), Amazon itself has remained calmly aloof from the fray and instead told curious authors, simply, that “Since the introduction of those features [mentioned above] the usage of Tags, and therefore their value to our customers, has declined. We have removed TAGS in favor of the replacement features. Tags that you created are still available under Your Profile page.” In other words, the time, energy, and money that Amazon had been pouring into maintaining the tagging system (at least in regards to software support) wasn’t drawing enough continued interest from authors to make it worthwhile. Again, that’s cold comfort for those who actually liked tags and were using it to good ends.
What should we take away from this story? Not despair in Amazon’s usefulness to the self-publishing author, I hope, but rather a realistic understanding of what the changing landscape of massive profit-driven enterprises can look like for end users. It’s not always a comfortable outlook, since, as this one example makes clear, Amazon must be willing to shed any of its features that no longer further the bottom line for investors, sellers, and customers alike. That’s how such international titans retain their hold on their various markets: through sheer force of will, and ruthless business (as well as programming) logic. We as indie and self-publishing authors have to be prepared to adapt to whatever opportunities are offered, and never stop striving to master new ones. The more diverse our skill sets and masteries, the more flexible our self-marketing strategies ultimately will be––and the more longevity they will attain. ♠
|ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.|