Goodreads: The Last Place You Thought to Generate Leads Online

Using Goodreads to Generate Leads Online

From Goodreads… to Good Leads

Goodreads is a book-lover’s social network that allows people to connect and discuss the books they love. It allows members to set up a profile and review the books they’ve read, add other users as friends, send them messages, comment on reviews, and much more. What does this mean for marketers? Goodreads has all of the tools you need to build new relationships. And if you can build relationships, you can generate leads.

But before you LinkedIn marketers jump onto the site and start pushing your blog posts and e-book downloads… we need to talk strategy a bit.

Building Relationships with Goodreads

The first thing that needs to be said about Goodreads is it’s not a place to spam your business. The LinkedIn strategy of spewing blog posts or cold-mailing people is just not going to work.

No, my compadre, this is going to take a different strategy altogether. Forget about syndication, conversion, and all that fancy junk you learned in Inbound Marketing school.

Here is a place where you will use real human interaction (gasp!) to connect with people, build relationships, and eventually generate leads. In essence, you need to use social media the way it was meant to be used.

If you love to read then you’ve got all the tools you need. Now it’s a matter of learning how to use the site to build connections and grow your network.

1. Set Up a Profile

The first thing you need to do is set up a profile on Goodreads. Register on the website and enter your details. Enter a short bio about yourself and upload a photo. Don’t be afraid to use the bio to talk about what you do, just don’t make it spammy. Just be honest and casual about it.

2. Add and Review Books You’ve Read

It helps to list and review any books you’ve read before you start connecting with others. This helps you identify common ground with other people and spark conversation. It also gives the impression that you’re actively participating and not just trolling. Just like you need to build a good LinkedIn profile, you need to build a great Goodreads profile.

3. Add Your Friends From Other Networks

Goodreads is integrated with Facebook, making it easy to connect with your existing friends. You can also post your Goodreads activity to your Facebook timeline, which draws others into your activity on Goodreads. Connecting with a few friends is a great way to learn how to use the site as a communication tool.

4. Use Book Subjects to Find Prospective Customers

They say you can tell a lot about a person based on what they read, and this it the best place to put that knowledge into action. Looking at the books that people read and review can give you a great deal of insight into who they are, what interests them, and what their knowledge level is. This can be a goldmine of information as a marketer looking to target qualified leads.

For example, if you offer marketing services for insurance professionals, look up books on the subject of marketing & growing your insurance practice. People reading these books may be ideal prospects for your services.

5. Read and Comment on Reviews

Once you’ve narrowed down your subject areas and targeted a few books, start reading people’s reviews. If you read carefully, people will reveal many details about themselves, their frustrations, and their personal situation. Some may admit they didn’t understand the subject, or didn’t get the answers they need. This is your opportunity! Comment on their review, answer questions, ask them more in-depth questions, recommend books or blogs on the subject, and start a friendly conversation.

DO NOT SELL. If you come across as a salesperson, this will never work. You have to be genuinely interested and willing to spark up a conversation. Anything else will be seen as spam and might even get your account removed.

6. Make Connections

Once you’ve sparked the discussion with somebody, invite them to connect as a friend. Connecting solidifies the relationship and allows you to send private messages between each other.

This is like building any other relationship: Find common ground, spark conversation, and see where it goes. Eventually you may find an opportunity to help them with something beyond the realm of books, or they might know somebody who needs your help too.

Advantages of Goodreads as a Lead Generation Platform

Compared to other networks like LinkedIn, there are several distinct advantages of using Goodreads to generate leads online.

The Beach is Pristine

Not many people would think to use a site like Goodreads to generate business leads. That’s great news for you as a marketer, because you don’t have to compete with a swarm of other marketers.

The Barricades Are Down

People on Goodreads don’t have their guards up like they do on LinkedIn. People on LinkedIn expect to be sold to, so it’s harder to engage them on a purely conversational level, even if you are being genuine. On Goodreads, people are much more willing to open up and have a passionate discussion about a subject with you—as long as the interaction is genuine. Keep it that way, and you’ll have no problem building relationships.

The Targets Are Clear

The ability to target users by the subjects they read about is a powerful asset. Their reviews may also reveal useful insights about their needs and situation in a much more open way than they would allow on other networks. This gives you the chance to target leads not just by demographics or keywords, but by how they reason and process information, their attitude towards learning, and much more. This information is hard to find in other places, and can be a goldmine if you take the time to look at it closely.

The Tools Are There

Goodreads has everything you need to connect with people and build relationships. Using search, comments, connections and private messages, everything you need to grow your network is at your fingertips. What I particularly enjoy about the site vs. LinkedIn or Facebook is that it’s really geared towards conversation and interaction, not decorative graphics or pushing turds from your blog. This is the arena where true relationship builders are separated from glitzy forum spammers.

Before You Start, A Final Word of Caution

I’ve said this a couple of times, and it needs to be mentioned again:


This is NOT a form for selling or blatantly self-promoting your services. You’ll see yourself get pushed out the door faster than you can say “outbound” if you approach it like this. Remember the formula:

  • Real interaction
  • Genuine interest
  • Real relationships

It takes time, like any real relationship-building activity does. But it could be very fruitful if you stick in for the long haul.