Nearly 80 publishing professionals tuned in to a BISG-sponsored webcast, “Marketing ‘Books’ in a Digital World,” on Wednesday. The hour-long discussion covered a range of tactics publishers are taking to get their books into readers’ hands, but the topic that loomed largest was social networking.

Rob Goodman, director of online marketing at Simon & Schuster, revealed a battery of impressive figures about how social networking influences consumer buying habits, among them: consumers are 67% more likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter, 51% more likely to buy from a brand they fan on Facebook, and 79% more likely to recommend brands and products they follow on social media. The other speaker, Peter Milburn, digital products marketing manager at Wiley Global Finance, called Facebook (which has 500 million users), Twitter (125 million users), YouTube, and LinkedIn “the new retailers,” an idea moderator Jim Lichtenberg, president of the management consulting practice Lightspeed, confirmed when he noted, “You go to Facebook, hear about a book, then go to a retailer and buy it—so at that point the retailer’s just fulfilling your desire.”

Milburn advised publishers to “know your ecosystem. Learn to speak the language” that consumers are speaking. That might mean using to understand phrases and words like IMHO, hashtag, and API, or reading’s Twitter guide book, which explains basics, building a Twitter community, Twitter for business, and more. Being involved in consumers’ world also lets marketers see what people are saying about their books and brands online, Milburn said.

“It’s not enough to create a page on a social media site like Facebook,” Milburn said. He cited Peter Schiff, whose book, How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes, Wiley published in May. Schiff created his own Web site and made sure that as people searched online for terms related to his book’s topic, they would land on his site. Milburn noted that it is important not to barrage consumers. “Don’t spray and pray. Listen, reply, and engage.”

Goodman also advised marketers to connect with people online. “Things can go viral and feed out to millions of people in amazing ways,” he said, but first, “You must engage people to get them talking.”

Like many companies, S&S has increased its online advertising in the past three years with good results. Goodman said the company has had “great success” with Facebook engagement interactive ads, which, in an effort to tackle the grim click-through rates of traditional online ads, encourage people to interact with the ads by leaving comments, sharing virtual gifts, or becoming fans.