Social Media Spotlight: Socially Active
Many publishers have launched or are launching social media efforts. But, as time will tell, an effective social media strategy requires more than simply setting up a Twitter account or a Facebook page and waiting for followers and fans to flock. When San Francisco-based Chronicle Books launched its social media strategy in March 2009, it did so with specific goals in mind. "The overriding strategy … was to build our community, build audience, raise our brand awareness of Chronicle Books online and start … driving traffic to our site," says Guinevere de la Mare, Chronicle's community manager, who works with the marketing team to spearhead and sustain social media efforts.
In less than a year, Chronicle has seen measurable results. For example, the number of followers to its Twitter page (Twitter.com/ChronicleBooks) has increased from approximately 200 when Chronicle's social media strategy was officially launched in March 2009 (the page was created, but not actively in use, prior to March) to more than 14,000 at press time. "[We have the] second-largest following of a book publisher [on Twitter, behind Penguin Group] based on the sites that I can track," says de la Mare, noting that over the last three months of 2009, the page's fan base had been growing steadily by about 40 percent. "It's been a huge, huge success for us."
Having a Voice
De la Mare credits the Twitter page's success to the types of information she tweets. "One of the things we wanted to be careful about was not using it as strictly a soapbox, one-way, promotional platform—'buy books, buy books, buy books.' We make a real effort to try to engage in communication with people, to jump into topics that are relevant, and contribute our voice to ongoing discussions," she says. "When you're personifying the online presence of the brand for any company, you really need to have a deep and clear understanding of what that brand is and how it should sound, and the types of things that will really resonate with its customers."
"Part of the success [on Twitter]," adds Liza Algar, Chronicle's executive director of marketing, "is that Guinevere has a great voice and really knows how to use those 140 characters. She has a personality that I love to follow because she says funny things and has cool things to share."
As for other measures of success, Chronicle also noted a strong increase in 2009 over the previous year in the number of unique visitors to its Web site, according to de la Mare, and Facebook and Twitter now are two of the top 10 referring sites back to ChronicleBooks.com. "That's significant because it means [those sites are] driving a huge amount of traffic back to our site," she says. "As far as our overall goals and strategies to build our audience, that's a very clear indicator to us that this has been very successful."
Chronicle's main social networking pages, such as on Facebook and Twitter, were established under the Chronicle Books brand; those pages are then used to help promote various titles and authors. "I'll work with marketing to come up with a specific social media campaign that will be integrated into their overall marketing plan. … I work very closely with [a title's] marketing manager to map out the schedule of promotions and giveaways, and what kinds of tweets we would do throughout the duration of their big publicity push," explains de la Mare. She also will tweet about upcoming author events.
"Then there's just the day-to-day, on-the-fly, just sort of monitoring the chatter, monitoring the trends, and then finding and posting information that's going to be relevant," she adds.
Behind Its 'Change the World …' Campaign
The effort behind the title "Change the World for Ten Bucks: Small Actions x Lots of People = Big Change," which Chronicle published in March 2009, is one example of how the publisher utilizes various social media channels. On Facebook, Chronicle created an application for the book—essentially a checklist of different things that users could do to change the world. When a user checks off an item, the application posts it to the user's news feed. "There was also a campaign on Twitter for the month of May …," says de la Mare. "Every single day in May at 10 a.m., we would send out a daily 'Change the World' tweet, and it had its own hashtag."
The book also inspired Chronicle to host a "Change the World Day," during which it closed its offices, and employees volunteered at different sites in the region. Throughout the day, employees tweeted about their experiences on Twitter and took photos that they posted to Chronicle's Flickr.com page so fans could see how they were helping to change the world.
Chronicle also relies on its authors to establish and maintain social networking pages that promote the brand and specific titles, and then interweaves those pages into the Chronicle Books social networking pages. "The authors become a really great resource for … content to populate our feeds," says de la Mare. "A lot of times the consumers are very interested in hearing directly from the authors. And we're really all about connecting people and not becoming a fortress between our publishing house and our authors."
"We definitely consider [social media] part of our overall marketing and publicity strategy. This is one prong," adds Algar. "We're really excited about being able to connect with our consumers in a way we haven't been able to before."