Perseus CMO Rick Joyce on Battling the Homogenization of Books
You've recommended forming focused sites for niche audiences. Are publishers' overall brands not important?
I just don't think the consumer cares about publisher brands except in some very specific circumstances where the publisher is so dominant in a given genre, like a Harlequin or a Tor. I think that the vast majority of publishers are fooling themselves if they think the consumer is picking them based on brands. I would say the same thing about movies, excepting Disney and Marvel. When was the last time you said, "I want to go see a Paramount movie or a 21st Century Fox movie"? It's nothing you would ever say or do.
What publishers should really be trying to do is find a way to build direct access to or a conversation with a set of consumers around something specific. It can be really specific, like vegan food. The people who care about that really care about it. They don't want to go to just any food site and hunt down the stuff that is vegan friendly. You're serving a population that cares about a certain issue, if you create stuff that is that narrow.
How should publishers choose the platforms for these brands?
I'm a believer that you have to pick the platform that makes the most sense. If you're doing design or aesthetic stuff, there is Pinterest. If you're doing breaking news or social commentary, Twitter can really be effective. For fandom maybe you want to be on Reddit. There are different tools for different kinds of communities.
A problem can arise if publishers try to be on too many platforms at once because they don't have tons of money and they really want to focus on things that can have an impact. Let's say you want to promote your cookbooks and you are trying to juggle feeds on Instagram, Vine, a blog, Twitter, etc. Your efforts can really dissipate. I believe in honing it down to where your people are and focusing the conversation on the best vehicles. You also need to think about the voice of that vehicle, the type of content, how often this content needs to be released, and who are its supporters-authors, other media, superfans, etc.