Josephine Angelini traveled to Puerto Rico, Amy Plum vacationed in Paris, Carolyn Mackler hit the beach at Harbour Island, Bahamas, and Claire LaZebnik toured the hot spots of Hollywood. These are four of the eight authors who participated in HarperTeen’s Fall in Love with Summer Escapes promotion this summer, posting photos of and chatting about their summer escapes on Tumblr.
As part of the promotion, the publisher staged a photo contest, inviting the authors’ fans to submit their own vacation photos to the Summer Escapes section of HarperTeen’s Facebook page. In addition to Tumblr and Facebook, the promotion was featured on the HarperTeen Twitter feed, and received almost 600,000 impressions across the three platforms before it wrapped up on August 31.
"We had a number of really popular YA novels and we wanted to find a way to sustain their momentum this summer," says Lauren Flower, director of integrated marketing for HarperCollins Children’s Books. “We decided to devise a social media campaign giving the authors a platform to promote their content and reach their online communities. We used Tumblr, which is kind of a cross between Twitter and a regular blog site, because it is very social and we thought its creative visuals would resonate with these authors’ fans.”
After posting their photos, entrants were encouraged to solicit votes from their friends to clinch the prize—13 HarperTeen books, including the eight featured novels and five additional titles of their choice. The publisher recorded an impressive engagement rate, according to Flowers, who reports,"We consider a 1% response rate very successful, by industry standards. The number of new fans, photo contest entries and votes, and pass-alongs, what we consider our ‘engagement’ metrics, exceeded that benchmark."
The novels included in the promotion were Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed, The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson, Die for Me by Amy Plum, Carolyn Mackler’s Tangled, Hereafter by Tara Hudson, A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young, Claire LaZebnik’s Epic Fail, and Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski. "The connecting theme of the novels is definitely romance,” Flower explains. “But we also chose books with a strong sense of setting, and we included authors who are very engaged with their fans and have active communities. Together, these eight authors have 53,000 followers on Twitter, and the Tumblr platform gave them another opportunity to reach out to fans.”
Though this was the first time the company used Tumblr in a promotion, Flowers reports that she will “absolutely” use the social network in future campaigns. “It is so easy for readers to use, and its visual capabilities let us showcase the book covers and have the authors share their photos,” she notes.
Though it’s difficult to measure the Fall in Love with Summer Escapes promotion’s impact on sales, Flower says “it seems that almost all of the novels had a pretty nice lift, particularly in e-book format. We saw some direct correlation between an author’s participation and sales, which seemed to get a boost when authors were posting their photos and tweeting. The campaign’s theme of falling in love and escaping for the summer was a fun one for teens—even if they just escaped by reading the novels.”