Unfinished John Green Novel Hits Number One on Amazon – A “How To” of Social Media in Advertising.

Last Tuesday 28th June, the best-selling American author John Green bagged the number one spot on both amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com for his new book, “The Fault in Our Stars”. Not only is Green’s latest offering as of yet unfinished, but its early success is attributed not to a flashy media blitz or carefully crafted campaign, but to a heavyweight social media presence. Throwing down the gauntlet to other authors who shun online promotion via Facebook and Twitter, Green is surely an example of best practice in the use of online media in advertising and marketing.

Although he also has over 1.1 million Twitter followers, Green’s largest promotional tool has been his Youtube channel, Vlogbrothers, which evolved from an experiment with his brother Hank in 2007. In their Brotherhood 2.0 project, they attempted to communicate with one another for one year using only videoblogging on Youtube. Offerings from the pair grew from discussions of their everyday lives to more elaborate content, including the “gameshow” Truth or Fail and book-club style discussions of famous works like J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.

Green began to build momentum around his latest novel, “The Fault in Our Stars”, on Tuesday 28th June when he announced the title on Youtube, Twitter and Tumblr. Later that day, he spent over an hour streaming live on Youtube, reading an extract from the book and answering questions from fans in real time as they commented on the stream. He suggested that his fans create mock-ups of possible covers for the still unpublished book, and received dozens of entries within a few days. He also promised to personally sign all pre-orders of the book. By 10pm that night, the novel was number one on barnesandnoble.com,  having won the same spot on amazon.com only an hour before.

The relationships Green had developed with his fans through social media allowed him to bypass traditional advertising mediums to effectively (and cheaply) achieve what many fail to do in a crowded book market. Moreover, the buzz created around The Fault in Our Stars is sure to grow exponentially and permeate market segments beyond those who had watched and enjoyed his Youtube vlogs. The true engagement and two-way communication with consumers that he demonstrated should act as a bar to which other writers (and, indeed, other marketers) should strive to rise.

Posted by Caroline.

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