Scholastic engages—and increases—Facebook fans with live author chats

Scholastic’s campaign to connect fans with favorite authors and experts successfully brings the print publisher into the digital realm.

Most people can name at least one book from childhood that they loved—a book that made them laugh, think, or imagine a world different from their own. What if you had the chance to talk to the author behind your favorite childhood book? For fans of its Facebook pages, Scholastic Inc. offers such an opportunity. To better engage with the 3 million readers, parents, educators, librarians, etc. who comprise its fan base, Scholastic invites authors and experts to host live chats or takeovers on one of its 27 Facebook pages. For this unique and interactive approach, these chats and takeovers earned Scholastic a first-place win in the Best Use of Facebook category in PR Daily’s Digital PR & Social Media Awards.

PR Daily’s 2012 Digital PR and Social Media Awards were presented by Synaptic Digital. Learn more about Synaptic Digital here (pdf).

Scholastic began experimenting with live chats and takeovers as a way to not only engage fans and connect them with authors and experts, but to establish itself as a credible source of information for parents and educators. R.L. Stine takes over Scholastic’s Facebook page R.L. Stine, the author behind the “Goosebumps” books, launched Scholastic’s social media takeover series. To get fans in the Halloween spirit, Stine “took over” Scholastic’s main Facebook page on Oct. 28, 2011, for two hours. Scholastic’s social media team stepped aside to allow Stine to post jokes, photos, and fun memories with fans, and answer fan questions as they came in. It was easy for fans to interact with Stine; all they had to do was log in to Facebook as they normally would, go to the Scholastic page, and post their questions directly to the page. To let fans know the event was coming up, Scholastic promoted it via both traditional channels and social media. After Stine’s successful takeover, Scholastic scheduled live chats with Judy Blume, author of “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” and Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician and author of “The Happiest Toddler on the Block.” How it works Prior to each chat and takeover, Scholastic preps authors on what to expect from the community and social media platforms. Scholastic encourages authors to use their own voices, which means it must choose authors whose voices reflect that of Scholastic. During all of the chats and takeovers, the Scholastic profile picture changes to one of the featured author or expert to ensure fans can quickly and easily identify with whom they will engage. Scholastic starts each chat with a welcome message, an announcement of the day’s featured guest and the topic to be discussed, and an invitation to submit questions and comments. The author or expert then gives his or her own welcome message and kicks off the discussion. Due to the interactive nature of social media, the authors primarily let the fans lead the talks. The results During his two-hour takeover, Stine posted 21 updates that attracted 513 comments, thousands of likes, and 41 shares. Blume posted 57 times during her chat, and answered dozens of fan questions. Karp’s chat garnered 92 comments and reached more than 14,000 people. All the events increased likes to Scholastic’s Facebook pages. Scholastic’s Morgan Baden talks social media strategy with Ragan.com Publisher Mark Ragan: Want to get recognized for your hard work? Find out about Ragan and PR Daily’s award programs here: http://www.prdaily.com/Main/RaganAwardsPrograms.aspx (Image via)

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