One Small Business’s Approach to Social Media — with Impressive Results

Out of Print has a unique product and a unique approach to social media. The New York-based retail company takes the covers of the world’s most beloved books and puts them on T-shirts, phone cases and more. Their products are online and available wholesale, and for every item sold, they donate one book to a community in need through partner Books For Africa.

Out of Print was recently a finalist in the Mashable and Capital One Spark contest, America’s Most Social Small Business, making it as far as The Elite Eight, thanks to its eclectic and comprehensive approach to social media, which includes Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+.

Out of Print social media director Chuck Mazzone agreed to answer some of our questions about the company’s approach to social media.

1. What is Out of Print’s primary goal for social media?

We love celebrating great stories through our products, and social media gives us a tremendous opportunity to reach our fans on a personal level. We look at social media as a communal book club where everyone is encouraged to get involved and share their story through photos, commentary and fun activities without overwhelming them with promotional material.

2. Which of your social platforms is driving the most traffic to your website right now? Why is this medium working best for you?

Facebook. I feel our approach has had to continuously adapt to the ever-changing landscape of Facebook. We focus on highlighting important dates in literary history in the form of author and book quotes and tie in our literary collection of products when appropriate. And we look to create a friendly forum for our fans to express their opinion about literature and debate everything from their favorite novel to where they love to read. Mashable said that our Facebook page becomes “a reader’s safe haven and lends itself to high levels of engagement per post.”

3. Why did you decide to have a presence on most other social platforms but not YouTube?

We just haven’t found a good and consistent way yet to highlight our brand through video. I learned early on that just having a social media account and posting occasionally isn’t enough. You have to have a clear strategy and work at it every day. We are fortunate that some of our content can be repurposed across multiple platforms.

4. What types of posts/tweets/photos tend to perform the best for you?

Highlighting important dates in literary history in the form of author and book quotes are our best performers. Asking our fans to share what they are currently reading always guarantees high engagement. And we love regramming photos on Instagram of Out of Print fans wearing our apparel and accessories. [Gossip Girl's Leighton Meester pictured here and on Instagram in her Out of Print T-shirt.]

leighton meester tshirt

5. What are some of your most popular posts/tweets/Instagram photos/etc., and why do you think they were so popular?

Facebook: Celebrate International Book Giving Day — 35, 632 people reached, 533 likes, 9 comments, 464 shares.

Facebook post example

I feel it was so popular because it highlighted a great literary giving campaign that really resonated with our audience and coincided with our mission — for each product sold, one book is donated to a community in need through Books For Africa.

Another popular post would be our Pi Day post (3/14) that allowed our fans to uniquely express what they are reading. We asked: “Do you have a book with you? Look up Page 3, Line 14 and post that line in the comments below.” It received 114 comments.

Creative Pi Day Facebook post

Our author quotes and important dates in literary history are very popular across all platforms. Recently, I worked with our design team to create a new display style for these and we have seen a significant rise in engagement, especially on Twitter with favorites and retweets.

ornate book cover

6. Can you describe an item that performed differently than expected?

I am always pleasantly surprised when I post a story and ask for our fan’s opinion, and they engage in a big way. Earlier this year, there was an author op-ed saying that if J. K. Rowling cared about writing, she should stop doing it. I posted this piece on our Facebook page and asked what our fans thought. The post garnered 86 thoughtful comments that continued to promote discussion, 29 shares and reached over 16,000 people.

J.K. Rowling debate

7. What’s next for you and Out of Print?

I am very excited to be speaking at the Social and Digital Marketing Conference: North America at the end of May. Out of Print will continue to release new literary styles and find fun and unique ways to engage our fans on social media.

Let us know what you think!