HarperCollins creates 'Inkpop' social site for teens, authors

NEW YORK: HarperCollins launched an online social networking platform for teens called Inkpop, expanding on the book publisher's digital strategy, which includes reaching out more directly to consumers.

NEW YORK: HarperCollins launched an online social networking platform for teens called Inkpop, expanding on the book publisher's digital strategy, which includes reaching out more directly to consumers.

The goal of the site is to not only increase interactivity among teenage consumers, but also build brand awareness for HarperCollins authors and upcoming books, said Diane Naughton, VP of marketing for HarperCollins Children's Books.

"What we're trying to do overall in the digital strategy is really put the customer at the center and really hear from them what they [like]," she said. "For us, it's a great testing ground because we're really hearing directly from the teens what they want to see, what they like, and it's better than any kind of focus group that we could assemble ourselves."

Inkpop, which soft launched in the fourth quarter of 2009, officially launched on January 25 and offers teenagers a place to submit writing, read, and vote on peers' work, as well as interact with HarperCollins editors and authors. The company used its existing Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace accounts to spread the word about the launch, in addition to online advertising.

The publisher is working with Switch 180 PR and Vendeloo PR on publicity and PR. Going forward, HarperCollins plans to incorporate writing contests, partnerships, and multimedia elements into Inkpop.

"No longer can you build something and assume that the teens are going to come to you," Naughton added. "Rather, you have to go to the teens and get in front of them. It's putting the audience first and responding to their specific needs."

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