John Green: Authenticity in Social Media Marketing

Michelle    July 8, 2015

Subject: John Green, New York Times best selling author

Industry: Publishing

Web Links: John Green on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr, Instagram, Wikipedia, Goodreads, Author’s Website

Additional Interesting Reading that Didn’t Quite Make It Into This Article: New Yorker

John Green is an author of young adult fiction, vlogger, philanthropist, and a creator of online educational videos. He is an active social media user, and in 2014 was included in Time Magazine‘s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Green uses social media to create and promote a large number of activities, including his novels and films based on the novels, and his charity endeavours through the Foundation to Decrease World Suck.

However, Green did not start social media engagement primarily as a marketing exercise. He published his first novel, Looking for Alaska, in 2005. It was well-received, winning the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz award in 2006, but not a best-seller.

In 2007, independent of his activities as a novelist, he co-founded the Vlogbrothers Youtube channel, as a way to connect with his brother Hank Green on a regular basis. They called this project “Brotherhood 2.0”, and the videos were made publicly available. Throughout 2007, they acquired a growing fanbase, forming a online sub community called “Nerdfighteria“. Hank Green describes Nerdfighteria as “a community that sprung up around our videos, and basically we just get together and try to do awesome things and have a good time and fight against world suck.”

In 2014, over 100,000 people self-identified as Nerdfighters through a ‘Nerdfighteria Census‘ survey. The majority of survey respondents were Americans between the ages of 13 and 30.

As Green’s ‘Nerdfighteria’ community grows, so do the sales of his books. Paper Towns (2008), his third novel and the first to be published post-Brotherhood 2.0, debuted at number 5 on the New York Times bestseller list for children’s books. Will Grayson, Will Grayson (2010, co-written with David Leviathan) debuted at number 3. His most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars (2012) debuted at number 1, where it remained for seven straight weeks. Also in 2012, Looking for Alaska, his first novel, hit the New York Times bestseller list for children, more than seven years after it’s original publication. In 2014, the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars was number one at the box office on opening weekend and grossed over US$307 million worldwide.

Green’s popularity has also influenced other young adult fiction, giving rise to terms like “GreenLit” or “The John Green Affect” to describe books that are similar in tone to his own, or the effect an endorsement from Green can have on sales of other books.

Green has also channeled his success as a vlogger into other ventures, including the Greens’ charity, Foundation to Decrease World Suck, and a total of 11 other online series, including Crash Course, an educational channel where John Green covers various topics in the humanities, and Hank Green teaches science.

In addition to Youtube, Green is active on other social media like Twitter (with 4.3 million followers) and Tumblr, where he blogs on a wide range of issues and promotes his books and other content.

Lessons Learned for others

  1. There’s no substitute for authenticity
  2. Be Diverse
  3. Be where your audience is
  4. Social media drives sales; sales drive social media
  5. Social media = opportunities

Submitted By: Michelle Maw

To contact the author: @MichelleAMaw

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