#AWP14: How Writers and Publishers are Embracing Social Media
The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Annual Conference & Bookfair is an annual event wherein writers, publishers, academics, and anyone even tangentially related to the lit world come together to attend seminars, buy the latest and greatest books of prose and poetry, promote their own books of prose and poetry, and, well, party.
This year it runs from February 26 – March 1 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, with about 12,000 attendees.
AWP caters to a niche but robust market, and those involved have become more and more tech savvy each year.
— AWP (@awpwriter) February 27, 2014
While the word “writer” often calls to mind Ernest Hemingway hunched over a big wooden desk in the middle of nowhere, contemporary authors, publishers and AWP alike have wholeheartedly embraced social media. AWP created the official #AWP14 hashtag and compiled a best practices Tweet Sheet for the event, displaying top tweets in the entranceway to the conference hall daily.
This post will provide some key analysis about this niche market’s growing social media presence in the week before and first couple days into the conference. We’ll circle back next week to see what the weekend has in store for AWP’ers.
What’s the most active social media channel?
Facebook and Twitter
#AWP14, AWP’s most popular hashtag, is, not surprisingly, most popular on Twitter. Facebook puts up some competition over the week leading up to AWP, but when the conference starts on the 26th, there’s a noticeable spike in engagement on Instagram and Twitter, narrowing Facebook out.
What this means: Facebook is seen by this community as an ideal platform for publicizing readings and parties—building awareness before an event. Twitter and Instagram are used as in media res tools for keeping track of fellow conference attendees and publicizing events during the actual conference timeframe.
And let’s not forget Tumblr, which is a bustling hub and forum for authors, presses, and literary conversation that’s been especially active among writers during the conference.
What are people talking about?
From February 20-28, the major AWP-related keywords flying around on social media are pretty predictable—according to our Conversation Driver Analysis report[, the most common three used alongside mentions of #awp14 and keyword AWP 2014 are “book,” “seattle,” and “writers.”
But Dig Deeper: These results are unsurprising for a conference focused on books, attended by writers, and taking place in Seattle—until we take a look at industry news.
The Power of Social Media
On February 17, AWP sent out the following tweet:
To clear up some misinformation, the AWP Bookfair is not open to the public this year because of Seattle tax reasons #AWP14
— AWP (@awpwriter) February 17, 2014
Which led to an onslaught of complaints from soon-to-be attendees ranging from sad:
— Steve Himmer (@SteveHimmer) February 17, 2014
to angry and concerned about financial repercussions of restricting public access:
.@awpwriter Why is this being announced today and not weeks ago? Many indie publishers are traveling far and rely on that public support.
— Atticus Books (@AtticusBooks) February 17, 2014
The wild popularity of the word “book” during this time period gains new dimension now, doesn’t it?
Writer world darling Paul Constant penned an awareness-building post about the sorry state of affairs for The Stranger:
“AWP brings hundreds of publishers to town, and most of those publishers have tables or booths at AWP where they sell their titles, often at a discount. On the last day of the conference, the book fair is traditionally open to the public so the host city can enjoy an opportunity to sample what AWP has to offer.”
And a few days later, after negotiating with the city of Seattle, AWP opened the book fair to the public again, once again proving the power of social media. This is also a winning example of how industry knowledge and strong data can combine for a 360 degree view of the latest happenings.
Looking at the 43.6 million potential Twitter impressions, over the last week, we can see the top tweets contributing to peak impressions from 2/20 to 2/28, which is a great way to monitor which conversations are generating the most buzz and what’s being said. Here I can see that Chuck Palahniuk’s retweets generated 2 out of 3 peak impressions during this time period, which speaks volumes about his popularity in this market, and how active the community is on social. The other peak impression tweet was a retweet by the highly respected Paris Review publicizing a party sponsored by @tumblr, @Tin_House, @WavePoetry, @ElectricLit, @GuernicaMag and themselves on 2/27. This gives me invaluable insight into the importance and buzz around this event.
You tell us! Do you think exploring social media analytics regarding a specific event, conference, or retreat is a good way to discover what people are interested in your industry at large? What insights could you glean from data like this in your own industry?
I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.