Penguin using heavy social media ploy for “Likes” on anniversary

Well, you can’t say Penguin isn’t aiming for the younger crowd. (And they’re using social media so blatantly that I’m rather cynical about it.) Their Penguin Classics line is turning 65, so the company is starting a contest. As described in this USA Today Books article (Penguin Classics rolls out skateboard photo contest for 65th anniversary), it’s all about contestants posting a photo of a Penguin Classic book posing with a skateboard.

Fans can post the photos on Penguin USA’s Facebook contest page.  The three prize winners will get skateboard decks with Penguin-themed designs on them. First prize will receive  an Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Graphic Classic skateboard deck; second prize wins a Dharma Bums Graphic Classic deck; and third prize gets a We Have Always Lived in the Castle deck.

Penguin themselves won’t be deciding on the winners, though. This is a pure social media contest. Winners will be decided by public vote — that is, by visitors to the site expressing their vote on the page. So in essence, it’s not really a contest for the best photo of a skateboard and a Penguin Classic. Rather, it’s a contest to see how many people each entrant can drag over to the page to “Like” Penguin and vote.

You’ve got to admit, this is a prime marketing use of social media. It’s all about the number of “Likes” of the PAGE rather than about a) genuinely good contest photos; or b) the number of people who have actually heard of Penguin and really like Penguin BOOKS. They may get a few new book fans this way, but I suspect this will be more like a quick flash mob, hordes of younger people trying to help their friend get a skateboard, and then a ton of “Unlikes” after the contest is over.

Ah well. You do what you have to, I guess.

One thing to note, though, if you’d like to enter the contest because you love books, and you have a ton of bookish friends who will vote for you — the last day to enter the contest is July 31st, 2011. So you don’t have very long.

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