This Valentine’s Day, candy brand Mondelez tried out a novel form of influencer marketing. They invited authors on Wattpad, the world’s largest community of writers and readers, to craft Sour Patch-themed fan fiction romances. Fans could vote on their favorite story, which was turned into a full social media campaign complete with an animated digital film and cross platform promotion.
In embracing Wattpad, Mondelez demonstrated it has its (sticky) finger firmly on the pulse of today’s emerging social platforms and the explosion of user-generated content. In her latest Internet Trends Report, Mary Meeker highlighted Wattpad’s incredible growth: this year the total number of stories written grew 140 percent! Wattpad’s stats are staggering:
- There are over 125 million stories on the platform.
- Every minute more than a day’s worth of reading material is posted.
- 40 million unique monthly visitors (that’s about the same as Buzzfeed) spend a total of 11 billion minutes a month on the site, with an average engagement of 30 minutes per user per session.
- Ninety percent of all Wattpad activity is on mobile.
So what does Wattpad mean for public relations? Unlike Medium, where business essays and Op Eds are welcome and shared, Wattpad is a haven for creative writing – both fiction and nonfiction. Writers and readers visit the site to engage with like-minded content creators, not with businesses and brands. But as Mondelez demonstrated, engaging with the Wattpad community as influencers is one way to tap into the millions of users. Indeed, a visit to Wattpad’s contest page shows that a number of consumer brands are hosting writing challenges to promote their products. For example, Chipotle asked writers to submit a story about a favorite food memory, and the movie The Age of Adaline asked authors to answer the question “What if you never aged?” For brands looking to promote an idea or mission, tapping into Wattpad’s audience can be a great way to get creative thinkers engaging with your business. Consider Wattpad like Youtube for writers – it’s a home for emerging talents to show off their skills and find a following and for established writers to tease and promote new work.
For brands with brilliant thought leaders, Wattpad offers a platform to start building out and testing their ideas. Have an eloquent CEO with an incredible founder’s story or mission? Wattpad could be the ideal platform to begin writing the next Lean In, Girl Boss or Delivering Happiness.
Ultimately, even if Wattpad doesn’t perfectly fit into your content strategy, it is worth exploring as part of the continued explosion of user generated content. From Snapchat to Pinterest, Meeker’s report underscores the idea that “users generating their own content are recreating the internet” in their own image. In order to stay relevant, brands will need to find the platforms and conversations where their core audience lives and engage with them on their terms. As the internet continues to expand, it will be more and more important to hone in on the distinct platforms and places where your target audience creates their content.