Rachel Krupitsky shares how Penguin Random House put together their first Halloween-related social media sweepstakes

We wanted to have a place where everyone can get some recognition for their awesome costumes and feel seen. Rachel Krupitsky
Earlier this year, Penguin Random House Director of Social Media Strategy Rachel Krupitsky and her team were brainstorming how to engage their community in a way that not only spotlighted Penguin Random House books, but also reading culture in general. They decided a perfect way to do that would be through a Halloween costume-related sweepstakes — their first-ever connected with the holiday.

“We wanted to be able to be a part of the conversation around Halloween, which is such a fun and creative holiday,” said Rachel. “But we wanted to put our own bookish spin on it.”

She said because they knew a large portion of their audience would be dressing up, they thought it would be a great opportunity to spotlight them.

“This is a chance to let them shine and share those images with us so our community sees the cool things other readers are doing with their bookish costumes,” she said. “We wanted to have a place where everyone can get some recognition for their awesome costumes and feel seen.”

According to Rachel, they came up with the idea in mid-August and began planning immediately.

She said the planning process included coming up with the idea for the sweepstakes, figuring out what the prize would be, what their rules page would look like, how people would enter, and what the hashtag would be.

Legally, she said they also had to make sure that everything was above board and they were using the right language.

We had previously decided IGTV, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube would be the best channels to promote it on. Rachel Krupitsky
“We’re lucky to have a legal department we can reach out to with the parameters of the sweepstakes and the timeline and have them put the rules together for us,” Rachel said. “But, I try to give them everything two to three weeks in advance.”

But, she said the biggest piece was collaborating with their video team. “They have a lot of priorities and need a lot of lead time,” said Rachel. “We collaborated closely with them, starting with our kickoff meeting where we got together and brainstormed the DIY costumes that we would include in our promotional video. From that point, we narrowed it down to playful costume ideas like an “indie” bookstore and a dog-earred page (very controversial in the reading community!) that we thought we’d be able to craft.”

Their next step was to recruit some of their craftier colleagues to help make the costumes.

“It was truly a team effort on that part,” she said. “Then, once we had the costumes, we filmed in the next day or two after that.”

Their video team went back and did the editing. Then, they sent it to Rachel and her team for feedback on the artwork and visual elements.

According to Rachel, they got inspiration for their DIY-style video from a successful DIY video campaign they ran in April. “We also saw that it was something we were able to put together more quickly than some of the other more long-form videos we’ve done,” said Rachel. “We knew we’d be able to do this in time.”

Once the final version of the video was approved, they started their plan to roll it out on their social channels.

It can be hard to get people to actively participate in something. Rachel Krupitsky
“We had previously decided IGTV, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube would be the best channels to promote it on,” she said. “In particular, we had been seeing a lot of success with IGTV over the past four to five months.”

In terms of the content they’re sharing in addition to the promotional video, Rachel said they have stills from their video shoot they’re using to promote it. Then, throughout the campaign, they shared the fun costume images that users had created and shared. “My favorite, so far has been a post-apocalypse librarian,” said Rachel.

She said they had also learned through past campaigns that UGC from sweepstakes can be tricky, so they strategized around it.

“It can be hard to get people to actively participate in something,” said Rache. “For instance, we had a campaign over the summer where we sent out links to download images of the Penguin Random House penguin that people could color in and tag on social. But we determined that was too much of an ask because of the number of steps our users had to take.”

She said for this Halloween campaign, it was something people were already doing, so it lowered the barrier to entry.

According to Rachel, a big part of their rollout process was making sure everything was in the right format.

Doing this sweepstakes and having it go so smoothly is a good indicator of the great things we're going to do together in 2020. Rachel Krupitsky
“For IGTV, it had to meet the vertical format requirements,” she said. “Then, for YouTube, we made sure that the copy was optimized for search so that users can find it for many Halloweens to come.”

For Facebook, because the sweepstakes was mostly taking place on Instagram and Twitter, their goal was to show the cool costumes first and the sweepstakes second.

Internally, she said the campaign was a great moment to highlight the collaboration between the social team and the video team.

“Our teams recently came under one department in this past calendar year and it’s resulted in greater collaboration between our teams and more synergy,” she said. “Doing this sweepstakes and having it go so smoothly is a good indicator of the great things we’re going to do together in 2020.”

She said the first of those collaborations will be a book-related life hack video series around New Years.

“The first one is going to be how to organize your bookshelf,” she said. “Then we’re going to have other ones like how to fit more reading time into your life and how to find a comfortable reading position.”

Rachel said she’s been encouraged by the response to their DIY content, and that finding the right spin on it has been integral to their success.

Think about what's unique to your industry -- what people might want to learn that you might have unique expertise in -- and lean into that. Rachel Krupitsky
“DIY content is something people really like, but what’s tough is finding a spin on it that people haven’t done before,” she said. “In every industry, there are unique opportunities to tap into that. Think about what’s unique to your industry — what people might want to learn that you might have unique expertise in — and lean into that. It’s a great opportunity for brainstorming with your team and letting everyone’s creative ideas unfold.”

She said, from their experience, the first step is starting out small, researching other DIY videos across industries, and seeing what works.

“The best way to do it is to get started without assuming that anything is going to go live,” said Rachel. “Do a trial run, then see how it looks and then what you can do to improve it next time.”

Rachel Krupitsky has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2019. You can follow her on LinkedIn.