At the beginning of 2022, we began our collaboration with the Concordia Co-op Bookstore for our bi-annual Plank Gives Back initiative. 

For those who don’t know, Plank Gives Back is our pro bono initiative for non-profits and social organizations that need help improving their digital presence. We provide two weeks of our expertise (approximately 80 hours of work) where we strive to improve one organization’s online presence. 

This can include a digital marketing strategy, website design refresh, content strategy, hosting migration, or other services you can find at Plank Gives Back.

BLOG: Plank Gives Back 2021

We were inspired by Concordia Co-op Bookstore’s mission to provide new and used books to their community and be a safe space for LGBTQIA + and BIPOC individuals. After two years of surviving the pandemic, they needed help connecting with their community since their physical store was no longer open to the public.

bookcase filled with books about gender studies, LGBTQ fiction, and feminist theory
Queer literature at Concordia Co-op Bookstore

To help them engage with their community, we collaborated on a digital marketing strategy that focused on increasing their reach, engagement, and website traffic.

Setting Digital Marketing Objectives

The first thing we did was define Concordia Co-op Bookstore’s objectives. Their three main goals were to increase brand awareness, brand engagement, and website traffic.

Brand Awareness

Since a majority of their clients go to Concordia and live in Montreal we wanted to focus on increasing local awareness on select social media platforms. A key part of increasing awareness was making sure we presented them as an alternative to corporate bookstores and being a trusted partner in BIPOC and queer communities.

Brand Engagement

As well as increasing awareness, we wanted to give users multiple opportunities to engage with the bookstore in fun and educational ways. They wanted their platform to be used as a supportive community that features various initiatives such as author readings and book clubs. Social media is their main channel of communication with clients, so brand engagement was important to measure community interest.

Web Traffic

With a closed physical store, the Concordia Co-op Bookstore had to turn to online sales to keep serving customers. With all communication happening via social media, it was important to lead customers to their online store and encourage book sales.

Creating a Proto Persona & User Journey

Once we had a better understanding of their goals, the next step was to create a proto persona and map out a user journey.

What is a proto persona?

A proto persona is a description of an organization’s target audience that is developed with existing knowledge of who their users are, as opposed to doing user research.

Personas are a great way to get into the mind of a user and understand what motivates them, what their goals and challenges are, and how they consume media. Once you have identified these key elements, it is much easier to create a strategy that best targets them.

After interviewing two members of the Co-op Bookstore team, we created Sky, a non-binary persona to represent their ideal client.

User Journey Persona: Sky

Sky represents an introverted bookworm that dedicates a majority of their time to reading, studying, and expanding their knowledge of prevalent social issues and movements. They align themselves with smaller organizations that are sustainable and anti-capitalist. And their preferred channels include Instagram, TikTok, Concordia publications, and various Concordia student initiatives.

Once we knew who we were targeting, the next step was to develop a user journey to understand how they go about purchasing a book and interacting with bookstores.

What is a user journey?

A user journey depicts the process that someone goes through in order to accomplish a goal. Usually, the journey follows a user through 4 user phases: Awareness, Consideration, Decision, and Advocacy. These phases describe the user’s journey from when they first become aware of your organization, to when they review and consider their options, to their decision of purchase, and finally to becoming an advocate of your org.

Throughout these different stages, a user will perform different actions and interact with various types of content and channels in order to find the information they need.

User Journey

By defining Sky’s challenges and actions across their user journey, while also choosing the best content and channels to target them, we were able to paint a full picture of what the Concordia Co-op Bookstore’s digital strategy should look like.  

With a persona and a user journey, the next step was to brainstorm content ideas and create a posting schedule.

Outlining a Social Media Strategy & Content Guidelines

As mentioned, social media is Concordia Co-op Bookstore’s main channel of communication so it was a key component of their digital marketing strategy to increase brand awareness and credibility while encouraging new business.

To develop their social media strategy we researched various social media platforms in order to define the best way to attract the bookstore’s target audience. The two most important platforms for their audience are Instagram and TikTok.

Their Instagram had seen the most engagement out of all their platforms so continuing to prioritize it was important to them. 

TikTok Guidelines

TikTok was the perfect platform to increase awareness since there is currently a large community of book lovers that call themselves “booktok”. TikTok’s advanced algorithm makes it easier to reach an audience that shares the same interests and to reach locals in your community.

Once defining these two key platforms, we developed content guidelines to help the Concordia Co-op Bookstore create content and improve their profiles.

Developing a Social Media Calendar

To help the bookstore keep track of all their posts, we created a Trello board where they can schedule posts with Google Calendar reminders. The board also contains various resources that were shared throughout the process for them to refer to when needed, such as relevant hashtags to their community, best times to post, content ideas across the user journey, and more.

Trello Social Media Calendar

This social media calendar helps their team plan for all events, releases, and important information that they need to share with their followers. It can also serve as a tool for their entire team to coordinate any additional projects or tasks in an organized manner.

Digital Strategy Outcomes

The result was an increase in engagement across all their posts and stories, especially their reels. They also reported a number of people who had heard of their store through social media, indicating an increase in awareness.

The team especially liked using Trello as it made it easier to plan future posts and brainstorm ideas.

group of four people smiling in a bookstore surrounded by books.
Concordia Co-op Bookstore team + Steph, our Marketing Coordinator

Plank Gives Back Summer 2022

We had such a joy collaborating with the Concordia Co-op Bookstore and we look forward to seeing how their community continues to grow!

We will be launching our next Plank Gives Back initiative this summer. If you’re interested in learning more or subscribing to our PGB newsletter head to Plank Gives Back.

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