Quiet Lightning Case Study
Bay Area literary non-profit Quiet Lightning began in 2009 as a monthly, submission-based reading series, featuring all forms of writing without introductions or author banter. Each show is published as a book, sPARKLE + bLINK. The series moves to a different venue every month—from bars to bookstores, night clubs to caves, to mansions, state parks, museums, and greenhouses. Since its inception, Quiet Lightning’s mission has expanded beyond its flagship, monthly reading series; the group now curates two additional reading series; publishes a magazine; founded a publishing imprint; and produces films.
I first encountered Quiet Lightning in 2010, in a New York Times article about the San Francisco lit scene. I had moved back to the Bay a couple years earlier, after graduating from Reed College with an English and Creative Writing degree, and sought a community of like-minded lit-folk. I submitted, and—to my surprise—Quiet Lightning invited me to read my poem at their first show of 2011. I submitted again and read again. Then I started volunteering, which because of my professional digital marketing experience, lead to a position as their Director of Public Relations doing primarily social media strategy and outreach—and which lead, eventually, to a spot on their Board of Directors.
While the organization had done an inspiring job generating positive press and word-of-mouth buzz, the primary way they promoted upcoming readings and calls-for-submissions was through an opt-in e-newsletter and local, online event directories. Quiet Lighting had a Facebook Group, but not a Page; they had Twitter, but they rarely tweeted. As the globe crept toward the cusp of social media ubiquity, Quiet Lightning needed a strong social presence that would build awareness of their mission, grow their community, and help them engage even more effectively with local authors and lit fans.
What I did
Honed Quiet Lightning branding including brand voice
Developed social media strategy for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram including ownable #hashtags
Developed social media guidelines
Trained volunteers to post as Quiet Lightning from various social profiles
Established, and trained colleagues to use, Hootsuite account
Created Facebook Page, which boasts over 1,200 fans (Jan., 2016)
Created Instragram account, from which (among other things) we live-post readings
Created Periscope account to live-stream shows
Grew Twitter following
Developed and ran photo contest with ownable hashtag to drive awareness of new Instagram account
Ongoing community, marketing, and campaign management
And all of this as a volunteer, with no staff, and zero budget