Social Media From the Trenches

Social Media From the Trenches

On March 18, 2010, Susannah Greenberg organized a panel for the Women’s National Book Association on Book Marketing Online. She invited some of the people in book publishing who are engaged in digital marketing, and it made for an interesting discussion. The panel was open to questions throughout and many of the questions kept coming back to social media.

After the panel was over, I realized I had some questions of my own for my fellow panel members which they were gracious enough to answer. Here is my interview with Ron Hogan, Director of E-Marketing Strategy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Kate Rados, Director of Digital Initiatives, Chelsea Green Publishing, and Abby Stokes, teacher and author of Is This Thing On?: A Computer Handbook for Late Bloomers, Technophobes, and the Kicking & Screaming

Fauzia Burke: Ron, from a publisher’s perspective, you had talked about the importance of having a personal touch when engaging in social media. What does that mean and can you give us an example?

Ron Hogan: People are much more likely to “bond” with other people than they are with a corporation, so as much as possible you should approach and engage them on a personal level. Decades before we had “social media” or even the Internet, Stan Lee understood this, connecting with fans with his monthly “Bullpen Bulletins,” a conversationally toned column that gave folks a peek inside the Marvel offices while promoting the newest comics. By introducing readers to the artists responsible for Marvel’s comics, Lee cultivated a fan culture that endures to this day.

FB: Kate, you talked about doing “personal PR,” why do you think that is important not just for authors but for people in publishing as well?

Kate Rados: Especially in this economy, personal PR is key to any career. Most of your jobs and your relationships (with media, vendors, influencers) come from recommendations and relationship building. Social media is the best place to start making friends within your industry and frankly, that’s how people collaborate these days.

FB: Abby, you said you have been active on social media for a year, and I wonder if you had set out with a goal for Facebook and Twitter?

Abby Stokes: I didn’t set out with a goal for each medium, but definitely had numbers in my mind at the outset with Twitter. I discovered over time that Twitter followers can be fickle, for good reason, and discovered that the more I posted what was interesting to me and less about self promotion, my numbers increased. By the time that was happening, I was less invested in the numbers and more into the fun of finding interesting things to post. When I stopped thinking about the numbers a slow and steady increase started to happen. I didn’t ever think numbers with Facebook, but instead wanted to find people who I hadn’t seen or heard from in a long time and had a desire to reconnect with.

FB: Kate, you have been doing social media longer than most people in publishing, what are the biggest lessons you have learned?

KR: Stop selling. Be friendly; be passionate; be genuine. LISTEN.

FB: Ron, do you feel your experience as a blogger helps you with your current publishing job? How?

RH: My background as a blogger definitely comes in handy as an online marketer. One, I have a hands-on understanding of the territory; I haven’t read every blog that’s out there, but I’ve been around long enough to find some I admire…and I know effective ways to find more, even in areas I’m unfamiliar with. Two, I’ve been on the receiving end of marketing pitches long enough that I have a sense of what does and doesn’t work when trying to approach bloggers. (I’m not saying my reactions to marketing pitches are universal; I have enough friends in the blogging community who feel differently about various types of pitches than I do to maintain an open perspective.)

FB: Kate, you said you use Twitter to get most of your news, what did you mean and why is it the best way to get news?

KR: It’s not necessarily the best way to get news, BUT I use it on a regular basis for two purposes: 1) As I mostly follow publishing people, I hear about the latest news from my tweeps before it hits the mainstream blogs. And, I get people’s opinions attached to the news right away, so I can get a temperature of how people are reacting. And 2) I set up lists for my niche blogs so I can get breaking news and re-tweet or add to the conversation. For instance, Chelsea Green is all about sustainable living, so my ‘green’ list helps me keep in touch with the latest news. And for the record, I still do use Google Reader which in my opinion is the best way to get news–and I use it within an inch of its life.

FB: When I talk to most people about social media they say,”I have no time for it.” Abby you said, you have a schedule of 15 minutes in the morning and 15 at night. Did that evolve or did you have that schedule in mind from the start?

AS: I was concerned from the get-go about time management because my schedule is tight. When I teach I don’t have access to a computer the same way people do in an office environment. Sometimes I can sneak a peek on my iPhone between appointments or while in transit, but not always. That put a natural limit on when I can communicate. I suspected that if I didn’t “water and feed” the people who followed me on both Twitter and Facebook I wouldn’t keep them coming back. That’s what keeps me disciplined about posting on both twice daily when possible. It is a nice routine now that I catch up and share at the start of the day and at the end.

FB: Kate, what are the three sites you can’t live without?

KR: Only three?! Regarding social media, I get some good takeaways from Mashable. I also live on Gizmodo and GetGlue. And about 50 others per day. It’s a sickness.

FB: Abby, have you achieved your social media goals?

AS: I really enjoy both Twitter and Facebook now. They are a part of my daily routine as much as e-mailing or calling a friend. Not a goal, but a lovely benefit. From a practical point of view, I have increased the number of people who are aware or me–a definite goal achieved. I had no idea that Twitter would be such a wealth of good information–a bonus.

Social media is growing in importance on a daily basis. Both Facebook and Twitter have been real asset


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Leather Conference Folders & Promotional Bottled Water – Why They Make Great Promotional Gifts

Leather Conference Folders & Promotional Bottled Water – Why They Make Great Promotional Gifts

At your next Conference will you target your product or service by giving delegates a Leather Conference Folder or do you target the delegate’s personal care with Promotional Bottled Water? This article discusses both possibilities and then leaves the choice up to you.

When a delegate receives information on the conference they have been invited to it sets the level of expectation immediately. If you contact the person via E.Mail with a PDF map that could be acceptable. However if the information arrives by post along with a relevant Promotional Gift such as a good quality road map or pen then it makes it much more personal. It gives the delegate the impression that they matter and that they can look forward to more pleasant surprises upon arrival. Perception is vital so you must get it right at the outset.

Upon arrival at the event the delegate can expect to pick up a bag with relevant information on where to go, what to do etc. But imagine if when they arrive that the information is presented in a Leather Conference Folder with their initials engraved upon the outer cover? All of a sudden this person feels that they are a valued individual and not just part of the crowd. You can see this for yourself at the next event you attend. Watch what attendees do with a plastic carrier bag, it is usually dropped at the feet of the recipient whilst they remove their coats or sign in. It is then left lying around or discarded entirley. Compare that then to the person whose personalised Leather Conference Folder is treated with care and respect. The folder will be put down carefully on a surface and it will be studied carefully as if it were an important item.

By catering for the attendees personal needs you once again demonstrate a personal touch. Giving each delegate Promotional Bottled Water tells them that you know they will probably get thirsty and you care enough about them to solve that problem. Unlike a pen or keyring this really is all about them and their personal care and not about you and your product. That said of course by branding the Promotional Water Bottle you achieve two wins for the price of one.

So which one you choose is completely up to you. Do you use the Leather Conference Folder or the Promotional Bottled Water? You will be aware that either of these items work well in delivering your message to its intended audience. The water will almost certainly be consumed on site so could be considered as a short term Promotional Item whereas the personalised Leather Conference Folder will definitely be taken back to the office or home and valued as great quality Business Gift.

Personally I believe you should give them both options but then as a Promotional Merchandise supplier that probably won’t surprise your will it?

Paul Beirne has been in the Promotional Clothing business for more than 20 years and is Sales Director of This UK based company is the largest privately owned manufacturer of Promotional Clothing and Promotional Merchandise in the UK.

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