A Social Media Primer for Publishers: Don't Know the Difference between Tweets and Friending? Here's How to Get Started

Article excerpt

I'VE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY to talk with hundreds of publishers over the last few months about the state of their business. With all the challenges that face the traditional publishing business model, the most popular questions all revolve around social media.

"Do I need to get my editors set up on Twitter?" "What's this social media release?" "We set up a Facebook page for the magazine brand, but what now?" So let's do it.


Media and non-media companies alike can see upwards of 10 percent overall traffic coming from Twitter (us included). Twitter, the micro-blogging tool that works like instant-messaging on steroids, can be a game changer.

--Sure, you can create an account for the brand itself. You can use a program like Twitterfeed that will automatically distribute your articles through RSS. If you decide to do this, make sure you have someone maintain the account and tell your readers who this is. In the description put "This @Brand Twitter account is managed by @JohnSmith." Then, be sure to have John reply to readers and thank those that consistently ReTweet (republish or forward) your message.

--The better strategy is to make sure all your staff, editors, salespeople, production and, especially, your executive team, are using it. Show them how to set up a Twitterfeed account to push out content from the magazine. Done right, this strategy multiplies the affect considerably of what can be done with just one Twitter account.

--You and your staff will have a hard time grasping Twitter unless you use a Twitter management tool like Tweetdeck or Tweetgrid. We use Tweetdeck. Following the stream (the people you follow) is nearly impossible once you start following more than 100 people... so don't. Just follow the key phrases and your brand names. You can set up defined searches that will notify you who is talking about what related to your brand and your industry. Editors can follow certain phrases to get a lead on a new story. Salespeople can follow key customer brands and look like heroes if something important pops up. Even though we've been talking about distribution methods, Twitter's most important use is as a listening tool. It's a must-use tool for journalists.

--Be democratic. …