Posted on May 29, 2009 in Social media, by Rex Hammock
Recently, I stumbled across a debate I could never imagine taking place. My friend Joe Pulizzi at CustomPublishers.com was recounting his numerous discussions with individuals in the custom publishing business who view it as being separate from services related to social media.
As anyone who knows me will easily know, I can’t comprehend how anyone — a marketer or any creator of custom media — could perceive that “social media” is not only a part of what a custom publishing firm does, it’s the heart of what we should be about.
First, let me explain a few things.
- I believe the term “social media” is just a temporary label. Those who follow the media, marketing and technology fields need an umbrella term to describe all the methods people are using to identify and express themselves online. For the moment, the term “social media” is a catch-all phrase to describe everything from Twitter to Facebook. So, remember, “social media” = “the way in which people identify and express themselves online.”
- At Hammock Inc., we have never described what we do in terms of “creating content.” We are in the relationship-building business. From the day our company was created nearly 19 years ago, we have always clearly conveyed that our job is helping our clients create longer-lasting and deeper relationships with customers, members, supporters, alumni or whatever term a marketer applies to those with whom it has a relationship based on a shared passion.
- To us, “custom publishing” has always been a means to facilitate conversation among all those who share a common love, passion, commitment or special relationship. Before the word became a cliche, we used “community” to describe the goal of successful custom publishing.
- While we are known for our magazines — and our love of magazine story-telling, photography, illustration and design — Hammock Inc., from Day 1 of its existence, has also been committed to being on the leading edge of technology that supports our clients’ efforts to build strong relationships with their audiences. That means we were early developers of a wide array of interactive media in the early 1990s and managed listservs and CompuServe forums in the mid-1990s and created and managed web-based forums and communities beginning in 1995.
So you can see, I don’t even comprehend why a custom publishing company can say it’s not in the social media business.
To me, whatever media — magazines, online, video, audio — that help communities build around shared passions is the business we’re in. Building stronger, longer, more mutually-beneficial relationships is what we do.
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Posted on in Magazines, by Lena Anthony
Healthcare reform is not the most exciting topic, but it’s an important one, and it is covered extensively in the June/July 2009 issue of MyBusiness, the magazine we publish for the National Federation of Independent Business.
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Posted on May 26, 2009 in Editorial, by Lena Anthony
One of my greatest objections to English grammar is the concept of the gender-neutral pronoun. I’m all for gender equality, but I object to the unwieldy sentences it has created. Take this egregious example from an automobile safety card:
“The passenger should keep his or her seatbelt fastened at all times to protect himself or herself in the event of an accident.”
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Posted on May 22, 2009 in Advertising sales, by John Lavey
I was asking a friend who sells advertising about her business.
“It’s hard to swim, or even to see, with this much blood in the water,” she said.
True enough. Magazine advertising was off in 2007 and 2008. Those were historically bad years. Magazine advertising got off to an even slower start in 2009. Quarter one numbers from the Publishers Information Bureau show magazine pages off 26 percent year to year from 08 to 09.
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Posted on May 20, 2009 in Digital Media, Print, Social media, by Hammock Inc.
With newspapers and their social media policies taking center stage in the news recently, I thought it might be interesting to talk to a couple of my favorite local newspaper folks to get their take.
Robert Quigley is Internet Editor for the Austin American-Statesman, and Addie Broyles is their food writer. I connected with both of them through Twitter within the last 12 months, and when I asked some questions this week about social media and newspapers, they were just as insightful and helpful as I expected.
Q: You say in a recent article that there are no rules in place for the way staff conduct themselves on Twitter and other social media tools, do you think it will come to that?
Robert: Our normal code of conduct and ethics rules apply. I don’t think we’ll need to institute more layers of rules to cover social media, unless we need to respond to a serious problem that isn’t covered by our normal rules. Although we have a huge majority of our staff using social media, we haven’t run into any problems that would require new measures. This is an innovative newspaper, and our staff takes chances with new tools. We don’t want to stifle that. That being said, everyone here knows they represent the newspaper 24/7, and they are expected to act in accordance with that, no matter the platform.
Q: Even though the Statesman hasn’t issued policies regarding staff use of social media, are there certain rules or filters that you set up for yourself when it comes to using Twitter?
Robert: Yes, I do have rules that I’ve made up for myself:
- I re-read every post twice and take a deep breath before hitting “update.” I have no one reading tweets behind me, and it can be a bit unnerving. I’ve sent out more than 4,000 updates on the @statesman Twitter account now, and my typo/other mistake rate is pretty low because of this rule.
- I try to either attribute every post, provide a link or both. I do not retweet something unless it also has good sourcing. I also I want people to know that they can trust what I’m posting.
- I try to space out my tweets so I don’t annoy my followers. It can be tough, though. Some days, I just have a lot to share.
- I follow back people who seem to be following the account because they’re interested in what I have to say. I don’t follow back people who appear to be just looking to increase their own follower counts. The reason I follow people back is so I can exchange direct messages and because I think that’s the way Twitter should work: You follow people back who are interested in you.
- I aggregate the news: If the Houston Chronicle or New York Times or KEYE-TV has an interesting story that I don’t have, I’ll retweet or link to them. I want people to see the @statesman account as a site that is looking to give the most interesting news, regardless of source.
Q: What do you think the use of social media has done for the Statesman here in town?
Addie: The Statesman‘s use of social media, led with its Twitter account, has brought a new level of attention and helped remove the stigma that it’s for an older demographic and squash the idea that newspapers’ content that is old by the time it gets to readers. Many, many people get the majority of their news through Twitter, which puts tv, radio, newspapers and blogs on the same playing field. Twitter has also allowed people in Austin to feel like they are connected — and eventually invested — in the newspaper. The colloquial dialogue between readers and twitterers strengthens that bond.
Q: How long have you been tweeting? Did you start tweeting as Addie Broyles, Statesman employee, or simply Addie Broyles?
Addie: I’ve been tweeting for about a year, and I started as the food writer for the Statesman. It took Gary Vaynerchuk, the host of Wine Library TV, convincing me to get over my fear that Twitter was a waste of time. It was some of the best advice I’ve gotten since I started this job. I was clear from the get-go that this was both a personal and professional account, which the Statesman supports because they know that the personality behind the tweets is what really makes them sing. I look to @OmarG for inspiration.
Q: How did you balance your personal tweets with your tweets as a representative of the Statesman?
Addie: I try to make all of my tweets come back to food, but I’d say about 95 percent of them end up about food, the other 5 percent are about music, life in Austin or being a parent. I’m constantly thinking about what to tweet and how to tweet, and my Twitter voice changes by the week. As Twitter evolves, its purpose in users’ lives evolves, too.
Q: Are more staff members diving into social media?
Robert: New staff members are joining Twitter all the time. I’ve given a couple of brown-bag lunches to help teach those who are interested in trying it out how to set up an account, why to do it, what they can do, etc. After each session, another handful of reporters signs up. We now have more than 45 staff members on Twitter posting information about their beats.
Q: What would you tell other newspaper folks who are interested in tweeting?
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Robert: I’d tell newspaper folks who aren’t on Twitter that they should give it a try. They’ll get out of it what they put into it, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. I personally think it’s the best tool for journalists to come down the pipe in a while, but people have to discover that potential on their own.