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EveryThink: What do you think, Sam Missingham?

You can see Sam Missingham at the “TOC Social Media Meets Publishing Workshop“ on October 13, 2011, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm, Frankfurt Book Fair, Congress Center, Room Conclusio 1+2.

Sam Missingham, The Bookseller

“I am going to focus on using Twitter as it is my social network of choice. My preference for Twitter is largely due to its popularity with a very active publishing community and ease of use. The same principles apply across the other social networks.

Hard though it is to believe, there might still be some people that don’t ‘get’ Twitter. In fact some are downright hostile at the thought of using it. If you happen to be one of those people, please read on. Perhaps I could highlight a few things that have happened since adding @thebookseller to Twitter:

- Twitter drives the third largest group of traffic to both TheBookseller.com and FutureBook.net

- I managed to talk Ian Rankin into writing a blog for me by cheekily sending him a direct message. It took just seven hours from requesting an article to him sending it to me.

- Stephen Fry posted a Twitter link on his blog, which linked back to a story on The Bookseller site. This article was viewed more than 30,000 times in 24 hours.

- I have found 75% of my bloggers for FutureBook.net through Twitter.

- I have been asked to speak at quite a few publishing events, thanks to Twitter connections.

- All of our conferences have sold out since we joined Twitter.

- Our Twitter lists and surveys gather valuable information on many followers, which we use in our marketing.

- I have met, in person, an incredibly interesting and diverse group of Tweeters. (I’m sure I would not have discovered them in any other context).

And yes, we also have a lot of followers across @thebookseller, @thefuturebook, @fight4libraries, @welovethisbook and @samatlounge. But I do not want to sidetrack you with follower numbers. You can use Twitter extremely effectively with150 followers.

I hope the list above gives you a sense of the potential of Twitter. But the important question is how do you realise its potential? How do you identify those you would like to connect with? And how do you get them to take you seriously?

So, how do you build credibility?

In simple terms you need to be credible.

Perhaps, you are trying to launch into the digital publishing market, position yourself as an expert or looking to move into a digital role. What follows are tactics and tips. I’ll leave social media strategy to others.

1. Social etiquette

The most obvious point in being credible is that the same rules and etiquette apply in the virtual world as in the real world. People need to trust you, you need to be authentic. It is amazing how many people are still getting this wrong on Twitter with endless self-promotion, no engagement with others, or just by being downright rude. Consider what behaviour works in the real world in a professional context and take that into the virtual world. Do not be the networking party bore that everyone tries to avoid.

There is a great Forbes piece on ‘5 Social Media personalities to avoid’. Those being ‘The Self-Promoter’, ‘The Anger Management Drop Out ‘, ‘The Over-Sharer’, ‘The Island’ and ‘The Stage Five Clinger’. I can safely say that I encounter all 5 personalities on a regular basis on Twitter. And neither do I want to have a drink with them or listen to what they have to say professionally. My colleague on The Bookseller, Ben Johncock, wrote a very good piece putting Twitter success down to ‘human-to-human’ interaction. Well worth a read.

2. Understand the language

Twitter has its own language: @, #, DMs, RTs, lists, via, etc. This is not difficult to master, but it is very important for your credibility to get the basics right. It can be a good idea to simply follow people on Twitter for a while, learn the language, understand the etiquette and then engage. This is a useful guide to the language of Twitter.

3. Establish a credible voice

Your Twitter updates should reflect you and your interests. If you are trying to establish yourself as a digital publishing expert you’ll need to tweet about news and issues. More importantly you need to let your followers know your opinions, knowledge and expertise. You should also aim to curate your Twitter feed to reflect wider interests (professional and/or personal). Give your followers reasons to listen to you.

There are some very useful articles available on Mashable, including ‘How to build your personal brand on Twitter’ – well worth working your way through.

4. Identify who you need to influence

The digital publishing crowd on Twitter fall into these groups:

- Digital decision-makers

- Digital movers & shakers

- Influencers: bloggers, journalists, commentators, event organisers

They all play an important part in the global publishing discussion. And they are all potentially useful connections for you. At the bottom of this post I have listed the Top 50 as recommended by other Tweeters – follow them all to be kept up-to-date on global digital publishing. And, of course, they are the people to build your credibility with.

This is a useful article by Chris Brogan on building influence.

5. Get stuck in

Let’s work through a few tactics and tips that might be useful for engaging with these Tweeters.

- Understand what makes them tick: Twitter gives you a great opportunity for understanding people’s views, motivations with a few personal titbits thrown in. See what they have to say, check out who they follow, tweet with and RT. Chances are you’ll find some common ground.

- Retweet their updates occasionally: This is a simple technique that says, ‘I find what you’re saying interesting and want to share’. And they may feel like returning the favour.

- Respond to their tweets: When you have something interesting to contribute. And if you engage with them properly they may start following you. You then have the power of the Direct Message (DM) at your disposal. Use it wisely. The DM will give you a 1-to-1 private fast track to that person. Extremely useful.

- Follow industry event hashtags: There are many digital publishing events happening around the world. Follow the event hashtag, RT interesting Tweets, respond to people Tweeting. This is a very simple technique for finding and connecting with the global community.

- Build your own credibility: This can be done online and in person. Write a blog post about a project you are working on or a strong view you have on a topical issue. Approach ‘Tools of Change’ (TOC), Frankfurt, London Book Fair, FutureBook and the leading industry blogs and pitch your idea. You’ll probably be surprised how receptive they are. (They all rely on strong editorial content)

- Get your name out there: See if you can get some speaking gigs. There are lots of publishing events happening all of the time. Find out who organises them and again pitch an idea to them.

- Venture into the real world: Attend industry events, book fairs and tweetups; this is your chance to connect in the real world. This will ALWAYS be more valuable than in the virtual world. And by the time you meet in the flesh, hopefully you’ll be credible in their eyes.

Good luck.

To get you started here’s my list of the Top 50 most influential digital publishing people on Twitter (lists don’t work on the iPad or iPhone app, so access Twitter through your computer).

Become a part of the global Mind Network of the Frankfurt Academy and connect with publishing and media experts from across the globe. We think you should not pass up this opportunity. What do you think?

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  • http://www.mardixon.com Mar Dixon

    Excellent piece Sam. Although I’m not in the ‘digital publishing’ industry, these guidelines really relate to everyone regardless of the specific industry. Twitter can be your best friend, or your worst enemy – but you have the power to choose which.

  • http://janettecurrieconsultancy.co.uk Janette Currie

    Superb piece, Sam. Extensive coverage and depth and lots to chew over. I agree with everything you’ve said and would add that my experience of the publishing industry on twitter is that most of the big houses don’t get it at all and many of the small indies don’t bother. There are good examples out there, though.
    Here’s how to test if they’re on message – Check out their follow-back ratio and then ask yourself how they can have or generate a conversation if they don’t follow their readers – and check how frequently they tweet to ‘ordinary’ tweeters.
    My biggest bug-bear is that publishers use twitter as an afterthought and not the main driver that it could be.
    Here’s my advice for publishers, publicists, authors and writers:
    1. follow your readers
    2. respect your followers
    3. talk to your followers – engage in meaningful conversations
    4. provide interesting and entertaining information in bite sized portions
    5. keep up to date with current events and join in
    6. stop all tweeting between other authors and publishers that doesn’t include ‘ordinary’ tweeters. It’s as if you’re in a club that the rest of twitter gets to watch from the sidelines. And it’s rude.

    best wishes for a successful and engaging TOC event.