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Social Media for Publishing Professionals

Writers, publishers, editors, consultants, and others who endured the cold Chicago weather were welcomed to the Chicago Women in Publishing's “Social Media for Publishing Professionals” event with steaming coffee and warm hors d'oeuvres. And, of course, a knowledgeable panel of social media experts. The event, which took place on Wednesday, January 18, was well attended and rife with relevant, compelling advice for anyone working in publishing.

CWIP Panel

Mingling before the event began, attendees chatted (and networked) about their blogs, businesses, and writing endeavors. The atmosphere was friendly and open. And while the attendees were a diverse bunch, they had much to talk about. Some couldn't tell a Twitter update from a Facebook status. Others were looking for ways to more effectively manage all their social media sites. They were in the right place. CWIP gathered five publicity and media specialists to help clear up everyone's worries and questions.

The panel discussion began with a brief introduction of each of the panelists. Reyna Hoerdeman from Queen B Media told the audience that social media was for finding your “brand ambassadors.” Tim McDonald, the director of communications for Social Media Club Chicago, created a bit of a stir when he told the story of how he used social media to land a spot on the 2011 Bold and Digital Men of Social Media calendar. Dana Kaye, founder of Kaye Publicity, told her own success story. She utilized Facebook ads to launch one of her clients to the New York Times Bestseller list. Erik Hultman from Uber Blue Media cautioned the audience not too be too hasty with how they use social media. Sue Koch from Soaring Solutions advised, “content is key.”

Where Do I Begin?

The burning question so many of the audience members wanted answered was, “Where do I begin with social media?” Mr. McDonald's metaphor for social media sites sent the crowd laughing again. Twitter, he told the audience, was like a cocktail party. Facebook was more like a backyard picnic. LinkedIn was a business party. And, Ms. Kaye jokingly added, Google+ was an “empty room with ten confused people.” The panel, setting all jokes aside, discussed the pros and cons of Google+ as well as the other social media sites writers and editors might want to utilize. Mr. Hultman gave sound advice when he told the audience to articulate why they wanted social media in the first place. Then, pick their site of choice.

Ms. Koch suggested exploring the social media sites of your competitors. Identify what works and what doesn't. Mr. McDonald recommended first identifying your audience and where they are located. What social media sites do they use? If your audience likes their information quickly and often, set up a Twitter account. If your audience likes to interact with you, if they like to receive feedback and engage in conversation, start a Facebook page.

Jumping into social media can be overwhelming. Mr. McDonald soothed some audience concerns by saying, “If you're not failing often, you're not trying hard enough.”

   

How Do I Build a Social Media Community?

Social media is all about connecting with others. Simply posting Twitter updates or creating a LinkedIn profile is not enough. Users need to communicate with their followers and build a social media community. Ms. Koch recommended being proactive. Re-Tweet (RT) your Twitter followers' posts. “Like” other companies' Facebook pages. Ms. Kaye emphasized “quality not quantity.”

How Much Time Should I Spend on Social Media?

Another audience concern was time management. Social media seems like an alluring procrastination technique. The panel suggested several tools that help users coordinate their social media sites. Hootsuite, for example, allows users to schedule posts to various social media sites ahead of time. It's the perfect solution to those wanting to stay relevant, even when they're away from their computer. Other useful management tools include Tweetdeck and Social Oomph.

Should I Blog?

The issue of blogging—and the time it takes—was also a concern. Ms. Kaye emphasized that blogs were only truly useful if you had something to say at least three times a week. Other panelists, pointing out that blogs were very time-consuming, supported this idea. They did, however, note that blogs functioned as useful platforms for social media sites. Blogs also are useful for SEO, or search engine optimization, which increases your exposure online.

In Short…

After answering several more audience questions, the panelists finished the session with their takeaway advice: Be helpful. Interact with your Twitter followers and Facebook friends. Don't overload them, but do use social media as a networking tool. Use dinner party etiquette. Don't say something you wouldn't want your great grandmother to hear. Ultimately, they told the audience, be yourself.

Angie Spoto is a senior at Lake Forest College where she studies English and business. She runs the blog Ms.Comix and founded the nonprofit The Uncovered Artistry Project. Her poetry has appeared in Alice Blue Review, and her prose is published in kill author and Toad Suck Review. She is a staff writer at The Lit Pub and the Web Editorial Intern for Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine.

Lila M. Stromer, beyond her editorial work, is a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography. Her pet photography has been published in multiple calendars for Tree House Humane Society, and her theater photography has been published in American Theater magazine, used in season brochures, and on theater websites. She is available for photographing professional portraits for use on social media sites. She can be reached at Info@LilaStromerPhotos.com. Her website is Lila M. Stromer Photography.

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