6 questions for Jon Reed [INTERVIEW]
1) Your Website, Publishing Talk, has over 135,000 followers on Twitter. Brilliant. How did you do this?
The growth in the number of followers has really taken off in the last year or so, and has surprised even me. We had 40,000 followers at the time of last year’s London Book Fair, and three times that number by this year’s Book Fair.
I think it is partly to do with reaching a ‘tipping point’ – a large enough following for @publishingtalk to become more visible on Twitter, as more people follow and retweet; and also because it often shows up as a suggested account to follow whenever someone searches for the word ‘publishing’ on Twitter. That illustrates the importance of choosing your Twitter username carefully – at least for topic-based feeds.
But there are specific things you can do to increase your followers, especially in the early days, before you reach that tipping point and your success builds on itself. The simplest thing you can do is follow more people, as many will follow you back. However, there is a caveat to this: you don’t want just anyone following you. You only want followers who are likely to be interested in what you have to say or offer – so stick to following people who are within your community of interest. You can find suitable people to follow by searching for keywords and hashtags, among other things.
Tweeting regularly is also important for attracting followers – ideally several times a day, spaced out throughout the day. There are ways you can automate this to an extent, so that you don’t have to spend all day on Twitter, such as tweeting your blog, pre-scheduling tweets and tweeting a daily online newspaper using http://paper.li.
2) You seem to be an expert across social media, from LinkedIn through to Twitter and Blogs. Which do you think is most useful for publishers to engage with?
Tempting as it is to jump in with the various free social media tools available, I actually think this is the wrong starting point. It is better to treat social media marketing as you would any other form of marketing: start with your marketing objectives, identify where your audience is, and then choose appropriate tools to reach them. So the most useful tool to use will depend to an extent on the type of publisher you are, what your campaign goals are, and – crucially – where your target readership spends time online. You can discover a lot of this by doing searches on Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups, Twitter and so on; and also by using social media monitoring tools such as socialmention.com.
I also make a distinction between content tools – blogs, podcasts, video and images – and outreach tools, such as the social networks that you will use to promote that content. A blog is often the most obvious starting point for publishers and authors, since it is the written word. But you also need to promote your blog with social networks. In terms of sheer size alone, Facebook and Twitter are important places to be. And tweeting blog posts automatically is an effective and time efficient way to reach your audience. If one of your goals is to drive traffic to a website, this is a great way of doing it. The vast majority of my website traffic comes from Twitter.
3) How did you first become interested in Social Media?
I worked in publishing for 10 years, and had always dabbled in digital. When I was planning to set up my own business, I knew I wanted to pursue these interests, and took a Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Media Management at Birkbeck – one of the courses that I now teach on. That course was about six years ago, and when I first became aware of social media – or ‘web 2.0’ as everyone was calling it then. This was really at the dawn of social media as we now know it, and I’ve specialized more and more in this until it’s all I do: creating, consulting and training in social media. I also started my Publishing Talk blog around this time, as a way of sharing information about social media with publishers and authors.
4) What’s been your biggest mistake since setting up Publishing Talk?
When I first started the @publishingtalk Twitter account, I only used it to automatically tweet new blog posts – something that is easy to set up with a tool called Twitterfeed. While this is an important thing to do, it is not enough to keep people engaged. It was only when I also started actively maintaining it – writing my own tweets, tweeting links to other articles, retweeting and replying to some tweets, even live-tweeting some conferences and events – that my follower numbers really started increasing. If you’re creating a topic-based feed, you need to include other people’s content as well as your own.
5) You have taught thousands of people how to use Social Media. Who teaches you?
One of the best ways to learn is by doing – though that can be a time-consuming way to do it. I’ve been using social media since its earliest days, so I’m now able to share the knowledge and experience I’ve built up with others. But things change rapidly, and I also use social media to stay abreast of social media – circular as that sounds. There are some great blogs out there, including Mashable and Social Media Examiner. I also learn a lot from books and conferences on social media, and from some of the people I follow on Twitter. If you follow people who are tweeting about your area of interest, it can be a great way to keep up with latest developments – and even vicariously follow the action at conferences they are live-tweeting from around the world.
6) Finally, why should we buy your new ebook?
Many people are on Twitter in a personal capacity, but are less clear about how to use it to market books. It is a tool that causes more confusion than most – but there are plenty of specific things you can do with it to promote books. From tweeting blog posts to giving away free chapters in exchange for a tweet to running tweetups, Q&As and twinterviews, there are lots of tools and techniques to help you sell more books. The ebook covers everything you need to know, and plenty of practical advice, tips and case studies – not just from me, but from a wide range of publishing people who have had marketing success with Twitter.
I hope The Publishing Talk Guide to Twitter will be useful for anyone who wants to reach the vast potential market of over 200 million people on Twitter – whether that’s publishers, authors, or other book trade professionals.
The Publishing Talk Guide to Twitter is out now. Find out more and download the sample chapter ‘How to Increase Your Followers’ at www.publishingtalk.eu/guides/