You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure: On Social Media & Publishing

For the third consecutive year, I had the pleasure of doing a presentation on social media for my friend Peter Costanzo‘s M.S. in Publishing: Digital and Print Media class at NYU last night, and while preparing for it, I was surprised by how much has changed since the first time, and how much hasn’t. Pinterest and Tumblr are bigger deals now (or at least perceived as such), while Twitter is steadily maturing (from a business perspective), Facebook changes its approach every six months, and email is still the underrated king of the hill.

Yes, email is a form of social media, and is a critical channel for every social network worth talking about. If it’s not a central component of your own marketing strategy, well, you’re doing it wrong.

Full stop.

As the students have gotten savvier each year, my presentation has gone further into the weeds, moving from focusing on the “what” to the “why” and “how,” and emphasizing the importance of analytics, aka, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

A few notes from my comments for additional context:

  • The reader is at the center of everything, and everyone is a reader.
  • A publisher’s organizational structure must support its business goals. If digital is where the growth is, that’s where the investments have to be made, and that’s where the skillsets need to be upgraded.
  • Know your marketing fundamentals, use what works, break the rules when necessary.
  • Understand biases, dig deeper, and take all pundits’ proclamations with a grain of salt.
  • Customer service is a critical aspect of social media; if you’re there, people expect a response and the “vocal minority” will take full advantage of your silence and/or corporate PR-speak. The “vocal minority” has an audience, too, sometimes bigger than yours.
  • Publishing is based on relationships; always has been, always will. As such, everyone is a marketer.
  • All content should have a purpose, and there should always be more than one purpose for it.
  • “Gamification” is bullshit. Stop it.

As always, I stressed that , in this day and age, there’s a community for everything somewhere on the internet, and any book worth publishing has an opportunity to find its audience, if you know what you’re doing.

SIDE NOTE: I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything here since July, but it’s been a crazy year at the day job (good crazy, but crazy, nevertheless), and I’ve gone back to internalizing a lot of the publishing and marketing-related things I used to write about rather than writing about them. I’m also hiring, so if you want in on the craziness, check it out.

I’ve also never been a fan of repeating myself, and 95% of what’s been happening in publishing lately has been incremental, involving issues I’ve already dropped my two cents on over the years. It makes me a bad blogger, but on the flip side, being in the thick of the changes that are happening on a daily basis has been a far more refreshing challenge than maintaining my “personal brand.”

See you in the trenches!

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