The conversation at a recent publishing event was all about social media and how to harness it for maximum profit—and have some fun along the way. Sponsored by the Publishing Students Association at the NYU-SCPS Center for Publishing, the Office for Alumni Relations, and the Publishing Alumni Association, the evening was a way for students and alumni to gather, send lots of tweets, and hear from two top social media experts, Debbie Stier of HarperCollins, and Yuli Ziv of the Style Coalition.
First up was Debbie Stier, Senior Vice President, Director of Digital Marketing, and Editor-at-Large for HarperCollins. Stier, who has been in the book business for 22 years, set up her first blog in 2005 after noticing the enormous potential of online media to develop unlikely but intimate connections.
She emphasized that regardless of the ease with which we connect today, the effort to create and cement significant relationships stays the same; you have to make sure that your contribution to the dialogue is not only frequent, but also thoughtful. For example, the digital exchange between the author and the reader is rooted in “gratitude” from both sides, as is the case with Stier’s friend Martha McPhee, the award-winning author of novels such as Dear Money, L’America, and Gorgeous Lies. Long before she began publishing books, McPhee interacted with her readers through her blog, “Notes from Martha.”
Another blog on Stier’s link love list is one written by Seth Godin, the author, entrepreneur, and self-described “agent of change.” While Godin blogs on a predictable morning schedule, consistency is not always the best strategy, says Stier. Here are her rules for successful blogging:
- Either be consistent, so readers know when to check your blog, or post sporadically throughout the day, so your audience refreshes constantly.
- Make sure the content is stimulating.
- Create a blog gimmick — something like “Media Mondays”—to get people coming back for more niche content on a topic they are passionate about.
Passion is key, but so is a touch of daring. “I’ve always considered myself a rebel,” said Yuli Ziv, founder and CEO of Style Coalition, a group of independent fashion and lifestyle digital publishers whose mission is to connect brands and retailers directly with their customers. Ziv noted the continuous evolution of “new publishing formats,” and zeroed in on a favorite digital strategy called “30-second read.”
Ziv deferred to one of her favorite authors, Paulo Coehlo, author of the international bestseller The Alchemist, to illustrate what 30-second read means in the scope of a publishing platform – through this new medium, his blog-posting technique has recently transformed from long, literary prose into shorter, more engaging bursts of dialogue, featuring captioned pictures or videos.
Like Stier, Ziv has her own blogging tips, many gleaned while putting together the Style Coalition’s partnership with Hachette Filipacchi Media. (Style Coalition bloggers now trade fashion tips and other content with Elle readers.) Advises Ziv:
- The message has to be adaptable to evolving publishing formats, so be nimble and flexible.
- The style and goals of the blogger and the partnering corporation (e.g., Style Coalition and Elle) should be in alignment.
- Timing is everything for breakout blogs, and staying positive is important at every step of the way. Ziv waited a long time to set up the Style Coalition and for the partnership with Hachette because corporate culture wasn’t ready for it.