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Social media is a fantastic way to interact with your existing readership and tap into an undeveloped audience. There are millions of potential subscribers, readers, and advertisers that can be reached through communications platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. It’s another way to disseminate your content on the internet to new users via search engines (especially on Google+).

Consider the Magazine Publisher Association’s 3rd Quarter 2015 Social Media Report:

Magazine Media 360 Social Media Report

As salespeople and marketers, we should really think about ourselves as experts in our fields. We have a lot of knowledge and experience based on how much we interact with other industry experts—our customers and prospective clients. On what topics do we regularly give advice? What are our most frequently asked questions? What are clients and customers talking about at conferences? What are their challenges and how are they solving them? This is where our best content can be mined. As a publisher, you are the authority in your association, region, or field of interest and have access to a unique wealth of information and knowledge.

Some publishers think of social media as a trend relegated to the intern, and not as an important piece of their marketing strategy. Working for Sheridan, where sales, customer service, and tech teams are encouraged to hop on the tweet train and personally promote the company, I have the latitude to explore the role of social media beyond the scope of instagramming with my old college buddies. As consumers, we do social media to interact with our friends and family, express opinions, explore products and conduct research, and even scope out good deals. So why, as publishers and organizations, are we not taking full advantage of social media to interact with our customers, provide information, and promote our sales?

A few weeks ago, I sat on a Social Media Masters Class panel hosted by Publishing Executive and Grow Socially. If you have never had the good fortune to see John Foley of Grow Socially speak, you’re missing out on a dynamic and powerful presentation. I saw him for the first time at Association Media and Publishing’s Annual Meeting in 2014, and again at two other venues. He has a way of making complex concepts like data collection and analysis, and search engine optimization into easily executable plans. He gave a presentation on the first half of the day, and we broke out into groups for the second half of the day.

John’s session started with, “Here’s what I was doing in 1999…” and brought us up to what social media is like today. His best advice was that your marketing strategy has to include social media, content marketing, and SEO. It seemed like a simple piece of common sense but, as he explained, everyone in the audience was intently scribbling down copious notes. He stressed the importance of measuring the results which appeared to be a shortfall for more than a few of us.

We moved on to the social media panels which sequestered participants by category. I was speaking on a panel in a group for printers, marketers, and graphic artists. The level of experience ranged from a CMO with a strategic plan, attending for an exchange of ideas, to someone who’s definition of Twitter was the sound a baby bird makes. Some had given some thought to inbound marketing and social media. Some had yet to create a LinkedIn account.

I was on the panel with Samantha Lake, who manages the social media for Epicomm (the Association for Leaders in Print, Mail, Fulfillment, and Marketing Services). We focused on the shift from organizations using traditional means of sales and marketing such as phone calls and in-person meetings, to establishing an evolving and interactive presence on the web. It’s important to have your own good content, to regularly disseminate it, and to make it findable via search engines.

We concluded the session with a roundtable where we fielded questions from the attendees. Questions ranged from, “I have a promotion I want to run; how to you recommend executing social media alongside my direct mail efforts?” to “How often should I tweet per day?”, “Where should I find content?”, “Should I post company promotions on my personal LinkedIn page?” Informative, instructive, and interactive, the session was time well spent.

Do you struggle with these sorts of challenges? Email me at [email protected] or reach out to me on twitter @emilyffullerton.