During my five years in business-to-business trade, I've learned a great deal about niche marketing and writing. I've also learned a great deal about magazine production. Additionally, I've learned I have a huge passion for these. But one thing that surprised me about this industry is the struggle editors and publishers have with social media and new media in general.
I've always been excited about new media. Maybe this comes from my age, or maybe from the fact that I've been surrounded by computers my whole life (my dad is a computer guy) — but nevertheless, I have always looked at the computer as advantage, not disadvantage. And this is where I drift from the traditional B2B world. My ideas are different, and those who've been in B2B for a while don't tend to agree with me or see what I see.
There's no arguing that B2B is struggling to find its footing between loss of ads and growing reliance on the Web for users. I don't think it's as difficult as some think. The first step is being open-minded and realizing that past models are outdated. We must change the way we operate to succeed. I truly believe B2B has the most advantage of all media to succeed with the different platforms available. However, to do that, things need to change. Below are a few tips for B2B editors to guarantee you're getting the most out of social media and online.
- Get on LinkedIn and make sure your profile is up-to-date and active. Only have connections on LinkedIn that you can vouch for — quality vs. quantity.
- Start reading RSS feeds. RSS provides a more efficient way of reading more content faster.
- Get on Twitter and use your name as your handle. Too many editors think you need a personal Twitter as well as a separate professional one. This is a huge mistake. Make yourself a brand — and your brand will enhance your magazine's brand.
- Create your own website or blog. Again, use your name if possible as your domain name for branding purposes. Then use your website or blog to showcase your knowledge making yourself an expert in whatever you're an expert in.
- Stay up to date on the latest technology and try it out. Most of them are free, so why not? Example: I just signed up for FriendFeed because it was being talked about so much online and I didn't know what it was. Surprise — I like it better than Twitter!
- Participate in conversations online. Use Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, LinkedIn — and any other social platform to make connections.
- Don't limit your connections to those in your industry. Read blogs and tweets from technology insiders so you stay up to date on the newest tools.
- Despite my annoyance that Google has such a large market share (73 percent), it offers good tools. Use them!
- Google Docs allows multiple people to collaborate, edit, share information on spreadsheets and other documents. This is huge for efficiency and communication.
- Google Groups allows you to collaborate with others in a forum-like fashion.
- Write blog posts on your magazine's website at least three times a day.
- Readers like new content. If you're constantly putting new information up, they will come back.
- Search engines like new content, so make sure you give it to them.
- Market these new posts on all your social platforms such as Twitter.
- Make sure these posts are of the highest quality (relevant information, written professionally, no spelling or grammatical errors).
Maureen Alley is managing editor for Website Magazine, a trade publication dedicated to Web professionals. She was formerly managing editor for Residential Design & Build magazine, a property of Cygnus Business Media. Alley graduated with a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and is currently attending Roosevelt University in Chicago for her Masters of Science in Journalism. She has been a member of ASBPE since 2006 and was a judge for the 2009 Azbee Awards program. She writes a blog at www.maureenalley.com about young journalists and new media. Contact her at malley13[at]gmail[dot]com.