Lessons for PrintStrategists from the Trenches of Social Media.

My design partner, Julia, had already plunged into social media with her successful SnarkyVegan blog. I, on the other hand, was a rookie and a skeptic at that. But as we strategized about ways to establish thought leadership for our businesses, we decided that enewsletters, which would roll into blogs, would be a good starting point. The results were PrintStrategist and MondoBeat: Ideas to Improve Your Marketing Rhythm.

To say the least, one thing led to another. Strong receptions to the enewsletters/blogs began to pique our interest. Soon we were announcing new posts at our Twitter sites, and I began to wonder if there was any potential in our mostly dormant LinkedIn accounts.

So Julia and I got busy completing our profiles, linking feeds from our blogs, posting slide presentations, connecting with colleagues and participating in groups. Along the way, I was invited to manage my college’s alumni group as well as Print 2.0. So I got to see “groups” from both the participant and manger perspectives.

Then recently Julia and I co-founded the PrintStrategist LinkedIn group. The objective was to form a diverse group of professionals from all sides of the table who shared a common goal of effectively using print. Within a few weeks, membership reached nearly 140, and it literally grows each day.

What We Learned.

Clearly social media is evolving and participants are evolving along with it. Here are three key findings from our experience:

1. Synergy Counts.

The more options we integrated into our social media goal of raising our thought leadership perceptions, the better we did. More people started to follow us on Twitter, and we connected with more and more professionals on LinkedIn. Both are significant drivers of readers to the blogs, and LinkedIn is now our number one source of hits and page views.

After a year of participation, here are PrintStrategist’s social media stats:

  • 2,390—blog page views
  • 478—targeted enewsletter subscribers
  • 329—Twitter followers
  • 191—LinkedIn connections
  • 10—Twitter Lists

Of course everyone always wants to know if you were able to monetize social media. That was not our goal—thought leadership was—but we did receive several inquiries about our services and made presentations as a result of our social media experiences.

Additionally:

  • Our customers are virtually all loyal readers of our enewsletters/blogs.
  • We found a capable subcontractor through a renewed contact made on LinkedIn and used the individual on a project.
  • The enewsletters/blogs grew to the point that we are now considering offering sole sponsorship opportunities for each issue (you’ll eventually be able to judge that success for yourself).
  • We are now more knowledgeable, empathetic social media advisors to our clients—you know the old adage about the best doctor being the one who just got out of the hospital.

2. Participation Counts.

If you want to benefit from social media, you have to be willing to participate on a consistent, frequent basis. You also need to be willing to learn the rules of social media so that your participation helps, not hurts your business. And you need to set your internal social media goals and appoint someone to coordinate your social media team.

In addition to getting some professional advice, we recommend taking one of the many good social media classes available. Some even offer social media certifications. The more skillfully you employ social media, the better the results.

3. Participation Takes Time.

Don’t get caught up in the notion that social media is free. It will definitely cost you time, a valuable commodity in today’s downsized companies. We easily spend an hour to an hour-and-a-half per day on social media, and that excludes writing our enewsletter/blog posts. You may be able to—and probably should—share some of the responsibilities, but don’t start if you’re not willing to commit the time. As a point of reference, many large companies now have one or more people on staff who do nothing but monitor social media.

Finally, remember that social media is for relationship and thought leadership building. It should be part of your marketing plan, but continue to leave the heavy lifting to postal mail, email, print advertising and other marketing media better suited to directly generating sales and ROI.

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

Bauer Associates helps printers of all sizes develop effective social media programs from strategy development through program deployment. For more information, email Print Strategist Larry Bauer.

You can connect with Larry Bauer on LinkedIn. Or follow him on Twitter. Or join Print Strategist on LinkedIn.

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One Comment on “Lessons for PrintStrategists from the Trenches of Social Media.”


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