What social media means

Yesterday, I linked to a report released by the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) that underscored the need for greater editorial training and investment to promote platform-agnostic content use.

In a perceptive summary at Folio:, Jason Fell quoted one editor who, when asked about his publication’s use of social media, responded:

“I don’t know what you mean by social media.”

In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine that a B-to-B or association editor can’t parse the term “social media”. Still, I didn’t find this remark the most disturbing.

Reading through the report, you’ll find that a number of comments suggest a narrow view of what “social media” means to trade and association publishers. From the survey, four examples:

“A waste of time. No money in it.”

“I check out social media for news leads. Half of them turn out to be false. It’s a pain. I don’t contribute to them.”

“No impact whatsoever on content. Utter waste of time so far.”

“My employer blocks social media outlets.”

Most corrosive: the underlying assumptions …

  • Expecting to monetize communities before you fully form them puts the relationship between publisher and community members at risk.
  • Viewing your industry or association communities as production conduits – news leads or cheap content – undermines their value and narrows editorial focus when the opposite perspective is needed.
  • Denying editors opportunities to use tools, to experiment, is short-sighted. Social media is a tool, a means to an end. In this medium, best practices emanate from, well, practice.

The day after the ASBPE survey was released, B2B magazine reported on a Hoovers survey of a different audience: marketers. That research found that 73% of all marketers “like social media for lead generation”.

Most trade and association publishers earn advertising revenue by improving marketers’ bottom lines. If publishers don’t provide marketers with effective options to use social media services for lead generation, marketers can and will invent their own solutions.

Training and investment are needed, but let’s not take too long. From this seat in the back of the theater, the credits are starting to roll.

Edited April 27 to add: Dan Blank, posting at We Grow Media, comments on the “one thing you must do to succeed” using social media.

Edited April 30 to add: Folio: reports on the impact that social media appears to be having on efforts to generate business-to-business leads.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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