Grab Attention Of Top Editors And Producers With Social Media

“What am I wasting my time on Twitter for?”

I can’t tell you how many people have asked me this. The answers are myriad, but, beyond the shear distraction and fun of having a worldwide water-cooler at my disposal, one of the biggest benefits of social media, to me, has been … access.

Social media is about layers of access

A few weeks ago, Business Week senior writer and blogger, Steve Baker, wrote the cover story for the magazine about blogging and social media. Not too long before that, I’d never heard of Steve and I am fairly confident he’d never heard of me. But, I started following him on Twitter after stumbling upon his account, because I wanted to see what he was up to and I enjoyed his “tweets.”

Knock, Knock, it’s Business Week calling!

While writing his story, Steve regularly asked his Twitter followers for input, at one point asking people to share their feelings about the role of blogs, social media and Twitter. I wrote something like,

“Blogs are the big show, IM/social media is the backstage pass and twitter/micro-blogging is the afterparty. It’s about layers of access.”

Steve dug the quote and a few months later, it ended up, “I” ended up, in the cover story in Business Week. Pretty cool, right?

In fact, this very story actually proves the point of my quote.

Blogging, social media and, especially micro-blogging give you access to conversations you’d never have been able to have … or would’ve been given the evil-eye for trying to join in. And, as more influencers beyond the tech-world join in the conversation, the broader and deeper the access becomes.

How’d you like to land a book deal with a major publisher?

Think that might help your reputation or business? Chris Webb, hotshot editor (actually just changed to even bigger muckety-muck title) from Wiley, is a regular user of social media, especially Twitter. But, even I was surprised when, a few weeks ago, he posted this tweet:

“Pitch me a book idea in 140 characters or less. Go.”

With tens of thousands of people desperately trying to get attention of top book editors every year, here, in the hallowed halls of Twitter, direct access was being served up on a platter. So, we’ve seen how micro-blogging has given access to mainstream print media and major NYC publishers. But, what about radio or TV?

Can micro-blogging and social media give you an in with TV?

How’d you like to be on NBC news? Here’s a big tip. More and more news producers are turning to micro-blogging as a way to find news, sources and segment ideas. Because micro-bloggers are, to a certain extent, self-selecting mavens and, to use Malcom Gladwell’s term, sneezers. They are dialed in and are often sources of huge news and interesting stories and points of view.

Want to be on NBC TV?

Example: NBC 4 Managing Editor (Central Ohio), Ryan Squire, is a regular Twitter user and often not only shares stories, but looks for them on Twitter. Got an idea that’d be relevant to his market and you’d like to see on NBC? Join in the conversation with him.

And, don’t be high and mighty about it not being the NYC market. Just as stories regularly begin in major markets and expand outward, others start local and trickle up to the major markets.

In the end, the conversation is great, it’s also about layers of access.

Blogging is, indeed, the big show. It’s where the meaty, public and sometimes deep conversations and comment debates happen. IM is a nice place to build on those conversations in a more private virtual setting. And, micro-blogging is the after party, that secret place where you get access to the ideas and questions before they even become the conversations that the “rest” of the world sees.

The deeper you follow the exchange of ideas, the more likely it is that magic happens, both for you and for your business. Because, at its heart social media and business success share one huge congruence … they are all about the relationship.

And, with social media, it’s often not about the relationship or conversation you’re having with the customer, but rather the conversation you’re having with the greater community…and the one they’re having about you.

* * * * *

Jonathan Fields, hedge-fund lawyer turned lifestyle entrepreneurAbout the Author: Jonathan Fields is a former hedge-fund lawyer turned serial lifestyle entrepreneur, copywriter, Internet and direct marketer, speaker and writer. You can find him blogging on entrepreneurship and lifestyles at Awake At The Wheel, crafting high-impact copy for clients at Vibe Creative or training people to become entrepreneurs and career renegades at Career Renegade. His next book, also called Career Renegade, is due out from Random House/Broadway Books In January 2009.

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Jonathan Fields Jonathan Fields is a former hedge-fund lawyer turned serial lifestyle entrepreneur, copywriter, Internet and direct marketer, speaker and writer. You can find him blogging on entrepreneurship and lifestyles at Awake At The Wheel, crafting high-impact copy for clients at Vibe Creative or training people to become entrepreneurs and career renegades at Career Renegade (also a book published through Random House/Broadway Books).

26 Reactions
  1. I would say – join in just for the sake of conversation and enjoy the conversation. Do not attach a value measure to it at any time, other than the fun of conversation itself. The moment you add a value measure, you would start to evaluate and lose the fun. If you are enjoying a discussion, naturally you would stay in and make deeper connection with everyone else on the table. However, if it becomes a drag for you, the likelihood of you sustaining it for long would be very low. Hey, you drop out of a party if you are getting bored – right!

  2. Jonathan Fields

    @ Sanjay – No doubt, joining in “for the sake of the conversation” is the purest motivation. It is certainly the major part of the reason I participate in twitter and other micro-blogs. The virtual water cooler effect is a great way to be social, too, especially for small office or home-based web-workers.

    But, for a lot of people in small business whose time is incredibly constrained, there needs to be a stronger motivation to explore social media and reallocate the time time away from some other results-producing activities. And, indeed, there are many such reasons, this post was intended to share just one.

    If I “follow” or “friend” certain people on social media who also happen to write about topics that I enjoy enough to have wrapped my business around, then speaking to them about those very topics doesn’t become “a drag.” Having those conversations is something I would do anyway, something I enjoy. The potential for something more is just an added bonus.

  3. Martin Lindeskog

    Jonathan Fields: Fascinating post. Could you describe your “lifestyle entrepreneur” a bit more? Are you a (second) renaissance man? I enjoy a water cooler conversation because it could lead to something interesting later on. I am striving to create “the third place” for entrepreneurs and business minded individuals. My inspiration comes from how you conducted business and had conversations at the historical coffee-houses. (Please read the article in The Economist, December 2003.)

    It was interesting to read about the Blogspotting episode. I have been following BusinessWeek’s blog for some time and I thought that they applied on an positive and open attitude early on.

    Please tell me some tips on how to use Twitter on a regular basis. Maybe you could describe Twitter as online radio that have on all the time and you have some radio stations on the same frequency. The problem is that I don’t always remember to turn on the radio. It is fascinating to see that >100 people are following me at the moment. I have to catch up with the flow and start to follow more people, but I have to get it into my system, in a natural way. I haven’t found the flow or “stickiness” yet. I will test the new form of micro-blogging called Plurk. I like the slogan: “Your life, on the line.” Maybe the stress factor could decrease if you could “search” on the timeline, so you don’t have to have the radio on all the time? The one thing that could “freak” you out, is the karma points. It seems that it is going down during the time. Will this be a hysterical phenomena like the virtual pet game called Tamagotchi?! 😉 I better get a “chill out” pill and relax a bit. I will sit here, laid back, and follow the conversation…

    All the Best,

    Martin Lindeskog – American in Spirit.
    Gothenburg, Sweden.

  4. @ Martin – to me, “lifestyle entrepreneur” mean building your business or career around the life you want to live, not the other way around. So, I don’t build businesses to exit, I build them to love what I am doing, who I am doing it with and to earn a great living. If they become sellable down the road, that’s a nice perk, too.

    As for twitter, I’ll probably post soon with more tips! 🙂

  5. Jonathan,

    Thanks for the explanation. Great way of (doing for a) living! I look forward to your Twitter tips and I will start follow your tweets. Feel free to follow me on Plurk by clicking on “Martin Lindeskog” says:

  6. Jonathan, you make really good points that even the simplest thing done online can have some great, unexpected results. Who would have thought a few years ago that blogging and social media could get you in contact with “important” people. Heck, I thought I was just blogging for me and noone would be interested. Personally, I think that’s when you get the best results. Go in with low expectations and get surprised with great results.

  7. Jonathan Fields

    @ Paula – Yes, it’s amazing what can unfold when do the things you would normally do, but add a bit of deliberate energy to the process. As you noted, it’s not complicated, it just takes a little of energy.

  8. Jonathan, Welcome to Small Business Trends – what a great post to start with out of the gate! I love the comments on Twitter. I just started and one of the reasons I hesitated was because when answering the question “what are you doing right now” I couldn’t help but wonder who would care about my 140 character answer. You certainly communicated a great, documented case, for a change in attitude.


  9. It’s amazing the opportunities that this technology has afforded people. And I have to agree that the lower your expectations with regards to the results of participation, the better the outcome may be – pleasant surprises. There’s much to be said for coming into something without a deliberate “agenda” or expectation in tow. Letting things unfold naturally and making connections based on genuine compatibility yields much greater results. Bottom line, good things can and will come from participation in social media. At the very least, you’ve made some new friends. It’s a win win situation.

  10. Jonathan,

    This is a fine post! I happen to wonder what Twitter would do, except for those who are a public figure online (a.k.a. a problogger).

    With the publication potential of Twitter that you explained from your case study, I think I’ll start to twit right away!


  11. Jonathan,

    What a great post. I have only been using Twitter for a short time now but I am amazed at how many important people there are available to follow and would in turn follow me.

    All the best


  12. Scott Fox, Author of Internet Riches

    Great post, Jonathan. (And another cool blog you’ve introduced me to.)
    I’m still experimenting on Twitter myself but what you say above rings true.
    Twitter is another example of the fragmentation of media into increasingly targeted channels.
    With better targeting, however, comes smaller communities, and therefore the increased access you mention.
    Cool stuff.

  13. Nice post! Blogging and social media can certainly get you on TV/press, but you have to push yourself and do your own PR … worked for me! It’s not a case of “blog it and they will come” unless you have a back story that grabs people’s attention.



  14. Jonathan, this is an excellent discussion about the benefits of social media and Twitter. It continues to amaze me the sheer number of people who continue to bash Twitter as a useless waste of time, saying that bloggers in particular should be spending their time writing and creating posts instead of connecting with others through social media. They just don’t “get it”. It’s about building personal relationships with others, whether through Twitter or any other social media platform, and I can tell you from personal experience that Twitter is a phenomenal networking tool.

  15. Great article! I’ve had a lot of success with my personal website using Twitter as a networking tool. I’m going to work on getting one set up for some of my company’s activities soon.

  16. Congrats on a great first article here.

    Thanks for giving some terrific evidence to support the worth of participating on Twitter. By the time the naysayers realize the worth of a new medium, another wave has come along. I appreciate you for clarifying the relationship among the layers of social media so early adopters have even more reason to jump aboard.

  17. Jonathon,

    Although I have signed up for Twitter, I actually have not used it. One reason is that my contacts are in outlook and they seem to look for contacts in gmail etc which I have not updated. Your examples have explained the benefits simply and it makes sense. Great post.

  18. Welcome aboard, and a really great first post!

    It took me a while to “get” Twitter, but stories like your Business Week one are becoming more and more common. Now if we could only do something about that darn fail whale!

  19. So great to see that your very first post is getting such a great response. Congrats!

    I find a lot of people think social media sites are supposed to work like magic. They post 1 small blurb and wait by their computer screen for instant magical results. Not gonna happen. It takes lots of time and effort and I do agree that you have to let it happen naturally. Trying to force it will only leave you frustrated.

  20. Jonathan, thanks for the tip on using twitter as a back door. The paragraph on Chris Webb caught my attention. It’s very difficult to get past the gatekeepers at a publishing house to get your work before the eyes of a decision-maker. I’m not sure how many literary publishers twitter but it’s a nice thought nonetheless.

  21. Jonathan Fields

    Hey everyone,

    Thanks so much for all the warm welcomes and kind words. It’s wonderful to be able to share my experience with this tremendous community.

    I’m big on demystifying and revealing nuts and bolts applications that fuel biz, so that’ll be a big focus of what I write about here at SBT, along with marketing, copywriting and more.

  22. Nice work, Jon!

  23. I think the major error that people make is expecting instant results. As with just about anything else, it takes time to build up the networks and webs and also learn the rules of engagement. It can take months to start reaping the benefits.

    That said, if after a while, you aren’t getting traction either completely review the activities or ditch it altogether. It won’t necessarily work for everyone.

    Having tangible metrics (be they related to your own activity, SEO, traffic) is essential but tricky.

  24. My husband brought a copy of Newsweek on our vacation and I came across your tweet on there. He was quite impressed to find that his wife was a follower! 🙂

  25. We have found many uses for Twitter, including actually monetizing Twitter as part of overall managed social media campaigns that tie into either traditional or online marketing/advertising/PR measures. Some examples:

    We have used Twitter to offload inventory to followers of a major retailer before they were sold off to a discount store. Net outcome: $4,000 in sales of the products over what they would have netted if sold in the traditional manner.

    We have also used Twitter to bring together players that wouldn’t otherwise connect in the normal fashion. For example, a small business in Phoenix was looking to get in front of Amazon. I was having lunch with an SVP of Amazon that was in town for the day. I sent a Tweet alerting others where we were lunching, showing my Amazon friend how some use it to socialize (after asking if he would be okay if someone joined us) and it was a good way to connect them in a non-salesy sort of way.

    We have used Twitter to generate specific answers to questions that people ask within the key categories of our clients where we are positioning them as subject matter experts. Simply search:twitter(stream you’re watching) and you can go that way. In some cases you lead Twitters to your site and product/offering. Other times, you are just increasing your rankings and visibility as a SME, which helps with brand positioning and PR.

    We’ve used it to find employees, products, and also for contractors that are well versed in social media in 15 countries when a client needed us to fast track a viral online video contest in a flash in four languages.

    The list goes on. So for some that see social media tools, microblogging (like Twitter,) social networks, social bookmarking, etc. as just “fun” and a waste of time, there are some firms like ours that are finding viable business examples for them. It’s just a matter of remember that Twitter and the like are all just TOOLS, not an end all be all. And that you can’t just jump in. You need to have an expert help – unless of course, you are JUST playing.

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