Christmas gone awry

red nose

I’m Merry. I’m Jolly.  I’m in the Holiday Spirit. But this is just dumb.

Illustration: http://www.trendhunter.com/slideshow/unconventional-warmers

Twitter in the trenches: An interview with Lance the repairman

024

I recently moved into an older home that needs a lot of repair work.  As luck would have it, I had a new Twitter follower this week, @knoxhandyman. Sounded like just the trick.  Called him up.  Met him. Hired him.

And he did a great job so I thought I would provide this interview with this hard-working social media entrepreneur:

Mark: How long have you been a repairman, Lance?

Lance:  Well I’m 49 and I’ve been doing this about all my life, so let’s just say a long time.

Mark:  And how long have you been on Twitter?

Lance:  About 5-6 months.

Mark:  How much time do you spend on Twitter?

Lance:  None. My wife handles all that.  She asks me what I’m doing and where I’m going and what customers are saying and then she puts it out there.  I don’t have time for it.  I’m out here working.

Mark:  And do you use anything else beside Twitter?

Lance: Yeah, I get a tremendous amount of work from Craig’s List and she also puts it on Facebook.

Mark: So is Twitter working for you?

Lance: Seems to be. I’ve had a whole let better success there than newspaper advertising, I know that much. Took out a couple of newspaper ads. Zip.

Mark:  And how much of your business is coming from the social media channels?

Lance: I don’t really know.  I don’t keep track of it very well, which drives my wife crazy.  To me, it’s all pretty much word of mouth. It’s a call to my cell phone, that’s all that matters!

And so I let Lance get back to re-wiring my new outdoor lights, another successful Twitter job completed!

I wanted to share this with you because it represents the REAL world of social media and working people. It’s not necessarily about the corporate world of “Trust Agents” or community managers or sponsored posts.  It’s about hard-working families and small businesses trying to figure out how to make a buck.  Go Lance.

Will Blogging Kill Trade Publications?

trade pubs

I was engaging in an interesting intellectual discussion on this question with my friend Jeremy Victor and he kindly offered to lend his expert perspective to a guest post.  Take it away, Jeremy:

As the founder of an online publishing company, you might expect my answer to this question to be a resounding and emphatic, “YES!”  … but it isn’t.  But as much as I’m a technologist and marketer, I’m also a realist.

We are at a pivotal time in history — not just the convergence of print, digital, and social media, but also the transition of how media is created, packaged, and consumed. And that’s the challenge facing trade publications. So rather than speak to the demise of the “dead man walking,” I’ll offer a prescription to inject some vitality back into the industry. How’s that for helping the competition?

The key to the demise

By far, the biggest factor impacting the trade publication industry is a lack of innovation. High profit margins of the past have lulled the industry to sleep. When the Internet arrived, publishers initially ignored this “fad.”  On top of that, the mid-2000s brought rising paper costs and increasing postal rates. Pile the 2008 Recession on top and the industry has no room for innovation.  It’s focused on survival.

Backed into a corner, publishers started doing things like selling covers. For example, this week’s Advertising Age cover belongs to the Jackson’s new reality show.  What does that say about the state of the industry? Now the talk has turned to pay for premium content models. Innovative? Not so much. That is reactionary, not the Apple-like , market-changing innovation that’s necessary to cure what’s ailing the industry.

Ideas for re-invention

When was the last time you received your mail actually hoping the trade magazine you subscribe to was there? With online content available anytime, anywhere, on a growing number of devices, trade publishers need to put the focus on creating remarkable content that will make it exciting to actually receive a magazine again.

A few ideas to spark innovation in the trade publication industry:

  • Develop an iPhone application tightly integrated with both the editorial and advertising.
  • For ads, include something like a bar code that can be scanned with the iPhone, providing  access to discounts or special promotions only available in the print publication. Membership has its privileges, right?
  • Integrate the LinkedIn API or Facebook Connect to enable readers to easily submit their contact information to the advertisers as a lead request.
  • Create videos or podcasts that accompany the articles that can only be accessed by using a code from within the magazine.
  • Gaming – Trade magazines don’t have to be dry, bland technical journals, do they? Sure case studies and featured articles are necessary, but what’s saying you can’t surround that with some social games? Try connecting the subscriber base through Facebook or LinkedIn – or a newly created publisher branded community.
  • Marry the content and the distribution devices.  Intertwine paper and online content.

That’s my prescription. Or have the trade publications already heard those fateful words from the doctor, “We’re sorry, there’s just nothing more that we can do?”

Jeremy Victor is the founder of Make Good Media and publisher of BtoBbloggers.com.  He can also be found on Twitter at @JeremyVictor.