Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Micro persuasion" is the new black

I don't know if it's the adorable graphics on Twitter, or the fact that words like 'tweet,' 'twittering,' and 'tweet-up' make us feel like we're communicating in cartoon-language, but many authors and book industry individuals can't help but smirk - still - when we extol the very real virtues of Twitter.

"But you can interact with consumers in a way you normally wouldn't!" we cry. "Even media tweets! Oprah has started tweeting!!"

"Yeah yeah, 'Twitter.' I get it. Real cute. Have you called the New York Times yet?"

Phrases like "old media" and "new media" are fraught with connotations ("stodgy" and "over-hyped" come to mind), so let's not even go there. Instead, Dear Reader, I'd like to turn your attention to an article that released this week from The New York Observer about publishers' changing attitudes towards social media. Here's a chunk:

"The central insight driving much of the outreach that publishers have undertaken online is that, if used with finesse and attention, social media platforms like Twitter can be used deliberately to generate that invaluable, heretofore elusive phenomenon known as word of mouth...publishing houses have sought to integrate themselves and their authors into various online communities of readers, and to interact—meaningfully!—with the individuals who participate in them. While they make no attempt to conceal their affiliations, the publicists and marketing people who man their companies’ accounts on Facebook and Twitter aim to be seen not as corporate promoters, but as friends taking part in a conversation."

Most people now understand what the point of social media is. If the book-buying public is a classroom, and Oprah, The Today Show, and The New York Times our teachers, Facebook and Twitter are the notes we pass in class. It feels fun, almost conspiratorial, and if you're already on-board with social media then I don't need to preach to you anymore. Except to say:

Our "teachers" have taken up the notes. And they want in on the party.

I've been hearing a lot about "the open web" lately, and the gist is basically this: EVERYTHING, all media, is going social. "Well, duh, that's what the comments section is for," you say. But by "social" we don't just mean "interactive" - the open web will reverse the top-down way media currently works (saw a book on the The Today Show, blogged about it, my readers bought the book), and instead, foster a network of online channels where the biggest stars interact the most places. From

"Tomorrow, as everything becomes social, you will be able to shop Amazon directly from within your iGoogle page without ever having to visit the site. What's more, Amazon will show you what your Gmail address book friends have publicly said about a product and/or its category in any one of thousands of online communities. Finally, to help you further Amazon will offer an aggregated view of your friends' friends opinions in a way that protects their identity....

Marketers need to really embrace the fact that it's peers and their data, rather than brand, that will become the primary way we make decisions. The greatest rewards will go to those who embrace and participate in as many communities as they possibly can in credible ways."

For the sake of argument, let's switch out "marketers" for "publicists" and "brand" for "big media" - Oprah, Today Show, etc. If micro persuasion pans out, we'll pay a LOT more attention to those little notes our friends are passing us, rather than the algebra lesson our teacher is writing on the blackboard. (Especially if your friend is @johncmayer, in which case you might have to deflect his 10,000,000 daily notes with a sturdy Trapper Keeper).

Now, book publicists have always placed a high premium on relationships, but that's about to go into overdrive as we look down the road to 2010 and beyond, as consumers become the media. In five years, we may very well be saying, "Oprah likes Eckhart Tolle's new book? Who cares? My ex-boyfriend, my second cousin, that girl I met at a party last weekend and my accountant all like the new Martha Beck book, so I'm going with that."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been Twittering for a while; sure wish my publicist would call the Times now.

May 14, 2009 at 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Stephanie Baffone said...

Hi Tolly,
I loved reading this post! As a new author, it is exciting to read about the promise that social media offers. Yippie!

May 14, 2009 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Tolly Moseley - Senior Publicist said...

Hi Stephanie! Thanks so much for the feedback. Best of luck to you with your book, and your adventures on the new social media frontier!


May 14, 2009 at 3:27 PM  

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