During this media “sabbatical” of mine, I’ve been trying to put my experiences to good use by ordering around my new husband.
Do the dishes, give the dogs a bath and do whatever I say when it comes to your music career. Truthfully, I know little about the industry, but I fancy myself his own personal Ari Gold (“Entourage”). I’ll typically have the “the best idea ever” at least twice a day, and lucky for his fans, he ignores most of my baseless and often ridiculous orders.
But after catching the American Idol finale earlier this week, we saw things eye to eye. We both sat in awe. Not in awe of greatness, but in awe of how not good some of the Top 10 are. I hate to pick on people since I can’t sing at all, but I have to say I knew Mr. J. Miller could do a better rendition of Beautiful Day than the winner did. So I told him to get on it. He listened and now there’s a YouTube video. The singing is good, and he added some surprises. I spent my morning laughing. Hope you enjoy it too. And if you do, share it!
Now I just need to work a record deal…channeling Ari.
Our new cover is getting some buzz on Twitter and Facebook, always a good thing. But how much comfort can we take in social media’s acceptance of our images and links? My overnight Facebook activity was good, my overnight subscription totals not up to par. They were fine, but social media indicators signaled higher.
How do you measure success in social media? And in our focus on this realm are we missing out on other avenues? This is what I am stewing on today since it dawned on me that we have thousands of phone numbers in our database? Is it unthinkable to pick up the phone? Is social media the easy way out?
Everyone that works with me learns quite quickly that it is nearly impossible to get me on the phone. I hate long drawn out phone conversations when a simple email will suffice. So if we do decide to hit the phones with a year end sub campaign, I am sure it will be painful to me personally. But hey, if politicians aren’t above it….you have to win support. Scary to think, but the model is the same.
During the East West print hiatus, I was Deputy Director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. As trainers of business journalists throughout the country, we often focused on the realm of online reporting and social media, giving business reporters the tools and know-how to compete in the new media landscape. As a part of this effort, I wrote a column called Web Views. Its overwhelming theme? I am so over Twitter.
More than once, I discussed how I was a Twitter early adopter, joining the service in 2007. And I often lamented the media’s sole obsession with regurgitating content and getting on Twitter and Facebook. I argued that we need to include these tools, but they aren’t by any means the answer to the problems facing media today. The media in general needs to stop following, and instead, be early adopters and originators. Sure, you can tweet, but what is next? And does tweeting really help your brand? Have you studied its worth to your company and for your audience?
But when it was time to relaunch East West, I somehow forgot my own argument and was caught up in the frenzy. I became a bit obsessive, putting all my focus on Facebook and Twitter outreach and ignoring other channels.
But according to a recent report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project only roughly 19% of internet users now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves, or to see updates about others. Round that to 20% and it still doesn’t warrant 100% of our marketing attention. This figure woke me up as did a tactic we tried on social media sites a couple weeks ago. Free Trial Tuesday for fans of Facebook was by all accounts a bust. The promotion only pulled in 12 new users. We already get an average of 10 new sign-ups per day on our Web site without any special promotions or effort (e-newsletter signups).
So I am back to being cautious. I am back to diversfying my efforts and testing out new, unknown tools. Nonetheless, I will tweet about this post the minute I hit publish.
The upside of doing everything yourself is that when “your people” fail you, you have the ability, or at least the motivation, to just figure it out yourself.
When I started the magazine, I just wanted to tell stories. Five years later, not only do I get to share stories but I’ve also built upon my IT skills and Web know-how.
I, myself, built the East West web site, the current version and the two iterations that came before it, so I know a thing or two about Web design. I know how to tweak code, write XHTML, and work with content management systems, but I am by no means a hard core programmer or database guru.
So last night I had a bit of a meltdown after our Web site simply disappeared and after five hours of no communication, the Web hosting company emailed me the note below.
“It appears that there was an issue with your SEF module in your Joomla installation. We made some changes to your config file to get debugging enabled and it would appear that there is an error in this module that is causing the following error
DB function failed with error number 1062 Duplicate entry ‘b07f817fd525282604d620fb2935760e’ for key 1 SQL=INSERT INTO `jos_session` ( `session_id`,`time`,`username`,`gid`,`guest`,`client_id` ) VALUES ( ‘b07f817fd525282604d620fb2935760e’,’1255410502′,”,’0′,’1′,’0′ )”
WHAT? Paralyzed by unfamiliar tech-speak I simply sat there for five minutes looking at the clock and wishing I could just go to sleep. On the day of the release, this? Really? Best of all, the hosting company considered this support ticket closed. Apparently this issue had been resolved, but now when you went to EastWestMagazine.com instead of seeing an empty page you got that jtabelesession error noted above.
What next? When in doubt, turn to Google. Find a forum and frickin’ fix it yourself. Thirty minutes later, I was in bed. This morning, the new cover made its first appearance and all is back to normal. I think I spoke too soon. Just got an email, some angry distributor call just came in…joy. Did 900 copies show up in New Jersey by mistake? HELP!
It is the day of the release for the new issue. Time to call the Web people to post the new the cover and begin the blasting. Oh wait, the Web site has completely disappeared. It just loads a blank page and says DONE. What???
Oh, and guess who does all things Web around here? Yes, ME. I am the Web department. This is one of those not-so-glossy moments. I am panicking. Period.
All the files seem fine on the server and I can log into our backend no problem. So now I wait for the hosting company, who is being quite unresponsive. I was just trying online support chat. Shoot me. I get a generic one line response every 3 minutes.
It will be a long night. As much as I say print is here to stay, I will tell you this: Without a Web site, we are lost.