Uke & Guitars

June 3, 2014

Prompted by Mashable I am posting the first thing that comes to mind as my blogging in the robertjstewart “ramblings” blog has lie latent for years.

Notice the guitar in the middle. My mother bought that at an auction on Prince Edward Island probably 40 years ago. Remarkably it remains in excellent shape with some beautiful mother-of-pearl inlay (has only one small inlay piece missing).

The ukulele is a recent acquisition from January, 2014.

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Social Media ROI: A Thousand Small Wins

March 16, 2010

We like measurement.  We need measurement.  Often we’re evaluated and sometimes defined by measurement. 

Social media measurement and ROI have become increasingly hot topics as time, resources, and (some) money have been carved off traditional marketing and communications approaches to experiment with these emerging channels.  Some who buy into social media, those who are already drinking the kool-aid often view the ROI question with the quasi-aloofness of the cool kids in high school who have the “don’t you get it?” attitude.

But even though there are still cool kids among us, we need to hold ourselves accountable and to measure the return on our resources especially as those resources are stretched and become scarcer.   With social media, as with all media forms, there are hard and soft measurements with the direct link to ROI remaining a bit elusive. 

A great introduction to this discussion is the Mashable article How To: Measure Social Media .  This article brings you through the traditional (and some find boring) financial ROI thought process.  It also introduces the standard web metrics such as number of Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and LinkedIn group members and emphasizes the need to at least correlate these new-fangled metrics with financial results and performance.  So check out this article and also Oliver Blanchard’s humorous SlideShare presentation  Basics of Social Media ROI .

But for social media newbies I would strongly suggest that you  take a slightly different perspective and rely more on softer measurements which leads me back to the “thousand small wins” that we’re using to measure the INTERPHEX social media efforts. 

Here are some of our wins:

  • Booth Sale. Through our LinkedIn Group, Pragma QS requested exhibiting information which we turned into a booth sale for INTERPHEX Puerto Rico.
  • Exhibitor Customer Service.  By tracking INTERPHEX mentions on Twitter, we came across a question from an exhibitor PR agency for media contact information.  Through our Twitter tracking we were able to immediately fulfill the request.
  • Speaker Recruitment.  When a speaker dropped out from an INTERPHEX conference session, we posted a request for speaker in an industry LinkedIn Group and with an hour had four potential speakers volunteer.
  • Exhibitor Promotion.  Here’s a recent INTERPHEX Facebook posting,   “L.B. Bohle is launching its high-efficiency tablet coater at INTERPHEX.”  Even though this sounds innocuous enough, it’s  significant that  exhibitors have become Facebook fans and have started to use the INTERPHEX fan page to promote their products.

For INTERPHEX we will also continue to measure our progress with harder measurements, but as a starting point our main social media metric will remain “a thousand small wins”.  So 4 wins under our belt.  Only 996 more to go . . .

Book Trends: Taking the Plunge

October 8, 2009

Picking my first trend is a little harder than I thought. Reminds me when I was a kid and we went to the Maine and New Hampshire beaches during the summer and the ocean water was always colder than you could possibly imagine.  It actually hurt to step into the water for the first time. So you stuck your toe in until it was numb and then up to your ankle . . . you get the picture.   But let me take the screaming plunge. I’ve decided not to go with the easy and obvious e-reader starting point but I’ll eventually get there.

Trend #1. Content or Book Publishing Business?  This is a version of the question facing all media businesses.  Are we in the same business we were yesterday or has the underlying model changed?  Sometimes the question is framed in the context of “content”, sometimes “community”. Presently probably a “yes and no” answer for book publishing depending upon key factors like niche and size, but with changing channels and emerging technology the trend is clearly in the direction of a content-centric business model away from the traditional book publishing model.

Trend #2.  XML and Production Process Changes.  So delving into the quasi-exotic with my second trend (pretty much the corollary to Trend #1) and recognizing that within the industry it’s not without controversy.  From my perspective this appears to be a no-brainer. With readers consuming more books online and with mobile devices, publishers have to be prepared to meet this demand. In addition, there’s an opportunity to promote books via emerging channels with multiple formats.  Finally, there’s the “what we haven’t thought of yet” factor potentially leading to new products, channels, and revenue sources created by the ability to search, share, and create product mutations not possible with a printed page.

Trend #3. e-Books.  Moving from the dangerous and cold water of XML where my understanding is severely limited to the warmer, shallower tidal pool of e-books. e-Book growth will continue at impressive rates setting records for as far as we can see into the future. With the Kindle leading the way in market share and pricing, there’s not yet a significant impact on publisher’s financials but a new financial foundation is being laid. Very clearly a major element of book publishing’s future although the magnitude of the changes and opportunities remains fuzzy in everyone’s crystal ball.

More trends to come.

Trends, Trends, Everywhere

October 8, 2009

I like trying to understand trends.  I don’t mean short-term changes such as in fashion or food.  I find those difficult to understand.  Who determines whether mauve is the “in” color or whether avocados are here to stay?  I’m not even sure that I could pick out mauve behind the one-way mirror of a color line-up. “Officer, I think that it’s second from the left next to that yellowish looking thing”.   Not my strength.

But longer-terms trends are a different matter.  I think it’s because my brain likes to think strategically and to deal with broader concepts.  Peter Drucker in a rather heady quote said, “I never predict.  I just look at the window to see what is visible – but not yet seen.”  Even with the natural ability to see the yet-to-be-seen, it’s important to remember no one has perfect 20/20 vision looking into the future.  The horizon will be blurry and you’ll make some misjudgments and mistakes. 

Typically, in compiling industry trends I would attempt to develop a  “Top 10” list and even to toss in some humor to mimic the Late Show.  Apart from trying to get a kick out myself, there’s a fairly decent discipline in distilling anything to the 10 most important points.  So I’m still shooting for 10 trends but I won’t call it a “Top 10” list.  Why?  Since David Letterman has stirred up things recently for himself  he can keep the Top 10 to himself . . . for now.

With my next few posts about book publishing trends, I’ll most likely discuss 3- 5 trends each time so as not overwhelm myself or anyone who reads this.  Again, there will be no particular order or prioritization.  This is basically my rough draft, and I promise not to discuss mauve or avocados.

The Book Publishing Brain Spin

October 7, 2009

I’ve been reading whatever I can find about book publishing trends.  It’s confusing.  Well, not really confusing, it’s just that you have to spin your brain around a few times to understand from whose perspective you’re looking at these trends. Is it the publisher perspective?  The agent?  The reader? Without the brain spin you can very easily confuse yourself.

The consumer perspective is pretty easy for me, because . . . well . . . I’m a consumer so no dizzying brain spinning involved.  I understand the online channel as I’ve bought books from Amazon and I understand the bricks & mortar channel as I just enjoy walking around bookstores (I also enjoy checking out guitars in music stores but that’s another story).

I’ve never used a Kindle or Sony Reader.  In fact, except for photos I’ve never actually seen one.  Nor do I own an iPhone.  But  I’m starting to understand the  potentially disruptive impact that digitized content will have on traditional book publishing and book reading and that it’s not just bits & bytes or any specific device.  Perhaps more significantly it’s an underlying transformation of the reading experience from the tactile element to multimedia delivery to faciliated sharing and discussion to potentially participating in content creation.  

In my next few posts I will identify as many book publishing trends as I can.  At this point it will be just a compilation.  Yes, a long, quasi-confusing list.  I won’t attempt to break it out by consumers, authors, publishers, agents, reviewers, publications, or even events.   That will have to come later after my grey matter has settled back into place.

Don’t Stop the Presses Yet

October 6, 2009

In the first glance through my book publishing blog roll, the main conversational topic appears to be digital content and e-readers. Yes, there’s a wide range of topics covered in my 33 blog feed in a Garrison Keillor Lake Wobegon radio broadcast sort of way, but the major breaking news of the day seems to be digitization and e-readers.

 One post tells me that e-readers are being marketed in the wrong way cannibalizing existing readers rather than going after non-readers.  Seems like a winning formula to me that you’d want to expand, not cannibalize, your market.  Another informs me that e-books will soon be available in New Zealand.  As I didn’t know that e-books had not already made their way to the other side of the earth, this was news to me. 

Also interesting stuff about iPhone readers, e-readers and piracy in China (ok, there is activity on the planet’s far side however nefarious), and even an interview with the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont with some of the problems they face with the Expresso (print-on-demand) Book Machine (1.5 beta version) which they expect to be fixed with the 2.0 (non-beta?) version.

So what have I learned in my first, cursory view of the book publishing industry?   Well, my initial, knee-jerk evaluation that the industry is being dramatically changed by digitization and e-books seems to be correct. But it’s also readily apparent that this is no simple, “flip the switch let’s stop the printing presses and digitize every printed word”  transformation.  If the printed word were going away why would the Northshire Bookstore put up with a print-on-demand Expresso Book Machine that breaks down?   Plus it’s also apparent that the issues for both print and digital are, as expected, complicated. 

Free content, community building, digital content, reader devices, rights structure, and even legacy workflow issues are among the many issues facing the industry.

Lots to learn.

33 Book Publishing Blogs

October 6, 2009

12 Days of Christmas, 101 Dalmatians, and now 33 Book Publishing Blogs?

I’ve set up a folder in iGoogle Reader to start watching the blog conversation in the book publishing market.  At last count I had subscribed to 33 blogs mainly mined from Lance Fensterman’s MediumAtLarge blog links.  Lance has quite an eclectic mix there and I specifically stayed away from anything related to Minnesota because, well, it doesn’t interest me all the much as I believe I’ve only been to Minneapolis once. 

My broader interest is prompted by the changes happening in information distribution whether newspapers, magazines, books, or even conference content.  No, I don’t think I’m smart enough to figure it out, but I do enjoy the chase.  Well, actually, to be quite honest, some days I do expect to get a major insightful “click”.  Still waiting.   Eventually it’s exploring and attempting to understand the changing who, what, when, where, why & how of content creation, distribution, and consumption so book publishing seems a safe place to begin.

33 blogs.  A fairly hefty starting point.  I wonder how many more I’ll come across and whether I’ll end up with more or less than Disney has Dalmatians?

Was There Research Before Google?

October 1, 2009

I think that I forget how we researched anything in the past.

This morning I started to research a new industry.  I began by googling a few keywords leading me to some sites and articles on a range of topics related to the industry.  When I found something interesting, I bookmarked it in Delicious.com, added appropriate tags, and maybe some notes so I could remind myself why I found it interesting in the first place. 

Then I decided to concentrate on finding industry blogs to follow.  These blogs were fairly easy to find as I stumbled across a decent blog early in my search and basically stripped it of the listed blogs that interested me.  I decided to save all the blog links in Google Reader so I had to go through the rather tedious task of screening each blog link and then subscribing to each one-by-one.  Cut & paste, tedious?  I guess that I’m spoiled.

On to Twitter next where my first step was to follow some of newly found blogster friends.  Then I decided to go the wefollow.com route, did a keyword search, and started to find some other new, best friends.  So I now have a feed that I set up as a TweetDeck group of tens of people sending me information, basically doing my homework for me.   Facebook would have been next but my research at this point is confidential so I didn’t want to call attention to the fact that I was picking at this market and decided (at this point) not to establish a separate, stealth FB account. 

As I was going through this process I found myself asking the question, “How did I do this 10 years ago?  15 years ago? 20 years ago?”    Did I start by picking up the phone and talking to people?  Did I immediately head to the reference section of the library?  I couldn’t remember.  And quite frankly I’m not going to risk hurting my little brain trying to remember.  It amazes me how quickly I can now get up to speed on any topic by using the new tools of the trade.  I don’t want to remind myself how hard it used to be.

Social Media @ASAE

August 17, 2009

Interesting post from Michael McCurry as to how ASAE at their annual conference are using social media:

Life of a Virtual Attendee: What’s In It For Me?

  • Free WiFi
  • Set up #asae09 hashtag
  • Established Flickr photo pool
  • Video Blogging
  • Interactive Blog Roll
  • Live Twitter Roll

They also have the Annual Hub on which I’ve seen the live Twitter feed and also an update blog posting.  I’m assuming that the other social media channels such the video blogs and Flickr photos feed into this stream as they are updated.

I need to check out how they used LinkedIn and FaceBook pre-show.

Social Media: Not Just a Fad

August 17, 2009

I’ve used the phrase that “social media is transformative”. 

Here’s a YouTube video that demonstrates this much better than I can.