Getting to Know Author Rachelle Bronson

By Jason Harris

 

Author Rachelle Bronson started writing when she was very young. It was around the age of 6 or 7.

“I would fill those school notebooks full of drawings and stories. I’ve always had a good imagination, and seeing those ideas turn into reality struck a chord.”

Her newest work, Frozen, was released last month.

“It’s about a group of scientists that trek high into the Himalayas to dissect a newly discovered breed of humanoid,” Bronson said about Frozen.frozen-72

Her previous story, “Lulabelle,” was published in the Hersham Horror Books anthology, Alt-Zombie. This collection includes stories by William Meikle and Joe McKinney.

The story was shortened from its original version, Bronson said. She would like to see the whole story published someday.

Before she begins writing, she does a lot of research. She also makes sure to have well-developed character and plot outlines before beginning.

“I like to know where I’m going, which helps me avoid writer’s block. Many times however, the characters and story take on a life of their own and always surprise me in the end.”

Her published short stories aren’t the only works she has written. She has a few unpublished novels, Legends: The Bleeding Door, which will launch next year, and Tarzwell, which doesn’t have a release date at the moment.

Her first novel, Legends: The Bleeding Door, is based on an urban legend she researched and turned into fiction. It was conceived when she was in high school. Legends is what got her involved with Invictus Films, who wanted in 2007 to turn the novels into a television series after her pitch was received favorably by NBC and HBO. Unfortunately, the recession in 2008 killed the project’s momentum.

“I reacquired the rights in 2012 and am planning to launch the series, as intended, in book format, with The Bleeding Door being the first of a series of 13.”

Outside of the Legends series, she also has her novel, Tarzwell, which takes place between 1992 and 1996 and is based on actual events.

“Talk about a confusing time, going through high school and living in a house that has paranormal activity. It was a tough time for everyone. My mother was ill, my father was forced to work out of town to support us, so I was there many times alone, taking care of my mother, dealing with teenage angst and spirits.  I never believed in ghosts until I lived in this house.  It changed me profoundly.”

She considers living in the house “a major learning experience” and considers herself stronger for it.

“It definitely reminds you that life is about mind, body and spirit.”

The best writing advice she has ever received is to “never quit.”

“There are many obstacles to becoming published. But if you want it bad enough, hone your craft, lick your wounds and just keep going. Oh, and get yourself a good editor. They can make or break you.”

She is currently the chief reviewer at The Novel Blog website, which was conceived in 2008 by Daniel Boucher and Peter Mark May. She joined shortly after that and they have had a blast publishing news, reviews and interviews of authors ever since, she said.

“We wanted to do a book review site, one that included both up-and-comers and established authors to help get out awareness of their works and grow the community.  It also gives authors of other genres that may not be in the fiction literary mainstream a place to get the word out about their work.”

Bronson doesn’t have a website, but she hopes to remedy that by the end of this year or the beginning of 2014. She does have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/rachelle.bronson.9?fref=ts) and a Twitter account (@rachellegagne).

She and her publisher, Hive Collective, are looking at different promotional opportunities for her, which she will announce on her two social media accounts.

She loves reading the classic authors such as Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Robin Cook, and H.P. Lovecraft. She also has had great pleasure exploring new writers such as Kane Gilmour, Daniel Palmer, JT Ellison, Jonathan Maberry and Peter Mark May.

Bronson looks up to all writers, who stay true to themselves and their craft, but doesn’t want to emulate them.

“I want to be me, being original and trusting in my own pool of knowledge and creativity in order to produce something new, entertaining and inspiring to horror fans everywhere.”

The Good and Bad of the 2012 NEIBA Fall Conference

The Good and Bad of the 2012 NEIBA Fall Conference

By Jason Harris

The New England Independent Booksellers Association 39thAnnual Conference took place from Oct. 3 through 5 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

I will start with the good first. I went to the first day of the conference on Wednesday. I was looking forward to the panel “Social Media 2.0: Beyond the Basics: Using Social Media to Drive Sales and Customer Engagement.” As the NEHW Director of Publicity and Webmaster and Marketing Director and co-owner of Books and Boos, a bookstore, I knew I could learn something from this panel. The panelists were Sarah Rettger, of Newtonville Books in Newton, MA., Mary Allen, of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, VT., Kirsten Hess, of R.J. Julia in Madison, CT, and Ann Kingman of Random House.

The panelists mentioned there are ups and downs when using social media. One downside is that you have to use it five times a day, Hess mentioned.

One thing I was surprised to hear was the fact that the panelists don’t like Hootsuite, which could help with having to be on social media five times a day. The reason is it’s not genuine and people know it from seeing where the message is from. “Voice is important” when posting in social media, Hess said.

Hess also mentioned that people should be looking at other Facebook business pages, not just look at the book business.

Allen mentioned that people love photographs and live pictures of things with authors. She wasn’t talking about pictures of authors reading from their books either. She’s talking about a picture of them making a funny face or something behind the scenes before they become professional to do their reading.

Hess said customers want to see the people who sell them their books.

If you own a bookstore or any type of business, a good word to keep in mind is “partnerships” with other businesses in your community, Allen said.

Rettger said you should do what’s best for you and not to force it.

The other panel I checked out was “It’s All About Customer Service: Strengthening the Brick and Mortar Advantage.” This one wasn’t has interesting to me as the Social Media one, but it did contain some good ideas. The panelists were Susan Mercier, of Edgartown Books in Edgartown, MA., Ann Carmichael, of Kennebunk, ME, Michael Kanter, owner of Cambridge Naturals in Cambridge, MA., and Karen Corvello, of Baker & Taylor.

Kantor said that customer is all and everything. Stores should be kept cleaned and stocked, he said.

“My goal is for customers to leave the store and say ‘wow’ that was an amazing experience,” Kantor said.

He has noticed that in many bookstores employees are indifferent.

It was mentioned that every customer should be greeted as they come into the store.

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” Carmichael said. She also said that customer service begins on the sidewalk before the customer even comes inside. This means that the landscaping to the windows to the building itself has to be in the best shape possible.

Now we come to the bad of NEIBA. I had a couple of assignments on Thursday, which kept me away from the conference. I was able to attend on Friday and I wish I didn’t. The main reason I was going to go on Friday was to attend the panel, “Think Tank Round Tables – New ideas for New Business.” This is how the program guide described the panel: “Whenever booksellers get together the room seems to fill with new ideas. This 45-minute ‘think tank’ is an opportunity to gather – at tables organized by small, mid and larger-sized stores – and talk with each other about what exciting things you’ve done in your store in the past year and what things you’ve learned at the Fall Conference you’re going to do. We hope this will be a useful and focused way to wrap up the educational offerings of the Conference.”

When I got to the convention center, I found out that the trade show exhibit room was already shut down and packed up. It only went on one day this year and that day was Thursday. I didn’t realize this would happen from the program guide. I figured it would go on the entire conference. This was the first year they only had it for one day I was told. NEIBA was trying something new this year. Hopefully, they will go back to having it open all three days next year.

After being disappointed about the trade show, I went to the room where my panel was going to be held. I was about twenty minutes early so I waited outside the room. As it started getting closer to the 11 a.m. start time I wanted to the door. Once it got to 10:55 a.m., I was leaning against the doorway and started to worry. When I heard Steve Fischer, of NEIBA tell Neil Strandberg of the American Booksellers Association to continue talking and that he had plenty of time and it was around 11:10 a.m., I started getting upset. Later on, Fischer said that Strandberg could continue until 11:30 a.m. The last twenty minutes of the supposed panel I went to see was used to continue the discussion of the Kobo e-reading program, which was the subject of the previous panel. I had made a two hour and fifty minute round trip from Connecticut for nothing and I wasn’t happy about this. If NEIBA wasn’t going to have the panel they promoted in its program then they should have gotten the word out. Instead of still promoting it, by having the panel’s name and description listed on the wall outside the convention center’s conference room.

NEIBA Fall Conference Begins Tomorrow

The New England Independent Booksellers Association Fall Conference happens at the Rhode Island Convention Center at 1 Sabin Street in Providence, Rhode Island from Wednesday through Friday.

During the three-day conference, there will be exhibitors, lunch with booksellers, wholesalers and reps, panels, and plenty of other activities. You can check out the entire schedule by clicking here.

Some of the panels taking place during the conference include Best of Both Worlds: Understanding the Young Adult and Adult Crossover Market, Social Media 2.0: Beyond the Basics: Using Social Media to Drive Sales and Customer Engagement, Meeting the Literacy Needs in Your Community and ABA – E-book Solution.

There will also be autograph sessions with a number of authors inlcuding Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box), Nancy DiFabbio (Midnight Magic: Be Careful What You Wish For) and Kristy McKay (Undead) throughout the three-day event.

The 2012 Independent Spirit Awards will also be given out on Friday.

If you want to support NEIBA member stores in any of the New England states, click here.

Heads Up!

Heads Up!

by K. Allen Wood

If you’re an author with access to the Internet, you’ve undoubtedly been bombarded recently by other authors peddling their books or stories. We’ve all been exposed to this before, but until the past year or so most self-promotion from authors was done in a classier, more respectful manner.

Some still operate that way (and we’re grateful), but others have taken it to a whole new level.

I won’t sit here and tell anyone they shouldn’t promote their work or the work of their friends or authors they enjoy, but I will explain what typically happens on my end when authors do it incessantly.

What’s that smell?

If you follow me on Twitter, I will likely follow you. If you do nothing but post links to your book or books, I will block you and vow to never read your work.

If I connect with you on LinkedIn and you immediately send me a message or an e-mail telling me to check out your book on Amazon, I will “disconnect” from you and vow to never read your book—especially when, as happened yesterday and thus prompted this post, I sample it and there is a mistake three words in. No, thank you!

If we’re friends on Facebook and I’ve “liked” your author page—which is the page I expect to see writing updates generate from—and you go and post daily the same goddamn updates on your personal page, your author page, and every writing-related group you and I (sadly) belong to, even those that are not meant for such updates, I will block your updates, vow to never read your work, and find you to be a total wackadouche.

If you constantly post 5-star reviews on Amazon and then share those overblown, unhelpful reviews loaded with WHIZBANGPOW! adjectives and vague clichés like “it gripped me from the first word and didn’t let go until the last”—which are obviously meant to A) kiss the (undoubtedly more popular) author’s ass, B) hide the fact that you didn’t actually read what you reviewed, and C) use his or her book as a piggyback to your own shitty book or books—I won’t believe a word you’re saying and more than likely will never read that author’s book because your word can’t be trusted.

(That’s right, an absurd run-on sentence in a post where I criticize bad writing. Got a problem with that?)

The fact is, you’re not helping anyone, especially yourself. Most of us promote our work in some regard, but some of you are OUT OF FUCKING CONTROL! I won’t begrudge you your rights to be that way—that pushy, lying kind of self-promoter. You’ll surely fool a lot of dummies out there. But I won’t support you. And worse, I’ll find it very hard to support those other authors that are unlucky enough to be promoted by you. They’re the innocent bystanders in this whole thing. And some are probably damn fine writers, which is a shame.

In the grand scheme of things, the big picture, this post is just one insignificant opinion from a relatively insignificant dude … but rest assured, I’m not the only one with this opinion.

So do as you will, but remember this: You can’t push or lie your way to the top. You can push and lie your way to a top, sure, but it’s most definitely not the top.

Editor’s Note:

This blog entry originally appeared on K. Allen Wood’s website.

Practical PR in Five Steps or Fewer

Practical PR in Five Steps or Fewer Or, I just joined the NEHW … now what?

by Kristi Petersen Schoonover

There’s strength in numbers, and that’s what the New England Horror Writers Association is all about. Through membership, you’ll have access to promotional opportunities—such as selling your books at conference tables and getting yourself out there on the web through the NEHW website—that you wouldn’t otherwise.

That said, we’re all busy people: today’s writers and artists are expected to blog, social network, teach, lecture, promote, critique—never mind create, and that’s on top of our “normal” lives. If you’re in a time crunch, how do you take advantage of yet another opportunity?

You can. In not even five minutes a day. Here’s how!

1. FOLLOW THE NEHW ON TWITTER AND RE-TWEET.

Follow the NEHW at @NEhorrorwriters. We’ll follow you back. We often re-tweet your tweets—and you can re-tweet ours. It’s especially helpful when you’ve got nothing to put out on your feed—and a heck of a lot of news goes everywhere and all it cost you was one second.

2. JOIN THE NEHW FACEBOOK GROUP AND PARTICIPATE.

The NEHW Facebook Group is an easy way to stay informed of upcoming opportunities— and is another place to post your own news and gain exposure. In addition, some pretty interesting posts pop up over there. It’s a cinch to click “Share” or “Comment.”

3. FRIEND OTHER MEMBERS ON FACEBOOK AND HIT THE SHARE BUTTON.

Friend other NEHW members on Facebook—plenty of our members are active and have lots to share. If they post something interesting, that’s your cue to click “Share” and/or “Comment.”

4. IN A BLOG JAM? DIRECT FOLLOWERS TO NEWS ON THE NEHW WEBSITE OR TO OTHER MEMBERS’ WEBSITES.

There’s a near-constant newsfeed—and even older helpful articles—on the NEHW website; in addition, other members’ blogs are pretty active. If I’ve got nothing to post on my blog, I head over, grab a link to something interesting, write a two-line introduction— and voila! Instant post. Just be sure you’re not copying anything verbatim from anyone’s website without their permission; if you’ve got WordPress and so does the poster, you can hit “Reblog” and add a comment, and WordPress will merely show a truncated version and provide the link.

5. ADD US TO YOUR E-MAIL SIGNATURE.

You can add “Member New England Horror Writers Association~www.newenglandhorror.org” to your permanent e-mail signature. You only have to do it once and it’s there until you take it off. How does that benefit you? Clout, of course. It shows you’re a member of a writing organization and that you’ve got a passion for what you do— especially great for when you’re submitting to editors.

If every member of our group did this, think of how much coverage we’d have…and that’s just the beginning. By participating in these five activities when you can, you’ll help yourself—and our organization—gain the exposure we all deserve.

Another Notch in the Bedpost?

This entry originally appeared on New England Horror Writers’ member, K. Allen Wood’s website.

Another Notch in the Bedpost?

by K. Allen Wood

I’ve been contemplating—and worried about—writing this blog post for a long time now. My worry is a simple one: Will people be offended, take it the wrong way? I can’t answer that, but I hope not, because I’m compelled to discuss it.

So here goes…

I started a small-press horror publication in the fall of 2008. I enlisted the help of some online friends, we dubbed it Shock Totem, and in July of 2009 we published our first issue. (Most of you know this.) Ever since we published that debut issue, I’ve had one question constantly rattling around my head:

Does an author owe his support to the publications that publish his work?

That question pertains not only to me as a publisher but as a writer as well. Through four issues of Shock Totem, we have gotten some amazing support from authors we’ve published. But not all of them. Some hardly mentioned us at all, even when the issue containing their work came out. On a selfish level, I can’t help but find that disappointing. On a rational level, I understand that I have no idea why an author does what he does. There are things at play here that I am simply not privy to. I can dig that.

But back to the selfish side of things… As a publisher, I find myself leaning toward the notion that writers should be supporting those who publish their work. Because if the publisher is doing it right (relative to that particular publisher, of course), and if they’re a publication like Shock Totem where every issue is still in print and actively promoted, then the publication is fully and continually supporting the authors.

Back to the rational side of things… As a published author—hell, as a lifelong creative type—I completely understand that the muse commands one to look forward, to move forward, and create, create, create, to not waste time looking back. I also know how little time most artistic people have to actually focus on their art. So maybe some people simply don’t have the time. But that leads to the one thing I can’t rationalize…

When I finish a new story, I move onto a new one. But when I have a story published, I never move on. (All this can be applied, as well, to my musician days.) I can’t move forward and not look back in that regard. Because I want people to read my work! Do I owe it to that particular publication to support them, promote them? That’s debatable. But I sure as hell owe it to myself to support and promote my work! So I make the time.

And that is precisely what baffles me. (This does not take into account the fact that some authors publish bad stories best left forgotten from time to time.) Why do certain writers choose to not actively promote their work? Is a publication credit just another notch in the bedpost for these authors? As a publisher, sometimes it feels that way.

I have just three publication credits. The first was in 52 Stitches, Vol. 2. The publisher, Aaron Polson, essentially put Strange Publications to bed—at least for the time being—when this anthology was published. But this book is still available, and I promote the hell out of it…because I want people to read my work! “By the Firelight,” my story in this anthology, is a mere 457 words, but I still want people to read it. It doesn’t matter that the publication is inactive or perhaps permanently closed, because I like my story and, in my opinion, I owe it to myself to promote it.

My second published work, “Goddamn Electric,” was in The Zombie Feed, Vol. 1. I’ve sent out copies for review, I’ve posted about it here on this blog and on the Shock Totem blog. I will continue to do so as long as it’s available.

I’ve done the same thing, and will continue to do so, with Epitaphs: The Journal of New England Horror Writers, which contains my story “A Deep Kind of Cold.” In a certain, roundabout way, I’m promoting my work right now.

Which brings me to the revelation of things…

Since that first issue of Shock Totem came out in 2009, I’ve been asking myself should the author support the publisher? Again, the answer is debatable. But few would argue that an author shouldn’t promote his own work, right? And in promoting his own work, is that not, therefore, supporting the publisher? Is there a difference between promoting your own work and supporting the publisher?

I’m no longer sure you can have the former without the latter, but I know what I’m going to do. Always.

Editor’s Note:

Wood makes a lot of valid points. A creative person does look ahead, but to become well-known or even known, they need to promote their work. By authors’ promoting their stories, they are promoting the publisher of their work. How hard is it to write a Facebook status update or a tweet about your story being in an anthology, magazine, etc.

Wood promotes his magazine and any anthology his stories appear in. He does this through his website and his different twitter accounts. He also attends different conventions and fairs too. He will be at the NEHW tables at the Queen City Kamikaze Convention on Feb. 18 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Facebook Gave Me Writers’ Block

This article originally appeared on the Guardian website.

Facebook Gave Me Writers’ Block

by Tom Cox

For Tom Cox, the creative isolation of living in the country was punctured by a constant babble from social networking. So in 2012, he’s decided to go cold turkey

For Tom Cox, the creative isolation of living in the country was punctured by a constant babble from social networking. So in 2012, he's decided to go cold turkey (photo courtesy of Tom Cox)

To see in this year, I did two things I’ve been meaning to do for a long time: I challenged myself to put on as many coats as possible at the same time during a lull in a New Year’s Eve party, and I deactivated my Facebook account. The coats challenge didn’t work out quite as well as I’d hoped: I ran out of arm space when I got to six, and I’m not sure one – a pinstriped, Yardbirds-style blazer owned by my friend Pat – strictly counted. The Facebook experiment, however, has so far been a success. Ten days in, I no longer reach for the Facebook icon on my iPhone in the night as one might reach across the bed for a departed partner, and, as I approach two weeks of cold turkey, the “virtual phantom limb” feeling that kicked in around day three is dissipating.

I was far from the most active Facebook user I know, but my decision to quit came from a long cold look at just how many hours I’ve devoted to it in the last couple of years, and a strong accompanying feeling that, were I to devote the same amount over the next couple, I would want to put on some spiked gloves and repeatedly punch myself in the nose really hard. No matter how positive you feel about Facebook or Twitter and the ways in which they’ve enhanced your life, it is unlikely that anyone will ever lie on their deathbed and say, “You know what? I’m really glad I spent all that time social networking!” Additionally, I’m starting to write a new book, and attempting to feel more focussed.

It’s easy to picture a country writing retreat and imagine that its sheer remoteness naturally leads to the kind of mental peace that breeds creativity, but these days that’s not the whole story. I live in Norfolk with lots of greenery around me but in 2012 rural life doesn’t mean “isolated life”. One of the hardest things about writing for a living is being at your keyboard and feeling that everyone else is out having a party. Facebook and Twitter make that party non-stop and put it constantly in your house, in your face, in your bag, in your pocket. I can convince myself that the two of them are friends in the background, gently egging me on through my creative hermitry, but by doing so I’m being too easy on myself. I already spend far too much time going for coffees and beers with my real friends when I should be writing.

A sensible way to combat such interference would be to switch my router off for a few hours or download one of the increasing range of software packages that lock you out of Facebook and Twitter – or, like Sean French, one half of the bestselling crime writing novelist duo Nicci French — build a writing shed just out of broadband range. But I’m not sensible, and, after a bout of pre-Christmas creative block, I decided to take more extreme measures. Last week, in addition to deactivating Facebook, I drove from my own rural writing retreat to another, even more rural writing retreat, 360 miles away: an almost impossibly idyllic fire-warmed one-bedroom cottage called The Bothy, half a mile down a muddy track just north of Dartmoor, with no internet and only intermittent phone signal.

With a “new year, new start” mentality, I got down straight to business, and held my laptop up against the bedroom window in an attempt to piggyback onto the wi-fi from the main house where the owners of The Bothy live. Having failed in this mission, and fielded some text messages from friends asking why I wasn’t on Facebook any more, which soon extended into conversations I would have previously had with them on Facebook, I read a book about witches and fell asleep, hoping that the witches would get together in the night with the half-formed witches in my own book and make them more vivid.

The next morning I felt more motivated, but I was also a bit hungry, so before working I drove out to the nearest supermarket, ten miles away. This being rain-sodden rural Devon, and the roads being narrow and flooded, the journey took me the best part of 45 minutes each way, and Richard, one of the Bothy’s owners, very kindly accompanied me in his four by four for the first stretch, to make sure my ailing Toyota Yaris got through the floods.

These are the factors the author seldom accounts for when buying into the myth of “getting away from the world”: the two hours that it might take to find an interesting sandwich, the potential hour waiting on a dark roadside for the RAC. Back at the start of the last decade, when I lived in Finsbury Park, in London, traffic noise and nextdoor’s Stereophonics albums were problems, but a carless existence and plenty of nearby conveniences contributed to a simpler working life in a way I took for granted. Also, the pet cats in London were mostly cynical loners, while Bertie, one of the happy, gregarious ones living next to The Bothy, wouldn’t leave me alone, and I couldn’t quite bring myself to stop laying in front of the fire with him on my chest.

When people talk romantically about dreams of rustic artistry, nobody warns you about this stuff: just like when I moved into my house nobody warned me that a man would come to the shore of the nearby lake and shout “COME ON THEN, LET’S BE ‘AVIN YOU!” at the ducks every morning, just as I tried to write the day’s most difficult sentence.

There could probably be no better place to write than The Bothy, if you were a perfect writer, disciplined in his solitude. I, however, am an imperfect modern one, struggling with an attention span that has been torn into strips by the internet and who likes being around people a bit too much.

I managed to work there in the end, but will probably remember it less for what I achieved and more as the place where I found the discipline to almost properly start my seventh book, and finally faced up to the fact that the true distractions stopping me from doing so at home were not external, but internal: that the rabbit hole universe available to us online is far more of a distraction than any physical “bustle” could ever be and the authors really getting down to the best work aren’t the ones telling you about it on the internet.

In fact, I have an impulse to tweet that right now, but I’ll probably leave it.

Tom Cox’s latest book, Talk To The Tail, is published in paperback by Simon And Schuster this month

Use Social Media to Boost Success for Events and Conferences

This article originally appeared on the Nonprofit Technology Network website.

Whenever a new method of engagement surfaces, it’s easy to think the new will supplant what came before. In the case of social networking, some speculate it will threaten conferences and other live events. In reality, social media is a boon to physical gatherings.

“Very rarely is a new invention so innovative that it replaces what came before,” says Tom Lehman, founder of Lehman Associates and author of the Lehman Reports™ industry studies. This is certainly true for social media. While it is a powerful tool that is transforming the way associations do business, it is best used in tandem with — rather than in the place of — their more traditional marketing and communications activities.

After all, associations have been in the “social networking” business long before Facebook and Twitter became household names, Lehman says. At their core, associations are communities in which people of like interests and goals gather. This is why social media has been so successfully adopted by associations and integrated into their existing marketing mix. It amplifies what they have been doing all along.

Social networking can particularly enhance member engagement, especially for associations that anchor their member activities in conferences or trade shows. For these associations, social networking can be used to encourage attendance and cull new attendees for these events, which are often a crucial revenue source. To be most effective, social media should be integrated with an association’s membership management software, enabling it to customize and maximize its engagement activities.

“For many associations, about 20% of their members are active in the sense of attending conferences and trade shows. With social media, you can engage the other 80% of members in ways that enhances their connections to your association,” says Lehman.

This deeper engagement with your association and fellow members will inevitably build momentum for your in-person events. As 80% of members engage more regularly on your association’s social platform, many of them will consider taking the next step in their engagement by attending in-person meetings or events.

Integrating social media with your other activities, however, does not have to be at the expense of other outreach tactics. Rather, you should offer your members a menu of options that they can select from to determine how they want to engage with your association. Offering options will result in a broader segment of members responding to your outreach, as more people will find what works for them and stick with that.

For instance, consider the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS). The organization offers its members several options for learning about its annual Build Business conference. For members that prefer email, they can opt into inbox alerts about conference news and speakers. For those who prefer more interactive platforms, SMPS provides a social network for potential conference attendees to chat with other members, learn more about the various panels and sessions, and in some cases, communicate directly with the speakers.

“The members’ number one reason for attending is networking,” says Michele Santiago, marketing director at SMPS National. “Social networking is another layer that enables that. Some members like to learn about conferences via email, but others would rather engage on a social network with speakers and other attendees to decide whether to attend.”

In addition, the association also maintains another channel for those who have already signed up for the conference. This channel allows attendees to discuss more minute details of the conference, like sharing tips on the best places to catch a taxi or the attire for various networking events. This social network has also cut down on the amount of papers members haul around with them during the conference.

“We’re certainly not looking for social networking to replace our other member engagement activities. It just adds another layer,” says Molly Dall’erta, Web project manager at SMPS. “People are looking for the best engagement tool that works for them. If you’re looking to create groups or look for specific people within a community, social networks offer a way to do that. For our conference attendees, they used to have to carry around notebooks and papers that had information about events and people to meet with. Now they don’t have to do that.”

Using social media at on-site events to connect with other members or access information is another way social platforms can enhance “real-life” events. The Defense Research Institute (DRI) recently created a mobile application for members to use at its annual meeting. The application allows attendees to view the conference schedule, floor layout, and session and speaker information. Members could also see who was attending, message other members, and create their own schedule for the conference.

“What we find is, for broadening your network and maintaining connections the e-world and social media work better,” Lehman explains. “But to build trust and solidify these relationships, you need that face-to-face interaction. This is why social media and physical events work together so effectively.”

Whenever a new method of engagement surfaces, it’s easy to think perhaps the new will supplant what came before. In the case of social networking, some speculate that it will threaten conferences and trade shows. But in reality, social media is a boon to physical gatherings. Social networking allows members to connect with others who they never would otherwise, broadening their network and giving them more reason to attend conferences and shows. And, social media enables members to continue the conversations they begin at the conference, keeping the momentum going until next year’s show.

 Bob Alves is Chairman and CEO of Advanced Solutions International (ASI), the largest, privately owned global provider of web-based software for member- and donor-based not-for-profits. After receiving his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from George Washington University, Bob went to work in the nonprofit industry. Bob has always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and after wrestling with the general lack of proper customer service and uniform products for the nonprofit technology marketplace he was inspired to found ASI in 1991.

Four Marketing Benefits of Social Media

This acticle originally appeared on the website, http://www.searchengineoptimizationjournal.com/.

4 Marketing Benefits of Social Media by Nick Stamoulis


Social media marketing is not a fad. If that’s the excuse you’ve been using to avoid developing a social media marketing strategy it’s time to find a new excuse or finally build that Facebook page. Social media marketing can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be (or as you have time for), but you get out what you put in. 90+% of Americans have at least one social profile, meaning your target market is online and engaging in social networking. Marketing 101- fish where the fish are!

What are some of the benefits of social media marketing?

1. Build brand
Social profiles can rank on their own in the search engines, increasing your online presence. Social profiles are also one more place for you to develop your messaging strategy and connect with your target audience. It’s a place to inject some personality into your brand and let your target market engage with you on their terms. Social networks are the perfect place for breeding brand ambassadors and building lasting relationships with repeat customers.

2. Drive targeted visitors to site
You never want to treat your social networking profiles like the final destination of a potential customer. Your social profile is more like a filter, attracting targeted traffic (that identify themselves as you target audience because they are interested in your brand) and them pushing them over to your actual site/blog. The more targeted visitors your site has, the better chance you have of pushing them to act and increasing your conversion rate.

3. Promote content and get more links (social signals)

The more times a piece of content is shared on a social networking or social bookmarking site, the more valuable it becomes in the eyes of the search engines. From an SEO standpoint, these social signals can impact how well your piece of content ranks in the SERPs. From a more general marketing perspective, the more people who share your content the greater potential reach it has. The average Facebook user has 130 friends which means that if just five people post your content to Facebook it has the potential to be seen by 650 of their collective connections!

4. PR
Twitter has become many people’s go-to source for breaking news. Twitter even created this clever commercial demonstrating the power of “real time” sharing. Social networking has practically revolutionized the way news information is shared. So what does this mean for brands? Social networks allow companies to connect with their audience as a situation develops, meaning you have the chance to tell your side of the story as it is happening. Social networks are also a great place to interact with members of the press. You can connect with journalists and local news sources directly, giving them instant access to a story.