Madisen Ray Final Project 2011, May 6

Twitter as Publishing for Publishing
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Twitter. It‟s everywhere. Mention “social networking site” and next to Facebook, Twitter is what everyone first thinks. But what is it? What does it do? Launched in 2006, is a place for people, businesses, organizations—anyone—to tweet 140-character thoughts, information, and updates. While a 140-character message does not seem like much, Twitter‟s “About” page states, “Don‟t let the small size fool you—you can share a lot with a little space. Connected to each Tweet is a rich details pane that provides additional information, deeper context and embedded media. You can tell your story within your Tweet, or you can think of a Tweet as the headline, and use the details pane to tell the rest with photos, videos and other media content.” Anyone can use Twitter any way he, she, it, or they want. There is no wrong way to use it. But that begs the question as to how individual people, organizations, or businesses use it. More importantly, how does a specific industry use Twitter?

Since Twitter is for everyone, it becomes an excellent tool for businesses. has a specific About section for businesses that explains what Twitter can do for them. The website states, “As a business, you can use Twitter to quickly share information, gather market intelligence and insights, and build relationships with people who care about your company. Often, there is already a conversation about your business happening on Twitter. Start participating!” (“What is Twitter?”). Twitter not only encourages business participation, but it also suggests how best to do it. With a list of eight simple practices to follow, Twitter helps any business optimize their Twitter account and tweets to build a “following, reputation, and customer‟s trust” (“Best Practices”). These practices are: share, listen, ask, respond, reward, demonstrate wider leadership and know-how, champion your stakeholders, and establish the right voice (“Best Practices”). Employing these practices will inevitably help a business tweet to its fullest potential and have a commanding social network presence. As previously stated, all kinds of people and businesses use Twitter. Twitter advocates that businesses use their website in the first place by catering a guide to them. When a huge group of similar businesses begin using Twitter for similar purposes, it becomes an industry presence on this social networking site. All kinds of industries tweet—technology, sports, retail—but one particular business that really transcends its industry is the publishing industry. When the world is going digital and the general population fears the death of the book, in order to remain with the ever-changing times, publishing companies are becoming a huge online presence. To compete with the Kindle and other e-books, printed books must

command something to remain in the forefront of readers‟ minds. By using Twitter, individual publishing companies have formed an industry-wide presence on this social networking site, and examining how this industry utilizes Twitter shows that while books may be old-fashioned, their business practices are not.

To examine how publishing companies and the publishing industry uses Twitter, first and foremost, one must follow publishing companies. But where to begin? Random House, HarperCollins, and Penguin are the obvious first choices to follow because they are the heavy-hitters of the publishing industry. Even someone with no publishing knowledge has seen the orange logo of Penguin. From there, though, who is there to follow? In an article entitled “UK Publishing Companies Take up Twitter,” Hannah Waldram lists the “publishing Twitterati” who are utilizing Twitter. This list of fifteen UK publishing companies, both old and new, provides a gateway into the tweets of publishing companies in both the United Kingdom and the United States. In following several of the companies listed in this article (such as @littlebrown [Little, Brown & Co], @FaberBooks, and @eburypublishing) simply by following them, a Twitter user can see who they are following and who follows them and be connected to dozens of other publishing companies on Twitter. Almost all publishing companies one can find on Twitter are connected somehow. For example, in following the list of Twitter accounts in Waldram‟s article, there is great overlap. Ebury Publishing follows Little, Brown & Co and @SaqiBooks, another account listed in the article. Additionally, Ebury also follows Penguin Books UK and USA. From there, one can see who all of these accounts follow and build up a substantial publishing feed. On the Twitter account I made for this project, @HeartPublish, I am following 33 publishing companies or publishing industry related accounts. Each of these accounts follows a minimum of five other connected accounts. This shows that simply through publishing companies having Twitter accounts and following each other, they have created a publishing industry presence on this social networking site. It is truly an industry networking system.

As stated, publishing companies on Twitter is a network. They follow and speak to each other and their other followers. But within this network are different kinds of publishing companies: international, educational, mainstream, independent, broad, focused, children‟s, and many others. In this myriad of companies, though, mainstream and “indie” companies are the two that appear most prevalent and varied from each other on Twitter. Random House, Penguin, and other large publishing houses tweet in certain ways, whereas small literary presses such as Artifice Magazine and PANK Magazine tweet much differently. Despite these differences, however, both the large and small publishing companies generally adhere to the basic practices outlined by Twitter to create the perfect Twitter presence for their respective followers.

⇄Retweeted by @BigPublishingCompanies The publishing companies Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster are all big, famous, renowned houses in New York City or London, the hubs of publishing. These companies and their subsidiaries are what publish the national bestsellers, celebrity and political autobiographies, and authors whose names pervade the media more than the titles of their works (such as Dan Brown, James Patterson, etc.). These publishing houses are the top of the publishing totem pole, and with such high prestige and notoriety, “publishing house” does not quite encompass exactly what each is. It is a corporation, a huge business with hundreds of employees who work in a vast array of departments to create masses of books for the general public. Even though the products produced by Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, etc., are full of literary wonder, what one must remember is that these companies are just that—companies, and their Twitter presence and relationships reflect that. When I began following PenguinBooks (the UK branch of Penguin), I noticed that PenguinBooks had begun following me as well. Shortly after I noticed this, I received a direct message that read, “Hello! Welcome to the @PenguinBooks book-lovers‟ Twitter stream; want to tell us your favourite book?” I replied to the message with my favorite book (The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien). I felt special because this publishing company was following me; I was a part of its Twitter stream, and we were connected. Then I looked at PenguinBooks‟s profile and saw that this account follows over 237,000 other Twitter accounts. Penguin wanted me, as a new follower, to feel that we were connected so that we could share mutual information and insight. This relationship between our two accounts is accurate, but it is not an intimate relationship. My tweet will not stand out among the hundred thousand others unless it has something specific to do with PenguinBooks, and even then probably only if they pose a question for their followers to respond to. This is not saying that PenguinBooks does not care about me, or any of its other followers, but it does show what Penguin is—a company. PenguinBooks follows over 237,000 Twitter accounts, and it has almost 249,000 followers. While individually, PenguinBooks may look friendly and concerned with a particular user‟s personal views, when looking at the greater picture as shown through numbers, a follower sees that PenguinBooks is not a simply a user being connected, it is the Twitter face for what danah boyd calls “invisible audiences.” She states, “There are lurkers who are present at the moment but whom we cannot see, but there are also visitors who access our content at a later date or in a different environment than where we first produced them” (boyd). These are members of an invisible audience. PenguinBooks has more users following it than it follows, meaning there are people who see its tweets that PenguinBooks does not fully notice. Also the content it links to is there to stay, and many people will access it at a later date when it is no longer relevant to PenguinBooks, but may be completely relevant to the user who stumbled upon it. Additionally, a point that is not specific in boyd‟s invisible audience but is equally valid, is that PenguinBooks has so many followers and is following so many users in return, they become a blur, a mass of tweets and retweets that a single account could never keep up with. “As a result,” boyd states, “we are having to present ourselves and communicate without fully understanding the potential or actual audience” (boyd). Therefore, Penguin, Random House, HarperCollins, and all the other publishing companies with hundreds of thousands of followers tweet neutrally with content that those following will find helpful, entertaining, or informative. They cannot cater to one specific type of follower, but they can tweet much

and often with a variety of content to satisfy as many followers as possible. Although an impersonal face for the company, large publishing houses‟ Twitter presence in general can be an effective means of connecting followers to their company through social networking. ⇄Retweeted by @SmallLiteraryPresses The two small presses very prominent in utilizing Twitter are Artifice Magazine and PANK Magazine. Just looking at their biography blurbs on their Twitter profiles in comparison with Random House and Simon & Schuster show that these presses are much different than the big publishing houses: @pankmagazine—“Bios are boring” @artificemag—“The things we like, we like more than we can stand.” @randomhouse—“Random House book and author news” @SimonBooks—A division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Follow us for book, author & industry news, and free book giveaways! The independent magazines express themselves right in their bio blurbs, showing that they have a personality and the editors and employees who tweet on their accounts are able to express that personality for their followers. Random House and Simon & Schuster, however, merely state what they are doing on Twitter: a liaison between the company and their followers on Twitter. In further examining PANK and Artifice‟s actual tweets, users can see what the magazines and the people running them are like. When PANK is not tweeting for their followers to read their newest blog post (which is often), their tweets are personal, specific, and intriguing. One tweet from April 23, 2011 states, “In response to an acceptance for a 15 year old, „Do I need my parents‟ permission?‟ BABIES WE LOVE YOU.” This shows both what the editors are currently doing and how they feel about it. They have accepted a piece from a 15 year old and they love it. Using individual expression, they show their followers how excited they are about this 15 year old, and in turn, the work they are doing. Similarly, Artifice Magazine tweeted on April 26, “Discussing the possibility of producing „The Ghost of Bernie Mac Show;‟” followed later that day by, “Talks with the ghost of Bernie Mac have fallen through.” The individual humor does not show what the editors are actually doing at the moment, but it is entertaining for their followers and again, they express their individual tone and style. Like the big publishing houses above, PANK and Artifice are tweeting to an invisible audience. However, that audience is significantly smaller—@artificemag has just over 1,000 followers and @pankmagazine has less than 2,200. Regardless of the size of the audience, though, it is invisible, and PANK an Artifice must tweet to satisfy their followers. Their individual styles are what satisfy their followers. The people who follow PANK and Artifice are not people waiting impatiently for the next Margaret Atwood or Mary Higgins Clark book to hit the shelves. They are getting a feel for the individual magazines so they can submit poetry or short stories to them. The dynamics are different, and their tweets reflect this. Regardless of dynamics, sizes of audiences, invisibility, or anything else, all publishing companies use Twitter‟s “Best Practices” for businesses to generate a significant following. This utilization of the eight steps in their own ways create a relationship between publishing

company and followers that allows those followers to get the absolute most out of their Twitter experience.

The eight steps of Twitter for Business are, again, to share, listen, ask, respond, reward, demonstrate wider leadership and know-how, champion your stakeholders, and establish the right voice (“Best Practices”). Publishing companies utilize all of these steps, but the two that are most prevalent are “share” and “establish the right voice.” Publishing companies individual tweets reflect these steps, and they use their voices to exhibit their best business practices and who they are individually. Sharing is what Twitter is about. Users share their personal ideas through tweets, or, as stated earlier, they “can think of a Tweet as the headline, and use the details pane to tell the rest with photos, videos and other media content” through external links (“About Twitter”). All publishing companies, big and small, do this. From HarperCollins tweeting, “GREAT PHILOSOPHERS WHO FAILED AT LOVE. The book by Andrew Shaffer: [the link] @andrewtshaffer [the author‟s Twitter account]” to get their followers to check out the book, to Artifice tweeting, “We receive mixed reviews, too. Hoorah!” to share linked content, to St. Martin‟s Press sharing, “The bells are becoming a little much, no? #royalwedding,” they all have something to share, be it outside content, their own content on a different website, or just an opinion. They are sharing content with their audiences and building a better and more interesting relationship for their business with their followers. Throughout this paper, examples have been presented of publishing companies‟ individual personalities expressed through their profiles and tweets. This is what establishes the “right voice.” It cannot be the same for all publishing companies because they are all different, but by staying relatively neutral in content, publishing companies‟ Twitter accounts express who they are in a voice suitable for 2,000 followers to 200,000. “Digging this list of 100 Books Every High School Student Should Read [followed by link]” tweeted by Random House is neutral, conveys what they are all about (book, of course) and again gets people involved. PANK requested readers for an event by tweeting, “We would particularly like some ladies to read for us. If you are a lady and want to read at AWP, get in touch.” Fifteen minutes later when they had no more room for readers, they tweeted, “And we're totes full up, y'all. Thanks. That was... ridiculously fast. If you want to be an alternate e-mail awesome @ pankmagazine dot com.” The phrase “totes full up, ya‟ll” is not exactly neutral in tone, but like the rest of their tweets, it expresses them. The right voice for PANK and their followers is quirky, and being “totes full up” is the right voice in that case. Voice will never be the same for different companies, and it should not be. Without having the right voice on an individual basis, this basic step would not be beneficial to anyone. The right voice, the right content to share, and the right interactions, all add up to what makes Twitter work for the publishing industry.

So what? What‟s the big deal about publishing companies on Twitter? The big deal is that these companies are utilizing social media to gain a following of people that they can cater their business to. That Twitter has a specific About page for businesses is poignant—this is how you get in touch with your customers, this is how you stay connected, and this is the best customer feedback available. Like danah boyd‟s question, “Social media is here to stay… now what?” it rings true of the digital evolution of books. As books change from artifacts made of paper and ink to downloadable objects that are read on a screen, publishing companies have to not only keep interest in literature alive, but interest in the industry as a whole. Times are changing, and with them, the publishing industry must change to. By utilizing the social networking site of Twitter, publishing companies are taking that step to remaining current and not becoming obsolete. Through using Twitter‟s tips for businesses and tweeting in ways that engage their audiences—however invisible they may be—they become a connection, not just to readers, but to other companies as well. They create an industry-wide presence. Although their tweets are as varied as the size of their companies and the number of followers they have, publishing companies are force on Twitter that can only grow stronger with time and tweets.

“About.” (2011). Retrieved from “Best Practices.” (2011). Retrieved from boyd, danah. (2009). Social media is here to stay... now what?" Microsoft Research Tech Fest. Redmond, Washington. February 26. Retrieved from Schneider, Maria. (2009, October 22). 15 Twitter users shaping the future of publishing [Weblog post]. Retrieved from (2011, March 25). Waldram, Hannah. (2009). UK publishing companies take up Twitter. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

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