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That future, says LeMay, relies not just on distributing content through social media, but using the right tools to make your Twitter and Facebook links smarter. As platform manager for bit.ly, LeMay says the company's ubiquitous links allow content producers to collect and track data on which stories and blog posts are read and how often. In advance of his talk at Socialize on March 31 in New York, LeMay explains how writers and publishers who arm themselves with this information can finally turn their passions into dollars.
How is Bit.ly different from other URL shorteners like Tinyurl.com and Tiny.cc? Bit.ly is all about real-time, actionable analytics. We can provide you not only with analytics about your social media efforts, but also with analytics about how your content is being shared organically across the entire social media ecosystem.
I also like to think that we put a lot of love into our product and make our product user-friendly and open. So, you can get analytics on any Bit.ly whether or not it's your link. And we like the idea of having as much data available and open to everyone if possible. You don't have to pay us money in order to find out that information.
So many writers want to sit home and just write. Marketing is the last thing they want to do. How can a site such as Bit.ly make it easy for writers to monetize their work?
It's never easy for writers to monetize their work! That said, with cycles of attention being as short as they are now, the window in which to capitalize on your work's success is smaller and smaller. Bit.ly gives you real-time, actionable data about how your work is being shared, so that if something begins to pick up steam, you can harness that momentum immediately. Tomorrow is too late.
|"What you want to write about and what people want to read about may not always be the same thing."|
My background is primarily as a writer. I write record reviews. I've been a music journalist for the past 11 years. And I know first-hand that monetizing your content is excruciatingly hard. There is so much content out there and so many outlets that are giving away content for free. But what Bit.ly offers you with the data that we collect is immediate feedback from your readers on seeing if what you're writing is of interest to them or not. You can use Bit.ly to track how your content is performing and get really good, really quick actionable feedback about whether you're on the right track. Beyond that, if [a story] does pick up, you still have time to pick up on it. The issue with writing is that what you want to write about and what people want to read about may not always be the same thing. This way, you can be more empowered so you can say, "I know that when I write about thing X it gets more click-throughs, but I'm more passionate about writing about thing Y."
What are three things writers and publishers can do today to start monetizing their work through social media?
1. Get real data. Your audience is not who you imagine it is, I promise. It's a really exciting time for analytics right now, because we used to have to think about our audience and imagine. With real data, you don't have to make those kinds of assumptions any more. You can find out what you need to and act on it fast.
2. Encourage participation and curation. People like to engage deeply with content; make this easy and fun. The future of media is in curation to a large extent. This way, people who aren't writers, who haven't identified themselves as content creators necessarily, can engage.
3. Don't forget that developing a voice is hard and takes time. If you only reach for low-hanging fruit, you will ultimately sell yourself short. Once you find out what your audience is interested in, [it] doesn't mean that should be the only thing that you write about. Nor should you pander to people, because I think people are very smart about when they're being pandered to.
What is the best example of an author or publisher who has learned to monetize their intellectual properties and or services through social media?
I've enjoyed watching Roger Ebert use the Amazon referrals program (and amzn.to branded bit.ly links) to drive some additional revenue. He used Twitter to leverage an already-strong personal brand to the point where product recommendations outside of his ostensible area of expertise still carry a lot of weight.
|"The future of media is in curation to a large extent."|
You're also a senior contributor at an online music magazine. What parallels and lessons can the publishing industry learn from the music industry?
Embrace the future, or the future will kill you. What happened to the music industry is that music fans cared more about music than the music industry did. And music fans were using every technology at their disposal to discover music and share music. They were one step ahead of the people who were selling things. The music business was concerned with selling product. And the music fans became a lot smarter about music than the music industry.
There was a moment when the music industry had an opportunity to either harness that power or try to explore it, and they made absolutely the wrong decision. They sued their customers; they tried to pursue legal recourse to stop the technology that was trying to empower their customers to make the most out of their product. And it literally destroyed the music industry. I think that content publishers are getting smarter about that. They're realizing that when someone comments on your post or reprints part of it on their own site, these are all good things. Listen to your customers; listen to your readers because they are the only ones keeping you in business at the end of the day.
Twitter was the craze last year that took mainstream media by storm. Besides Bit.ly, what little-known entities do you see as being the next Facebook or Twitter and why?
SoundCloud.com is really awesome. I like how they allow you to comment at whatever time you'd like. SoundCloud took that real phenomenon and real behavior among music listeners and they built it in their product.
NEXT >> So What Do You Do, Ryan Holmes, Founder and CEO of HootSuite?
Jeff Rivera is the author of Forever My Lady (Grand Central) and and the Founder of HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com
© WebMediaBrands Inc. 2011. All Rights Reserved.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. The foregoing is the sole property of WebMediaBrands Inc. The opinions and views expressed in the interviews and/or commentaries are solely those of the participants and are not necessarily the views of WebMediaBrands Inc., its affiliates or subsidiary companies.
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