10 Things We Learned from Chris Brogan at TOC

Yesterday, PT attended Chris Brogan’s “Blogging and Social Media” tutorial at Tools of Change for Publishing 2009. Brogan is a social media/community-building super blogger–check him out here. His panel wasn’t a lecture or traditional speech; rather, it was a conversation with the audience. He jumped from topic to topic; showed us his Facebook, Google Reader, and Twitter pages; played his friends’ YouTube clips and book trailers; and took questions throughout. Here are ten takeaways:

  1. Focus on grabbing your customers’ attention and keeping it. Don’t get too upset over the fact that people’s attention spans are short. “We don’t have time for Moby Dick,” says Brogan. “It’s at once depressing and a reality.”
  2. Twitter is THE social media tool publishers should learn how to use. (If you keep hearing about Twitter but have no idea what it is, don’t worry–it will be the topic of the feature article in the March issue of PT!) Many people in the audience were Tweeting throughout the panel, and when someone asked a question about book social networking sites, Brogan Tweeted the question to his followers and got many answers within a few seconds.
  3. Twitter is a better marketing tool than MySpace or Facebook because it allows users to develop genuine relationships with each other. Brogan described most MySpace and Facebook marketing as being much too pushy and impersonal: “If I’m using my hand to shake your hand, don’t put your tongue in my mouth.”
  4. How should publishers (and others) decide which social networking sites to use? Brogan recommends they find out where their customers are, and go there. And it’s better to be very involved with them on one site than to do a lackluster job of being everywhere: “If you’re going to be everywhere,” Brogan said, “you have to answer the phone and you have to offer customer service everywhere.”
  5. Try putting your slush pile online! What a great way to find out what readers would be interested in before you publish it.
  6. Want to try something new? Don’t look to other book publishers for ideas, Brogan says. Instead, “Why not rip off people in other verticals? Can you adapt it to what you’re doing?” Take a look at Viddler, for instance–it’s like YouTube, but lets users comment on and tag specific parts of a video.
  7. Segregate your list! Forget the “Here’s everything we’re publishing” e-mail blast. If you’re a publisher, nobody is interested in ALL your books. You can use technology to splice your lists and target specific people with only the ones they’ll be interested in. To help you do this, check out BatchBook.
  8. It’s all about the fans. “It is always awesome when the would-be famous person celebrates the audience, rather than the other way around,” says Brogan. “That never goes out of style.”
  9. A quality blog is always trying to interact, rather than just delivering or pushing content. “You are hoping to inspire some level of two-way,” Brogan says, even if it’s not on the blog. Seth Godin, for example, doesn’t allow comments on his blog. He’d rather have readers write their own ideas on their own blogs and link back to him.
  10. Books are a distribution problem. “Think of solutions that are not so DRM-ful,” he says to publishers–i.e., don’t focus on protecting your content from people who would want to read it. “You will not lose all money,” he says. “You will lose some money. But you lose money every time you release a book. It’s called marketing.”
Leave a Comment


  1. Feb 13, 20093:54 am
    Janet Goldstein

    Thanks for these TOC posts! The Tweetstream had many nuggets (crumbs?) but overall was frustrating. An instance of creating outsiders rather than insiders without many shared ahas in the format.

    (I will try to rationalize the expense next year. Maybe there will be a rate for legacy publishing entrepreneurs who are straddling new world of “content,” online marketing, and constituency-building.)


  2. Feb 14, 20095:51 pm
    Roger C. Parker

    Great post, but, then, Chris Brogan’s content is always strong and concisely delivered.

    Glad I discovered this resource and partner website.

    Looks like I know what I’ll be reading the rest of the day!


  3. Feb 16, 20094:25 am
    Pen Pen

    Twitter?! Does everyone really go on twitter?! I don’t even really know what it is- Anybody know?!

One Trackback

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    […] Media Tools to Grow Communities,” was packed, and though much of the content was the same as his TOC presentation, he talked more this time about publishers’ opportunities beyond the book sale. And as usual, […]

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