I’ve been to comic cons in addition to university and job fairs, but this past weekend I went to my first work-related/professional convention. It was the Editor’s Association of Canada (EAC) Annual Conference. I’ve been an editor for less than a year, but I’ve been a reader/English student since I picked up my first novel from the library at the age of eight.
Much like other English-related professions (e.g., elementary/ESL teaching, etc.) editing is mostly dominated by women. There probably wasn’t more than ten men at a conference of around 200 editors and most of those men who attended are actually part of the EAC committee. Coming from an IT department (where I’m one of less than ten women) this was a bit of a shock. Also shocking was all the small talk and networking that was going on. In my experience editors are often a bit more on the introvert side and personally I hate small talk (read: am really bad at it) and tend to just “smile and nod” when necessary. Everyone wanted to talk: about their jobs, about your job, about possible jobs, about families, about the conference itself. This conference took me out of my comfort zone in what I’m determined to view in a positive light and find value in the conference experience and not just the technical sessions.
There are in-house editors (like me), freelance editors, and those who do both (actually seems to be the most common). Speaking with all these people about their editing experience made me re-examine what an editor is. Most of these editors weren’t just editors; they were writers, publishers, and communications specialists.
One of the biggest topics was how much the Internet has changed the profession and how social media is now changing it again. The consensus seemed to be that to be successful editors/publications/anyone has to be on top of the changes in order to benefit from them and prevent getting left behind. Magazines who used to rely on advertising revenue now have to rely more on print and digital subscriptions. The challenge is to get people to read both versions if possible. The digital subscriptions have to offer additional features not possible in print to drive people to websites that are increasingly mobile optimized. The print versions have to feature ads for the digital versions to drive the traditional reader to become part of the new digital audience. That was the biggest change in publishing speak for me: the move from “reader” to “audience.”
Social media at the bare minimum should drive potential clients, readers, etc. (the audience) to the specific service (brand) editors (or anyone) are providing: magazine/books, website, editing services, and networking opportunities. This is basically social advertising that speaks at the audience to try to get them to do something. Optimized social media is a real-time conversation with the audience that engages them with the speaker. The senior editor at a magazine can address concerns, story ideas, community news, etc. right away on social media in a conversational way with the audience that provides a connection that is just not possible in any other way. By being open and present on social media editors can make people more aware of their “brand” and more likely to subscribe to or interact with it.
Even freelance (or junior or non-book/magazine, etc.) editors can use social media to enhance their brand. If you can find the right medium you can connect to other editors to get tips on how to improve editing, where to get jobs, and how to grow your brand. If you use Twitter, follow professional/popular editors to get tips, participate with retweets and replies to connect to their other followers, and grow your own network. On Facebook, connect with others on pages that are related to your business. If you’re trying to improve your writing, start a blog. If you want to get into design (or increase your portfolio), look into Pinterest (crafty things/recipes) or Instagram (pictures). LinkedIn is a good option if your audience uses it for job postings and networking.
I know I’m bad at public events, I only play games on Facebook, I’ve merely skimmed the surface of Twitter, and the last blog I wrote was for my UK trip in 2011. Exploring social media this summer could be a way for me to become more social online and offline while potentially opening new doors for my professional growth. How could social media help you?