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Getting the Word Out: SIBA Communication Vehicles
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Getting the Word Out: Reaching SIBA members and the Southern Literary Community

This is an overview of the various avenues which SIBA has available to reach its members and wider audiences. It is organized by method, but also includes audience and the longevity of each method.

COMMUNICATION VEHICLES

  • Email:

Email remains the most reliable way to reach the entire membership, and also the most effective way to target specific members. It is also the most used method, and therefore it's effectiveness can be diluted from overuse. When you include eblasts and the Lady Banks newsletter, SIBA sends email out almost daily, so response time for industry targeted emails can be delayed, and there is a good chance they are ignored in the general avalanche of email most people handle.

"IN THE LAND OF SIBA" – our SIBA email newsletter, sent out weekly in two editions, one to bookstores, one to industry.  3-5 topics are covered in each edition, with the top two topics receiving the most traction. "IN THE LAND OF SIBA" is also archived on the "IN THE LAND OF SIBA" blog and is searchable on the YM website. The "IN THE LAND OF SIBA" blog is the main repository of official press releases.

Shelf Life – 3- 5 days, plus online archive.
Audience – anyone who has an active email address in the target group, regardless of membership

"Head Up" – single issue, plain text emails sent via the front end to the Booksellers Watercooler group. It has a high reception and action rate because it is short and usually created as a special call to action. Because it is sent via the group, it only reaches current members, but this means it also reaches the members most likely to act on the information. Useful for creating "early bird" opportunities for members. For example, announcing an event is open for registration on Heads Up gives bookstore members a chance to register ahead of other people.

Shelf Life: 2-3 days
Audience: SIBA Bookstores who are members of the Booksellers Watercooler, and therefore also current members.

SIBA members Google List – This is the original venue for "talking" to other SIBA members via email. As a listserv, emails and replies reach all the subscribers making it a convenient way to discuss an issue. Emailing the list will reach all the subscribers of the list. The list is moderated so there may be a delay between sending an email to the list and having it distributed to all the subscribers.
Because it is a separate system, the Sibamembers on Google list is open to the public, not private, and includes both bookstores and other industry, including authors.

Shelf Life: 3-5 days
Audience: SIBA and non SIBA, bookstore and industry

  • Groups

SIBA hosts several "groups" where members can communicate with each other and share resources and information. The Google Group List is one example -- it is an open forum for discussion that anyone can join, and that SIBA members often use to seek advice about particular issues in their business. Because it is open, it is moderated to conform to IRS guidelines for SIBA's 501c6 status.

YM Watercoolers
SIBA hosts five active groups on the YM platform:

  • The Board of Directors group (used primarily to distribute documents)
  • the Advisory Board group (used primarily as an email list)
  • Conroy Legacy Award group
  • the Everybody Watercooler
  • the Authors Watercooler
  • the Booksellers Watercooler

The last three are limited to specific members and designed to be space where members of a particular type can hold discussions without other non members listening in. None of the groups are open to the public. All require members have an active SIBA membership. The Everybody Watercooler is for all member types – Industry, Author, Associate, Bookstore. The Author Watercooler is for Authors, the Bookseller Watercooler is for Bookstores. YM checks prevent people from joining a group not open to their member type.
Groups have forums for discussions, pages, calendars, file sharing, emailing, messaging, and "group feeds." Forums have not been used often since it requires members to log in and navigate to the forum to participate in the discussion. This hurdle is bypassed under the Social Link. 
Posting to the group feed automatically places the post in the feed of the stores that are members of the group. Other activities, such as forum discussions, have to be accessed via the "groups" link but are easier to get to. New activity on the fora can be promoted via the feed.

  • Websites:

SIBA runs two industry-focused websites: sibaweb.com and sibaweb.site-ym.com.  The former is SIBA's official site, the latter is the membership site.  To date, the primary function of both sites are to act as a resource and archive on SIBA news and programs.  SIBA also runs two consumer-targeted sites: authorsroundthesouth.com and stars.authorsroundthesouth.com. They focus on Southern literary news as a way to promote SIBA members.

Press releases: are published to the sibaweb.com homepage as "SIBA News" and to the "IN THE LAND OF SIBA" blog on the YM site. There are no other "secondary" sites for SIBA news. Press releases are promoted by direct linking the articles on either YM or SIBAweb.com, depending on the intended audience for the promotion. General industry audiences are directed to sibaweb.com. SIBA members and potential members are directed to YM.

SIBA's consumer-targeted websites, authorsroundthesouth.com and stars.authorsroundthesouth.com is used for news that is targeted to the consumer: Lady Banks, the SIBA Book Award/Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Okra Picks, the holiday catalog all are consumer targeted promotions and have space on ARTS & STARS. News about the programs are directed to ARTS.

  • YM Social Link

SocialLink, the YM platform modelled on Facebook, is exactly what it sounds like – a way to communicate with members in an interactive, facebook-like setting. Site navigation and organization takes a back seat to the ability to post specific information and have it be front and center on everyone's page. Since it is mobile-friendly, it also increases the ability of admins to reach members on multiple devices.
From the admin perspective, there are several ways to get the word out in member socialink feeds:

  • Announcements: These are brief calls to action that appear at the top right and invite people to do something: "vote" for board members, register for events, fill out surveys, renew memberships.
  • News: News pieces posted in the "News & Press" section of the features tab in the back end can be posted to everyone's feed and "pinned" to the top of that feed. These posts are not html-rich.
  • Ambassador Posts: Users who are named ambassadors (Currently Nicki Leone, Linda-Marie Barrett & Wanda Jewell) are automatically connected to everyone in the system, without the need to "friend," so their posts show in everyone's feed. The posts include html and images, but cannot be "pinned" to the top of the feed.
  • Social Media

SIBA tends to use regular social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest primarily to promote its consumer-targeted programming and news, sharing information via standard hashtags: #okrapick, #southernbookprize, #ladybanks, etc. The organization has accounts on all these networks, and individual staff also have their own personal accounts, and cross-promote posts.

Social Networking is used less often to promote industry-targeted programs since the audience is not limited to industry members. One notable exception would be the #siba16, #siba17, etc hashtags used to promote the annual Discovery Show.

COMMUNICATION AUDIENCES

When sending out communications, the first question is "who is the target audience?"  Communicati­ons shouldbe sent to the people who are likely to be interested in the news, otherwise there is a risk of communications from SIBA being ignored. All communications should be tailored for the audience. In general SIBA communicates with the following audiences:

  • Booksellers
    "In the Land of SIBA" for booksellers
    watercooler and google group
    siba facebook & twitter
    direct email
    social link
  • Publishers and Industry
    "In the Land of SIBA" for industry
    everybody watercooler
    siba facebook & twitter
    direct email
  • Media
    direct email (press releases)
    sibaweb.com
    siba facebook & twitter
  • Authors
    direct email
    authors watercooler
    "In the Land of SIBA" for industry
  • Consumers
    Lady Banks
    Authorsroundthesouth.com
    ARTS facebook & twitter

COMMUNICATION SCENARIOS

Once the target audience has been determined, the question becomes, how high a priority is the communication? Is direct action needed immediately? Or is the communication simply useful information.

High priority: Calls to action, policy changes, news that is time-sensitive
Middle priority:
general organization information, reminders
Low priority:
cheerleading messages, news that is not time sensitive

  • Calls for quick action on a single subject
    -post announcement in social link
    -send "heads up" email to members of the targeted group (authors, booksellers , everybody)
    -send "heads up" email to google group if appropriate
    -create entry on "In the Land of SIBA" blog for general reference

  • General updates, notifications of upcoming events and news
    -
    post announcement on social link
    -create social link call to action
    -post info in "In the Land of SIBA" blog
    -send info to appropriate watercooler groups
    -include in the next appropriate "In the Land of SIBA" newsletter
    -links on SIBA facebook page & twitter account

  • Industry-wide announcements (non-consumer related)
    -
    post announcement on social link
    -post info in "In the Land of SIBA" blog
    -send info to appropriate watercooler groups
    -include in the next appropriate "In the Land of SIBA" newsletter
    -batch email membership, book industry media
    -post press release at sibaweb.com
    -links on SIBA facebook page & twitter account

  • General public-wide announcements (consumer-related)
    -post info on the "In the Land of SIBA" blog
    -send info to appropriate watercooler groups
    -include in the next appropriate "In the Land of SIBA" newsletter
    -batch email membership, media, industry
    -post press release at sibaweb.com and ARTS
    -announce in Lady Banks
    -links on ARTS facebook page and twitter account

As a general rule, any announcement should be posted to the "IN THE LAND OF SIBA" blog, which is the main vehicle for archiving and accessing all SIBA-related news.

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