Tuesday February 26, 2013 | 09:15 AM
Posted by Rob Gould

Jay's next book, How to Hang a Picture and Other Essential Lessons for the Stylish Home, will be published by St. Martin's press later this year.

Friendster, democratization, and the mundane.

What was your first experience with social media?

"That's a good question, I think it was Friendster. I was on the east coast and I was working in publishing in NYC. It was a really positive experience at first. I think the year Friendster broke, the year everyone was on it, it was my 29th birthday and I had  been in NYC for a bunch of years and had lost track of a lot of people. Through Friendster I was able to reconnect with a bunch of people that I had met when I first moved to NYC. Now, you invite 16 million people to your birthday party and that's the norm. Back then, the whole thing was still a novelty. So, all of these people came to my birthday and it was this lovely, awesome experience. Then I tried the same thing the next year and it was much smaller. The novelty had already worn off."

"Now there's a generation that's grown up that are way more attuned to that world. I notice that younger people use those tools in a way that doesn't compute to me a lot of the time."

"Today, I probably find Twitter the most useful thing. I don't think I use it all that savvily. I use it sometimes to say something funny, or to promote something I've just done, or to promote something that a friend of mine is doing."

What do you like about social media?

"I think the good side of it, especially working in a creative field, is I can connect with friends in the worlds of comics or illustration. In publishing, it's really democratized everything. It's obviously harder now because there are so many voices, but people tend to build communities. This allows them to, for instance, get their art to people who might be really interested in it. I mean, there's a lot of noise to get through now. But, I find it really fascinating, like when I was at Chronicle Books, there was this artist I really enjoyed. He was someone I had worked with in the comics world independently and he was really blossoming at the time. I was able to sort of sign him up with Chronicle in part because I was able to say, 'look at how many Twitter followers this guy has.' When he posts something it would sell out in like a day because he was reaching all of these people."

"It's interesting to follow certain journalists and see who's really good at using Twitter to their advantage. It's a very nuanced thing. The ones who do it well, you can feel very connected to the content they produce and it's helpful and interesting."

"In terms of my career as a writer and an artist, I really don't know if it's helped me incredibly. It might just be that I'm not using it in a really compelling manner. But it certainly hasn't hurt my career either. There is at least on some level a community that reacts and things get passed along. It's less about finding an individual reader who is going to buy my book and more about keeping relationships with editors and publishers."

What do you dislike about social media?

"I'm not one of those people who is anti-social media. There are people who think it's eroding our culture and I don't believe that. I do think it's changed the culture. I think it's just like money, you know, money is a tool. It all depends on how you use it."

"No matter how use social media, it's probably good to have personal rules about how you're going to use it, or not.  I mean, there are things that drive me batty, like when otherwise intelligent, interesting people post all of this mundane 'dear diary' stuff. I always wonder, 'what's your end-game?' I think that's probably the biggest problem I have. There is just a lot of mundane, trivial stuff getting posted out there. I don't understand it."

"Social media can turn you into an egoist. It's turned me into an egoist at times, without even knowing it. Like when I get frustrated and think, 'why isn't this post generating the outcome that I want?" And, it's all about me. I'm creating this persona in a very public way and sometimes that's not helpful. I don't really like that when I think about it."

"A big danger for a creative person is, do you worry about your work, or do you worry about the persona of your work? You have to balance it and that’s difficult. Beyond the fact that it’s just an easy distraction and a way to waste time."

Is there a person or brand that you think uses social media effectively?

"As for folks who use social media well, I usually turn to twitter. I find lots of illustrators who share their work in interesting ways."

@friendsoftype - Friends of Type, typography collective

@yellowowlwkshop - Yellow Owl Workshop, craft and art studio

@RealistComics -  Asaf Hanuka, cartoonist

I think David Carr @carr2n and Michael Ruhlman @ruhlman are great journalistic twitter users, and McNally Jackson @mcnallyjackson (the bookstore in Manhattan) is an example of a business that uses Twitter with aplomb and good cheer. I think The Atlantic is an example of brand that has commoditized itself horribly on Twitter--totally trolls for clicks with terrible sensationalist headlines and pander to their audience shamelessly--they're the social media equivalent of the attention grabbing late-era Newsweek covers ("Is Your Baby Racist," etc.)

You can find Jay on Twitter at @jaytsacher

You can find him on Instagram at @jaytsacher

You can also find Jay at www.jaysacher.com


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Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.

About the Author

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).

Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg

His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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