Interview with Social Media Marketing Expert: Ian Lurie, Portent Interactive

Every Monday I post an interview with a social media marketing expert. My blog focuses on using social media to promote books (particularly self-published books), and I believe authors can really learn a lot about successful social networking by following the experts.

This week we meet Ian Lurie, President of Portent Interactive

KS: Tell me about your company – how it was created and what you do.

IL: I started Portent in 1995, with a spare credit card, a spare room in the ickiest house in Seattle, and no clue whatsoever what I was doing. We started out doing copywriting of all kinds: Technical, marketing, etc.. But by 1996 we were helping customers get the word out on systems like CompuServe and Prodigy. In 1997 we were building web sites, and a client asked “Hey, why don’t I rank on Alta Vista?” – it may have been Excite, I’m not sure.

I started researching how search worked. I was hooked.

Since then, Portent’s grown into a full-service internet marketing company. We offer creative services – copywriting and design – and technical help. But most of what we do focuses on SEO, social media (which is now essential to SEO, and vice-versa), paid search and creative optimization. We also offer strategic consulting.

KS: Who do you feel can benefit from a social media marketing strategy?

IL: Anyone who needs to talk to people: Politicians, retail companies and services companies can all grow if they approach social media as a way to establish their leadership in their space.

If you specialize in selling box turtles, chances are there are people out there who love box turtles and want advice. If you advice campgrounds on waste management, you’ll find campground owners. I don’t care what the topic is – someone wants information. They’ll find you.

Even if they don’t, journalists will. And journalists will eventually reach out, too.

KS: How long have you been blogging and what is the primary focus of your blog?

IL: I’ve been blogging, one way or another, since 2001.

I write about marketing and communications of all types.

KS: What is your favorite social networking site?  Why?

IL: Twitter. It’s not really a site, per se, but I love the ability to talk to all sorts of folks, make friends and get/give advice in this huge, active conversation space.

KS: What is your #1 piece of advice for social networking newbies?


  1. Start on Twitter, not Facebook.
  2. Find 10-20 people you think are fascinating.
  3. Follow them.
  4. Then find any friends and colleagues already on Twitter and follow them, too.
  5. Whenever the fascinating folks say something you really like, retweet it.
  6. Same with your friends and colleagues.
  7. 2-3 times a day, tweet out an interesting headline.

Don’t send out anything referencing you, or promoting yourself, for at least a few weeks. After that, try to make sure 85% of what you tweet is useful stuff or tweets from other people.

Repeat. You’ll grow an audience and start hearing from other cool people. It’s amazing how fast it happens.

KS: You are the author of Conversation Marketing (the book) and the SEO, blogging, social media and analytics sections of the Web Marketing All-in-One for Dummies.  Why did you decide to write it?

IL: I wrote Conversation Marketing in 2003. The idea was to provide a way to approach online marketing that a smart business person could understand.

It actually started as an article called ‘Enough Already: How to buy marketing services and be treated like a grownup’. I was very, very frustrated with the way internet marketing seemed to reduce the most astute businesspeople into a pile of gibbering goo.

KS: What makes your book different from other social media/marketing books?

IL: It’s short: 90 pages (a good airplane read); it’s written in plain language; and it requires zero previous expertise in online marketing or web sites.

KS: Do you plan to publish more?

IL: Yup. I don’t have a book idea just yet, but I’m working on a few.

To find out more about Ian Lurie and Portent Interactive, visit:

Twitter: @portentint

Published by Kelly Schuknecht

Kelly Schuknecht is a marketer with a background in the publishing industry. She is passionate about all things related to books and loves helping authors navigate the world of social media for book promotion. She recently launched the course Marketing Your Book on TikTok.

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