Interview with Social Media Marketing Expert: Mark Oestreicher with The Youth Cartel

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 Mark Oestreicher with The Youth Cartel.  MarkO, as I’ve called him in the past, is a special interviewee for me.  He was my junior high youth pastor who I have not seen in years, but keep up with through social networking sites.  MarkO was one of the first people I asked to interview.  Although he doesn’t use Twitter (gasp!), MarkO is a great person for authors to watch as an example of successful social networking.  As an author himself, he uses blogging, Facebook and personal connections to build and interact with his community.  He actively engages with those who comment on his blog and with his Facebook friends (which currently includes almost 5,000 people).

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

MO: I’ve just branded my work as “The Youth Cartel,” though that website is still in development.  Coming out of my years at Youth Specialties, providing a variety of resources, training and encouragement to church youth workers, I’ve been finding my way into a variety of means of continuing that work on my own.  I’m currently doing 6 things:

–          Speaking (half to audiences of youth workers, half to audiences of teenagers, with a dash of parenting teenagers stuff thrown in)

–          Writing (I write books myself, as well as develop projects for publishers; I write columns in a couple magazines, as well as other piece work)

–          Consulting (I’ve helped churches, publishers, missions agencies, and other non-profits with strategic questions about youth and young adults)

–          Coaching (I launched the Youth Ministry Coaching Program, a year-long cohort approach to holistic growth for church youth workers.  I lead 2 cohorts this past year, and am launching 8 this year.)

–          Literary agenting (I represent about a dozen authors in their pursuit of publishing youth, youth ministry, and parenting teenagers books)

–          Events (I’m running my own events – the first is the Middle School Ministry Campference, which will occur in October of this year)

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

MO: Anyone trying to connect with others for a given outcome needs a social media strategy.  Whether an author, organizational leader or cause leader, social media is an absolute necessity.

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

MO: After resisting for a couple years, I started blogging in the spring of 2005 (so, 6 years and 3000 posts ago).  I took an 8-month blog (and all social media) sabbatical in 2009, because I felt it had become to obsessive and consuming for me.  But I re-engaged on new terms, with new boundaries, late that year.  The primary focus of my blog is connecting with the world of youth ministry; but it is not a strictly youth ministry blog.  In other words, I blog about a wide variety of subjects, more like a “personal blog”, but from a guy who is in the trenches of youth ministry and has additional interests.

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

MO: Facebook.  Other than my blog, Facebook has become the primary place I connect with people.  I’ve gotten more strategic about managing it in the last year, even culling my ‘friend list’.  But it remains an integrated and constant platform for connection.

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

MO: For a blog, it’s important to have a sense of why you’re blogging.  Who do you hope will read it, and what kind of content makes sense?  And, even with the advent of blog readers (which mean blogging as often isn’t necessary to keep people connected), some regularity and consistency is critical.  You can’t call yourself a blogger if you only post once a month.

KS: You are the author of “Youth Ministry 3.0.”  Tell me a little about your book.  Why did you decide to write it?

MO: I wrote it because I felt someone needed to talk about the shifts I was seeing in youth ministry, and plant some thinking about how we youth workers might respond.

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

MO: I intentionally opened up the writing process via social media, posting the vast majority of the book, in small bites, on my blog during the writing process.  Select comments from those posts were printed throughout in the columns of the book, including comments that disagreed with what I was suggesting.  Then, when the book released, I hosted a facebook discussion group with 1200 participants for most of a year, engaging readers in further dialogue and implementation ideas around the themes of the book.

KS: Do you plan to publish more?

MO: Absolutely.  I’ve written one book since, and have three proposals in development right now.

To find out more about Mark Oestreicher, visit:

Website: www.markoestreicher.com
Blog: www.whyismarko.com

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About Kelly Schuknecht

Kelly Schuknecht works in publishing and book marketing. As an avid reader and blogger, Kelly posts book reviews at Read & Tell Reviews (www.readandtellreviews.blogspot.com) and writes about book marketing and social media here.
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