There's too much to know about social media for Hilary Topper to call herself an expert. But that hasn't stopped business opportunities from knocking on her door after she wrote a book about this hot topic.
Last July, the Lido Beach resident published "Everything You Wanted to Know About Social Media but Were Afraid to Ask," a book geared toward educating small business owners on how to harness the power of websites like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr to grow their companies.
The book took Topper three years to write and she used iUniverse, a self-publishing company that edited, printed and placed the book on sites like Amazon.com, where it climbed to number 20 on the chart for social media books.
"As a result of that, I got a lot of writing gigs," said Topper, who wrote for Business Week and PR News. She is also a regular blogger for blogcritics.org, where she writes about her new love of running.
The book features information on 20 social media sites, from Facebook to You Tube to Seesmic, a brief explanation on how each is used, followed by Topper's recommendations. She also included personal stories of business owners who used social media to enhance sales. She quotes Blentec owner George Wright as saying his blender company's sales increased 700 percent after posting videos on You Tube.
The book's success has also led to speaking engagements. Topper has been a guest speaker at national marketing conventions and social media club meetings.
"People really respect my opinions about things," said Topper, who founded the Social Media Club of Long Island. "It's elevated me professionally and elevated my firm."
Topper founded HJMT Communications, a multifaceted public relations firm, in her one-bedroom apartment in Long Beach almost 20 years ago. In the past, a social media campaign would be part of a larger-scale publications plan, she said, but now companies are coming to her to enhance their brand specifically by using social media. Many of these new clients are smaller companies, including movers, real estate offices and small retail shop owners.
"These are types of companies that we never really worked with before and now we're representing them," she said.
On Amazon, "Everything You Wanted to Know About Social Media but Were Afraid to Ask" has received 12 positive reader reviews, with the most recent posted six months ago by a user named Allison*s Art.
"It is a fast easy read and can also be used to refer back to as needed," said the writer, who also mentioned that she bought three copies to give to colleagues.
Another Amazon user, A. Kaganovsky, wrote that the book was "very well researched, highly relevant, not fluff and written so that both non-technical and Internet savvy readers will extract the same value."
Long Island-based executive blogger Jim Estill reviewed the book soon after its publication.
"I found the book to be very entry level to begin with," he wrote on is blog last July. "But as I got into it more, I did find I was learning, and any book that helps me to learn gets high marks from me."
But Estill questioned the value of the return for the time spent on social media in order to get results similar to Topper's successful examples like Wright.
Now Topper plans to write another book about social media, but admits that she doesn't have the details worked out yet. When she does publish the book, she plans on finding a large-scale publisher to print the book to help her work gain a foothold in major bookstores.
"It just made me think that I could really accomplish anything that I set my mind to," she said.