New to Social Media? Read this first!

17 10 2008

Today I had the opportunity to speak with Jason Falls.  Besides blogging over at the popular SocialMediaExplorer.com, Jason is Director of Social Media at Doe-Anderson, an in-demand national speaker on social media and public relations, and founder of Social Media Club Louisville.  With the extensive resume out of the way, Jason describes himself as being tall, dark and handsome, of course 🙂 .  Actually, he describes himself as a writer, thinker and web tinkerer, sports nut, dad, husband and swell guy to hang out and drink a beer or cocktail with. And not necessarily in that order.

What does a typical day look like for you with your commitments as Director of Social Media for a large agency, active blogger, involvement on social networks, etc?

The typical day is normally a handful of meetings, as much client work (strategic planning, writing and some execution via blog posts, community administration, etc.) as possible and the occasional new business pitch lunch or planning with every other available minute cleaning out the inbox, sharing good content with my friends online and keeping an eye on other top blogs in the industry. Honestly, I don’t have enough hours in the day to do all I need to do so the client work comes first and everything else falls in line in some priority. Almost all of it is so much fun I almost feel guilty getting paid to do it.

One of the biggest issues I hear in regards to social media is the time commitment to manage and be an active member on all of these networks.  What are some of your suggestions and how do you manage this time commitment?

The first thing I would do is determine which ones you get the most value from and which ones you can give the most value to and focus on those. Sure, I have profiles on 20 or more social networks, but I really only use two everyday – Twitter and Facebook. LinkedIn is a third that is almost required because the mainstream folks (potential clients) are most comfortable there since it’s a professional/resume-driven site. But I don’t get inherent value other than friendship connections out of MySpace, so I don’t spend much time there.

The second thing I would recommend is finding utilities that make it easier. For instance, sharing content and bookmarking are important facets of what social media folks do. Mahalo allows you to bookmark and submit material to their community-driven search engine, but also has a utility that allows you to share the same content on StumbleUpon, Twitter, Delicious, Facebook and other social networks all with the single submission. So, I bookmark one article in three or four places, providing value to those networks as well. I don’t browse to or through StumbleUpon everyday, but I still share great content there, so my StumbleUpon influence is still actively being maintained.

Finally, you have to embrace and master RSS. I subscribe to content from over 200 websites but can browse most of that content, deeply reading what looks interesting, skimming some and just headline browsing the rest, in about 30 minutes each day. I don’t miss much and when I see something interesting, I take the time to share it, comment on it, bookmark it or all of the above. RSS changes the way you consume content online and makes your time commitment to do so much more manageable.

What do you see for the future of social media?

Social media is not some purple elephant that will revolutionize the world. It’s one channel in an assortment of communications options. It will get past the shiny new object stage in the next couple of years and become another spoke on the communications wheel, along with PR, CRM, advertising, packaging, direct mail and so on. I’m a believer that it most closely aligns with public relations as a discipline, so I’m hopeful PR professionals will get better (and fast) at understanding and owning at least the responsibility of managing social media within the organizational structure. Social media is something that, if done right, isn’t silo-ed into one department, but PR is the most suitable to take the lead on it. It’s not a fad, but it’s not the second coming, either. It’ll settle into a nice place in the marketing and communications world if it hasn’t already.

What is the biggest mistake that businesses make when getting into social media?

Not coming to bat with a strategic position. Like web development, most people say, “I want one. Let’s build it.” I heard a great analogy to illustrate this problem from Ron Baumgarner at Bitwise Solutions. He said, “If your architect showed up on you property with a backhoe, would you be nervous?” Social media isn’t wall paper or a coat of paint. You have to think it through just like you would an advertising campaign or a direct mail piece.

Who is the audience? Why are you communicating with them? What do you want them to do as a result? How are you going to use the communication to build a relationship with them? What value can you provide? These are the questions that need to be answered before you even start. Put the backhoe away and draw up some plans for the structure, get all your permits lined out, make sure the property can withstand the size and scope of the building then hire the right people to do each of the tasks that come together to make the structure whole. And don’t forget that once it’s built, it needs to be cleaned, maintained, repaired and occasionally remodeled to ensure the residents stay happy.

What advice do you give to someone who is new to the social media world?

Know that if you can’t or don’t provide value to the communities and networks you are apart of, even if that value is just your opinion, you won’t be successful. You have to give to get in social media. Those that give meaningfully earn respect, then over time trust. Having trust breeds influence and gets you where you are a respected member of the community. And all that is true for brands as well as individuals.

Doe-Anderson is a brand-building agency, which closely resembles an advertising agency. They have an approach to building brands using brand enthusiasm as a platform to ignite passion points in people enabling them to spread the good word about the brand and build a community around it. Doe’s Maker’s Mark Ambassadors program is often called the “Gold Standard” word of mouth marketing program.

Social Media Explorer is Jason’s personal blog that he uses as an educational, informational and thought leadership tool to offer up reviews, insights and opinions about social media, public relations, marketing and other forms of communications.

Jason loves meeting new people so find him over on Twitter if you’re not already following him.

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One response

17 10 2008
Ben Waugh

I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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