Social media is a means to an end, it’s not the end. That’s the philosophy of Danny Brown, the Scotland-born social media and PR consultant living in Canada. His blog, http://www.dannybrown.me is a must-read, full of timely, practical advice for marketers looking to successfully incorporate social media into the communications mix.
Danny is one of the most popular characters on the social media scene because he knows what he’s talking about sure, but more importantly because he genuinely cares about people and wants to help. He founded and manages the acclaimed 12 for 12k program, whereby a minimum of $12,000 is raised each month for a different non-profit organization, using social media and social networks.
In this Twitter 20 interview, Danny types nuggets of wisdom one after another like a wizened social media Pez dispenser. Read the transcript, and think about your favorite quote from Danny. Add it to the comments, won’t you?
1. @jaybaer: You’re a prolific commenter on other blogs. How do you feel about the time spent balance between your blog and others?
- @dannybrown: Ooh, great opener! I think other bloggers are who make you the blogger you are (or can be). I think once you finish your own blog, sit back and leave it for the conversation to begin. 20% your blog, 80% others.
2. @jaybaer: Really interesting. I think about that a lot. Is your (& my) target audience other bloggers, or folks that DON’T blog?
- @dannybrown: I think it’s both. A blog is simply you telling a collection of stories, and anyone can enjoy stories.
3. @jaybaer: You “help businesses find the voice they never had.” Is that about finding their stories to tell? How do you do that?
- @dannybrown: By finding out what story they want to tell. Is it a sales story? A customer service story? A product story? Then finding out who their readers are going to be. Different folks like different stories, so different customers will like different approaches.
- Once you know the story and the readers, the “storytelling” becomes easier.
4. @jaybaer: Social media in any form takes TIME. How do you help companies justify that, most folks these days are pretty busy.
- @dannybrown: Is the time worth it to help your company stand the test of time? The best relationships/marriages happen over an extended period of time – the “hot early days” soon pass. True love comes with time – true success comes with time.
5. @jaybaer: If you had to advise a small biz to write a blog or be active here on Twitter, which would you advise?
- @dannybrown: I have to choose?? 😉 I would probaly start with Twitter – you have the perfect opportunity to “meet your audience” – which can also help you find your blog’s audience. A blog (I feel) takes more love and commitment than Twitter.
- And not everyone wants to blog. If you can text, you can Twitter and it’s instant. Conversations can give you a great audience and jumping off point if you decide to blog. And you can always Posterous / Tumblr too 😉
6. @jaybaer: Many businesspeople are confused or concerned about the blending of personal and professional. Advice on that?
- @dannybrown: If it’s something you wouldn’t raise offline professionally, why would you do so online?
- Think how you react offline and how you portray yourself, and use that online. Google doesn’t forget, so just be a little more wary.
7. @jaybaer: You provide branding and social media services. Is social media presence part of the brand? How do they interrelate?
- @dannybrown: I prefer to look at it as all part of “emerging media” (hat tip to @scotthepburn). Everything you do is how you are seen.
- Your product; your employees; your care package; your customers. How you interact with them via different mediums is how your “brand” will be defined, internally and externally.
- A brand is simply public face of what is decided in private, so every tool and skillset you use (offline and online) defines you, your brand. So all related.
8. @jaybaer: What should the agency/consultant role be w/ regard to companies getting involved in social media? Advice? Ghosting?
- @dannybrown: The role is in the name – “consult”. Offer your experience and guidance – that’s why they hired you to start with. You need to help them understand what it is they’re looking to “do” – a helping hand. But essentially it’s all just to let them run with their requirements themselves, and keep guiding post- consultancy.
- As far as ghosting, that’s a very grey area 😉 I don’t have a major issue with ghosting as long as it’s upfront. But instead of ghosting, why not have multiple accts by employees that have experience with these mediums?
- Surely someone in your company tweets, or Facebooks, or blogs? Offer them the reins as well, under guidance if you like. Let them be your voice too and help reach your customers.
- I think companies often need education that the conversation is only beginning with new content. The fun is after
9. @jaybaer: Sounds like you’re advocating a widespread, decentralized social media approach, with many company peeps participating?
- @dannybrown: I do. Why should it be “owned”? Isn’t this what social media was meant to be improving upon, the closed mindset?
- If a platform is open source and your customers/employees are using it, why not involve everyone that has skills in that area?
- You can still offer guidelines, but I’d rather deal with a company that involves everyone as opposed to one where the head honchos do everything. Not too many differences in letters between “director” and “dictator” 😉
10. @jaybaer: Does that hold true for blogs as well? How do you feel about multiple authors versus a single voice on the blog?
- @dannybrown: I far prefer multi-author blogs as opposed to ghostwritten pieces. If a customer goes to a website and the sales guy has written a customer service piece, it can often be spotted pretty easily.
- Give the voices to the people that are on the front line day in, day out.
- Who says you have to be a brilliant writer? A human voice that knows their stuff is better than a scripted response or generic post.
11. @jaybaer: How important is SEO to blog success? Should companies be paying close attention to it?
- @dannybrown: SEO is incredibly important. You can have great content but without an audience who will read it? Until you find your connections online, SEO is like the air traffic controller for your blog. Use it well and organically and it helps you be found. Guys like @leeodden offer great resources on their blogs to help you wih SEO – it’s very underrated by many.
@jaybaer: Indeed, I interviewed @leeodden for Twitter 20 here: http://bit.ly/njuYA He’s amazing.
12. @jaybaer: You do a lot of blog consulting. What are the key metrics you advocate tracking?
- @dannybrown: Core tracking is audience. Who’s reading; what are they reading; where are they going from there?
- Knowing that info, you can tailor your content. Demographics; ethicity; location – it can all be tracked and worked on. It’s no good writing about Canadian street signs if your audience is coming from Australia!
- What pages are working for you best; what keywords are people using to find your blog?
- Is your landing page working (do you have one?). If people are reading a post then clicking to your About page, is that the best it can be to portray you?
- Are they contacting you from the blog? If you can get a grip on who your audience is, and more importantly *why* they’re your audience, you can connect and help them better.
13. @jaybaer: As a blogger yourself – and a PR professional – you must have some thoughts on pitching bloggers vs. reporters?
- @dannybrown: READ. THE. BLOG. 😉 Seriously. It may be the most popular blog around, but is it the type of voice and readership you’re after? Who cares if it’s got 20,000 subscribers if it has little to so with your client?
- So, know the blogger, know the readers, know the voice, and then actually connect with the blogger and speak to them as a “human being” – many PR pros still go with the standard blast and hope some bloggers write back.
- I promise you if you write to me, tell me why my blog is a good fit for what you want to do and we start discussing TOGETHER best approach, you’ll be more successful.
@jaybaer: Exactly @dannybrown Every blogger started with zero readers right? Today’s new blogger is tomorrow’s @chrisbrogan – you never know.
@chrisbrogan: It took me 8 years to get to 100 readers.
14. @jaybaer: On a related note, I know you do social media news releases (SMNR). Do you advocate that exclusively? Pitchengine?
- @dannybrown: No. Social media releases are a great complementary service to traditional releases. There may be a time when a SMR is better suited as the only approach, but there’s a lot of life left yet in traditional releases and wire services.
- Why not run both together, with details of the SMR one on the trad. release? Use every tool in your armory.
15. @jaybaer: You worked for some larger companies (like FedEx) before starting your own company. Why did you go that route?
- @dannybrown: Freedom of choice. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time there and made some great friends and learned a lot, but when it becomes stifling and creativity is held back (not saying FedEx, corporations in general) then you don’t get any fulfillment.
- Choosing who you work with and how you work (guidelines, ethics) is a major plus for self-employment. There are great companies that encourage creativity and ideas, while there are others that hold you back.
- At the end of the day, you have to be 100% happy in everything you do and going the self-employed route was my “happy measure”. Plus I love a challenge! 😉
16. @jaybaer: You’re also an active social bookmarker. Digg, Stumble, et al. (I’m not). How does that fit into the picture?
- @dannybrown: Social bookmarking is your traffic aggregator, both for you and others. It’s a key part of sharing content with new eyes.
- Think of the enjoyment you get at a sports day with your kids at school. Think of all the cool events happening around that or the fantastic things you see on vacation. You take photographs, so you can show people who couldn’t be there at the time.
- Social bookmarking is your camera, to share the “photographic content” that you enjoyed. It’s also ongoing – something like Stumbleupon can still bring visitors months and years later. Or Delicious can be used to store the best articles you’ve read on a given topic (@chrisbrogan uses for case studies). So yes, social bookmarking a key addition to the sharing of content, from others and from you.
17. @jaybaer: You’re a leader in online charitable giving, with your amazing http://12for12k.org program. How does SM change the charity game?
- @dannybrown: Thx Jason! Social media is a whole new ball game for non-profits. I spoke with many non-profits prior to launching and the overall view was that fundraising costs were inhibiting efforts.
- Figures show that it’s expected that 60,000 charities will fold in Canada this year alone. So, social media offers a cost-effective, instant and wide-reaching platform for non-profits to use.
- Look at Tweetsgiving, WarChild, Twestival, Share Our Strength – all great efforts, all enjoying great success thru SM.
- Say you’re a charity. You tweet about a fundraising event – you only have 100 followers That gets RT’d by someone with 1,000, then another RT by someone with 10,000 – it’s organic promotion. People like @kanter and @staceymonk and @johnhaydon can offer great advice to non-profs for using SM – more should come on board.
@jaybaer: Glad you mentioned @kanter Interviewed her last time on #twt20 http://bit.ly/FXtGv
18. @jaybaer: The flood of dubious Twitter users, Facebook fan page mania… Are we losing authenticity, in our efforts to gain it?
- @dannybrown: I think these users that are flooding, spamming, etc, would be the same on any platform (and probably offline). I think most people transfer their offline persona online – you can only be fake for so long, then you’ll slip up.
- So, if they’re a “pain” online, it’s a good bet they are offline. But hey, that works for some people and others will follow.
- The saving grace is that we, the users, choose our online paths. If you want to walk with a dick, go ahead – I’ll stay with the folks that make me smile and are the ones that I’d want to hang with offline as well
19. @jaybaer: Ultimately, won’t SM have to be monetized at some level? Will we have to learn to live with sponsored Tweets, etc?
- @dannybrown: I think SM is already being monetized (are these sidebars on Twitter web recommendations or ads?). But yeah, like anything every service or business app needs money to survive. How that happens can differ.
- Would Twitter users pay a monthly account models. I don’t think anyone minds paying for something as long as the value is worth it.
- Sponsored Tweets is a start but I’m not sure if it’s the long-term plan for SM monetization. We’ll see – @tedmurphy knows his stuff 😉
20. @jaybaer: What’s on the horizon? What do we need to be thinking about that will change social media in the next 12-18 months?
- @dannybrown: Wow… big question to finish on! I think more collaboration and stability. At the minute I think there are too many competing networks and it’s confusing people – which one should they be on and why.
- Also, what social media use is best for comapny or individual. So I think what we need to focus on now is move away from the “this is cool” and into the “this is doing this” approach.
- Be the toolman using the tools and not just looking at them in the hardware store. Show results, why that medium or approach worked and how it can be adapated to multiple uses.
- I’m not interested in Twitter and Facebook competing – I just want them to work together better! So let’s go for more convergence and less about having to use 15 different platforms to get the same message and result.
Outstanding effort from Danny Brown. Great stuff throughout. It’s tough, but I’m going to pick this as the best quote:
Give the voices to the people that are on the front line day in, day out.
Who says you have to be a brilliant writer? A human voice that knows their stuff is better than a scripted response or generic post.
How about you?