This is an interview I did with Klout for their Klout Stars series, where they ask “influencers” about their background in social media.
1. How did you get started in social media?
I was originally a political consultant, helping manage campaigns for Governor, U.S. Senate, and President. I moved out of that industry into digital marketing in 1994. Since then, I’ve owned several companies in the online marketing world, including an award-winning agency that I sold in 2005. In 2008, I started Convince & Convert to help corporations and other agencies strip away the hype and successfully integrate social media.
I love social because it’s the perfect combination of online marketing and retail politics. You’re trying to win hearts and minds one at a time, or a few at a time using stories and humanization, but you’re using digital techniques to do so, rather than salacious 30-second ads and cheesy direct mail.
I started my Convince & Convert blog to create a place that straddles the line between social media theory and social media execution, while always trying to show how social is an ingredient, not the whole entree. Same thing for The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social
the book I wrote with Amber Naslund. It’s not a book about doing social media, it’s a book about how companies can BE social.
2. What’s your strategy for the content you produce and share on social media?
My mom and stepdad were both high school teachers, as was my grandmother. Education (and tequila) runs through my veins. I see my role as that of a translator and coach, taking important social media principles and explaining them in a practical way to people who are very smart marketers and businesspeople, but not necessarily social media practitioners day-to-day. With my blog, my Twitter feed, my twice-weekly email newsletter, and other vehicles, I try to curate what matters and add a heavy dose of my own interpretation and advice.
3. What advice do you have for someone who wants to take their social media influence and presence to the next level?
Three things to remember:
First, it’s a paradox, but the more you “sell” the less you sell. You earn the right to promote in social, you can’t buy it. The difference between helping and selling is just two letters, but those letters mean everything. Find a way to genuinely help other people via social media, and it will come back to you five-fold eventually.
Second, realize that social media happens fast, but success is accrued very slowly. If you think you’re going to be able to get involved in social media and have massive influence in two months, you’re kidding yourself (unless you’re a celeb, in which case your influence just needs to be unlocked, preferably from aboard a yacht).
Third, there is NO shortcut. People invariably try to game the system, to increase their Klout score by doing this or doing that. I’m fortunate enough to have interacted with a lot of people who are (at least according to Klout score) considered influential in social media. And the only thing that is universal among them is that they worked extremely hard to make it happen. I firmly believe that just about anyone can make social media work for them, but you have to love it and you have to put in the time.