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Trey Pennington – The Twitter 20 Interview About Social Media and Humanity

Authors: Jay Baer Jay Baer
Posted Under: Social Media
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Dr. Trey Pennington has a full plate. He has an active consulting practice, a forthcoming book called “Spitball Marketing”, a blog, an online radio show (the must-listen “Social Media Professor“), and a Facebook page. He’s also founded several Social star-trek-300x298.jpgMedia Clubs world-wide, and is active in a bunch of local and South Carolina organizations. (He’s part of the “Greenville Mafia” that includes Spike Jones and Olivier Blanchard, both interviewed for Twitter 20). Oh, and Trey has six kids that are 19 or younger.

Why is Trey in demand? Because he lives by a very simple principle – help other people and eventually they’ll help you. If you can find a single living person (or dead, for that matter), that has anything but praise for Trey Pennington, I’d be shocked. Read on to find out why this incredibly sharp marketer with the human touch is the good guy Renaissance Man of social media.

1. @jaybaer: Your favorite quote is “You Gotta Be, Before You Do”. Seems like there are social media implications there?

  • @treypennington: That’s a good quote. It suggests a bit of introspection is good before outward action takes place.
  • Who am I now; why am I here (existentially AND on social media); what do I have to offer…are great starting points for engagement.
  • My MOST favorite quote, though: “You can have everything in life if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”

2. @jaybaer: Will social media be helped or hurt by widespread corporate adoption?

  • @treypennington: Intriguing question. Humanity will be helped by wholesale adoption of a “social media” mentality—”My neighbor 1st” mentality.
  • Don’t know that we need to shield social media. Also don’t know if corporate America can handle social media.
  • Besides, social media will probably get better as more and more people and organizations get on board.

3. @jaybaer: How important is humanization in business social media usage? Putting a face to the logo, etc?

  • @treypennington: Huge. @TomAsacker says folks no longer trust business or the people who run them. Methinks because it’s easy to hide.
  • The legal value of a corporation = “corporate shield.” To an extent, social media pierces the corporate shield (not legally, but practically).
  • People seem to like dealing with people. Seeing someone’s face helps pave the way for engagement.

social media club4. @jaybaer: You’ve helped start 10+ Social Media Clubs. Where is SMC headed? What is it’s role in all this?

  • @treypennington: SMC is an un-organization. I LOVE Kristi & Chris. They set something in motion, got out of the way, are letting community lead.
  • SMC is awesome for meeting lots of cool folks across awide spectrum of disciplines, beliefs, goals. Might be a short-term organization.
  • Eventually, we’ll probably stop talking about & organizing around social media. For now it’s the cool ham radio of the 2000s.

5. @jaybaer: Right. At some point won’t social media just be called “marketing” and/or “customer service” – when it’s the norm?

  • @treypennington: Man I hope so! Wish marcom pros would have taken leadership before ANOTHER silo sprang up in corporate life.
  • IMHO Social media will function best when it’s integrating into normal, everyday life.
  • Social media is like processor speed. Remember when we got excited about 33mhz, then 66mhz – argued about them? Now who cares?
  • Eventually companies will focus all media, all associates, all processes, etc. on the people they serve

6. @jaybaer: You’re a member of the National Storytelling Association. How do stories impact social media success?

  • @treypennington: Ah, storytelling. Social media helps shine a spotlight on old-fashioned humanity—we make meaning through stories.
  • A storyteller doesn’t have a “point to make,” nor is he focused on “ROI,” or even his own end-game: he focuses on audience.
  • The storyteller lives to help the audience create their own experience; that IS the reward and that’s enough.
  • Social media swings wide the doorway to co-created experiences that can be easily shared with others.

7. @jaybaer: It seems like the best stories don’t come from marketing though? From other parts of the company?

  • @treypennington: You’re probably right. “marketing” typically involves efficiency of message creation and delivery (frequency & reach?)
  • Even so, no reason why “marketing” can’t be “story factory.” “Story” requires a certain mindset; adopt it, change the world.
  • Marketing focuses on getting message out; flip it and get the whole company determined to get the message IN and unleash the power of social media, the company, the community (actually ROI will most likely follow).

treypennington8. @jaybaer: You’re a big opera and sci-fi fan. Is it because of the storytelling in those formats, or is it a costume thing? (photo by as you said)

  • @treypennington: It’s the drama of human existence and the world of possibilities. At heart, I’m a dreamer who believes we all have hidden treasure to discover, develop and deploy; we can do more than we think.
  • When companies use social media to facilitate that discovery, development, and deployment, bodacious things can happen.

9. @jaybaer: How do you feel about politicians using social media?

  • @treypennington: Politicians & Social Media: Exploring the Dark Side of Humanity (a movie that might rival Blair Witch).
  • Social media opens a HUGE door of opportunity for politicos IF they can be something completely different than what they are.
  • I’ve sat in state party mtgs are heard over and over, “what we’ve got to do is just get our message OUT”
  • Politicians do NOT need to get a message OUT. Please, God, let them get our message IN. Please? Social media COULD answer that prayer.
  • Dr. Frank Luntz, in his new book, says “Americans are mad as ****…at politicians…because they are irresponsible AND THEY AREN’T LISTENING”
  • Politicians use every media to paint the “other guys” as devils & suggest the way to fight the devil is to send money.
  • Social media could fix the anger by facilitating transparency and attentiveness to constituents. That would bring welcome healing.
  • Okay, I’m done with politics. @wesleydonehue & I are doing video training for political aspirants

10. @jaybaer: Do you think social media will become more, or less $$$ focused? Sponsored tweets, that kind of thing?

  • @treypennington: At the moment, I have two offers for cash money to post two tweets. Man do I need the money! I think, though I’d rather just ask my Twitter friends to send donations instead. But, yeah, there’s a [legitimate] push to “monetize”.
  • I’ve interviewed the sponsored Tweet leader, @TedMurphy. He strikes me as a legitimate innovator.
  • MLM and direct sales will keep advancing in social media. We can individually choose whether we want that content.

11. @jaybaer: Speaking of interviews, your Social Media Professor podcast is terrific. Audio is still underutilized online, no?

  • @treypennington: Thank you! I love podcasts. You’re probably right. Tried to get to work so I could audio tweet today. Didn’t work.
  • To borrow from @TomAsacker again, companies need to both immerse themselves in customers’ world & provide immersive experiences for customers: textual, audio, visual (tactile & whatever the adjectival form of smell is, too).
  • For SMB, podcasts create beautiful way to make stars out of their customers. (Big corps could do it too I suppose).

12. @jaybaer: You do a lot of book reviews. Do long-form books still have a future in the age of blogs and micro-blogs?

  • @treypennington: Yes, I’m a book (like, printed even) lover too. (my 2010 reading goals:).
  • Then again, I also think direct mail will thrive for years to come, too. There’s something, dare I say, magic about books.
  • I LISTEN to a ton of “books” via & have a ton of Kindle books, too. Wind up getting printed version of best ones.
  • At the moment, books are accessible to people without access to technology. The socio-economic technology divide is troubling.

13. @jaybaer: And aren’t you writing a book yourself? What’s “Spitball Marketing” going to cover?

  • @treypennington: Love you man! Yep, Spitball Marketing: How to use what you’ve got to get more of what you want, should be out by March!
  • I’m an indie, contrarian, dreamer: I WANT to self-publish. Had a sponsor lined up, he lost his funding so I lost mine.
  • Spitball Marketing encourages folks to find their own hidden treasure, polish it, and give it away. Shows how to DIY to success.
  • Spitball helps the mom-and-pops, the independents, the solopreneurs thrive. (How to beat big boxes)

14. @jaybaer: And you’re grand unveiling the book at your conference, What’s the event about?

15. @jaybaer: You have podcast, book, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook fan page, and speaking gigs. How do you balance social eco-system?

  • @treypennington: Balance? Heard of it. Looking it up now.
  • I love @Tom_Peters‘ view of balance: “balance s**cks!”
  • I also have 6 children, Rotary, State Board of Nursing, church…it’s a grand life. Wonderful time to be alive.
  • I live for human connection, interaction, achievement, brotherhood, etc. It truly is a joy to have social media to connect.
  • The “Fan” Page took me a long time to launch. STILL not at all comfortable with the idea of a “fan” page. Dumb, dumb name.
  • The Fan Page reminds me of Monica. In 4th grade I passed her a note in class: “Do you like me? 1 finger for yes, 2 for no”.

16. @jaybaer: What do you tell people who are getting overwhelmed and frustrated by the social media deluge?

  • @treypennington: To chill, find your own pace. Not everything is for everyone all the time. Do what works for you; turn everything else off.
  • It’s even okay NOT to have a Twitter account and not be on Facebook (or have email or a cell phone).

17. @jaybaer: New numbers today showing Twitter usage continues to flat line. Why? Has Twitter run its course?

  • @treypennington: I saw that. It doesn’t FEEL like Twitter has plateaued, though I’m sure traditional media and despotic dictators wish it would.
  • There’s incredible innovation left for the world of Twitter. Flatlined? Hardly. Pause on creativity, or just fatigue? Possibly.
  • Nope. Twitter’s not done yet. @aplusk added yet another 9,773 yesterday; AHEAD of his daily ave of 7,921

18. @jaybaer: Are most people putting too much, or not enough emphasis on social media measurement and ROI?

  • @treypennington: If people would read, buy into, and use @thebrandbuilder‘s stuff, we’d be done with that topic.
  • Great confusion & delusion about ROI and value. Many “debates” throw both into a BlendTech unit and wait.
  • Short answer: “more wag; less bark.” A whole lot of doing, testing, trying, counting, repeating would trump debating.

19. @jaybaer: What are your social media goals for this year?

  • @treypennington: My 2010 social media goals? To meet face-to-face about 127 people I’ve become friends with online. More if possible.
  • Oh, another goal would be to find someone who would make my blog look really pretty & help me get better videos.
  • 2010 social media goals do not include reading any more books on social media. I read 26 last year. That’s enough.

20. @jaybaer: You may be the only Twitter 20 interviewee who routinely reads Kant and Hume. What would those guys think of social media?

  • @treypennington: Kant: what lies beneath your desire to do social media? Do it if it makes you happy, but since you’ll never really know if you’re happy, why does it matter anyway?
  • Hume: Since man has never observed a cause, stop trying to predict the future; we don’t know why, but, the future will be like the past, so quit fussing about making causal connections and just be already.

Wow! Trey knocked the cover off the ball. Humanity. Insight. Quoting dead philosophers.

My favorite was “Marketing focuses on getting message out; flip it and get the whole company determined to get the message IN and unleash the power of social media.” How about you? Comment away!

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