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Interview with San Francisco Social Media Evangelista – Shari Weiss

by Deepak Gupta [3/21/10]

I had the pleasure of interviewing and gaining insight from San Francisco’s own Social Media Expert – Shari Weiss. You can follow our discussion below:

Shari Weiss

Shari Weiss

What did you do before becoming a social media evangelist and how did you get into that industry?

My 35-year career has combined careers in magazines, corporate communications, and education – most recently as a marketing lecturer at San Francisco State and freelance writer for Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club. Early in 2009, I discovered Social Media and Social Media Marketing, and I’m convinced this revolutionary new communication opportunity will continue to change our world for the better.

What qualities and traits make for a good social media evangelist?

Open-mindedness must play a huge role because much of the new technology is foreign to generations of people raised with traditional methods and tools of communication. Passion goes a long way in supporting the commitment necessary to continue studying every new tool and strategy as it is introduced AS WELL AS helping convince others of the ultimate benefits in store.
Knowledge of sociology and psychology to understand and empathize with people.
Honesty and authenticity in spirit and practice is critical to model best practices.

What tools of the trade do you use throughout your typical day and how do they help?

1) Email is number one, and I check my mail dozens of times every day.
2) I keep my Tweetdeck open throughout the day to see if any of my friends have written to or mentioned @sharisax – I have met and begun relationships with dozens of fellow Tweeters, some of whom have become partners and friends.
3) My email often leads me to notifications from Facebook and LinkedIn. Of late, I have been spending more and more time checking and participating in LinkedIn group discussions.
4) I have two blogs that I write articles for several times a week AND respond to commenters, all of whom I am excited to approve and reply to.
5) I do not yet have a SmartPhone, but I see that as coming soon.
I cannot help notice how many people call themselves social media experts. Are they just throwing the title around or are there really that many social media experts out there today?
No comment, except to say that it is difficult to become an “expert” when something new is coming out all the time, and it is difficult to always know what will achieve “critical mass” and what will fade away as yesterday’s forgotten buzz.

Some of our readers are up and coming social media experts. What advice can you give them and how can they get that seal of approval of becoming an expert in the industry?

My first piece of advice is to forget about getting into social media to become an expert. Better to find the perfect fit for your particular skills/interests AND the tools and strategies that will help you provide value to others. In my case, I love both writing and teaching, so I blog and conduct workshops to help others learn everything I know.

Currently what are the best websites for promoting social media and why?

Without much doubt, Facebook – with its 400 million users – is, and will be, Number One. I do believe that YouTube – the second most popular search site – is a platform that should be understood and used to reach the most amount of people. I, personally, love Twitter and suspect it may replace email in certain circumstances. LinkedIn has great potential for those business types who learn how to use its many facets. Finally, with all its resources – particularly the brilliant minds in the organization – Google is bound to play a growing role in all our communications.

What kind of tips do you have in writing stories for our Readers?
I agree with the Common Wisdom that the best articles tell lots of “stories,” particularly case studies and narratives that show people accomplishing goals.
Also write clearly and simply, don’t whine, and tell the truth.
Give us one of your biggest accomplishments? What are your future goals?
One of my biggest accomplishments has been to continue my first blog SHARISAX IS OUT THERE with an ever growing passion . . . and a never-ending selection of juicy topics to learn and write about. And now I’ve started a second blog HOW TO DO SOCIAL MEDIA BY THE BOOK, where I share great lists of information from the wonderful social media books that I read.
I have begun offering workshops to friends and small business people and plan to help small businesses begin to implement social media strategies. In addition, I am working on a magazine-type blog for Baby Boomers.
We cannot ignore that the popularity of social media is skyrocketing. What advice do you have for people who want to use your ideas to promote their business?

GO FOR IT! That’s what social media training is all about – helping people use these tools to build their businesses and help others.

BTW, You can find me in a number of places online:

Linkedin http://www.linkedin.com/in/shariweisssf
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/shari.weiss
Facebook Fanpage for Performance Social Media http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/Performance.Social.Media
Ning: http://performancesm.ning.com/
Twitter http://twitter.com/sharisax
Google profile: http://www.google.com/profiles/shariweissSF
Friendfeed http://friendfeed.com/sharisax
YouTube http://www.youtube.com/sharisax
Squido lens: http://www.squidoo.com/readandchat
Delicious http://delicious.com/Sharisax
Digg http://digg.com/users/sharisax
my San Francisco State website: http://online.sfsu.edu/~sharisax/

PHONE: 415/897-6052


I am always doing that which I do not know how to do in order to learn how to do it — Picasso

As a long -time teacher, I typically have begun classes each semester with a questionnaire to encourage my students to tell me “About Them.”

One item asked, “Where would you like to be five years from now, and how will you get there?”

Interestingly enough, my personal answer to this question had always been “Exactly where I am, doing what I’m doing.”

But the Social Media Revolution has changed all that . . .

and the course of my life with it

I am particularly proud of a recent post which discusses a great deal of what I’ve learned this year: “Ten Mistakes Made by Social Media Newbies”

Here is one comment on that article submitted by a fellow Northwestern Medill graduate — and my response:


You are right on. I’m a ’79 GSJ grad­u­ate. Tell me about what you do. I believe that cor­po­ra­tions make all these mis­takes and need peo­ple like you to help them plan and par­tic­i­pate com­mu­nity mar­ket­ing. I want to learn more.

By John Morocco Strate­gic Plan­ning — Media & Pro­mo­tion — Inte­grated Mar­ket­ing Plans — Neigh­bor­hood Mar­ket­ing
Hi John,
Thanks for ask­ing. I know that lots of us “social media evan­ge­lists” LOVE to talk about what we do.
As a uni­ver­sity marketing/PR/advertising prof for more than 15 years AND a jour­nal­ist ever since grad­u­at­ing from Medill in ’69, I have “only just begun” study­ing All Things Social Media and chron­i­cling my edu­ca­tion for a year now.

I still can’t believe that as a PR and Adver­tis­ing teacher, it took me SO LONG to under­stand the huge evo­lu­tion that’s already been going on for the last few years.

That being said, if it took ME so long, i.e., some­one teach­ing mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion, then it stands to rea­son that peo­ple who are “only” prac­tic­ing these activ­i­ties will need leaders/teachers/evangelists to help them under­stand and nav­i­gate this new frontier/landscape.

And I want to help. So … if you want to learn more, my sug­ges­tion is that you stay tuned to my blog arti­cles AND per­haps do some of the “home­work” I sug­gest along the way.

Hope to hear more from you, and I hope you don’t mind, I’ll be adding this com­ment to my actual blog. It might be inter­est­ing to fol­low the Thread of com­ments. They will show you one way that people/brands do build com­mu­nity.
Lots of luck, and please con­tact me with any ques­tions. If the answer is long like this one, I’ll turn it into a blog post.

Join me . . . and join the conversation. We really are embarking on a New Frontier which will change Everything!

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Posted by Shari Weiss   @   27 August 2009
Oct 5, 2009
5:35 pm
#1 Karen Granade :

I’m a Texas friend of John Moorhead, and we are both learning social media together! Love your site and your blog… and am recommending to other old dogs to learn new tricks!!

Author Oct 5, 2009
5:42 pm

Hi Karen, thanks for the note. I am currently looking for ways to make my blog MORE readable. So if you keep up with it, please let me know if my improvements work for you.

Dec 26, 2011
4:10 am


I was just going through few sites and blogs yesterday and came across your site http://sharisax.com/ too. I really liked the way you have presented your site. I was reading some of your content and really found them interesting and informative. So I was just wondering if I can also do something for your site.

Actually I am a freelance content writer and I love writing articles as a hobby on topics related to Technology.What if I provide you with an unique article as a Guest Post absolutely FREE!! An article that will be informative for your readers. The article will be related to your website and will be appreciated by your readers.

It would be great if you can add a small BIO of mine at the end of the article with my related site’s links. I guarantee you that the article will be 100% copyscape protected and will be of around 500 words.

Please let me know if this sound good to you, so that we can start working on your article.

Best Regards,


Author Jan 8, 2012
10:14 pm

Rosette, send me something you think would appeal to my readers [to sharisax@aol.com] and I will consider it.

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