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:
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.
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:
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
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!