Why Social Media?

So I had mentioned to a friend of mine a few months back that I was going to start doing Reputation Management / Online Presence Management for people other than myself. I’ve pretty much peaked, heading through year #2 of being a top-10 Google result for “Bill” as well as a top-10 Google result for “Cammack”. There’s nowhere else to go. I’m bored. *yawn*

So yesterday, I’m chatting with this same friend, who’s starting a new business soon. He wants to be involved with Social Media, except he sees how much time, energy and research I put into it and he’d rather spend his time making money than doing research he’s not going to get paid for and that I already did.

As we’re chatting, I can tell that he doesn’t really “get it”, and eventually, he directly says something to the effect of “I can’t see what my benefit is in getting involved in these sites and this social stuff”. This makes sense to me, because unless you’re LIVING Social Media, you’re not going to be privy to the effects… You’ll only be able to see the “cause”….

What I mean by that in my case is that if you pay attention to my internet presence, what you will see is a lot of socializing. Socializing through IRL meetups, tweetups, pictures, videos, links posted to websites, comments made on people’s blogs, my own blog posts… *presence*. What you’re seeing is how I reach out to other people and relate to them. This.. is the “cause”.

One of the MANY, MANY “effects” is the new access and relationships I have to them and that they have to me which makes us more likely to do business with each other or pass business to each other that we’re not going to do. These relationships might not appear to the casual onlooker to be anything but people hanging out & having good times together. What happens, though, is that people get comfortable with your character as a person as well as your work ethic / dedication to your projects, and that’s worth way more than emailing a resume to some company you’d like to do work for.

I’ve been freelance for years, and I don’t work for random people. I don’t check Craig’s List and wherever else might have listings for random people that need video editing work done. I get all my work through word of mouth. People call *ME* and ask if I’m available to work on their projects, not the other way around. This is because when I get on a project, I’m ON.THE.CASE. In my entire career, I’ve “missed air” ONCE, which was something like at 4am, doing an overnight shift for Bloomberg Information Televison, and my 2-minute news package went on in the next cycle (I think 20 minutes later? 30?), instead of at the exact time it was scheduled. That was my fault, and I don’t remember why it happened, but the point is that other than that, I have like a 99.996% success rate for completing projects on deadline.

Because of that, and other things, like my overall fun and easygoing demeanor, people tend to hear of me from other people I’ve done good work for and contact me with projects. THAT is Social Media in action. My way of being is an advertisement for myself as a person and my work is an advertisement for my skill at what I do.

Similarly, Social Media opens doors for you when otherwise, you’d have to stand in line with the rest of the nameless, faceless, personality-less resumes that are laying on the potential client’s desk. Or, maybe the nameless, faceless, personality-less emails that the client receives, explaining EVERYTHING about the proficiencies of your group and NOTHING about who you are and what you’re about as people.

So, essentially, Social Media is rolling the dice, in a way… You’re putting more information out there and offering people chances to “judge” you. People overuse that term and cry about it too much, “WAAAAAAAAH… YOU’RE JUDGING MEEE! WAAAAAAAAHHHH!!! :O”, but that’s exactly what it is. People will use what you present to them to decide whether they like you or not… Whether they love you or not… Whether they want to do business with you or not… Whether they respect you or not… Whether you know what you’re talking about or not… Whether you’re current & relevant or not… Whether you can bring any ROI to their company or not… Whether they want to sit down for some brews with you or not…..

If you think you have things to bring to the table that people would enjoy and it would enhance your relationship to them or even CREATE one if you don’t have a relationship to them right now, by all means, Social Media is for you. If you don’t feel that way about yourself or you just don’t LIKE socializing or you aren’t any good at it, you might want to leave SM alone entirely or hire someone else to handle that business for you.

Another question was how could he be EFFICIENT in making Social Media connections? Well.. That requires research on WHERE people in your field or industry congregate on the internet. Is it on Facebook? Ning sites? Specific blogs? Twitter? FriendFeed? Forums? Newsgroups? Is there a Newsletter you should subscribe to? Bulletin Boards? IRC chat rooms? Meebo? Tinychat? Oovoo? Tokbox? Is there a show you should watch on YouTube or Blip.TV?…..

If you know where to look, go for it. If you don’t, then you might be better off creating a presence in as many arenas as possible and letting the chips fall. Or, you may be better off leaving Social Media out altogether, as the ends don’t justify the means, according to your company’s bottom line.

The way I see it.. As long as you’re a decent person and you’re decently good at what you do for business, socializing and networking is completely in your best interest. Especially in these times where companies are laying off entire departments, NOW is your opportunity to cultivate new clients that are looking for what it is that you do but don’t want to hire a staffer. NOW is the time to let people know what you’re bringing to the table. If you have to show them a YouTube video to do that.. fine. If you have to write a blog post or comment on someone else’s.. fine. If you have to participate in discussions or live streams or IRL conferences to get people to know who you are and what you do.. fine. The opportunity’s here right now, and there’s no telling how long the window will remain open…

I’m in an unique position because I make friends quickly & often. I’m what people call a “connector”. Every time I go somewhere, I’m introduced to new people and I try to make sure that people that I already know are cool get introduced to other people I know are cool. The system works via checks & balances. I have 286 mutual Facebook Friends with someone I know. This means that I have 286 opportunities to receive a negative review of her, and I haven’t received *ONE*. πŸ˜€

Online Presence Management puts you in position to win or lose based on your personal merits. That’s a game that I very much enjoy playing. Are there lots of pitfalls? Certainly. If you can’t see how increasing your socialization and/or networking can help your business, you might want to chat with a consultant. If they’re legit and they can’t see it either, they’ll tell you so and you can save your money for traditional advertising or stamps to mail those resumes around. πŸ™‚ If they can see something you can’t, that might be a good opportunity for you… again, assuming they’re legit.

Social Media can take up a lot of your time, but can also produce great benefits, if utilized properly. Currency (Speed) is important. Relevance is important. Intimate Knowledge of your product or service is important. Passion is important. Accessibility is important. Redundancy is important (using the same avatar across social networks, for instance). Recognition as a thought leader or someone who tests out the new technologies is important. It all comes down to making sure that the time you spend on SM (or the money you spend, hiring someone to do it for you) works for your bottom line and is an overall benefit to you or your company.

~ Bill Cammack

Twitter: BillCammack
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4 thoughts on “Why Social Media?”

  1. Bill! Dude, you are on the money. I think for someone like you, who combines a gregarious nature with an analytical mind, reaping the benefits of social media is natural. You would be out there connecting even if it were the 1970’s. All the social media stuff, just amplifies your connective powers.

    Some people are not natural uber-connectors like yourself. Yet they too should get out and mix and mingle, at least a little bit, in real life. Just as that is true, so too should they get out and mix it up in the social media world, at least a little bit. And just like in real life, they might want a wing man to give them some tips and break the ice for them, people can use an online wing man–that’s where you come in.

    Good stuff. Keep it coming.

    1. Thanks, Jonny. πŸ™‚ Actually, following *your* lead in live streaming was critical for my evolution in this space. You bridged the gap between internet superstars (Bre Pettis, Eddie Codel, Irina Slutsky…) and people who wanted to hear from them, learn from them and interact with them.

      When I met Bre IRL at Drew Baron’s party, way after the show where you had Bre on as a guest, and he knew who I was the same way I knew who he was, I was actually blown away by the potential of online interaction. I realized that, done properly, live streaming / video chatting can be a high percentage of the experience you have by sitting down with someone IRL for food, drink, conversation & laughs.

      The same thing happened to me when I met Kenyatta at that same party. He and I had had a text conversation over the net on an issue, but had never had any form of real-time conversation. I introduced myself and brought up our online conversation and we had a really good chat about where each of us stood on the issue, and it turned out it wasn’t far apart at all. We were just about saying the same thing, but the limitations of text and commenting on blog posts disallowed us to fully understand where each other was coming from.

      So I’m very aware of how far people can accelerate their relationships via Social Media. I think everyone should use it if it’s available to them, but I think people also need to be told that a) it’s not for everyone and b) there are a lot of things to AVOID, just like there are a lot of things to participate in. Even “meeting” you @ Quirk’s party wasn’t MEETING you. It was “There goes my friend Jonny.”

      So, yes, I believe there’s much efficiency and QUALITY to be derived from the proper utilization of Social Media. πŸ™‚

  2. Thanks for this… I have a lot to learn but I agree with a lot of what you’ve said in terms of the social connecting. Looking forward to successfully crossing over to the world of social media…. & taking notes from “The Cammack” along the way! (0=

    1. You’re welcome, Amanda. πŸ™‚

      Social Media is a vehicle. Similar to a car. A car doesn’t do ANYTHING for you unless you drive it, and put gas in it, etc etc. You don’t get props just for showing up. Once you get there, you have to engage people and make things happen, which is what Social Media enables us all to do. πŸ˜€

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