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.
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.