When I told Renee Lemley, of Gray Matter Marketing and Gray Pictures LLC, that she was a social media expert, she waved the label off and said, “no one is a social media expert.” Don’t tell Renee I said this, but I still think she is. Okay, at least she is an early user and got really good at using it pretty quick. Contrast her to me. I’m shy about updating my status on Facebook because I think I’m going to sound like a dork (and I usually do), and I frequently forget my Twitter password, and have only two Twitter contacts. Then again, sometimes I call my computer a “word processor.” Yeah. I know. That’s lame. On the upside, I do use LinkedIn daily and enjoy the network groups as a way to stay connected.
Renee Lemley has over fifteen years experience in marketing and advertising and has done it all, from consultant, to writer, producer, and yes, blogger, and she “uses Gray Matter Marketing to communicate.” I asked her a few questions on social media so I could learn more myself. Here’s how it went down with the woman I now consider my social media mentor:
AI: You are an advocate and user of social media, especially Linkedin and Twitter. Why do you think these tools are so important?
RL: I think with LinkedIn, you’re almost expected to be there. It’s easy enough to setup and I think it really works great as a digital rolodex, accessible from anywhere you have an Internet connection, and as an “always-up-to-date” online resume. Twitter serves an altogether different purpose for me. It has been an incredibly useful source of business information. Add to that the people you “meet” on twitter and the speed with which the information flows and it feels more important than any other social media site I use. (NOTE: The quality of the information you pull from Twitter is determined by the people you choose to follow. So if you don’t take the time to seek out people who post valuable info—and post valuable info yourself—then I think twitter moves from “tool” to “toy” pretty quickly.)
AI: How did you start using them and what was your a-ha moment in doing so?
RL: I started using social media when I decided we needed an easy-to-administrate site where GrayPictures, our multi-media and creative services business, could post photos of recent work in a more casual atmosphere than on our “corporate” site at GrayPictures. It was the self-administration that really gave me the a-ha moment. Up to that point, I had been dependent upon outside resources for design and technical support for anything interactive that I wanted to do. Having the power put into my own hands was…well, sort of intoxicating. (Yes, my inner geek has been set free.) I immediately knew what I wanted to blog about. In the end, I again turned to my trusty outside technical resources, but that had more to do with my objectives than it did with any general self-administration limitations.
AI: Big companies versus small companies, versus the solo consultant: who benefits most from Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and Linkedin?
RL: Hmm. I don’t think it’s a question of who benefits most because it all depends on how you use each of those communication platforms. The benefits are determined by your personal and/or business objectives and how well you execute on them. Your objectives may (and should) vary from social site to social site. No matter who you are, you should think about your objectives (and possible outcomes) before you start posting anything anywhere. That said, how much time you put into it is directly proportionate to the value you get out of it.
AI: When I think of Social Media, I think of the four sites I mentioned above. Is there a site out there that is often overlooked that you think we should all be signing up for?
RL: I have to say I’ve not been a big fan of MySpace. But that’s just me. I named my “Social Media Trifecta” in one of my blog posts: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I think it goes back to your own personal objectives. But to your bigger point, I’ve actually come to think of social media as “anything” we do online. I even see my email as “social media” in many ways. Once you hit “send,” “post,” “submit,” “share,” or “join,” it doesn’t belong to you anymore. It’s “out there” and—for better or worse—out of your control. Plus, there are so many aspects of being “social” to consider: social media, social networking, social business, social sharing, social bookmarking, etc. I wonder if the term has truly found a solid home yet because it means so many things to so many different people. It changes and evolves so quickly, so I provide links to the resources and tools I find helpful in navigating the socialsphere as I come across them.
AI: You really are an expert on social media. In figuring out how to use these tools, what were some mistakes or missed opportunities you made along the way?
RL: I actually don’t think there are any “experts” in social media. Best practices are being created and recreated by the nanosecond. It’s a moving target, really. (Get ready for the buzzwords…) We all have different reasons for “engaging” and we all “join the conversation” at different levels, but what we all have in common is a shared passion for this very cool “new” thing and that’s what makes us a real, but virtual, “community.” I spend a lot of my time in the space…learning. Social media is fully integrated with my thinking when it comes to strategic marketing. It may not be appropriate for every business situation, but when it is, I advise people and businesses based on my personal experiences, as well as my mistakes, which I post about on my blog as I go along. I also don’t hesitate to turn to those with more experience when I need to—social media has re-educated me in the practice of “humility.”
AI: What do you see as the future of social media, as it relates to conducting and growing business/revenues?
RL: This is, indeed, the burning question. I can only return to my own experience: simply put, social media has changed the way I think about my business and the value I place on my business network. At the end of the day, I like to say that I’m less concerned about what social media has brought to my “bottom line” than I am about all it has added to the “top of my head.”