January 19, 2008
 

Part 4.0: Smith Gets Social!

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If a movie could be broken down in 5 parts, part 4 would be where the conflict comes to a boiling point. Jimmy Stewart's Jefferson Smith in the film, "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" was at that point! He was beaten. He'd lost all hope. He'd already packed his bags and was ready to leave Washington, when the one gal who told him to beat it all along now told him to stay.

Now she felt differently. She wanted to help him. She wanted him to stick it out. And fight. Social media is like that.

Here's a scene on YouTube which captures that social moment between Jefferson Smith and Clarissa Saunders (Jean Arthur).

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Mediasmith CEO Dave Smith talks about how social media's helped him and how, in return, he's helped others through it.

Tim: Let's talk about social networks.

Dave: Okay, social networks are all based on the "Six degrees of Kevin Bacon" concept! A friend of mine may happen to be a friend of yours. Two of Mediasmith's five biggest accounts happened because indirectly due to LinkedIn.

Tim: I wanted to hear about that and how it happened.

Dave: One of them happened when I sent out a LinkedIn invitation to a number of people who I already knew. They were already getting the Anvil, Mediasmith regular newsletter. I got three new business inquiries the next day. One of them ended up being a dry well. One of them didn't really have much money to spend for us to take them on. And one of them was very interesting. So I went to visit the third who happened to be a former client. They pinged me and said "You need to come talk to us a potential media plan." It turned out that their budget didn't materialize. So I was zero for three but then I got a call from a person who was recommended by my former client. He said, "You remember me. We once worked at such and such together. We're changing media agencies. We need to talk." Last year that company became one of our largest accounts.

Tim: Great.

Dave: The second way that LinkedIn is valuable is its search capability. LinkedIn helps you search for companies who do a specific thing. Let's say you needed somebody who needs to find someone who needs a person who knows something about widgets. You may not know that person directly but somebody you know might know somebody who knows them.

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Tim: I understand.

Dave: So you send a request to the person you're interested in, but it has to go through these intermediaries. The system will only work if people link with people they already know and trust. Because if they don't feel good about forwarding it along, it won't happen.

Tim: I agree. .

Dave: In the middle of 2006, a company called me who needed a digital media agency on the west coast. They checked us out and suggested that we meet. The client was our largest piece of revenue in 2007.

Tim: LinkedIn is growing. I think more people are beginning to take them more seriously. That said, virtually all the people who I know directly, who are connected to friends such as yourself and others are people who I have contact with and with little or no difficulty. What intrigues me of course are your three examples.

Dave: That's good. I have over 1,300 people I link to right now.

Tim: And you know them all?

Dave: Yes. I won't link to anyone I don't know. It's too chancy.

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Tim: I'm linked at this very moment to less than 100 or so people. Just about all of them were people who reached out to me. I'm going to have to look at that. BTW: you and our mutual friend, Susan Bratton are two of the most connected people I know!

Dave: You know my philosophy. Always try to help others in the business when they need help. It's good on both a personal and professional basis. LinkedIn is quite valuable to me. I have avoided using any of the other business community sites to date. My good friend, Michael Caruso helped me to study which social network I should be on. And he helped me choose LinkedIn as the one.

Tim: Let's talk about Facebook.

Dave: Sure, in July of this year, I received an invitation from Rich LeFurgy to join Facebook. I had gotten invitations before from others but not from someone of his stature. Rich LeFurgy is a giant in our industry. He founded Starwave with Tim Armstrong and some others. He was the founding chairman of the IAB. He's now a VC. I thought, "Gee, Rich LeFurgy doesn't do things like this just for social purposes. What's going on here?" So I accepted his link and just sat back. Every day for the next couple of weeks I got requests from people I already knew. People I already knew well inviting me to link with them on Facebook. How was this happening? How did these people know that I was on Facebook? And then I asked a friend and he told me I could check out who my friends were connected with. And then I could befriend them

Tim: Right.

Dave: I went from zero to over 100 friends just by accepting their friend requests. But now when somebody sends me an invitation, and it's somebody I know and trust I will take the time to look at all the people their friends are. Invariably there is often one or two who I know. I'll contact them and then link to them. I've been very pleased with it so far.

Tim: So am I.

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Dave: The other things that are interesting are the giants of our industry. People such as Rich LeFurgy, Mark Cuban, Jeff Bezos. They are all on Facebook as well. They're trying to figure it out as much as we are. I will tell you that I have many friends linked to Mark Cuban. Of course he made his money in the Internet selling broadcast.com to Yahoo. But I finally decided to break my rule and ask him to be my friend even though I did not know him personally. But when I did so, I did send a note. It said, "Mark, I run a media agency in San Francisco. We have a lot of friends in common. But before you link to me, I must warn you and alert you that I have been a season-ticket holder for the Golden State Warriors since 1974. Go Warriors!"

Tim: That's great!! What did he do?

Dave: Much to my delight he linked with me!

Tim: LOL!

Dave: Of course I got notes from Mark from him to vote for him on Dancing with the Stars, which I was happy to do!

Tim: Here's my Facebook story. I subscribed to Facebook back in 2006, but did so mainly because I was working on a college-based account. So I had to lean in and learn. This was right after they expanded it beyond dot-edu. For almost a year I had two other people on it. That was it up until May of this past year. Then I got one from Rick Bruner and then one from Masha. You know how connected they are. And then from there they came in like rapid fire. It was really exciting!

Dave: I have 400 now. It's all happened organically.

Tim: I love Facebook because it's not like the OT List or business blogs, which are great and has their place. I like Facebook because it has more personality. It's not just focused on business. It has a strong personal side as well. I enjoy that more-so than just reading about and/or discussing business.

Dave: There are social networks for suburban homemakers. There are social networks that are very strong in various countries, as wide and as varied as the Philippines and Brazil. The coverage is so incredible. Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace are a few examples. It's interesting to note that MySpace is number one in the US, though they are not number one in other countries. There are other ones like Hi5 in the Philippines or Okut in Brazil which have gotten critical mass. Who's to define what makes something get critical mass? What we do know is that there is definitely a community of interactive media and technology people in the US on Facebook.

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Tim: For sure.

Dave. That represents its own little network and it's a valuable network to be a part of.

Tim: Tell me about your program with regard to social media that our readers should be aware of.

Dave: It's the understanding as to how to leverage social media within a marketers' overall program. It's not about buying a banner out there. You can buy a banner on MySpace very cheaply. Sometimes you can buy a banner on MySpace from one of the networks cheaper than you can from MySpace itself! In essence, we understand what works and what doesn't work. We understand how, as we do with other media, how to leverage social media networks. When to use them and when not to use them.

Tim: Got it. So it's more than just knowing about it. It's knowing what the right application is.

Dave: That's the key. You only learn by doing. You've got to be out there and experiment. Mediasmith's Emerging Technology suite is made up of tools just like somebody on their work bench. It's understanding which tool to use, when and why.

Tim: As you know there are so many different seminars on gaining insight into social media. The number of them out there is almost staggering.

Dave: I go to these things largely for the networking opportunity as compared to the education. The education is important, but it's first it's about networking and second, working to move the industry ahead from a standards view point. And then the third is the learning.

Tim: Could somebody get more out of attending them than they could as compared to the insights your Social Media Program would offer them?

Dave: If me or another person at Mediasmith is giving it, probably so.

Tim: LOL! Great answer.

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Please click here for Part 5.


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