I have a confession to make, I am completely fascinated by people’s stories. It’s so amazing to hear how someone got to where they are now. We hear the term ‘overnight success’ so often but when you really take the time to learn about someone, you find that their ‘overnight success’ often took many years of hard work!
A few weeks ago, I started a series here on the BlueGlass Blog called “How Did You Get Started?” to showcase Internet marketers stories. For this edition, I asked social media marketers with all different backgrounds (big agency, independent consultants, in-house for big companies, in-house for startups, authors, etc) to answer one simple but important question: “How did you get started in Social Media Marketing?”. Here’s their stories:
You can read all of them people or click on one of the links below to skip directly to that person’s story.
Brian Solis is the author of the best selling book Engage!, regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and measure success in the social web. Brian is also principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture.
When I refer to Digital Darwinism, it stems back to the answer of this very question. I was tasked in the mid 90′s with a series of initiatives that required linkage between online marketing and online sales through earned media and engagement. I had to find answers that didn’t yet exist. I found something pretty interesting along the way. Traditional media offered satisfaction in terms of reach, but did not necessarily yield instant or even tangible results. It’s then when I learned that constraint forces creativity.
I searched for online destinations that served as a magnet for communities of potential customers. I soon found them in the form of forums, boards, and groups. However, I quickly realized that I was ill-prepared to engage…I was approaching the opportunity as a classical marketer and that’s the last thing the community was ready to embrace. It was then that I realized a series of epiphanies…first, I needed to become the person that I was trying to reach. Second, the only way to inspire and guide a community was to become the expert they sought to provide insight and direction.
It was then that I realized that the future of marketing was through unmarketing…the ability to introduce value, solutions, answers, to those connected customers who would then serve as the influencers and advocates for the greater market.
Chris Brogan consults and speaks professionally with Fortune 100 and 500 companies like PepsiCo, General Motors, Microsoft, and more, on the future of business communications, and social software technologies. He is a New York Times bestselling co-author of Trust Agents, and a featured monthly columnist at Entrepreneur Magazine. Chris’s blog, is in the Top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150. He has over 11 years experience in online community, social media, and related technologies.
I started my social media marketing company in October of 2008, but opened the doors to New Marketing Labs on January 2009. The idea was simple: help Fortune 100 (and eventually 500) companies learn how to execute social media presence, content marketing, and awareness efforts. We started with companies like Citrix Online, and then worked with all kinds of wonderful organizations like Molson/Coors, and The Henry Ford Museum, plus Pepsico, Sony Electronics USA, and more. What did we do? Mostly, we made content and tried to drive that towards sales.
Jennifer Stafford is the Social Media Manager at HomeAway.com, Inc. She oversees social media efforts for HomeAway globally and manages day to day activities on the social media accounts for HomeAway.com.
Prior to her current position she managed in-house SEO programs for VacationRentals.com, a HomeAway site, and GEICO. You can find her on Twitter @jennstafford.
After working in SEO for several years it became clear that there needed to be a better internal integration between SEO and social media, so after coming to HomeAway I started working with the PR team to determine the best way to get a social program up and running. Since the travel industry is inherently social, we knew that we needed to have a presence in the social space, so in 2008 I started creating Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for the US HomeAway brands. That gave us additional opportunities to engage with customers and distribute content that we produce, which helped several internal departments. Over the next year and a half, we grew our accounts by testing various content types to find those that had the best engagement, interacting with customers through those channels and testing social ads to drive fans. Since I was still working on SEO full time it was definitely a balancing act between SEO and trying to build our social channels.
In 2010 I was asked to coordinate the social media efforts for our first Super Bowl campaign which opened the door in terms of working on a project with lots of visibility in the company. The campaign was very successful from the social media standpoint and that eventually gave me the opportunity to transition from SEO over to PR in mid-2010 to start building our global social media program full time.
It’s been a great move for me since there is such a natural fit between SEO and social media. After working on a second Super Bowl this year, the company is continuing to gain visibility in the travel industry and I’m excited about where we’re going with our social program in the future.
I am a social media consultant, speaker and educator focused on helping business owners learn social media marketing and use social and digital marketing strategy for their communications efforts. My blog, SocialMediaExplorer.com, is typically rated among the top-20 marketing blogs in the world by AdvertisingAge.
In my role as a social media consultant, I have the privilege of serving medium- to large-size corporations as a strategist. And my learning community, ExploringSocialMedia.com, serves medium- and small-business people looking to learn social media marketing.
My start in social media marketing actually came almost a decade after my start in social media. I used blogging and social networking personally for nine years, fanning the flames of a fledgling fiction/non-fiction humor writing career … er hobby. When I transitioned out of college athletics publicity and communications and into a national advertising agency in the role of public relations account manager in 2006, I looked around and said, “Why aren’t we talking to our clients about social media, blogging and social networking?” No one knew what I was talking about and my career in social media marketing was born.
Lee Odden is CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and editor of TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog, rated a top social media blog by Social Media Examiner and leading marketing blog by Advertising Age. With over 13 years of online marketing experience in B2B marketing consulting for clients including McKesson, PRWeb, Marketo and StrongMail, Lee has been cited for his search and social media marketing expertise by numerous industry publications and books including Mashable, MarketingProfs, BtoB Magazine and Social Marketing to the Business Customer by Eric Schwartzman & Paul Gillin.
I consider blogging to be an important part of social media so I guess my start in social media marketing began with a blog late in 2003. In 2005 I began experimenting with social news and bookmarking services as a way to promote the blog and RSS feed, which was purely a promotional and link building effort. One of my staff created a social bookmarking tool for blogs in 2006 that made it easy for websites and blogs to add social sharing buttons and increase their own traffic. That tool attracted over 100,000 links giving us a nice boost in search visibility and a glimpse at the power of social sharing.
The impact of publishing content to Online Marketing Blog, commenting, social sharing/promotion and off-site social engagement made it pretty clear that social channels would continue to grow in importance. For marketing, it’s a simple formula: find a way to give publishers & influentials on the social web what they want in a way that rewards you with mentions, links, engagement and relevant traffic. For engagement, it’s about knowing customer information discovery, consumption and sharing preferences and behaving in the most relevant and meaningful way to reach mutual goals.
Experimentation and seeing results drive my social media participation and best practices learned first hand have been very powerful for sharing with companies that want similar outcomes. I’m currently active publishing content on TopRankBlog.com, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook as well as a number of other niche social sites. Process and tools make all that efficient so I still have plenty of time for other business responsibilities.
Mari Luangrath is currently growing her third entrepreneurial venture, Foiled Cupcakes, Chicago’s only online order and personal delivery cupcake company. Starting the gourmet business with her own capital and using social media marketing as her only form of advertising, Mari has proven her expertise in relationship building using online networks and word-of-mouth marketing.
A sought after international speaker and featured national mediaoutlets including the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine,Crain’s Chicago Business, Investors Business Daily, Business Week, theChicago Tribune, NBC, WGN, and several trade publications, Mari’sauthenticity and passion towards business strategy and networking hasresulted in an impressive client list, including Bank of America, theChicago Cubs, The Food Channel, Harpo Communications, NorthwesternUniversity, the Wrigley Company, and over a hundred Fortune 500companies.
Social media fell into our laps, quite honestly. We launched our business primarily using Twitter without knowing a single thing about it – all because our website had to be completely recoded, so we had nothing else to do. And by connecting with new people who found our story interesting, we haven’t had to use a single traditional marketing initiative yet. All of our business growth has happened organically via word of mouth referrals and online buzz. To date, 93 percent of our business has come from social media leads and we’ve surpassed our initial revenue target numbers by over 600 percent.
Marty’s online marketing experience dates to 1992, the dawn of the interactive era; however, his career has spanned more than three decades working in traditional and online marketing channels. Marty has been described as “not your typical agency type.” A “social media maverick” and “more innovator than follower.” aimClear has become internationally recognized for its work in demographic research, especially as pertains to search, Facebook, and LInkedIn.
Like many social media marketers I’ve met, my introduction to social media marketing was fanatical participation in early channels myself. Back in the day I obsessed with Newsgroups and IRC (Internet Relay Chat). I reached out to people all over the world, especially in academia, where the Internet germinated. My first social media research multivariate testing undertaken was probably Yahoo Personals in the early 90s’. I noticed that certain pictures, headlines and body copy seemed to resonate better with the ladies. I had long pretty hair. You know the rest. :)
In 1995 I was the Creative Director for a CBS affiliate television station, literally registered their domain, and built their first website. Because I had a broadcast TV station’s news audience to play with, there was a much larger sampling to work and test than most Internet marketers of the day. As a result we got feedback that was years ahead of it’s time, socially. Even back then it was pretty easy to incite engagement by inviting comments, chat, and other audience participation surrounding regional news. Having a larger audience was the key and I learned fast.
Looking back on those times, I was incredibly lucky to be a first generation community manager with thousands of engaged users. We dealt with all the same sorts of issues CMs handle today, ranging from gratuitous spammers, delighted and angry users. We were able to parlay early online “social media” adoption into mobilized news consumers, better ratings and advertising revenue that was actually noticeable. The experience was an awesome setup for the social media professional life that I’ve enjoyed now, for over 15 years.
Michael Brito is a Vice President at Edelman Digital where he leads the digital team in Silicon Valley. He is responsible for providing strategic counsel to Edelman’s top tech clients. He often writes in his social media blog and just finished writing his first social business book, “Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Social Media in the Organization”.
It started off in 2005/2006 when the term social media began to grow in prominence. I was working at Hewlett Packard at the time managing search marketing, both paid and natural. My manager knew that it was of interest to me since I just started writing in my personal blog. At the same time, there was also a mandate from senior management for marketing teams to figure out how to use social media to connect with customers. My job was to evangelize the value of social media to internal marketing and communications teams.
When I first got into the space, my intentions were to figure out how to use social media to acquire new customers and sell products. It wasn’t until a few years later that my attitude began to shift more towards community building and advocacy. While I understand that there has to be business value for engaging in this space, I realize that a keen focus on the social customer has more long term value than just one time transaction.
Muhammad Saleem is a social media marketer and a consultant who has worked for both Fortune 500 companies as well as startups. In his spare time he contributes to Mashable, Read/Write Web, Search Engine Land, CopyBlogger, ProBlogger, and other publications on the topic of social media.
Most recently, Muhammad was the Director of Social Media Strategy at Chicago Tribune and helped them start their own consulting arm (435 Digital) before leaving to return to the wonderful world of consulting. You can follow him on Twitter or join him on Facebook.
It was back in late 2005. I was home from college for the summer and I picked up the book “The Wisdom of Crowds” from my brother’s bookshelf. The book fascinated me and while I was trying to learn more about the concepts in the book I also accidentally stumbled onto Diggnation (the podcast for Digg.com) which had just launched. Through the podcast I was introduced to Digg (where the stories discussed on the podcast are selected from) and was instantly hooked because of the the huge (albeit accidental) overlap of concepts discussed in the book and executed on Digg.com.
After this initial exposure, I started to write about these social media concepts (such as collective intelligence) as I was learning about them myself. At this point not many people were writing extensively about social media so I managed to develop a pretty decent following (from a lot of people who have since then established really great brands of their own). My interest was purely academic (I was pursuing a degree in economics and was ready to join the banking sector post-graduation), and it wasn’t until Neil Patel started reading my blog and offered me a job at Advantage Consulting Services (ACS) and the managing editor role at Pronet Advertising that I started delving deeper into the commercial application of the concepts I had been exploring.
Pretty soon I was managing all the social media marketing responsibilities for ACS clients and learning a lot about the industry (both good and bad) in the process.
Scott Skurnick is the Executive Director of SEO and Social Media for Edmunds.com located in Santa Monica, California. Prior to working at Edmunds, Scott held various online marketing positions at Circuitcity.com and Officemax.com. He also spent nine years in Mexico City working in the Tequila Industry, where he got started in Internet marketing in 1995.
Follow Scott on Twitter at @sskurnick.
To be honest with you, there isn’t an exact moment I can pinpoint as my starting point in Social Media Marketing. I’ve been leading the SEO team at Edmunds.com for six years and the position seemed to naturally morph into a more social role. At first I was more interested in the potential for link acquisition, but I quickly realized the true power of Social Media — which is the ability to have a dialogue with users. At Edmunds.com, we’ve been communicating with our users online since 1997 when we introduced our Forums. We later launched our “Answers” product in 2007 and haven’t looked back. While we use the term “Social Media” because that is what the industry calls it, we prefer to just say that we interact with our audience. The delivery mechanism may have changed over the years with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc., but at the end of the day the message is still the same.
I’m very fortunate to work for a company whose product is inherently social. People love to talk about cars and enthusiasts can never get enough. Buying a car is one of the largest investments a person makes, so people will absorb as much information as you can give them. Twitter and Facebook are great channels for our brands because people love to reach out to friends, family and experts when it comes to their cars. We love hearing from our users and we make sure to answer every inquiry that comes in. Another great thing about running Social Media at Edmunds is the fact that it isn’t an experiment. We view Social Media as a viable means to help promote our brands and interact with our readers and we are making the necessary investments to have long term success. Connect with us at: @edmunds & @insideline_com
Selena Narayanasamy currently handles all social media outreach strategy and production for client campaigns with BlueGlass Interactive. Her professional journey started with Search & Social as a social media and SEO analyst, as well as a contributor to Search Engine Journal; an AdAge top 10 search blog. She soon moved to Director of Social Media Outreach when Search & Social merged with others into BlueGlass, working closely with all other divisions of the company. She is experienced in multiple areas of Internet Marketing. You can follow her on Twitter.
I got started in social media marketing accidentally, but on purpose. I was practically born with a computer in the womb so I’ve essentially grown with the internet since the very beginning. Remember the Tandy? Yep, so do I. Procomm Plus, DOS… I grew up with all these old school things. Writing has always been a passion of mine- starting with writing children’s stories from younger than 8, to journals, to online diaries (remember Live Journal and Open Diary?) to keeping grounded while moving to Belgium for my dad’s job. Writing was always there. Eventually I moved to blogging with the WordPress platform.
I have a strong love of technology. As such, I was always an early adopter to social networks and various platforms. While in college (7+ years ago), my night time hobby became blogging (evolving from the Live Journal and Open Diary days). It was my outlet for all things geeky since I’ve always loved to write. I slowly built an audience, was working with and learning various social media platforms, and learning basic SEO in my own time to help my blog gain visibility. I was slowly becoming obsessed with tracking my analytics and seeing what platforms were sending the most traffic that I was sharing my links on as well as the demographics and other stats. I was studying how brands and individuals were utilizing social media and following trends. I continued doing this on the side; offering copywriting & consulting services while finishing college.
After a grueling job hunt resulting in a Financial Advisor training job with no pay 1.5 hours away that I hated, I decided to chase my passion- social media, blogging and SEO. I found Search & Social and bugged Loren Baker for a job as an SEO and social media analyst. That was it. I WAS HOOKED. The analytical and creative side of me that was begging to work in symbiosis got its chance. I really dove into the social media marketing world and was in an environment that moved swiftly and kept me on my toes. That, along with SEO, really hit that analytical and creative note with me. And that is how I accidentally, yet somewhat purposefully, got started in Social Media Marketing.
Tamar Weinberg is a social media strategist specializing in high level strategy, blogger outreach, viral video marketing, and general Internet Marketing. She is also the author of The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web (O’Reilly), a primer to social media marketing. Additionally, Tamar is Mashable’s Community Support and Advertising Manager.She blogs about her thoughts on social media at her personal blog, Techipedia.
I’ve been involved in social media since 1992. Back then, I was engaging regularly in online communities before most people even realized that it was even possible. I knew back then that I wanted to do something in computers, but I just didn’t know what it would be just yet. I dabbled in different types of computer-related disciplines: computer programming, even majoring in Computer Science in college; system administration; and technical support.
The “getting started in social media” question is a funny one because it has its roots in 10e20, the company that is now part of BlueGlass. I was hired back in the day as the company’s “Web Host and Technical Support Administrator.” Around that time, social media marketing was just being born. Given my experience in the social media space, it was a natural progression to start working on social media marketing campaigns.
Today, my role has evolved as the industry has evolved, and my focus is strategy and execution to everything in between. I’ve been concentrating on community management, video marketing, content creation and promotion, training, and anything else that a brand needs to be social on the web.
How did you get started in Social Media Marketing? Please feel free to share your stories in the comments below, I would LOVE to hear them all!
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