@markwshaefer) over Skype. Schaefer, who was recently named by Forbes to a list of the top 50 social media influencers and named by Tweetsmarter as Twitter user of the year for 2011, is a successful marketing consultant, professor and author. For my class we read his book, the Tao of Twitter, and then got to ask him questions about how to make the most of the Internet, and get our foot in the door in social media.
The main thing I took away from talking with Schaefer is the importance of having substantial content that supports the online persona you build for yourself. It is one thing to just be active on Twitter and networking, but if you don't have content to support what you claim to stand for, you aren't going to reach a significant level of interaction. He said people that really have the power on the Internet are the ones that have content that they are creating and moving through the system, which I feel like I've definitely witnessed in the science writing community on Twitter. The core of my Twitter experience thus far has been reading blogs, and sharing links to interesting blog posts written by others.
Another thing Schaefer shared that I found interesting was that there is value in blogging even if you don't have a high number of followers (that you know about at least, because as I've said over and over again I don't know where the hits on this blog come from). I am winding down my time here at UW, and am starting to look for a job. I thought he really made a great point when he said that a good blog can be a great selling point in an interview, and can make an interview last much longer so a potential employer gets a better sense of your skills and ability. He said that even if you don't have many people reading your blog, you can still show a potential employer or colleagues what you can do, what you can write, how you think, and what you are passionate about. I knew that employers would see my blog, but I hadn't really considered what a great opportunity (or shortcoming, depending on how you see it) the blog could be.
A few other tips I took away from Shaefer include:
- You have to figure out what you offer, then you can figure out how best to try to communicate and network online.
- Show your whole social media footprint in one place, link to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn so employers can easily see what you do.
- Twitter is a global experience so you should be culturally sensitive, and remember that even on an individual level customers may consume social media in different ways.
- Find your own originality and your own voice, don't try to just mimic what you see other people doing online.
- Show critical interest in things that are important to you, be a part of something you actually care about.
- Commenting on other people's blogs is one of the best ways to get involved in a community online.
- The best Twitter profiles will tell what a person wants to gain. You have to put up what you are after so that people can offer genuine helpfulness (I already made this change!)
- Personal connections turn into business connections, so including some personal tweets can be seriously useful.