It’s All About Influence

"Candygram for Mongo"

Anybody remember “The Five Americans?” They released “Western Union” back in 1967. It contains the most repetitive word or phrase in a Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 record (“dit”). Anyway, I mention that to note that how we send immediate messages has really changed. From 1851 to 2007, you could send a wire (you kids will have to look that up). Telephones had dials and cords.  Facsimile machines were big deal machines that only some companies had.

Sky Diver

I was at a seminar today, listening to a guy who made a boatload of money using social media talk about using social media in business settings. Peter Shankman started with AOL long enough ago to get the “peter@aol.com” address for his email. He’s running a site out now to help journalists. Help A Reporter Out (HARO) lets people set themselves up as sources for reporters trying to find people for different types of stories. It’s not a bad idea, but I think it lets reporters avoid one of the main points of the job. The legwork of finding someone to talk about a story is what makes a real journalist.

The Memphis PRSA brought Shankman to town for a presentation “At the Speed of Send: Taming the Power of Social Media…” Shankman discussed the importance of understanding how to utilize the many aspects of social media. And then elaborated on the benefits of using social networking and viral marketing correctly, as well as the dangers of using it improperly. The first thing he did was make a reference to another social media presentation that took place in Memphis back in January.

The "Key Influencer"

Key Influecer

At the time, James Andrews worked for the Ketchum advertising agency and came to town to talk to the communications department of my former employer. His Twitter name is “key influencer,” supposedly because of his ability to promote things and events online. It came out while he was talking to the group of communicators on the value of tools like Twitter, that he had posted a tweet that some people thought was more than a little disparaging about Memphis. Andrews’ unfortunate Twitter post led him to apologize in a fashion. At the time, Shankman was quoted in a the reaction piece on Advertising Age’s site about the riskiness of not being careful about what you type. One of the points that Shankman made today was if someone calls himself a “key influencer,” he’s not one. Ouch.

Andrews isn’t with his former agency anymore, having gone into business for himself. My former employer is still trying to improve its social media approach. There’s a major fascination among some with things like Twitter, the top word of the year, but no one from there was at today’s event. Hmmm.

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About Doug Johnson

I spent 25 years in the news business, working in print, radio and television. After a steady rise to the middle, I made the leap to the private sector, which chewed and then tried spitting me out after 2 years. I zigged (instead of zagging) into a position in television production.
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