Confessions from Social Steve – How Social Media Made Me Social

Jumbo shrimp. Social Steve. Oxymorons? There was a time when both were, but I have evolved. Shrimp have not yet. Yes, I was not always so social.

I have been in marketing for the past twenty years or so. I started to get involved in social media almost three years ago – first on a start up venture I was working on, then as a consultant, and now the Director of Social Media at Hachette Filipacchi Media. When I set up my Twitter account, I decided I needed something catchy so that people might remember me. This was the start of my brand, “Social Steve.”

So interesting enough, I am considered an experienced and creative marketing executive, but “social” – not necessarily one of my strongest points. Don’t get me wrong – I am not a reclusive hermit or anything like that. It is just that I have never been a good at starting a conversation.

So I launched a Twitter account (and other social media accounts) under the pseudo-name of Social Steve. My wife thought I was crazy. (She knows me best.) Over time, I helped a number of companies increase their awareness and leads as a social media consultant. I run a blog and use other social channels to educate and coach on social media’s best practices, and now, lead all social media efforts at Hachette Filipacchi Media (Elle, Car and Driver, Woman’s Day, Cycle World, Elle Decor, Road and Track).

While many have benefitted from my participation in social media channels, I am probably the one who has benefitted the most. Simple reason – I have met many inspiring people and built relationships and socialized with so many. The emergence of “Social Steve” has made me social.

Social media channels provide the icebreaker. Instead of talking about the weather, there is an immediate connection and discussion of relevant topics and information of mutual interest. Yeah, you can also have small talk. I love talking about music, my team the Flyers, and my kids. Small talk brings out your personality. And of course, there is also conversation of matters of importance.

What social media has done for me is that it has allowed introductions to happen that were previously uncomfortable for me. I have started relationships with some people in various social media outlets and then met them at events and meetings. Our connection and rapport is much stronger having had a number of exchanges prior to actually meeting face to face.

I guess it is safe to say that going by the name (or brand) of Social Steve has been a self-fulfilling prophecy. In fact now that I am known as Social Steve, I am outwardly more social.

So why so much space on a confessional here? Think about it … if one person can generate awareness, connect with people, build relationships, and establish a brand, what can a company accomplish with their resources? I started out as a sole proprietor looking to launch a new social network monetization company and evolved to a social media consultant and now leading social media at a great company. I evolved by connecting with people. They helped me along the way and I learned tons to get where I am. One person. That’s all. Are you really going to tell me that a company cannot accomplish something bigger?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

13 Comments

Filed under social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

13 responses to “Confessions from Social Steve – How Social Media Made Me Social

  1. Baker E.

    Steve… Haven’t spoken in a while, but this is a great post. You’ve never been a ‘shrinking violet,’ but I can see (albeit electronically since your move from the area) the transformation. Great work..!

  2. I’ve often wondered how many people who dabble under the moniker of “Social Media Manager” are really INFPs on the Myers Briggs Chart.

    Under that assumption, a fair number of those “Social Steves” might be getting their energy from being Introvertive (I), Intuitive (N), Feeling (F) and Perceptive (P).

    At first glance, it seems like a Social Media practitioner would have to be the opposite of this, and certainly more of an “extrovertive” (E) person.

    But consider the advantages of the Social Media world to an INFP –

    1. The INFP Social Media Manager can not only connect in ways that their personalities wouldn’t normally allow, but can withdraw from that connection at will. The ability to make a quick posting, an anonymous comment, and to engage by choice with those like-minded individuals who happen to wander into the Manager’s corral = More Control, Less Energy Drain.

    2. The Social Media Manager can experience the positive “Feeling” (F) of contributing to the overall human experience, along with the added benefit of being perceived as an expert in his field. Some F’s find it challenging to be seen as experts or leaders in situations where their “Thinking” (T) opposites tend to dominate, especially in the corporate world. T’s instinctively search for facts and logic, and are very task-driven. F’s, on the other hand, are more likely to employ personal feelings, and are likely to seek consensus. How refreshing it must feel for an F to use Social Media to engage with many others in a “safe” way, to become a voice of authority and to still be the consensus-builder within a segment of the population.

    3. Social Media is the vehicle through which an INFP can finally be “heard.” If we assume that we’re all equal online, this is the place where INFPs may have a slight edge over ESTJ’s, because they may be more attuned to the importance of building communities and facilitating conversations, perhaps not encouraging consensus but certainly paving the way for “all” to contribute. On the other hand, the more aggressive and driven ESTJ’s may be more opinionated and forceful in their Social contributions. Their personalities may attract a significant following of those who are equally fact-based, but over time, they may tend to dominate chatrooms or overwhelm with their Tweets, ultimately driving away certain followers or fans that are looking for Social communities rather than instructors or preachers.

    Of course, Steve, everything is up for debate, especially when it comes to Myers Briggs testing, and the INFP Social Media Manager personality is just one man’s hypothesis.

    I’d be very interested to hear from yourself and others about all of this.

    Is the Social Media Manager more likely to be an INFP, an ESTJ, or one of the 14 or so other Myers Briggs personalities?

    • I think what you’ll find is that social works well for all types of “Myers Briggs personalities” and all types use it.

      Couple items for thought:
      1) I do not think that social media should be used anonymously (few exceptions). If you cannot say something outward as you, I am not sure you can be viewed as a subject matter expert.
      2) I don’t agree with the statement “How refreshing it must feel for an F to use Social Media to engage with many others in a “safe” way, to become a voice of authority …” – You cannot be an “authority” without substance as I discussed in my previous article “Hey Brands – Got Substance? If Not You Got the Other BS!” at http://bit.ly/cY3Qka.

      Otherwise, very provocative comments and worthy of much thought. Thanks for contributing!

      Best,
      Social Steve

      • From the business viewpoint, I couldn’t agree with you more.

        It is difficult for anyone to position themselves as an SME if they aren’t sharing an honest synthesis of facts and original thought that makes their viewpoints worth reading in the first place.

        Anything short of that simply means that they’re serving as a reporter-of-facts. Lots of Social Media participants seem to be riding that train right now, no doubt for the primary purpose of link-building and SEO.

        But if you’re simply forwarding along Tiny URL articles that have been conceived and written by someone else – an actual “thinker” if you will – then that doesn’t make you an SME, does it? It simply makes you a reporter.

        It’s when you add your own thoughts, opinions and analysis to those articles that you begin to wear the mantle of SME yourself.

        I find that anonymous contributors usually fall into one of two camps –

        1. Those that post anonymously because they don’t have true conviction when it comes to their opinions, and are unsure if they’re “right or wrong” about a particular subject.

        2. Those that post anonymously because they are simply trying to stir things up a bit – the flamers, the antagonists, the challengers, the lurkers. I see a lot of these “hit and run” comments, as I’m sure you do.

        As far as my comments above on INFPs, I’m not suggesting that the majority of these folks are commenting anonymously by virtue of their particular Myers Briggs type. In such cases, I would agree with you – it wouldn’t serve them well to be disingenuous if their intent is to become a “voice of authority” or an SME.

        I’m simply saying that, as an INFP, their personalities may feel more energized when they’re sitting behind a keyboard, posting online in their own voices, becoming a significant contributor in their own social communities, and generally being “heard” by those who otherwise might overlook them.

        I think that the term “Social Media,” as evidenced by your own post this morning, is a misnomer of sorts. It doesn’t necessarily mean that active users, commenters and dabblers are “social” per se. But it does suggest that INFPs may become more social simply because they feel more protected, better understood and less drained when using Social Media tools.

        As far as your comment that “social works well for all types” – I completely agree.

        I just wonder if it works better for some types than others, and whether the use of it can effect change in those that might otherwise be less inclined to get actively involved in conversations.

        Just because a business person might not choose to remain anonymous online doesn’t mean that readers actually know the heart, soul and mind of that person any better than they would if a mask was being worn.

        But there’s no question that being as HONEST as we can be online is the way to facilitate the growth of true business communities, connections and communications.

        Otherwise, what’s the point? We may as well spend every waking hour on Second Life. 😉

  3. Marilyn Casey

    Social extroverts do not necessarily hang tight with social media, since they have ‘real’ rather than virtual friends. That said, I find social media helps me converse with many people of many cultures in many countries. And that, my friends, rocks!
    — Marilyn Casey, APR
    Marketing, PR and Social Media Maven

  4. You really are right here, I too have felt that social media has transformed the way I interact with people, also built relationship that otherwise would surely not have been possible, or at least not to the same extent. And the part about SM being an ice-breaker, man, have I experienced that!🙂
    Thanks for a great post!

  5. I am a ISTJ today. I have gotten different results on personality tests in the past. Although, not drastically different. A letter here and there might change because from time to time I change my mind about things. But, one of the things that I know will never change is how much “social media” has changed me!!!

    I just can not walk up to strangers and say hello or mingle at a party. I never have been able to initiate a dialogue. Then came twitter and holy moly — I can talk to everyone and anyone!! The truth is, I don’t know why it is so easy for me to tweet. Maybe it is the 140 character limit or the fact that so many people talk back to me??? I really don’t know, but I can tweet and tweet and tweet. After my realization that I loved social media (because of twitter) I then got up the nerve to blog, chat on facebook, call people on the phone and I have even been to a few tweet-ups.

    Social media really has changed my life. I have witnessed how it has changed the way my clients do business and I have watched as my entire field has transformed. I didn’t know at the time, but now I know that I was one of the first people to use social media for investor relations and I have to admit that I really was the leader of the pack.

    Great post – Social Steve!!!

    • T.S.

      Responses like this make my day. Not because I hear agreement from you, but liiterally to hear how social media has changed people for the best.

      THANKS FOR SHARING!

      Best,
      Social Steve

  6. Kay B. Meyer

    Yes!!! As a coach/therapist for people with stuttering, speech anxiety, and other inherent communication problems, I have laid out small steps for change for people struggling to get their story out. Now, new steps are there for my quiet people to get past the anxiety of the first meeting, get to their message to the proper audience. And these new electronic steps are FAST!!! I can get my clients out the door and on their way, because they are doing the work between sessions by making c0nnections and followup meetings.

  7. I like the notion of your transformation and growth. Social Media requires a bit of effort to:
    -put yourself out there to meet people
    -find and retain their information to add value (to them and to you)
    -engage in ways that are meaningful to them.

    Automated PR relays are fine for indicating a steady stream around your core areas of interest, but your individual personality and passion adds depth and value to the conversation.

    Being “Social” takes self-confidence in your own knowledge, skills, and opinions. It’s a dedicated and ongoing choice to make, “I’m willing to engage with other people and share ideas. I’m willing to be open to controversy and conversation.”

  8. Kathleen DeCosmo

    Steve

    I loved this post. I have had wonderful experiences and have forged new friendships on various social media sites especially Twitter. Some relationships have resulted in personally meeting my new friends in scheduled tweetups such as Tweet-up In New York http://winsloweliot.com/2010/05/tweet-up-in-new-york/ . I have found interesting, loving, real people and truly enjoy meeting people.

    I am happy that the name Social Steve has done well for you!!

    Warmest Regards,
    Kathleen Decosmo

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