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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Terry Starbucker on Bridging New & Old: Social Media Series

Terry StarbuckerThis week's guest for Flooring The Consumer's social media series: Bridging New & Old is Terry Starbucker.

Terry Starbucker, author of Ramblings from A Glass Half Full, redefines the notion of 'glass half full' and of seeing the positive in every situation. He refers to it as “Half-Fullism” or 'realistic optimism' and is it ever engaging, inspiring and liberating. Take a recent post titled Supertramp Talks Social Media - 30 Years Before It Exists. It stopped me in my tracks and had me re-appreciating songs, lyrics and bands that I hadn't thought of in a long time. He does the same with subjects like The Secret(s) of Work, Personal Development and Leadership.

Talk about finding connections that most neither notice nor celebrate and bridging from the tried and true to create new meaning and possibilities.

Terry also contributes Half-Fullism to Joyful Jubilant Learning.

And, then, there's this marvelous event that he and Successful and Outstanding Blogger Liz Strauss imagined - SOBCon - and made happen three times. The next one, SOBCon 2010, takes place April 30 through May 2, 2010 and you can register for it now. Here's Liz's account of her first conversation with Terry.

Ever since taking part in the Starbucker Meme, I've developed a strong visual reminder for dealing "with the literal world in a positive way": my glass is definitely full. I love Terry's practical positivism for what social media enables and that Terry is a fellow WFUV enthusiast.

C.B.: Terry, How/why did you get involved in social media?

Terry: It was really by accident, CB – back in 2005 I had heard about this “blogging thing” from a friend and as a lark set up a blog of my own on Blogger. A few months later I started to see the huge potential of the medium and spent a lot of time on other blogs – and then I left my first comment on Liz Strauss’ site, Successful Blog. We quickly struck up a friendship and a year later my biggest Social Media activity, our annual SOBCon conference in Chicago, was born. That event allowed me to learn even more from the best practitioners, and meet many, many great people (and eventually led me to you!). I’m now quite immersed in Social Media primarily through my blog and my Twitter account [@Starbucker].

C.B.: What do you like most about social media?

Terry: The people like yourself that I’ve met and become friends with – these are folks I never would have known if it wasn’t for Social Media. It’s really just an advanced form of communication that shrinks our world tremendously. It opens up so many possibilities – and I’m living proof that your life can change (for the good, of course).

C.B.: What do you like least about social media?

Terry: The use of it for a “quick buck” –particularly the spammers. They are not there to read my blog or laugh at my Tweets – they want my money. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not at all against using Social Media to aid in selling or promoting a business. Just get to know me first – why else do they call it “social”?

C.B.: How has social media changed how you interact with the marketplace as a consumer or customer?

Terry: This is funny, CB - I am quite the conspicuous consumer, but I have yet to really interact with a service or product provider using Social Media. I guess I’m from the old school of actually talking to a human. At the same time, I know that interacting virtually also has its advantages, since I see it every day as an active SM user, and the company I work for just set up a Twitter account. I surmise it’s really hard to change old habits, since I’ve been a consumer much longer than I’ve been a blogger. Much longer. :)

C.B.: Terry, what 5 suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users?

1. Get the analog part of the business right first – that is, all human interaction must be optimized so Social Media doesn’t become a battlefield.

2. Put on your Social Media training wheels and learn how to communicate on the medium before you try to use it as a way to improve your business.

3. Check to see how many of your customers are actually using Social Media- you could be jumping into an empty pool.

4. Make sure you know how to handle “negative” – are you ready to absorb and respond to essentially public critique?

5. When you do actively use Social Media, speak like a human, and put on a human face – logos and “corporate speak” don’t cut it out there.

C.B.: Any other thoughts to share about the effectiveness of social media in forging stronger relations with customers and how best to do so.

Terry: Go make some friends out there, by being honest, open, and helpful. Don’t be afraid to cultivate evangelists by inviting them under the tent. Those friends and evangelists will pay you great dividends down the road.

Thank you, Terry!

Comments? Questions? Feedback?

What are your reactions to these suggestions:
+ have you optimized your human interactions
+ are you ready to experiment with social media before using it for business?
+ have you thought through worse case scenarios and developed policies?
+ are you comfortable getting away from 'corporate speak'?

For additional insights from other participants in the Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old, please visit The Entire Bridging New & Old series, which includes a link to the e-book based on the first 26 interviews in the series.

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Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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