Paul Chaney, known to many as “The Social Media Handyman,” is an Internet marketing consultant, popular speaker, trainer and author of The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media, published by Wiley.
Paul provides Internet marketing and social media consulting services to small and medium businesses, agencies and non-profit organizations. His expertise lies in effectively combining the conversational marketing aspects of social media with conversion mechanisms that are fully aligned with business objectives. His “Social Media That Sells!” system is one every small business should use.
Paul is a sought after speaker on the topic of social media marketing. Since 2005, he has led numerous business blogging and social media workshops, including the first ever such seminar to be held in Asia. Paul is a Technical Editor for Pearson and Wiley publishing and has worked on most of the For Dummies series books related to blogs and Internet marketing that have been written. This is my interview below:
1) Paul, please tell us briefly about yourself and how you got started in this industry and moreover, your forte’ into social media.
My involvement with the internet from a marketing standpoint spans 15 years, from 1996 to now. I began by doing web design part-time, then became the webmaster for a non-profit organization for several years. That’s where I really cut my teeth on new technologies – blogs, RSS, email marketing, etc. We used the Internet for fund-raising and online advocacy. Following that I started an Internet marketing consultancy, helped found a business blogging start-up, wrote two books on blogging and social media, and have been back out on my own for a year with Internet marketing consulting version 2.0.
My first intersection with what we now refer to as social media revolved around blogging. In 2004-2005, we did not have Facebook, Twitter and all the other cool tools we use everyday. Blogging was just about all their was and I focused my efforts on teaching organizations about how to use blogs for business. That’s when the first book, Realty Blogging, came about. It was written targeting the real estate industry and I’d like to think proved to be a major influence on getting Realtors to blog. I’ve been told as much.
While my head was deeply buried in business blogging, social media came along and almost passed me by. Fearing I would become archaic I made a diligent attempt to learn how to use social media for marketing and have been focused on that for several years now.
2) You are referred to as the the “Social Media Handyman” – how did this name come to be?
It came when MarketProfs Chief Content Officer, Ann Handley, emailed me and said she needed a “handyman” to assist her with building her blog, Annarchy. The term “social media handyman” surfaced somewhere in there and it stuck. I’m very tactical in my orientation and put a great deal of emphasis on using the tools of social media. Plus, I’m a rather “blue collar” kind of guy, so it fits.
3) You also have authored a new book, “The Digital Handshake” – can you tell us a bit about it and where our readers may be able to find it should they be interested in purchasing it?
It’s not exactly new, though I’m not opposed to anyone thinking so. It was published in September 2009. It’s a comprehensive overview of how to use social media for marketing. It starts with me outlining five problems that mandate the use of social media, followed by principles that underlie its use. That’s the first section of the book and it takes a more strategic look. The main section of the book deals with seven tools that have come into common use – blogs, social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, proprietary online communities, microblogs, online video, podcasting, and social news releases. The last section of the book puts it all together and helps readers formulate a workable plan of action. The book is targeted toward small business, but has relevance for just about any business no matter the size.
4) What are the top 3 factors that you feel contribute to your success?
I believe in the power of social media to change lives. I practice what i preach. I put things in a language laypeople can understand.
5) How important is it to you to communicate with your audience? Is there a particular message you are wanting to convey?
It’s vitally important. The particular message is: The most important thing about social media is people. I see so many marketers try to boil social media down to its effect on ROI. They’re counting the seeds in an apple. I try to count the apples in a seed. By that I mean, you never know the influence one person can have. Short neck, long tail, magic middle…everyone has a voice and everyone has some degree of influence. Tap into the power of influence marketing and you can make a difference. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust and there is no better tool to build trust than social media as long as we approach its use with authenticity, honesty, integrity and transparency.
6) Talk to us specifically about your experience and frustrations in dealing with people in the industry. Do many just not grasp the concept of Social Media and how best to use it to their advantage?
Truthfully, there are any number of people who know how to leverage this medium much better than myself. At the same time, I see people trying to put “old wine into new wineskins.” They think of social media as just another marketing ploy and don’t realize that it requires a personal investment in people. Direct marketing tactics and social media don’t play well together. Social media is not the fast road, but it is the high road. And what did we learn from the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady wins the race. Social media is not a quick ascent to the precipice, but a slow and steady climb.
7) Who has been your motivation or inspiration, in other words, who is your driving force?
Many people, but the short list includes Seth Godin and Toby Bloomberg, a colleague in Atlanta. Toby and I first connected in 2004. In fact, she was the first business blogger I met in person. We’ve been joined at the hip ever since. When I grow up, I want to be like Toby. She “gets” it!
8) What do you think is the impact of the “new” media on today’s generation? Are they leveraging it effectively and more importantly – are they leveraging it for the betterment of our industry?
Are you speaking of Gen Y? I’m not an expert in the folkways and mores of that generation. Frankly, my audience tends to be older people – Boomers – who, like me, aren’t digital natives. However, I find that social media transcends boundaries, including age, gender, nationality, religion and so much more. It is a real leveler in terms of building bridges across culture.
9) What are some effective tools and products that help you keep your life organized?
In terms of daily social media engagement, I use WordPress for content creation, a little tool called dlvr.it for content syndication and Hootsuite and Sprout Social for real-time conversation and content creation. I especially like Sprout Social as a management tool. On my mobile, I use Hootsuite for tweeting, the Facebook app and LinkedIn’s app.
10) If you had a money tree in your back yard and could purchase anything for your business tomorrow, what would it be?
Why, in fact I do have a money tree. How did you know? The problem is, it’s out of season right now!
In truth, the only thing I really need is the Mac version of Adobe’s Creative Suite for use in building custom Facebook fan pages. That’s the beauty of social media, so many of the tools are either free or low-cost. Sprout Social, for example, costs me $9.00 per month and is worth so much more.
11) Any words of wisdom for my readers looking to get into this space?
Social media is not a one-night stand, but a life-long relationship. Put the emphasis on building quality relationships with people (something that takes time), letting them get to know you and your business in a “behind the scenes” sort of way, and you will find great value from its use, both tangibly and intangibly.
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