Wayne Sutton is a social media professional with a huge passion for both people and technology. He is also a top 100 Twitter user, a podcaster, technology trainer, blogger and a speaker on the national conference circuit (including SXSW).
Tell us a little bit about your current work?
“I’m a social media strategy and technology evangelist. I help companies bring their business online, grow their brand and use social media as a customer support application — finding the right tools they can use to grow their business.
I’ve launched a new blog called SocialWayne. A lot of blogs talk about social media, but I want to talk about how to actually use the tools. I’ve got WayneSutton.TV where I have a worldwide internet television show.. interviewing people and exploring the industry. Also, TweetShops, or Twitter workshops for everyday people. Everyone is talking about Twitter… I say, if they don’t ruin it with their business model, give it 3 months and there’s gonna be a mainstream Twitter explosion.”
Social media gives us literally thousands of new ways to connect. How is this interconnectedness gonna change the game?
‘Social media is about two things: relationships and conversations. New media just gives us the tools to build these relationships and have these conversations at a whole new level… a world-wide level. For businesspeople, this is an important way to communicate with associates. And it’s a way to get people to talk about your business over the internet!
Especially in the media and news industry – which are really hurting for sales right now – (some) are using social media to re-strategize their business model. And to find new ways to communicate with their community that they never had before. A lot of people in the news industry think ‘Broadcast! Broadcast! Broadcast!‘ Well, now, it’s about the conversation and the community. So you build this community, you have this conversation online and then you broadcast that… and this builds your relationship, with trust, and you bring back your audience when you have your next show or broadcast.
(Social media) can have a good return on investment. Dell has made over $1,000,000 in revenue using Twitter. They reached out and listened to what people were saying on Twitter about their brand and their product, and they pitched sales on Twitter, as well. You don’t have to be Dell… you could be a local computer shop in Raleigh, North Carolina. I can post updates about my life, business and sales.. listen to what people are saying about certain keywords and trends… and then easily reach out to those people because they are potential clients and customers of mine. That’s just one example of how social media tools can help businesses…”
You have over 11,000 followers on Twitter. What’s your secret to winning friends and influencing people?
“I was an early adopter: #847 to sign up for Twitter. That was a big advantage. I used to be featured on the Twitter homepage when it first got started.
At first, I used to tweet a whole lot. I asked, ‘What would happen if I were to post 100 Tweets a day?‘ A couple people wrote back and said they’d unfollow me – but the exact opposite happened. The community was so techy, so early and so new… I got a good start. Other people signed up and they’d see my profile and follow me. Soon, I started listening to other people, listening to the conversation… sharing information and building relationships. Twitter is the site for building relationships. I shared information about my life, my marriage, about my favorite team (UNC), about clients and my favorite shows…
“I looooove NASCAR, go-karts and going fast!” says (Lil) Wayne.
But because Twitter was an early tech community, I posted a lot of information about technology. I was always a heavy technology person, ya know… I was blogging before it was called “social media”.. podcasting before YouTube got big. So I became a resource to some people. Some people would tweet ‘Wayne’s a great person to follow if you wanna learn about X or Y…’ And as the technology community grew, then my following grew
Now that I have 11,000 (followers), I have to change my structure. I did a poll recently… and most people want to learn about blogging, WordPress and getting Twitter followers. So, I listen and try to provide the type of information that they want.”
What’s the most challenging part of having so many connections?
“The first word that comes to my mind is: expectations. Professionally, I help people establish a personal branding line, and I’ve done that for myself, also. But, by building my personal brand… I’ve been put into categories with famous people like Chris Brogan or Problogger – and I just don’t think I’m in the same category with those guys. I have a long way to go. But there’s still expectations.
I get between 50 to 100 direct messages a day. Some are from people that everybody knows, others are people I’ve never heard of in my life. A lot of conversation happens behind the scenes. I try my best to respond back…
People are like, ‘Oh, you’re an internet celebrity!’ and I’m like, ‘Nah… I’m just a guy who tweets a lot.’ A friend recently made a really good point: if Twitter goes down, how am I gonna stay in contact with all my followers? I just launched a new blog (without all my followers there yet) – so that’s a big challenge! I want the people who follow me on Twitter to read my blog and have the same type of relationship with them. And that’s a challenge.”
What part of the social media lifestyle do you hate the most?
“One of the hardest things is the time. There are moments where I just want to step away. I think about ‘Why am I doing this?,’ and ‘What is this all for?’
Maintaining a social media presence takes lots of time. image: Håkan Dahlström
Not from a business standpoint – I do this because it’s my job… but there are times, on a personal level… where you wonder ‘Is all this really worth it?’ and ‘Where is the retirement in social media?‘
When you think of it in terms of ‘time investment‘ vs. ‘What am I getting out of it?‘ – it can be challenging. Because it takes time. Unless you’re Shaquille O’Neal… who just comes on Twitter and gets 27,000 instant followers. If he wrote a blog post right now, he could easily get 10,000 to 15,000 people to read it.”
What are the biggest etiquette mistakes you see people making on social media?
“On Twitter, I think people try to follow too much and post too much content.. without actually listening to what other people are saying… and without thinking about what their target audience wants. Basically, not engaging in the conversation.
Also people don’t spend enough time setting up their profile, not making it easy for people to know who you are and what you do. It goes back to relationships. There’s so much content online right now… you have to make it easy for people to remember you.
Social media takes real work. A half-baked effort is likely to fail.
Look at what Barack Obama did using social media: he raised a half billion dollars. But the thing is, unless you’re a strong, worldwide brand with lots and lots of money… or a famous celebrity… it’s gonna take work. So just putting something up, posting a few tweets… putting up a Facebook fan page and join MySpace… if you think you can do 1, 2 or 3 things and it’ll all work – you’re setting yourself up to fail. It’s gonna take time to build an effective social media campaign, there’s no simple strategy – it’s gonna take trial and error. And lots of research and listening.”
Which social media producers / publishers / thought leaders do you admire the most? Who is worth paying attention to?
“I could almost break it down into categories. In social media, you’ve got Jason Keath, Chris Brogan and Jeremiah Owyang. In blogging, I’ve got passion for what Pete Cashmore and the Mashable guys are doing. Also Kip Bodnar (on twitter) he’s a really smart guy who I think doesn’t get enough credit for his contribution to the social media world.
I look up to Gary Vaynerchuck of WineLibrary.tv. Also 1938 Media: I’m a fan of his work and his passion to continue with success. I’ve done some video with Robert Scoble and I’m a fan of his work as well. Also Loic from Seesmic.
There’s some up and coming local folks like Jason Keath (jakrose on Twitter), who I mentioned before. I met him at a Wordcamp in Charlotte and we had a great social media conversation last Friday… I think he has potential to become the next Chris Brogan. And Justin Ruckman – I think he’s gonna be the next rockstar designer that the world is gonna know about. I think he recently did some business cards for Guy Kawasaki.
MC Hammer rapping at the San Francisco Digg meetup.
I just spoke with MC Hammer on a podcast with TalkSocialNews.com — and I literally was blown away. Not saying that I didn’t expect him to be techy, ‘cuz I knew he was a smart guy. Look at what he’s accomplished in his life – and despite his bankruptcy, he’s still standing. But I didn’t know he was a super geek. His passion for technology and the music industry blew me away!
What point of success will you think “I’ve really made it big time!”
“Wow!… When I’m on the stage, on a panel.. with GaryVee, Michael Arrington and Jeremiah Owyang… talking about online technology… and I’m either pitching my company or talking about something I’ve done online… or I’m up there because of my experience… at that point, I know I’ll have made it.
Either that, or… when I can stay home but I have a business that is employing 10+ people and they’re all taken care of financially.. and I know that we’re gonna be in business for a long, long time.”
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