Lon Safko is a Social Media Strategist, author, and speaker. He consults Fortune 2,000 companies across America to help develop effective social media marketing strategies to increase bottom line. He is the author of The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies for Business Success. He is also the creator of the “First Computer To Save A Human Life” which is displayed in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. along with his 18 other inventions.
What a character, Lon is! His response to my email inquiry about interviewing him was actually the starting point to showing his personality. I had asked to give him a call and do a 30-minute interview on social media. He wrote back, “No.. If you are supposed to be in social media.. We need to connect on Skype. Or, better yet, meet me in my Second Life.” At this point, I caught onto his sense of humor. But it wasn’t until we met up in his Second Life where I really got to know him. He certainly knows how to break the ice. (If you are confused as to what I am talking about, go ahead and Google “Second Life” so you are on the same page).
So I download Second Life and create my avatar character. Fun stuff, kind of like playing SIMS. So there I am, my virtual character (pretty good-looking, if I do say so myself) walking along a virtual resort. Lon’s character comes walking up to me and starts flying around doing tricks (mind you, we still have yet to speak). I start playing around with the tools and find all of these neat tricks to do as well. We begin chatting on the virtual chat message board. I am literally laughing out loud at this point. What a great introduction to someone, eh? After about 30 minutes of virtual chatting and confusion, we decide to chat on a Skype call. Just be clear, it was 30 minutes later that we actually began talking. Holy social media in action.
Me: That was hilarious. I don’t even know if I can ask these questions now.
Lon: (Laughing). Pretty fun stuff there, huh?
Me: Too fun. So how did you get into all of this stuff?
Lon: About four years ago I started researching all of these social media tools the Internet utilizes and that is when I really started getting into everything. I interviewed the creators of WordPress, Flickr, YouTube, and even the guy who created the Internet. That is exactly why my book (The Social Media Bible) is so long. There are literally hundreds of pages of research on things to know!
Me: Exactly. Information-overload! How can students use social media to be different?
Lon: It’s all about digital marketing. You have to have a professional online profile and get your name out there. Utilize the tools the web is offering to you! Build your brand and quit screwing around with pictures on Facebook of you and your friends throwing up on each other. Anything that goes online will stay online. Just like that saying, “What happens in Vegas…goes on YouTube!” It’s the Long Tail of marketing; once something goes onto a server, that’s that. It is there forever.
Me: What forms of social media should students actually have?
Lon: Get yourself a website. You have to build your online portfolio. You definitely need three things:
1st: You should have a LinkedIn profile for networking and professionalism. LinkedIn provides areas where you can upload all of the work you have done. It’s the new resume! If I’m hiring, I want to see this stuff and say, “Wow! Look at everything she is doing and putting online. She really knows her stuff.”
2nd: You also need a Blog site. You have to get your name out there and this is a perfect way to do so.
3rd: Lastly, (because I know you all have them) clean up your Facebook. If you have to, permanently delete it and create a new, professional one. For the most part, security settings are good to have but that does not mean people can’t see it. If it’s online, it’s there for everyone to find.
Also, having some professional YouTube videos will display your verbal communication skills. Before you go right into this, however make sure you ask yourself, “What image are you trying to show?”
Me: Once I have these three online profiles, will I be good to go?
Lon: It’s a good start! Keep updating. You have to constantly update and add new information from any experience you take on. And just remember that the employers really are looking for people. It’s the same deal when people are looking for jobs. Good people want to hire good people. They are looking as much as you are so do something different to get noticed!
What we learned from Lon: Get a LinkedIn, clean up your Facebook, and start blogging!