Shannon has over 15 years of experience in the development of successful Internet products, sales and marketing strategies. She has worked on the teams developing successful Internet brands such as cars.com, careerbuilder.com, and over 60 online media properties for newspapers all over the U.S. and Canada. Prior to that, she spent over 10 years in media sales and sales management in Maine.
Dream Local Digital is a marketing agency specializing in interactive media, marketing, SEO and social media. The agency works with media companies, ad agencies, and directly with small to medium-sized businesses on all aspects of their online marketing plans, from website development to social media and e-mail marketing.
Dream Local Digital, recently opened its third office in Maine, in the Casco Bay Tech Hub in Portland.
Thinking in status updates, privacy, and The Chickypoo
As with most of my interviews, what you’ll read here is a greatly condensed version of our conversation.
What was your first experience with social media?
“In 1995 I first started using ICQ. I loved it. I loved ICQ. I was a huge fan. We used it at work at MaineToday here in Portland. We used it to communicate inside the office and to communicate with clients and people outside. Later on it was, of course, bought by AOL. So I started using AOL Instant Messenger right around 1996.”
“As far as social media as we know it today, I started using Facebook in 2006 and Twitter in 2007 and for many years I was just addicted to Twitter, far more than Facebook. Now, I use all of them, and love all of them. But, Twitter is my favorite.”
“I had been a heavy user of MySpace, and them Facebook came along and I liked it better. The problem I had with MySpace, and I have now with Instagram, was people’s nicknames. I can’t keep up with them. People hiding behind personas was less attractive to me than people being real. I got hit on, and scammed a lot on MySpace whereas Facebook has facilitated communication and has much broader appeal. Twitter is really my passion. I like interacting with people that way. I wish I had more time to do it. My clients are on Facebook, so I’m there more now.”
“I like Facebook’s broad appeal. I like that I can communicate with everyone all in one place—family, friends, clients, businesses—so for that it’s really handy. It’s great to be able to communicate with all of them in one environment.”
“LinkedIn is very important to my business. I need to respond immediately to inquiries. I make money on LinkedIn and Twitter. The more attention I pay to LinkedIn and Twitter, the more money we make. We use LinkedIn very effectively for businesses/clients. And, having our news in the newsfeed on LinkedIn is what get us the most hits oftentimes.”
“People’s definitions of privacy are just changing the way that everyone is communicating That’s the impact that the Internet has had. In terms of Facebook generally, there are more controls on privacy on that social network than there are anywhere else. People type anything into a Google search engine and that’s all used. You use Gmail, and they’re scanning the words in your email. It happens everywhere. We teach kids in high schools how to set their privacy settings. It’s very important that people are aware of this from an early age. That’s why we spend as much time in high schools as we do. It’s critical.”
“I don’t ask for references from anyone. I’m going to find out everything I need to know. If you send me a reference, it’s not going to be as trustworthy. You know, I’m more efficient because of this access. But, its something that everyone needs to be aware of and concerned about. Absolutely.”
What do you like about social media?
“Personally, the efficiency of communication is amazing. I find myself much closer to people than I was able to be before. People often ask me how I have time to be on all of the social networks? Well, I don’t have time to call 50 people on the phone, or to visit. My grandmother used to drive around and visit people on Sundays. I mean, my Dad found out I was in labor at the hospital because my tweets stopped. And then he called the house and no one answered, and he went to the hospital and there was the baby. Right? That’s how we’re able to communicate more efficiently. And, more personally. It’s the combination of the efficient and the personal that I like. And, I have deeper relationships with people because of it. I understand them better.”
“It’s a great way to communicate very efficiently. Especially if you’re using your privacy settings and your lists. I’m a big user of my lists for both Twitter and Facebook. They were game-changers. I mean, if I’m going to post something about selling Christmas trees for the Rockland Kiwanis Club, I’m not going to post that to everyone on Facebook. It’s not relevant. It’s personal, but it’s not relevant to someone who doesn’t live in the area.”
“On the business side, it’s just been amazing for us seeing how radically we can change small businesses by using these tools. And, if they’re used effectively these small businesses can compete with much larger businesses in a way that they couldn’t before. Those stories just are exciting to me. I love it.”
“When we work with businesses we spend a lot of time on strategy and their marketing plan and, most important, figuring out who their audience is. Ironically, small businesses often can’t answer the question of, “who are your audiences.” This is because they’re used to working with traditional media. We customize our programs for each client. Social media marketing is not a one-size-fits all thing. Not at all.”
“I think in status updates now, which is just weird. But I do. I think that way.”
What do you dislike about social media?
“I think it’s a huge shift for people to recognize that this content is going to live forever. I get discouraged by people’s fear of it. It’s discouraging to find people who think they can stick their head in the sand and avoid it. So, I spend a lot of time educating around that”
“In terms of what I worry about. I worry about young people and their use of it. You know, I say to parents, your kids are on these things. Help them. Help them to understand how to use them properly. My daughter is four and she’s had a Facebook page since she was born. I mean, I don’t post pictures of her naked but she has a very small little private group of people that follow her and it’s cute. Her life story will be recorded. There is going to come a day when she will wake up and be mad that her Facebook URL is ‘The Chickypoo.’ And, I’m going to have to deal with that then, but her life story is documented.”
“The other thing that has been interesting on the business side of it, if you’re the type of business that isn’t concerned about customer service, you’re going to be in big trouble. You can’t hide anymore if you’re not taking care of people.”
“The biggest change for me has been, even though I’m connected 24 hours a day, I get more done because I don’t have to talk on the phone. I mean, answering the phone is like the sixth thing. It’s the sixth fastest way to get in touch with me. And, half the time I answer the voice mail on my phone just to make that icon go away. So for me, I’m connected more, but I can choose the flow, even though it’s multiple channels, and manage the flow of communication better.”
“I personally have challenges with drama and dramatic people. People air a lot of dirty laundry on social media that they might not be thoughtful about. So that’s discouraging to see, but it’s just the nature of people. Social media doesn’t make people act that way, it just amplifies it.”
What would it be like for you to disconnect from social media for six months?
“Professionally it’s not possible. Personally, I wouldn’t want to. I’d love to disconnect from the phone for six months. Maybe not texting. Now, no one is going to want to talk to me on the phone after this interview. No, I wouldn’t want to disconnect from social media. I love charting my life on social media. So, I wouldn’t want to disconnect.”
Is there a person or brand that you think uses social media effectively?
Maine Lobster Festival Great follow on Facebook, more than 12,000 inquiries were answered in 2012 alone, and there is fun new original content all year long.
Atlantic Motorcar Center I’m a sucker for European cars and have so much fun following this dealership on Facebook. They post terrific photos, customer testimonials, service case studies and more.
Uptown Studio Fun use of Instagram to showcase her art and handmade products
Faces Maine An excellent use of the power of imagery and Facebook to tell a story.
@stevebuttry Digital Transformation Editor for Digital First Media – great resource for media companies and journalists navigating the transition of media.
@seerysm Shannon Seery Gude VP Digital and Social Strategy at Hodes. If you’re interested in digital marketing, recruitment and more, she is fantastic to follow on Twitter
@pistachio Laura Fitton is great follow on Twitter for all things Twitter, Inbound Marketing tips and more – she’s been on since the early days and has witty insights into the space.
I want to thank Shannon for taking the time to talk with me about her opinions on, and experience with, social media.
You can find Shannon on Facebook at: Shannon Kinney
You can find Dream Local Digital on Facebook at: Dream Local
You can find Shannon on Twitter at: @shannonkin
You can find Dream Local Digital on Twitter at: @dreamlocal
You can find Shannon on Pinterest at: Shannon Kinney
You can find Dream Local Digital on Pinterest at: Dream Local
You can find Shannon on LinkedIn at: Shannon Kinney
You can find Shannon on Instagram at: @shannonkin
You can find Dream Local Digital on Instagram at: @dreamlocal
You can find Shannon on Google+ at: Shannon Kinney