Before becoming an event planner, Sally was a production manager for live television. She helped plan events around the world for Starwood Hotels and Resorts,ITT Industries and Pfizer before moving to Maine. Through her company, Sea Glass Events, she has planned ABSTRACT, Harvest on the Harbor, Agents of Change, TEDx Dirigo, and other non-profit fundraisers for ILAP and Good Shepherd Food Bank, to name just a few. She loves being creative with spaces and budgets to produce successful and memorable events for clients.
The Olympic Games, the social media time-suck, and on being a Twitter voyeur
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?
“My first use of ‘social media’ was when I worked on the Barcelona Olympic Games. I was a production manager for NBC and they had an intranet for all of the media working on the Games. It was so cool to be able to use your badge number and you logged in and everyone could find you. So, you were getting all of these messages from people. Because, the venues were all spread out — all over Barcelona and the country. It was a great way to be able to connect with people who you worked with who were over there. All the TV and other media people could connect that way. I thought it was mind-blowing. My friend who was covering sailing far away, he and I could keep in touch. Were there cell phones? Yes. But, you weren’t going to use them in Spain. It was very cool.”
“I tried Internet chat and stuff like that, but Twitter was really my first introduction to social media as we know it today, before Facebook even. It was just really out of curiosity that I started using it. It was voyeuristic, I didn’t really post anything, but it was definitely fun to follow people and see conversations. At the time, there was definitely a hard-core group of Twitter-users here in Portland. They had Tweetups. They still do. It was a fun way to meet people.”
“There are so many people using it now that if feels overwhelming for me to go on Twitter. I don’t go on it very often anymore. It was so much easier to digest back then. It was always entertaining. Now, I mostly use Facebook and it’s mostly to keep in touch and to see what’s going on. I still use Twitter to research things sometimes. I’ll use hash tags to find out what people are saying about a certain topic. Like a recent event or a movie. I will still use Twitter as a search tool. That I really like.”
What do you like about social media?
“For me, it’s connecting without having to make a phone call, or texting someone and not getting a response back. I can go on Facebook and see what people are up to. You actually can get a lot of information about your friends without bothering them or bothering them or prying into their lives. I moved to Maine seven years ago and I still feel like I’m connected to my old town and my friends there because of Facebook. I get to look at their photos and see what there kids are doing and all of that good stuff.”
“For instance, people will post about books that they’ve just read on social media. If they post, ‘I just read this awesome book,’ that saves me so much time right there in choosing my next thing to read. The same goes for new movies or TV shows. I love using social media for that kind of thing.”
“Social media has been huge for events. Particularly, the events for non-profits that I do. It’s a free way to market the event. Often, non-profits don’t have the budget to hire marketing people or buy media for advertising. So, social media is a way that we can blast it out to our personal networks, or the event will create a Facebook event page and everyone on the committee will share that. It’s also a great way to get feedback once the event has taken place.”
“When I did ABSTRACT (AIGA Maine) it was a completely new event that had never been done before. We were bringing people in from out-of-state and we really needed to appeal to a niche audience. Everyone involved got on Twitter and used their Facebook pages to post things about the event to their personal networks. That really helped grow the attendance. It really did. It was amazing. We couldn’t have filled that theater without using social media.”
“Social media definitely extends the life of your event, both pre- and post-event.”
What do you dislike about social media?
“The time-suck involved.”
“I mentioned this earlier. Twitter for me has become overwhelming. Looking at the feed, it’s just SO much information. I give up. I have to figure out how not to be overwhelmed by it if I’m going to use it.”
“If I’m on Facebook and I want to see happy, shiny faces, and maybe some events people have gone to, I really don’t want to hear about politics. When people are always making major political statements, it makes me hide them. For me, Facebook is an escape, so I really don’t want to hear about politics.”
What would it be like for you to disconnect from social media for six months?
“I would definitely miss the connection with the friends who I don’t talk with regularly. I would be fine not using Twitter, but Facebook would be hard. It would also be hard to not monitor what my kids are up to (laughs). But, actually, they’re really not big Facebook users.”
“Generally, I would really just miss being connected.”
“My husband and I have made a pact on vacations before, not to use social media at all. Actually, to disconnect completely. Once, we even shipped our cell phones to our destination on a rafting trip so we couldn’t even use them. It was amazing. You really don’t miss anything.”
If you could only use three words to describe social media, what would they be?
“Informational. Sensational. Amalgamator.”
Is there a person or brand that you think uses social media effectively?
New York Magazine – Vulture – Vulture
New York Magazine – The Cut – Cut
Calypso – calypsostbarth
I want to thank Sally for taking the time to talk with me about her opinions on, and experience with, social media.
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