Interview: Tamar Weinberg


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Pubcon attendees would often see Tamar Weinberg live-blogging the sessions from the front row. Now that she is a mother, I haven’t seen her at Pubcon of late. Perhaps this year?

Ash: How and when did you get into social media? What is your current role in your business? Tell us a little about the typical challenges you face in your work.

tamarI’ve been involved in social media since before they called it “social media.” I knew I wanted to do something with online communities as early as 1992. That gave me a head start since I had been able to do what I’ve always been doing for marketing when social media took the Internet by storm.

Today, I do a lot of things, from social media strategy to implementation to execution to community management to video marketing strategy and everything in between.

The typical challenges today is saturation; everyone is trying things and not everyone is doing it well. However, the penetration of different businesses — especially late bloomers — causes skepticism and it makes it harder for people to trust these businesses joining the social media space, no matter how altruistic and authentic they are.

Ash: Who were your early mentors and who are the ones these days? (include links to their sites if applicable)

This is an interesting question. I wasn’t really mentored early on since I was doing social media marketing before anyone really saw it as a viable marketing medium. But what really validated what I was doing was Rohit Bhargava’s social media optimization article from 2006 (http://www.rohitbhargava.com/2006/08/5_rules_of_soci.html). It’s since been updated (http://www.rohitbhargava.com/2010/08/the-5-new-rules-of-social-media-optimization-smo.html).

Ash: Which client engagement gave you the greatest satisfaction? (It doesn’t need to be a major brand) Tell us a little about the challenge, the diagnosis and the execution.

I am a community manager for Namecheap.com, a rockin’ domain name registrar that I’ve actually been a customer of since 2005 (I joined the management team in 2009). We’ve been pretty earth and animal conscious and sponsored the International Tree Foundation for two years running. Our largest competitor’s CEO has been known to do some pretty outrageous things. It came to our attention that a video of him killing an elephant for sport was being circulated over the Internet and he was proudly standing behind it, causing tremendous outcry from animal rights activists, celebrities, and news outlets. We immediately launched a coupon code that would discount domain name transfers $5 AND on top of that, we donated $1 for every transfer to savetheelephants.org. On the social media side, we capitalized on every person tweeting about the video and told them about our offering — which wasn’t easy since the company name was trending! In the 5 days that the promotion ran, we transferred over 20,000 domains to a huge media frenzy. We also donated an additional $10,000 on top of the earnings. This all came at a loss to us (transfers are not discounted) but we truly stood for the cause and were really happy with the results.

Ash: What do you think the major social media platforms will do next to keep you on your toes?

That’s not the right question to ask. It’s never about the tools ;) It’s always about the people. And they always keep me on my toes!

Ash: If a young person wants to enter the social media profession today, what would you advise them?

Get a blog and start writing about your thoughts to establish credibility. Share great content on social networks. Network with like minded people.

Ash: What aspect of the social media industry irks you the most?

I think there are too many fake experts. About 2 years ago, I was referred by a client to a guy who had no clue about social media at all and wanted some hand holding. Nothing ever came of our conversation but we kept in touch. Recently, I stumbled across his name and title again. He’s now known as a “social media pro.” Using those titles upsets me (I don’t even consider myself a social media pro) and this is the reason why social media is considered snake oil — clueless people coming into social media claiming greatness ends up diluting the industry with lots of hot water.

Ash: Have you written any books (social media or otherwise)?

Yes sir! I wrote The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web (www.newcommunityrules.com), published by O’Reilly Media.

Ash: Do you write for any magazines, blogs or newspapers?

I blog at Techipedia: Tamar Weinberg on Social Media Strategy.

Ash: Which websites or newsletters are your most reliable sources of SM knowledge?

Mashable, Brian Solis, Mack Collier, Social Media Explorer, Brass Tack Thinking.

Ash:  Please share some little-known non-business fact about yourself.

I’m a Jewish mommy who loves her husband and son!

Ash: Thanks, Tamar, for your insights.

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