My Foray Into the Social Media Fray

 

By Sandra Zoratti, {grow} Community Member

“Social media makes a big world smaller.” — Jay Baer

I have been such a social media coward.  Even though I am a professional marketer and certainly no stranger to technology, the whole space has seemed so quirky and even a little intimidating.  Why bother?

Well, I am proud to announce that I am a new convert to the power of business relationships and the social web.  And it’s all Mark Schaefer’s fault.

Here is how I went from social media coward to a full-fledged convert in less than six months!

I was curious enough about what I was missing to attend my first social media conference — Content Marketing World in Columbus Ohio (yeah, Joe Pulizzi’s on the hook too).

I had started to follow Mark on Twitter and was excited to see that he was speaking at the conference.  I connected with him and he invited me to stop by his talk and say hello face-to-face during the Columbus event.  How kind!  I was so flattered.

I (gulp) missed our initial meeting time – admittedly, not my best first impression – and he was completely understanding. But we did finally meet and he was so kind and encouraging of my first attempts to connect with people in this social space.

During our conversation, Mark also told me about Social Slam, a conference he organizes so that virtual-based social media friendships can enjoy a face-to-face meet-up.  Sort of like a Social Media love-in.

Honestly, I found it a little hard to believe that people would fly from around the world based on 140 character tweets and some Facebook photos and posts just to meet up face-to-face with each other.  Could social media be that powerful?  Were these relationships that real?

Well, I knew one thing for certain:  I had to find out for myself.

Since then, a whole new world has been opening up before me.  Prior to that nudge from Mark, I had barely put my baby toe in the water of the social media world.  After his nudge, I began using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook in new ways. And the results have been amazing.

Frankly, I have made (and still make) lots of missteps as I am learning; yet I am connecting with some incredibly inspiring people along the way.

Yes, I’m still a newbie.  One thing is apparent though, social media is powerful and can create rich friendships and meaningful relationships around the entire world. It is extraordinary!

My job requires me to travel around physically.  Twitter, FB and LinkedIn keep me travelling around virtually.  When the physical and virtual worlds meet, it’s magic.  While in New York City, I got to meet a few of the closest members of my Twitter family … and from these meet-ups, I now have new business collaborations, new connections, new friendships, and a new perspective.  Some of the new connections I have made in just a few months:

sandra zoratti

Me with new social media friends (clockwise from top left) Kurt Shaver and Jon Wuebben; dinner with Vitus Feldman; hanging out with David Kugelmas and Jan Gordon; posing with Kelly Kim.

So far, my short social media journey has been nothing short of a transformational experience for me.  And in April 2013, guess where I’ll be going?  You guessed it.  I’m flying myself to Knoxville, TN, to be part of Social Slam. In fact, I will also be participating in a panel there!

I’m a social media convert.  How about you?  Will I see you at Social Slam?  Will you be part of the magic of social media?

See you there!

Sandra Zoratti is an author, speaker, and Vice President of Marketing for Ricoh.  She was honored as Colorado’s Business Marketer of the Year in 2012. You can find Sandra on LinkedIn, Twitter @sandraz and on her website sandrazoratti.com.

Top illustration courtesy Photo Monkey

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  • Hey Sandra, yes, I’m hooked! I actually didn’t like twitter at all when I first started using it but then I got it!!! Now I love twitter because of all the amazing people I have met through it. I think if everybody thought about twitter as one of the best relationship building tools ever they’d find amazing value from it!
    Ian

  • Claire Axelrad

    Nice post Sandra. I’m a bit like you… slow to the party and just figuring it all out. But I’ve definitely made some real relationships this way. I don’t do a lot of traveling around the country, so meeting up physically is probably not going to happen as much for me. But… it would certainly be fun! Social media has definitely made the world a smaller place. And as to “cowardice”, I actually have a Pinterest board entitled “Social Media Fear.” I’m going to pin your post to it right now! Thanks for sharing. And I’m happy to “meet” you!

  • Sandra, I hope we get a face-to-face at the Cavalcade of Ex-Cowards, er, Social Slam. It’ll be my first time there, too.

  • Hi Sandra, great, honest article. I think as social media evolves and becomes more and more prevalent in marketing and as a source for real business connections, it will inevitably attract those people that may not have been to bothered during the ‘early days’.

    It’s good to hear a viewpoint such as yours that demonstrates the real benefits social media can bring if you put the time in.

    I have several contacts that I have made through social media that I have known for a number of years now. Although I have never met some of them in person I have received valued assistance from them on very short notice (when my site was hacked) and would honestly consider them my friends.

    Social media is there for one specific reason – to allow social interactivity and build relationships such as the ones which you have written about.

    Sorry to ramble! heheh

  • A nice revealing read Sandra and like you had skepticism about the space a few years back. Since then I have grown a fantastic circle of talented and supportive friends! Perfect, “Twitter, FB and LinkedIn keep me travelling around virtually. When the physical and virtual worlds meet, it’s magic,” looking forward to experiencing that at my first Social Slam this April.

  • Great post, Sandra. Let me be the first to welcome you to the official Mark Schaefer fan club–er, I mean the {grow} community. This is a wonderful, safe place, made so by Mark’s leadership and stewardship. Last year, I had the opportunity to speak at Social Slam, due to Mark’s encouragement of my entry into social media through blogging and Twitter. I know you will enjoy it, and the folks you will meet there, tremendously. Unfortunately I am not able to attend this year, but will be eagerly following the live tweets and the subsequent blog posts and videos. Have a great time, and enjoy this brave new world!

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  • MaureenMonte

    Hi Sandra! I am so encouraged by your post! Love your honesty and inclusiveness. I’ve actually gone out and looked at the Social Slam site and will decide next week if I will attend. You’ve INFLUENCED me and for that I am grateful. Full Fear Disclosure – last week I registered my Twitter handle (StrongerPlanet), and I’ve sent two tweets! At least I think I did! (baby steps). Thank you again.

  • Sandra Zoratti

    Hello Alice! What a kind comment, I appreciate your perspective and am sorry we won’t be able to meet at Social Slam. However, now, we can find each other lots of places online until we do get to meet.

  • Sandra Zoratti

    FreePhotoResources, right on! I appreciate you sharing your parallel experiences. It is so true that I just never knew about the depth and rewards of social media from a relationship standpoint. Mark nudged me and shazam! Since I’ve been sharing my experiences, I have learned of so many extraordinary stories built around the interaction and connectivity as you mention. Thanks for your comment FPR.

  • Sandra Zoratti

    Randy, thank you and great to hear! I agree. It will be wonderful to share our mutual, inaugural Social Slam together this year. See you in Knoxville!

  • Sandra Zoratti

    Chuck, we definitely will meet at Social Slam. This is also my first time visiting Knoxville! The good news about meeting up is that I’m easy to spot. (one thing that social media doesn’t readily reveal..I am almost 6 feet tall, so I don’t “hide” very well). Thanks for commenting Chuck and see you in Knoxville.

  • Sandra Zoratti

    Hello Claire and thanks for sharing. I know individuals who met on social networks and have progressed to write books together, collaborate around rich business initiatives and still have never met. So, your travel is not at all a limiter. Plus, I like to use Skype for my friends who are in geographies further away, and with the voice and video, it’s pretty great. Appreciate your comment, Claire and your Pinterest pin!

  • Sandra Zoratti

    Ian, exactly! And I had no idea. What a rich, rewarding source of relationships. I really am thankful for Mark and his perspective on social media. I’m hooked too now Ian. haha! And I think the richness of the experience is location-agnostic since we’re all together online. Thanks for commenting Ian.

  • ross_boardman

    I have to admit from being one of the same. Someone on Facebook asked the question, “should I do Twitter?”. Most, me included, “What’s all that about? I don’t need to know your every movement”. Sound familiar?

    So I started out one day by just connecting to people I thought would be interesting people to chat with. No four figure following, but enough people on there that I have really connected to. It has been all down to helping people out, finding the right people and being genuine.

    It’s been a great trip and “the Tao of Twitter” is on the re-read list.

  • Sandra Zoratti

    Wonderful to meet you Maureen! I am going to find you on Twitter…look forward to hearing what you think after a few months! If you are at Social Slam then I look forward to an in-person hello! And, I can so relate to the “I think I did” part…as I was trying to pin on Pinterest recently, I re-pinned myself. Thank God for patient people as we learn our way. 🙂 Glad to be on this journey with you Maureen…

  • Sandra Zoratti

    Ross, sounds like you’ve got your Twitter figured out! Nice going…I think you are faster than me 🙂 It’s great to know that your experience has been positive and similar to what I am enjoying. Thank you for your comment and see you on Twitter @sandraz (wasn’t sure which Ross Boardman you are)

  • Rebecca Murtagh

    Bravo! Congratulations on your leap and welcome to the true reward in social media – the people!!
    Sure, the brand and business benefits are there. But for years I have
    established friendships and shared collaboration, inspiration (and some business) with folks I initially met through social platforms.
    Nice to meet you Sandra, and thanks for sharing your journey : )

  • Well, it looks like we’ll see eye-to-eye, at least in the literal sense. And Knoxville is a lovely place, with very friendly people

  • Sandra Zoratti

    Rebecca, right on! I know now the friendships and collaborations that are possible via social media and am so excited about the journey ahead. Thank you for your comment and see you soon! (online or at Social Slam…)

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