Seriously…anyone that knows me knows I’m a social media addict. When I started this blog in March 2007 the concept of Social Media as an industry and lifestyle didn’t really exist. While it wasn’t blogging, I first put this website online in April, 2000 – being ridiculed by my college fraternity brothers for having my own name as a website…. regrettably being embarrassed enough to take the website offline in a year (seriously, they were printing pictures from my website and posting them all over the fraternity house w/ crazy (but funny) slogans underneath).
I was just a bit too early in the year 2000 to be recognized as a social media guy…it did’t exist. Dang do I wish I kept it online since 2000 – but alas, blogging actively since early 2007 has been great. Met so many people, connected with so many people. Its truly priceless.
Dealing with Social Media while in China
And being in China as a social media guy, its been rough, with Facebook, twitter, and basically any other foreign social media channels blocked inside of the Chinese internet realm!
But being a social media guy in China, as a foreigner, it has also been an advantage. For many reasons, but one that sticks out the most –> NO ONE ELSE HAS BEEN ABLE TO PUT UP WITH IT! (Heck, I thought I left China in 2010…) With all the foreign internet companies basically non-existent in China, most of my Social media buddies cannot stand being in China. Most foreigners who stay in China are not internet fans – most are into English teaching, or traditional business such as import / export (trading), manufacturing, or even e-commerce (which is basically a form of trading).
It was what brought me back to China in late 2010, was the fact that there weren’t a lot of people with my experience. And that is what differentiated me. But I was still thinking…is this SEO, is this e-commerce, is this Social Media. Is this being a foreigner who can help Chines sell. Its been ongoing development and exploring. But its all been centralized on being open, being a blogger, being into social media.
And while being in China, I have gotten into Chinese social media, having an actively updated weibo – @michelini connecting with the Chinese community, learning what they want. Community, connecting…sounds like social media to me!
Benefits of Social Media
So, so…SOOO many of my friends do not understand why I spend so much time on social networks. I think as people get older, they think the new things are for kids. Like IM was for kids, but now skype is more common for me than a phone call. Social media is not just sharing photos of last weekend’s party photos…. it is about building an audience and connecting to that audience.
Learning what people want. And giving it to them. A form of inbound marketing.
Some of the real-life cases that have helped me in life, due to social media:
- Helped me find a mobile phone – I wanted to buy a new mobile phone back in 2009, and I posted a facebook post that I wanted to buy a new phone and didn’t know which one to buy. Got tons of feedback, and actually one of my friends in Shenzhen, Guilhem, (this was before facebook was blocked in China!) offered me his Nokia e63 for a deep discount as he didn’t need it anymore. Sweet, bought and he delivered same day to my office!
- Help me get on GDTV in China – Being active on Chinese weibo, I have connected with reporters and TV channels, getting a 30 minute TV special show – all by being connected by weibo!
- Real time Chinese translation – a few times I’ve been in a bind with what a Chinese sign means, so I post on weibo and get real time feedback and answers. So cool and interactive!
- Discover old friends in areas I’m traveling – I’m going to Los Angeles next week, I searched my facebook friends for Los Angeles and didn’t even know some of them live there now! I contacted them and will be re-connecting with them by the end of next week!
- Find locals in new cities while traveling – When I’m traveling in new cities, I use foursquare and see who else is checked in to my current location. I will message them and get ideas and advice about what to do around town. I have made some interesting business connections this way, and stay in touch with them over the years.
- People know what I am doing, and help me! – sure, so many people are afraid to blog to the world their life…but they never realize the POSITIVE this does, how can someone help you, if they don’t know the problems you are facing? Nevermind problems, just what business you are doing. Everyone mentions the power of who you know, but if they don’t know what you are doing, how can they help you!
- Help choosing a mobile phone carrier in Philippines – I was wondering what phone carrier to get, so I started tweeting questions about Globe vs Sun vs Smart. I was getting real time answers and then started tallying up the votes. The winning vote did turn out to be the best deal, plus they were all heavy data users (duh, they are on mobile phones in social media!) so I found one perfect for me, recommended by people like me!
- Remembering organizers for Guangzhou startup weekend – Old friends contact me on foursquare, Nrupesh saw me checking in on foursquare in Guangzhou yesterday, and I forgot to call him – he messaged me about getting involved in organizing! how awesome! So when I check in to a new city, it shows me who is around me in that city from my friends list. If I miss someone there, they can see me checking in and contact me.
- Suggestions on fixing my Mac Air – so many of my friends in twitter and path know I have a screen issue with my mac air. I have gotten suggestions on how to repair it, from forgetting an Asian-based Apple store to fix it and take it to USA where they’ll fix it no problem, to some second hand ideas, some kind of add-ons (with part numbers and links to amazon!), to using it as a desktop at home. Its been an ongoing story for a few weeks, and today when it miraculously fixed itself, my friends were as happy as me! Crazy to carry on a story over time in social media.
There are so many more cases, I can go on forever….but you get the point. I do this hyperactively all day, connecting with people.
My Career in Social Media
Nik said the other day, I do social media as if its my job! Well, it has been, saying I’m a social media consultant there and here in 2010…but have not standardized how to do it. especially in China – where I’m seen as a “foreigner who can sell” and is only offered commission on sales….I can’t make a living off that. And its not fair!
Social Media training in the local South China area has helped out a lot. Bringing exposure and getting cashflow.
And recently have been doing more and more Chinese social media for western companies coming into the China market. Or even doing social media in China for foreign brands that are attracting them to their home country for tourism!
Finding one’s niche takes a long time sometimes, especially when in a foreign country. Think this is the right niche for me, and am happier then ever.
focus! but be happy.